Editorial: Loving our community means fighting for its survival
Coal is still king in Craig, but its influence is waning on the world stage.
Natural gas and renewables are making a big market comeback — a bad omen for hundreds of coal workers and their families who work to keep our lights on. The prospects are getting even worse closer to home, with Colorado’s legislature seemingly on a mission to end coal-fired power generation sooner rather than later — job losses and economic hardship in rural Colorado coal communities be damned.
Officials in Craig and Moffat County have taken notice, renewing talk of diversifying the economy of Northwest Colorado away from coal and energy and toward something — anything — that could soften the economic blows to come. And now there’s a growing chorus of business owners, community leaders and other residents who don’t view any of our local elected officials as capable or having the answers to these problems. There’s a growing number of us who understand we each have our own small role to play in solving the puzzle of Craig’s new economy and we are taking matters into our own hands.
We can all start by maintaining the same message because it really matters how we talk to visitors — this is our community, a tough and vibrant community shaped by hard work and self-sufficiency amid Colorado’s untamed Northwest. We are building something new in the face of changing times. We love our community and want to welcome those seeking solace and solitude, some peace and quiet in our open spaces, our hotels, restaurants, and world-class hunting lodges. We want to welcome those whose hard work will teach us new skills and new perspectives on business and technology. We want to attract and keep new industries in agriculture, recreation, manufacturing, and yes — the billion-dollar cannabis industry, right here in Craig and Moffat County.
A new Sonic or a Target — as great as those amenities would be — won’t save Craig’s economy if or when coal tanks. Retail alone won’t save us.
But a community united in an effort to see beyond our past and into our economic future will save us. A community whose love spreads through kind words and good deeds will be saved.
One of the easiest things we can all do to save our local economy is to volunteer our time in a meaningful way. If you have computer skills or just want to learn, offer to help a small business with their marketing efforts in your free time. You could fix that sagging banner advertising a major community event on a main thoroughfare. You could join other volunteers in helping to pick up trash or mow unkempt properties. You could invest your small savings into a small business in Craig that might one day be anything but small.
Sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down by all the things wrong with Craig and Moffat County. That’s why it’s important for us to keep the faith — in ourselves and our creator and work to make sure our community survives and thrives. The local Chamber of Commerce has stepped up their marketing efforts and have unified branding efforts between several different tourism-related organizations. The chamber and Moffat County’s tourism director deserve credit for much of the city and county’s combined marketing efforts. But theirs should not be a lone effort. We all must play our part as a united front in marketing our community and it’s many benefits to those who share our values of hard work and economic prosperity if we are to survive.