Editorial: A different approach
July 23, 2011
Without a broader and grander vision for the future, as well as a commitment to executing those designs, Craig and Moffat County will continue to struggle and leak business it can’t afford to lose to other cities. Our community has lost assets before, and the creativity and united approach to replace them has been absent. That needs to change moving forward.
There's a reason why many visitors to Craig and Moffat County have praise for our small, tight-knit community. From the friendliness of residents to the sprawling natural scenery, there are assets we have many other cities and towns simply don't.
However, there are also reasons why we're seemingly limited in the 18- to 35-year-old demographic, why we lose young professionals, why businesses struggle to recruit people they need in key positions and why our economy is tied almost exclusively to the fate of energy.
Diversification has been a topic broached in this editorial space numerous times in recent years, and while today's opinion piece touches on that subject, it's not specifically what the Editorial Board is focused on today.
Rather, board members are pushing for a more creative use of what our community has currently, and for a better and more unified vision for the future, which ideally will lend itself to diversity.
It's the Editorial Board's opinion that Craig and Moffat County has many of the assets in place to be a more successful location for existing businesses and attract new ones; that our area can become a place that's more desirable for professionals to relocate, thereby providing needed services to residents; and that we can keep more people shopping locally rather than lose needed revenue to cities like Steamboat Springs, Denver and Grand Junction.
But, this can't happen, these things needed to sustain our community today and improve it tomorrow, without a better, more unified and creative approach. As of today, what we have are like puzzle pieces scattered on a tabletop — the pieces exist for the overall picture, but the organization is lacking.
An example is downtown. Before jumping to conclusions, understand that Editorial Board members think downtown Craig has tremendous potential and the businesses located there offer enough diversity to appeal to many people.
But, a creative approach to getting people downtown is missing.
Downtowns, by their nature, are appealing.
Shoppers like the pedestrian natures of downtowns, and people like living in residences in or near downtown districts. But, as of today, there are only a handful of residences downtown and only a handful of days when people in great numbers will congregate there.
Both could be improved.
Ideas like art gatherings, markets, sidewalk sales, more shopper-friendly hours … these all lend themselves to a more productive area for residents and merchants alike.
There are also residential areas in downtown that could be taken better advantage of, providing a built-in consumer base for businesses.
Understand that we bring up downtown Craig today not because we're picking on the area and the good people who work there, but because we believe it's one crucial area that, if enhanced with a better approach, could pay immediate dividends.
Our community as a whole, like downtown, could benefit from a more progressive philosophy.
That's where residents and public officials come into play.
Residents have to get more involved in organizations like the Craig Chamber of Commerce, Moffat County Tourism Association, and Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership, among others.
The Editorial Board estimates the volunteer culture in our community today is limited to perhaps 35 to 50 people who serve numerous organizations; most of the public just goes along their merry way not contributing. But, without new blood, organizations are limited to the same ideas of years past, and can hardly be blamed for sticking to the formula.
The Editorial Board encourages people who aren't involved to get involved. A community is only as strong as those willing to help it.
Our public officials have to get more aggressive, too. They have to set a tone, establish a vision that's missing currently. Our community feels and looks scattershot in numerous ways — from residential development to businesses — and it's our governments that can make the difference.
We have a choice in Craig and Moffat County. We can continue doing business as usual, in all the same old ways and be subject to its peaks and valleys, or we can rally around a concerted effort to be better.
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