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Taking the economic temperature in southwest Colorado

It’s hard to believe we’re past the midpoint of summer already, but the start of county fairs tells me it’s true.

With so much happening, or not happening, on the national level, it’s important to take time to celebrate the good in America. Southwest Colorado holds a number of county fairs and, hopefully, you’ll have a chance to visit one or more of them.

During July, I spent a good amount of time traveling the district to get a personal feel for our current economic times. It’s one thing to read about my district from reports and graphs and it’s something else to get the information from the people in the trenches, that is, straight from the employers, employees and those who want to be employed.

What I gathered from my travels in southwest Colorado over the past month is that the tourism business seems to be doing well this season, which is great news. Those working in real estate are still struggling as is the construction industry, but many are hoping that if Washington, D.C., can get its act together, maybe a rebound isn’t that far away.

Particularly exciting is the number of innovative businesses that are created in or have relocated to our corner of the state. Even with a tough economy, people recognize the great quality of life in these parts, with that quality being defined by each person a little bit differently, and it beckons many to live here.

Sometimes I’m invited to visit these businesses and sometimes I’ve learned of them and ask if I can come see their operations. Each time, I walk away impressed and encouraged by what I see. Many of these jobs tie into health care, technology, or traditional and renewable energy development and they hold great promise as new and emerging businesses.

It’s an education I welcome and I always want to know how Colorado’s state government is helping or hindering these valuable private sector efforts. It’s been very encouraging to see Gov. Hickenlooper’s keen interest in our local economies and I applaud his efforts to see our area firsthand, not just relying on reports or staff accounts.

I’m also proud of the way citizens in our region work in our public sector and many non-profits and that our volunteers help make our communities shine. That, too, has to come through to the governor on his visits here.

We have an incredibly creative population who find ways to overcome the challenges that come from basing their work in a rural remote part of the state. I’ve noticed that our local media are finding ways to highlight area businesses and I’ve no doubt that such coverage will increase awareness of such ventures and help attract more businesses, nationally as well as globally, to our area.

From those in agriculture showcasing the fruits of their labor at our county fairs to the creative entrepreneurs in our midst and all of us in between, we’re lucky indeed to call southwest Colorado our home.

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