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Local companies make gains and receive awards in stressful times

SUN Columnist

For the past few years, many of us have faced an economic challenge in Pagosa Springs.

With the nationwide market crisis, two of Pagosa’s three major economic drivers (real estate and construction) took a serious downturn. Thank goodness we have beautiful natural resources and scenery, an affordable community to visit, and strategic marketing efforts being made so tourism in Pagosa Springs continued to carry the community.

There was a lot of talk of doom and gloom. Through that time, however, Pagosa businesses plugged along and new businesses emerged. We have many business successes we can be proud of, and many of these businesses have been working behind the scenes for years, developing their trade. Now, their efforts are paying off, with several local industries winning recent awards and recognition.

Skywerx Internet Services, an Internet provider not only for our community, but for many areas of Colorado including Buena Vista, Salida, La Plata County and the San Luis area, was a finalist in the Colorado Companies to Watch competition, with its intensive application and selection process. We know they will receive that award soon. Congratulations to them for developing partnerships with other leaders in the telecom industry to provide broadband to rural areas in Colorado.

Another award winning company is a relatively new kid on the block — Voormi. Voormi just won the 2013 S/I Wright Award — S/I standing for Something Independent. The award is given to a Colorado company embodying the pioneering spirit of the West and exemplifying the connection of lifestyle and commerce.

Winner of yet another prestigious award is Pagosa Brewing Company. Selected by All About Beer magazine, Pagosa Brewing’s Kayaker Cream Ale was named one of the top 100 beers in the world.

For the third consecutive year, The Pagosa Springs SUN won first place in the National Newspaper Association’s 2013 Better Newspaper Advertising Contest for their summer visitor guide. The SUN’s winter guide and relocation guide also won second and third place awards, respectively, and it was the first time these guides were entered into the contest. We thank The SUN for highlighting the assets of Pagosa Springs in such a positive, engaging manner.

While based in Durango, Ecosphere Environmental Services has an office here in Pagosa Springs, and we congratulate them for their 2013 Colorado Companies to Watch award.

And, just to toot our own horn for a moment, Pagosa’s Chamber of Commerce was the winner of the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry’s (CACI) 2012 award for the largest membership increase in a year. This achievement could not have been attained without the support of our business community.

These are just a few of Pagosa’s business success stories. It isn’t all about the awards, but it is nice. Congratulations!

We also have companies here that have made great strides, making themselves known in their industries. Two such companies are J.R. Ford’s Renewable Forest Energy, LLC, with its biomass project, and Pagosa Verde, with owner Jerry Smith and its ongoing geothermal energy projects. Both companies are not only developing and utilizing local resources, but they will be able to take their business models and replicate them in communities in Colorado or other parts of the nation where similar resources exist. These two businesses are examples of companies that choose to locate in Pagosa Springs, but can conduct business anywhere in the world. Both businesses are working to improve Pagosa’s energy sustainability picture and could easily be leaders in the alternative energy field in the state. Both organizations are looking to create jobs, not only here in Pagosa Springs but in other communities.

Now, here are a few more recent accomplishments. What once started as a critical access clinic is now the Pagosa Springs Medical Center. This facility boasts 24/7 emergency room access, a clinic, and expanded medical services, including ultrasound and surgery. The center is one of Pagosa’s major employers and is a leader in preventative care, not just critical care.

This year, we had the first Pagosa Makers Expo and Tour, highlighting Pagosa’s creative talent in a variety of categories.

We had the first Epic Challenge and an Xterra Race, bringing in high-performance international athletes.

Empty buildings are becoming less noticeable. Major building renovations have taken place in Pagosa Springs.

These are examples of some of the businesses that have come to Pagosa recently, that have won awards or expanded operations here, and of some of our successful recent projects. By highlighting these businesses and projects, I don’t mean to detract from the efforts and contributions of our longtime establishments. We have watched businesses successfully change, add merchandise, improve their hours of operation, and work on their marketing presence during the difficult times. Pagosa is also home to many home-based businesses that we shouldn’t overlook and that often fly under the business radar screen. We’re a hard-working business community, and by working together even more we can be even stronger. These accomplishments all came when the economic times seemed toughest, and that is no small feat!

The Pagosa business community has a lot to celebrate. You have creativity, strength, knowledge and tenacity. You are generous to a fault, donating to numerous community agencies so they, too, can survive, thrive and provide much-needed services. You choose to live in our beautiful community. You provide jobs, sales tax revenue, entertainment outlets and security for many. We thank you for locating in Pagosa. Congratulations to the Pagosa business community. If I left someone out, it was not an intentional slight; it was due to lack of knowledge and space. If your business has received an award or an interesting mention, contact the Chamber so we can note this in a future column.

Business news

A reminder: the Chimney Rock National Monument Management Plan Open House has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 5, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall. Representatives of the Forest Service and the Chimney Rock Interpretive Association will be on hand to answer questions, review potential management options and solicit community input.

The Holiday Bazaar will take place at the Ross Aragon Community Center Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Start working on your holiday gift purchases while contributing to a worthy organization in Pagosa.

We have several renewals this week: Growing Spaces, Citizens Bank and the Pagosa Springs Rotary Club.

This story was posted on October 31, 2013.