Community Leaders Speak at an EDC Breakfast – Estes Park Trail-Gazette

The Estes Park Economic Development Corporation (EDC) resumed its annual community breakfast at the Ridgeline Hotel on Tuesday, October 11. It was the first breakfast held since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and was well attended by business owners and key players in the Estes Park community.

The breakfast included presentations from members of EDC, Visit Estes Park and the Estes Chamber of Commerce on what their organizations have done to contribute and advance the community.

Economic Development Corporation

EDC President and CEO Adam Shake began by providing a brief overview of what EDC is, what it stands for and what it does to help businesses grow and prosper. in the Estes Valley.

As part of its mission statement, Shake reiterated that EDC’s primary goal is to plan and promote economic growth in the Estes Valley in a way that makes it a unique mountain community.

As Snake explained, economic development is basically anything a community does to foster and create a healthy economy.

“It takes all sorts of things: working with businesses and business recovery from natural disasters and pandemics, and anything that’s used to improve local economic development as it relates directly to a business,” Shake said.

To achieve this development, EDC has helped build the strength of the workforce in Estes Park businesses. This includes improving the education level of the workforce, the quality of its workforce, the availability of the workforce and the housing of the workforce.

“I think the EDC would be remiss if we didn’t work in these areas, with our city and county partners, the Housing Authority, the state, etc.,” Shake explained.

As part of their efforts to better instill this solidity, EDC has worked with partners and local business owners to facilitate nearly $20 million in loans for Estes Valley businesses. The company was also able to secure $300,000 in city funding and created a task force of 13 business advisors to work with business advisors during COVID-19.

In addition to these efforts, EDC has also advocated for the upcoming accommodation tax extension, as well as the possibility of building workforce housing in Estes Park.

Entrepreneurial Center

In order to strengthen their assistance to local businesses, in 2019 EDC created a program called the “Entrepreneurial Center” and, within this, the “Business Accelerator Services of Estes” program.

Thomas Cox, Program Director of the Entrepreneurship Center, said the brainchild of the e-Centre was born out of EDC’s desire to set up a program that would allow multiple companies to learn valuable educational skills. The hope was that this education would improve the situation for businesses in the community and that Estes Park could begin to create, retain and grow their local businesses.

“We had to create something specifically for our businesses here in Estes Park so we could get the knowledge we needed to make things work,” Cox said. “The right knowledge at the right time, which applies to what we have here at Estes Park.”

With this plan in mind, EDC launched the Business Accelerator Services of Estes (BASE) program. BASE Program Manager Jana Sanchez replaced Cox to cover the ins and outs of what this new program is doing for local businesses.

As it reads on EDC’s website, “The BASE program extracts relevant information and presents it to you over a six-month period, leaving you with tangible, personalized strategic plans that can be implemented immediately within your business”.

The program focuses on training experienced and inexperienced business owners or potential owners in three main areas: leadership, operations, and innovation in growth strategies. There are 11 in-person teaching sessions throughout the six-month period and a monthly business journal club for registrants.

This program runs between October and March and, thanks to a federal grant, is completely free for those who participate. This year’s cohort started on October 7 and currently has 32 people from 26 companies, representing 14 different industries.

Chamber of Commerce

After EDC members completed their presentation, Estes Park Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Carissa Streib took the stage to update members of the public on the chamber’s latest progress. .

With its latest update in the works, the chamber is working to include Spanish translation capability on all resources and information found on its website. Streib noted that the chamber is currently working on the matter with the Colorado Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and plans to have it operational by 2023.

Streib also took the time to discuss the chamber’s programming work with the Larmier Small Business Development Center (SBDC). SBDC is a Fort Collins-based organization that helps new and existing businesses start, grow, and thrive in their respective fields.

The two organizations will meet for a roundtable on October 18, to discuss how the chamber can best integrate the SBDC into the Estes community and how businesses can use them to their advantage.

Beyond the Moose Festival

Another topic mentioned by Streib was a new technology-based method the chamber created to help drive customer traffic to Estes. Streib explained that during this year’s Elk Fest event, held October 1-2, the chamber heard from many downtown business owners who also wanted to be part of Elk. Fest, instead of just being in Bond Park.

These requests led to the creation of “Beyond Elk Fest” – a concept in which business owners created something elk-themed to sell to customers and uploaded the offer to the Elk Fest page of the Visit Estes Park website. The QR codes were then shared with festival visitors who, after scanning, were taken to the participating businesses’ offer page on the Visit Estes Park site.

Streib said the initiative has been a huge success in attracting customers to local businesses and the chamber plans to repeat it at events and festivals in Estes going forward.

Visit Estes Park

During the final breakfast presentation, VEP CEO Kara Franker detailed what her organization is currently doing to better develop marketing strategies in Estes Park and increase their positive impact in the city.

Franker used the term “new era” to refer to the changes that VEP is currently going through.

“We’re not just focusing on marketing, but also on how we can be the best community partners and support our business community, our nonprofits, our city and our residents in a sustainable way,” said said Franker.

Franker also noted changes to VEP’s mission and values ​​which now focus on equity, diversity, inclusion and sustainability.

As one of its sustainability efforts, VEP has made it a priority to ensure that visitors to Estes Park respect the community, as well as the environment. As part of this effort, VEP has begun posting themed posts on social media with the aim of getting their message across to potential visitors before they make the trip.

“You want to make sure that everyone who comes here feels welcome, but also respects this land that we all love so much,” Franker explained.

Marketing

Franker wrapped things up by addressing the important role marketing plays in Estes Park and how vital a strong tourism base is to building the sustainability of the city.

During a Tourism Impact Study conducted on Estes Park in 2021, it was found that 83.5% of the local sales tax came from tourists – a statistic which Franker says reveals just how much Estes Park depends on its visitors.

As part of its next marketing initiative, VEP is trying to get more data on visitor behavior to maximize their return on marketing.

“Accommodation properties don’t report to a central system, which doesn’t allow us to look at things like occupancy or the average daily rate of guests and visitors,” Franker said. “Having that perspective helps predict and ensure they communicate better with their target audience and put marketing money to better use.”

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