Small Town Economics

Here in Gunnison County we are isolated, but we have SO much to offer nonetheless and I feel we are not capitalizing on what there is here; we seem to be representing our “special interests” rather than representing the county as a whole. We have a climate that is second to none; a really fine college; a great ski area; numerous wildernesses; miles of US Forest Service and BLM; people and water. We have done a fair job of protecting the environment but we can do so much more while enhancing the economics of the area. This is a special place.

Gunnison County is feeling the pinch of this recession like all counties nationwide, but we have particular issues that have held us back: Western State Colorado University has steadily dropped enrollment since its high times of the 1980’s, while many schools of its size in Western Colorado have grown and flourished. The same can be said for Crested Butte Mountain Resort where skier days have dropped over a twenty year period. If we could work with them both and get their numbers up by even 50% it would be huge for Main Street and the Rental markets in both Crested Butte and Gunnison. I will do what I can to help them  because they are an integral part of both ends of the valley and I want to see them succeed.

Folks ask me all the time about getting other businesses in here to shore us up, but until we get that foundation back we will have trouble presenting an attractive environment for new speculation.  Trouble is, the communities have been riding the high times of the real estate boom and the base has not gotten the attention that it should have. Some good old common sense, along with broad thinking can enhance what we already have to boost economic growth; it takes someone to think outside the box with real optimism to get it rolling. I am an optimist and I feel we have so much to offer that if we combine our efforts with the myriad of talent here and do it together we will flourish.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort depends on Gunnison and Gunnison depends on that ski area for filling rental units, enhancing grocery sales and boosting hotel room rentals. We all depend heavily on Western State as well. We can broaden all of that if we can help the ski area and Western State numbers come up, and I am willing to do a lot toward helping them both. We are indeed in this together and we can grow exponentially if we work together and recognize the value in all, from dishwashers to executives.  I know both ends of this valley well and feel I can facilitate all of us working together.

We cannot forget the marble Quarry in Marble, or the Oxbow coal mine in Somerset as they are and integral part of our tax scheme in Gunnison County. The Marble quarry has a large deposit of marble and they seem to be on a good path far into the future. Along with that are local marble carving artists and of course the tourism dollars generated by some of the most beautiful country there is in Colorado. In Somerset coal mining is king and a major contributor to our tax base. Although the Oxbow mine is nearly spent in Gunnison County we have another 5 years or so of production from there before they will follow the coal seams into Delta County.

Our environment is important to every one of us here in Gunnison County and I think that we can protect that and have economic growth at the same time. Where we live offers endless possibilities for all of us economically we just have to think creatively to utilize our trails, rivers, mountains, mining and most importantly people. We can seek common ground on the really hard issues to solve the problems and not always settle things in court when it comes to protecting the environment.

I am under no illusion when it comes to further enhancing what we have, but I am persistent, energetic and a thinker. I have seen times like these before and the way we persevered was working together. Gunnison needs Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte, and they need Gunnison, and frankly they always have. We need Marble and Somerset who are often forgotten, but contribute a great deal to who we are and they need our attention as well.

Small town economics are special and involvement of each and every person is key to the success.  The sum is only as good as its parts. I have no party loyalty and never have.