Romer: Reasons for optimism abound
There are a lot of things that can cause one to get down. Cost of living. Housing scarcity. Food insecurity. Mental health. Workforce challenges. Uncertainty in the economy due to geopolitics. The list goes on. We are inundated by bad news regularly.
There are also a lot of reasons for optimism. You just need to be intentional about finding them. I am optimistic by nature; you might say I’m an idealist wrapped in a pragmatist who believes in bigger things. There are a lot of bigger things happening in Eagle County and there is much to celebrate if you take the time to look for it.
At the Vail Valley Partnership, we are fortunate to work with a cross-section of the community and are deeply involved and engaged in working together to solve community problems. In layman’s terms, we are a catalyst for growth within the local business community, but that growth shows in larger ways: not as a creator of jobs but as a partner in growing the businesses and business leaders who create the jobs that strengthen our communities.
This role doesn’t allow us to get mired in the negative; we are invested in acknowledging the challenges and finding the reasons for optimism to help address them in partnership with numerous community partners.
One of our best success stories is the creation of Eagle Valley Behavioral Health and its efforts to bring increased resources to the Eagle River Valley. There is a hard truth about mental health: even people who are hugely successful are never immune to self-doubt. Consider Olympic champions Simone Biles or Mikaela Shiffrin, both of whom will be remembered as the greatest athlete in the history of their respective sports — male or female. Yet a few falls at inopportune times are enough to shake the confidence in the work they put in for years.
There are numerous success stories like Eagle Valley Behavioral Health. The 19th Annual Success Awards nomination process recently wrapped up. The Success Awards recognize businesses and individuals who have excelled over the past year and acknowledges their hard work and dedication as the best in the Eagle River Valley. These businesses and individuals play a significant role in driving the valley’s business community and economic growth. Approximately 200 businesses, individuals, and nonprofits were nominated by their peers for their contributions to the community.
Speaking of success stories, the CareerWise Eagle County youth apprenticeship program continues to grow and expand. CareerWise apprenticeships in Eagle County break down financial barriers, creating a highly-skilled workforce that meets the complex demands of companies in Colorado mountain communities, and provides multiple options for the student upon successful completion of the program. A robust, business-led apprenticeship program that meets the needs of all students will put Colorado schools and businesses on a path towards success. Our recent job fairs at local high schools have resulted in a record number of apprenticeship opportunities for our students, resulting in an increased talent pipeline for local businesses.
Last and certainly not least, our Community Consciousness series (produced in partnership with the High Country Human Resource Association) focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion and includes conversations around important community topics including public health, our school district, wellness, and leadership development. Each session ends with a list of resources to learn more about that specific topic, and diversity, equity, and inclusion in general.
Winston Churchill once said, “Optimists see opportunities in every difficulty.” A look around at the big picture and the work happening in Eagle County shows a lot of reasons for opportunities among the difficulty.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com.