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New events will bolster the economy

In the proverbial blink of an eye, economies in Colorado have gone from boom to bust, communities have risen from bare ground and as quickly crumbled to dust. Industries dominated a scene for decades, then ceased to exist. People have come and gone, following jobs and the promise of fortune. Look at the mining industry, check the steel industry. Monitor fluctuations in agriculture, livestock and forestry industries. Read the history of oil shale development.

In Pagosa Country, similar changes have taken place —army town, livestock center, home to a timber industry.

As noted here before, our primary industries, now, are tourism (much of it based on outdoor recreation) and the influx of second homebuyers and retirees (with all the attendant commerce). Ups and downs are inevitable in this economy; good times and bad are part of the picture.

Many people wonder what can be done to strengthen the economy, protecting it as much as possible from severe fluctuations.

One answer has been to form groups, have meetings, and do little or nothing that makes a real difference.

A second response has succeeded — promote the area to potential tourists.

Another answer is to create events that amplify an existing image or work toward a long-term goal of identifying the community in a new, productive way.

GECKO is at the forefront of the first option, advancing the image of Pagosa Country as an outdoor recreational destination, producing competitive events that put us in a national and international spotlight. Two such events are taking place this fall, one of them this weekend.

On Sunday, GECKO hosts the XTERRA Pagosa Springs off-road triathlon. XTERRA has a formidable international reputation as a race series brand that sets the benchmark for off-road triathlon. This event will attract athletes from many places.

The second inaugural event is the EPIC Mountain Challenge, to be held Oct. 5 and 6, with a prize purse of $60,000. EPIC Mountain Challenge is a mixed-discipline, four-stage, two-day event that combines cross-country and time trial mountain biking with trail and road running. It, too, will attract competitors from far and wide and cement Pagosa’s reputation as an outdoor event center.

An event of a different kind will take place Oct. 12-13 as the Pagosa MAKERS Expo & Tour, produced by the Pagosa Arts and Culture project, is held at two primary venues, and a number of studios and workshops.

The goal: to show Pagosans and the outside world that this community is a vital creative center and that it is growing. The aim of the PACP is to put Pagosa on the map as a target for relocation of creative businesses, for artists and crafts people, for small industries that create products — and as a destination for visitors who wish to partake of all that a creative community can offer. Pagosa is well on its way, with music festivals that have a national reputation, drawing world-class acts and a host of music lovers to town; with an exhibition space with national and international reach, featuring works by artists from around the globe; with a professional theatre company that has ascended to the heights in the region, building a reputation that equals any and exceeds most; and with a growing population of creative individuals who find the environment perfect for their pursuits. The expo and tour will provide many examples of what is being accomplished by the creative community.

This is how we grow, how we draw more people here to work, to visit, to return. It takes time, but it can succeed.

If you don’t participate in these events, get out and enjoy them. And pass the word about what’s new in Pagosa Country.

Karl Isberg

This story was posted on September 12, 2013.