Editorial Board: It’s time to start looking to the future | CraigDailyPress.com

Editorial Board: It’s time to start looking to the future

Sun sets over a wintery Craig.
Cuyler Meade / Craig Press

It’s been a heck of a year.

Too much has happened to recount here. We’ve made decisions, we’ve suffered losses, we’ve gained ground, and we’ve learned a lot.

But, in the end, in some ways, Craig is still standing in the same place as it was 12 months ago — except we’re a year closer to our impending destiny, whatever that means.

However far we’ve come, it doesn’t feel like we’ve made a ton of progress toward figuring out the future of Moffat County post-2025 and post-2028 — that is, post-coal.

We applaud the continued fight for our fifty-year heritage industry. Coal has been a godsend to this community. It’s raised so many of us. It’s the reason so many of us came here. One way or another, coal is why Craig is Craig at this moment in time.

But at this point, with the calendar turning over in mere moments to 2022, with only three years left until Unit 1 goes offline, we need to stop putting all our chips on a miracle. To be clear: Keep hoping. We hope so too. But somebody needs to start forging our own way forward.

What’s going to happen when the plant goes offline? It’s hard not to project some pretty serious doom and gloom. Roughly 60% of the county’s immediate tax base comes from energy producers. More comes from the industry’s employees, their families, and the consumers and property owners that are tied up in that massive portion of our community. The reason we fought so hard was because we knew this. We knew the devastation this could mean. That hasn’t changed.

What can change is what we do next.

So what do we want to do?

Do we want to put all our eggs in the basket of attracting another monster corporation to the valley to employ our people all in one fell swoop? Putting aside how unlikely that is, there is another reason we’d argue that’s not our best bet. What happened the last time one industry determined our entire economy? Answer: We’re living with the consequences of it.

We can’t bank on a single industry to save us — whether it’s tourism or manufacturing or anything else. Not only is it unlikely, it’s unfavorable.

May we submit one suggestion: We need to forge our own way.

Large corporate employers make us feel safe, and understandably so. The coal industry was a safe, lucrative, productive one for generations. So are so many other bedrock industries in towns like ours across the country. They create a comfortable living for a large, thriving employee class. But if we’re going to move forward in Craig, we’ve got to shake at least a few of us free of that mentality. We’ve got to go from being a city of employees to a city of employers.

Surely, it takes both kinds. We need folks to follow as much as we need folks to lead. But right now, we really need folks to lead.

We need to activate our entrepreneur class. Small business is the backbone of America — and no matter how much that backbone is being broken on the wheel of frustrating government, it’s still the strong spine that holds us upright.

We need to encourage innovation. We need to foster a culture of risk-taking, of opportunism, of giving it a shot.

We need infrastructure to make that happen — resources, education, capital. We also need a community ethic that trying something new is not just good but noble. That entrepreneurship can be and is a public good.

We can save ourselves by being ourselves. We don’t need Amazon or 3M or anyone else to save us. We need to find our answers within, and we need to bring them out and nourish them where all can benefit.

The scripture implores that we not hide our light under a bushel, but set it out to give light to all. Though we reside in a valley, we can be that proverbial city on a hill.

Let’s find those lights, and let’s ignite a bright future for Craig and Moffat County.

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