Romer: What is your greatest concern for the future of our community?
Eagle County is in the midst of the Vista project, designed to promote participation in community development, rebuild the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and improve equitable access.
The project asks community members to share their stories and feedback to a variety of questions. The first question was explored last week. The second question is: What is your greatest concern for the future of the community?
Problems are part of life and are not unique to individuals or families or businesses. Communities have problems and concerns as well. Communities must come together to solve their problems and numerous concerns are facing Eagle County. Some of the things I am most concerned about:
I am concerned about our community’s commitment to providing support for businesses to create year-round availability and build a business climate attractive to entrepreneurs and growing businesses. My concern is not with public sector support for this; our local towns and county have shown great support for the business community. My concern is not with private sector support, either. Rather, my concern lies with the part of our community that is not interested in change and does not recognize the proverbial elephant in the room.
The elephant in the room is a concern about our ability to preserve livability in Eagle County. Preserving livability requires housing to stay affordable, early childhood care to be accessible to everyone, and health insurance to be attainable.
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Our continued ability to create new opportunities and jobs within Eagle County is at risk, leading to the out-migration of community members due to the lack of housing, child care and insurance. Communities such as ours need to find ways to get to yes and to provide efficient entitlement processes for housing projects designed for locals, increase the number of child care facilities, and lower health insurance costs.
I am concerned about our changing demographics and increasing demand for a skilled workforce. This requires a concerted community approach to workforce development efforts to build a homegrown talent pipeline so our kids can find meaningful career pathways in Eagle County and build a system for workers to find continued professional development and opportunities to upskill and reskill to learn the skills needed to meet job opportunities.
I am concerned about the increasing animosity enabled by social media and national dialogue that helps drive division rather than understanding and empathy. I believe that a huge majority of people are thoughtful and pragmatic and are committed to solutions, yet the angry minority often drive the news cycle.
This manifests in people who run for elected office without a full grasp of the fiduciary and governance responsibilities that elected officials are required to oversee. Single-issue candidates for any elected board (property owners associations, metro districts, school boards, town councils) are almost guaranteed to be ineffective, and ineffective elected officials cause suffering for communities.
I am concerned that we have not invested in our public infrastructure adequately over the past 60 years and now we have a bigger problem to solve. Our community must invest in itself to continue to prosper and thrive. The quiet majority must be willing to get their hands dirty and fight the brave battle of leadership for a better community, advocating for increased locals housing options, improved transit and transportation, more child care options, and other issues required to have a resilient community.
What about you? Are you ready to help make our community better? We all have a unique viewpoint regarding our concerns. Share your story at VistaEagleco.com.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com.