Editorial: Unifying the Yampa Valley should be a top priority moving forward
As a number of impending economic changes are looming for Moffat County, highlighted heavily by the clean energy changes by 2030, Moffat County has a number of opportunities as a community to adjust to the changes.
One of those opportunities is one that the community has opposed or shied away from for years: becoming a supporting/cooperative community for Steamboat Springs’ resort community.
At first glance, that most likely will rub people the wrong way, especially when you consider that Routt County’s — specifically Steamboat Springs — way of life is so much different from ours here in Moffat County and the city of Craig.
Think of it this way: it’s a real financial opportunity to become a partner community to Steamboat Springs. So many others communities that are near resort towns have embraced and accepted the idea of becoming a cooperative community.
Look at places like Carbondale and Glenwood in regards to Aspen, or the changing of the times in Kremmling, Fraser, and Grand County as a whole accepting and welcoming change as a partner community to Winter Park.
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We may not think like them, hold the same beliefs, etc. that Routt County has and does, but we know change is coming, and we as a community need to get ahead of it and shape the change the way we want to see it.
We need to have an open mind on things, rather than rejecting change that we simply don’t like. Change is definitely hard, but it’s time to embrace the discussion.
This community cannot continue to reject the opportunities that a partnership with our neighbors could present. Routt County has been hit hard with financial impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they’re trending upward in future years. We cannot say the same for Moffat County.
We have to get out in front of this as a community and, in a sense, unify the Yampa Valley.
On a daily basis, roughly 20% of our community already commutes to Routt County for work. Additionally, that resort community so many seem to have disdain for uses some of our local businesses quite a bit, pouring finances into our local economy.
Think about how much more is available there if we open our minds and embrace being a partner community. Other coal communities dealing with the same things wish they had a resort community within an hour’s drive. To lose one economic driver completely due to a state decision, yet have a lucrative opportunity already in place an hour away and thriving is something that doesn’t present itself often.
Set aside personal feelings for the opposing party of the general way of life that a resort town represents and think of the opportunities a partnership would present. We have to work together more than we ever have, and we have to be consistent with it.
Water, housing, transportation, recreation and more already ties us together. Why not try and take advantage of these opportunities? If we combine, we’re bigger and better. Tourism is an economic driver, and if we work with our neighbors, we create more opportunities for ourselves.
We should be promoting more tourism opportunities between the two communities, offering more lodging, and just generally partnering with Routt County on summer events to unite the Yampa Valley.
Change is coming. It is time to have a community conversation about our future. By putting up a wall to neighboring communities, we run the risk of missing the boat completely. Now is the time to keep an open mind. We need to look for opportunities to help our economy moving forward. An obvious partnership can be found and cultivated with our neighbors in Routt County. Let’s work together and find common ground for a sound economic future.
Sheli Steele, General Manager
Joshua Carney, Editor
Jennifer Holloway, community member
Tom Kleinshnitz, community member
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