Brower: On the economic divisions that unite Grand County
Let’s face it: Even though Grand County is one county, it’s a county that consists of three distinct regions.
While much can be made of the divisions or separations these distinct regions create, I think the truth is that having these three regions actually helps Grand County from the perspective of economics and business.
The three regions consist of the Upper Fraser Valley (Winter Park, Fraser, Tabernash and most everything on the Tabernash side of Red Dirt Hill), the central Grand County area (which consists of Granby, Grand Lake and Hot Sulphur Springs) and the west end, which is basically everything west of Byers Canyon, which includes Kremmling and Parshall.
The challenge from a business perspective with each of these regions is that alone, any one of these regions struggles to have enough population and tourist visitation to make it as a stand-alone region. But when combined with the other regions, either through the addition of local population or the overflow of tourist traffic, the numbers for economic success look better. Much better.
Take the Winter Park and Fraser area as an example. That region can thrive quite well during the five-month winter season, thanks to the benefits of the Winter Park Resort and Devils Thumb Ranch combined with a healthy second home population. But during the summer months, although they have been growing steadily for the Fraser Valley, the overall economic impact is less robust.
But the summer months are helped greatly by the serendipitous melding of Grand Lake’s booming three-month summer economy. Whether it’s overflow visitors who are venturing outside of Grand Lake for new things to do, or whether it’s the abundant drive-by traffic of tourists heading over Berthoud Pass on their way to Rocky Mountain National Park, the visitor numbers in Winter see a boost because of the relative proximity of Grand Lake to Winter Park and Fraser in Grand County.
The converse is true during the winter months, when Grand Lake’s slower winter economy gets a boost from “overflow” visitation out of the Fraser Valley, whether it be for ice fishing, Nordic skiing or snowmobiling.
The wide open spaces of Kremmling and its abundant trails, combined with white water rafting and “western” adventures on horseback, create a unique attraction in West Grand County that can lure a Granby-based visitor to the other side of Byers Canyon. In fact, many Winter Park and Grand Lake visitors make the trek to and through Kremmling for rafting on the Colorado River, balancing out the regional disparities in the county.
To sum it up, the experience of visitors in one part of the county are almost always enriched and made whole by the range of experiences available in the other parts of the county. You could call it the Grand County package.
For locals, this sort of unified diversity applies as well. Whether it’s for housing, grocery shopping or schools, each region depends on the other for amenities and offerings that make it possible for people to live and work here in a complete way. Winter Park Resort employees live in Granby and Hot Sulphur Springs while other year-round Kremmling residents may come and ski and play in Winter Park or at Granby Ranch.
As time progresses and as the county continues to grow, each region will probably become more self-sufficient, as it were. But the truth is that the unified diversity that makes living and playing in Grand County something unique will persist.
And that’s good for each region in the entire county.
Patrick Brower is the Enterprise Facilitator for the Grand Enterprise Initiative. He provides free and confidential business management coaching for anyone who wants to start or expand a business in Grand County. He can be reached at 970-531-0632 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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