Vail Daily guest column: Have we reached a pivot point?
As another ski season begins to wrap up, we embark on business planning for the summer season and the possibilities that brings. Winter is (almost) behind us and a new season in front of us and everything is possible. The time between ski season and the start of our summer tourism season presents the opportunity to improve our service levels, increase our guest satisfaction, improve business efficiencies and increase revenues over past seasons.
The impending change in seasons is an obvious pivot point as we switch gears from winter to summer. Using the same logic and defining pivot as “a thing on which something depends; the central or crucial factor,” it becomes clear we have reached a crucial pivot point in our community. That pivot point is nowhere near as easy as the business planning associated with seasonal changes; our larger community pivot point is around housing.
The fact is, community and business success is integrally connected with attainable and available housing. We can’t achieve our individual business or larger community goals if we don’t address major issues such as housing. People move out of Eagle County when they reach their early 30s and don’t stop leaving until their early 60s. We are losing people in their peak earning years. Many attribute this, in part, to a lack of housing affordable for these employees. Employee turnover costs local businesses a lot of money and exacerbates other challenges with conducting business in the high country.
At Vail Valley Partnership, our goal is straightforward: we want to ensure our community can remain competitive to support our business community. Workforce and affordable housing has long been an issue in Eagle County, and addressing our affordable housing issue is essential to the continued success and growth of our business community across industry sectors. The housing problem in our community is not isolated to entry-level residents; it is prevalent across all industries and geographies.
We are all in it together, and since workforce housing remains of paramount importance, we are proud to announce a new workforce housing coalition and invite all interested parties to come together and share thoughts, feedback, and solutions to help address the issue.
Modeled after our economic development efforts, we are bringing together public and private partners to identify opportunities and needs. We held our first housing coalition session last month to help identify top issues facing future residential housing development in Eagle County including such topics as regulatory burdens, rental units vs ownership mix, private industry solutions and the role of public partners.
Public and private partnerships are an essential part of the housing solution. Local government involvement is often needed to initiate affordable housing projects. Active local government participation can mitigate the risk to private developers, reduce costs by streamlining some of the processes and help to develop the best products to meet local needs.
Rarely does a single entity have the resources and capacity to develop affordable housing independently. Consequently, partnerships bring together the expertise and resources needed to complete the housing development process and may enable a local government to work on solving different aspects of the local housing picture, without pushing any one agency beyond capacity or duplicating services. When deciding on a course of action to address community housing needs, local governments must first determine their internal capacity, deficiencies and gaps to assess where partnerships may be required.
We invite you to join us for our upcoming Workforce Housing Coalition as we build on our March meeting and advance the local discussion on public and private partnerships with a panel of industry experts. We’ll be joined by Jill Klosterman (Eagle County Housing Department), Eric Komppa (Corum Real Estate Group), and a local financial expert from Alpine Bank.
The panel will explore successful public and private partnerships and how they might apply to future developments in Eagle County and case studies will be shared with an in-depth look at the history of Miller Ranch followed by a discussion about how to create successful public-private partnerships in the future.
This panel is uniquely skilled to discuss public and private partnerships. Jill’s responsibilities include leading the acquisition, development, and management of affordable housing projects within Eagle County, Colorado. Eric’s responsibilities include sourcing, managing and procuring acquisitions and development opportunities for Corum.
Be part of the solution to help address our community housing needs. Please make plans to join us on Thursday from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Avon Town Council chambers to discuss public and private partnerships. Workforce Housing Coalition meetings are free and open to the public.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of Vail Valley Partnership. Learn more at http://www.VailValley Partnership.com.
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