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Economic development is important for Archuleta County. It’s about jobs. A job is not just a roof over your head and food on your table; it’s your health care, your kids’ education and your retirement.
Our quality of life is largely determined by community wealth — both public and private.
What is economic development? It is job creation, job retention and tax base enhancement — quality of life. Quality of life begins with a good job.
Economic development must provide 1) an environment conducive to doing business, 2) must foster a workforce that is job-ready and available and 3) must foster housing that is affordable for the people that work in the community.
All economic development activities fall into one of four general categories:
1. Supporting existing businesses so they will stay and grow. This retains or increases local jobs, preserves or increases the local tax base, increases local property values, enhances community image and increases our confidence and helps to maintain the health of “economic clusters” or businesses in the same industry that thrive in our community. To accomplish this, we need to improve the local business environment — regulations, infrastructure and recognize/appreciate business’ contribution to our community.
2. Attracting new employers to further expand and diversify the economic base. The same things that keep businesses at home also attract new businesses. Community pride, quality of life, good workforce skills, business friendly regulations, financing, strong and stable political leadership, affordable housing and more.
3. Growing new companies via business incubators and entrepreneurial assistance. Create an entrepreneurial-support environment the helps to start and nurture new businesses.
4. Educating the community about the importance of our businesses so they are appreciated and supported.
Who benefits from economic development if it is done well? People who need jobs, people who own businesses, those with properties that businesses rent and all of the trickle-down effects from spending of employee paychecks on houses, groceries, restaurants, entertainment and more.
Local governments also benefit from increasing tax revenue from sales and property taxes. We are all stakeholders.
But to be successful, everyone must buy into the economic development plan — the business community, local government/elected officials and just as important, the citizens in the community. As a community, we are all in this together. I believe in Pagosa.