Study intended to plan economic future of Steamboat

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— Steamboat Springs has to spend money to make money, city officials said this week.

The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a $68,101 economic development study, to be conducted during the next four months by Denver consultants Economic and Planning Systems. According to the city's requested scope of work, the study will assess current economic and market conditions in Steamboat; document retail trends; evaluate local recreation, tourism and second-home purchases; conduct a survey of citizens; and create an Economic Development Action Plan.

City Manager Alan Lanning said Tuesday the study will help city officials get a handle on Steamboat's robust, rampant growth, which Lanning said is "taking off" at the base of Steamboat Ski Area and west of downtown.

"In my mind, this is to take advantage of our assets," Lanning said. "It's to understand what economic development is in 2008, because it's changing so much."

In its bid for the study, EPS cited several emerging trends in Steamboat and Routt County. About 10 percent of households in the county are engaged in location-neutral businesses, EPS said, adding that the "emerging type of business is anticipated to grow and play a larger part in the local economy."

EPS also noted that city staff expect about 2.5 million square feet of new development in Steamboat Springs during the next several years, fueled by sales tax revenues that have increased about 6 percent annually for the past 10 years.

City Council approval of the study Tuesday night came just before a presentation of the 2007 Summer Marketing Plan for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association. The association will spend nearly $250,000 to attract visitors to Steamboat through broadcast, print, mail and Web marketing efforts, along with research studies and airline-oriented advertising campaigns.

The advertising will take place in June and August, and will primarily target people between 28 and 54 years of age with families, children and income levels between $75,000 and $150,000.

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