Success Stories!

Nine Comapnies in NWCCOG's Region Recognized as among "100 Best Places to Work in 2017" by Outside Magazine

By Jon Stavney, NWCCOG Executive Director

Outside Magazine’s November 7th edition highlighted “100 Best Places to Work in 2017” noting, “from unlimited vacation time to powder days, these are places that know how to treat their employees.” 
Sound familiar?  The type of company highlighted should.  They practice values-based organizational culture that fits out NWCCOG region perfectly.  They heavily leverage local lifestyle and location specific amenities (ski hills, trails, bikable places), flexible hours and work diligently at team building.  
Of the 100 workplaces noted, most are in West, 36 are in Colorado, and 7 of those are in the NWCCOG region. Of those Best Places to Work in our region:

  • only one pays an average salary above area median income of $70K (of those provided).
  • Six are smaller “professional” companies, in architecture, media, travel or marketing
  • Two brag that their primary work is outside – RA Nelson (construction) and A-Basin (ski)
  • All employ creative workplace concepts that take advantage of choice and place, like
    • Company bikes for errands and workouts
    • Generous flex time and paid time off
    • Regular group activities & outdoor “meetings”
    • Weekly perks – free staff yoga or other group fitness opportunities
    • Annual allowances for individual discretion for education, family or fitness purposes
It is important to note that appreciating place and quality of life is not a passive matter.  It is not good enough to just have the right zip code.  Savvy employers are leveraging the advantages of place by tailoring creative company policies.
My guess is that these places are consciously developing their talent just as they are cultivating culture.  Many of the benefits noted are not expensive, but they do require leadership that values company culture and that empowers and trusts employees to be able to balance work with play and family—things that local governments don’t always give themselves the permission to embrace for a variety of fears. 
Take note that the benefits above are not just for “cool” start-up companies with unlimited budgets and talent attracted by an upcoming public offering.  They do leverage the principles about intrinsic motivation so well outlined by Daniel Pink in his book, Drive.  My guess is that by leaning in to company culture, these companies get a return on investment in their employees back 10-fold over “traditional, 9 to 5” employers.   The workplace is moving in this direction, and these employers are following national trends that are outlined in the “Gallup State of the American Workplace Report” that include in a nutshell, more workplace flexibility and a workplace that values the ability to make choices and shape their workplace and want to grow in thier work.
I do think it is noteworthy that none of the 100 organizations highlighted were local governments.  
I bring this up because we talk a lot in the public sector about how challenging succession planning is with an aging workforce.  The benefits that motivated employees retiring today are not the same as those that will motivate their 30-year old successors.  We may talk a lot about governments about values, but we don’t structure our benefits or our management practices to make our workplaces attractive to next generation talent, let alone reevaluating our policies to emerging workforce trends.
That said, I worked for a place that quietly did all that—Eagle County Government.  The county worked very hard at playing up employee quality of life, flexible hours and a company culture focused on wellness.  As a result, it retained motivated and engaged employees.  We didn’t broadcast it.  I don’t really think we used it to attract talent.   I suspect there are other local governments that do this as well, but quietly.
After all, what will taxpayers say?  They often tell government employees, “you work for me.”  So we get defensive.  Penurious.  Sometimes we in government act as though we think that taxpayers must prefer inactive, unmotivated, underperforming employees who enjoy hiding behind red tape.  Employees closely micromanaged by directors who manage like it is still 1950.  Who suppress innovation because that is the way we have always done it.  Who value “job security” above leading change.  Outside magazine didn’t say it, but remember most job satisfaction surveys still rate an employees’ relationship with their boss as the number one reason for job satisfaction. 
My point is that most local governments are often GREAT places to work.  They are service based enterprises that enjoy a built-in values framework of serving community.  They often boast very solid retirement and health plans that sometimes to balance an inability to keep up with private sector wages.  This is one of the reasons I always had mixed feelings about celebrating longevity without also actively celebrating performance.  But do we lack in the kind of innovative benefits that would help local governments attract next generation talent.

Vail Valley Partnership Chosen as CareerWise Colorado Launch Site

By Chris Romer, President/CEO, Vail Valley Partnership - read full story here
Apprenticeship Program Designed to Shape Workforce Through Innovative Business-Led Youth Apprenticeships
The Vail Valley Partnership (VVP) and CareerWise Colorado announced the launch of CareerWise, an apprenticeship initiative designed to positively address our community workforce needs.
Colorado's economy is growing, and our education system is not keeping pace. The reality is that students in Colorado are graduating with a skill gap that is negatively affecting businesses. This means we must rethink education, employing innovative and collaborative solutions. Using the Swiss Apprenticeship System as a model for inspiration, CareerWise is determined to unite businesses and educators to provide a business-led, student-centered program that addresses real-world needs.
"Along with CareerWise, our local team including Eagle County Schools Colorado Mountain College, YouthPower 365, Vail Valley Partnership, and numerous business leaders are prepared to guide businesses, work with educators, support students, and oversee the entire process to ensure success," said Erik Williams, director of community development at Vail Valley Partnership. "This model and program will help local employers grow new talent for the long-term and at the same time assist students in identifying career pathways and finding rewarding employment here in the valley."
Hosting apprenticeships and becoming a training business isn't about charity, it's about investing in your future. Companies regularly identify the problem of recruiting skilled job candidates as a major challenge, but Colorado's youth still stands massively underemployed. This is a threat to our state's long-term growth. Programs similar to CareerWise apprenticeships result in less turnover and fewer wasted training dollars. 70 percent of Colorado adults are not from the Centennial State. They are highly educated transplants that have come to fill a desperate need for talent among Colorado companies. At the same time, local youth faces high unemployment rates. Countries with similar programs to CareerWise have the lowest youth unemployment rates in the world. With the help of educators and businesses, we can solve Colorado's workforce issues.
To learn more about the CareerWise program launch in Eagle County, contact Erik Williams at 970.477.4000 or via email at 


Patti Clapper, Pitkin County Commissioner to be panelist at "I'm Home" conference Oct. 2-4 in Providence, RI

For the past 13 years, I'M HOME has convened a range of stakeholders interested in applying manufactured housing solutions to affordable housing challenges. Its annual conference brings together affordable housing developers and advocates, lenders, policymakers, industry experts, homeowners, community organizers and more. The issues of I'M HOME range from the ever-growing wealth gap to the financial needs of young workers to being the primary advocate for housing financial options for low-income buyers of manufactured housing. 
Patti Clapper, Pitkin County Commissioner and Vice-Chair of the NWCCOG Economic Development District Board, has been invited to participate in a panel discussion entitled "The Policy and Practice of Preserving Communities". This invitation came about after the Prosperity Now staff learned from local Aspen newspaper articles that Pitkin County was considering pursuing the purchase of the Phillip's Mobile Home Park property in an effort to prevent this existing affordable employee housing from being eliminated/demolished to make way for private free-market development. Commissioner Clapper responded to and accepted this invitation to speak due to the fact that when she was on the BOCC from 1999 to 2011, she was involved in the preservation of 3 mobile home parks in Pitkin County.  Also, since 1987 she has owned her 1967 single-wide trailer home and property in the Smuggler Trailer Park (now known as the Smuggler Mountain Park). This was the first manufactured housing community to be preserved in Pitkin County in a joint effort with the City of Aspen. So, she has a deep understanding of  the importance of preserving existing manufactured housing communities and why we must also support and promote the ability to create new manufactured housing communities. Commissioner Clapper accepted the invitation to participate in this conference because it presents her with an  opportunity to listen to and learn from other communities across the country about what is being done, and how they are addressing the issues related to affordable housing so that she can bring what she learns back to our local and regional partners. 
About I'M HOME
Since 2005, Prosperity Now and a select group of national partners including the Ford Foundation, Wells Fargo Housing Foundation, NeighborWorks® America, Rural LISC, ROC USA®, Next Step®, NCB Capital Impact, and Fannie Mae have worked to unlock the potential of manufactured housing through the Innovations in Manufactured Homes (I'M HOME) initiative. Its goal is to transform manufactured homes into valuable family assets offering the opportunity to build equity and achieve economic security.

Colorado Mountain College Celebrates 50th Anniversary

From the beginning, Colorado Mountain College has flourished because local citizens have valued the way education can enliven their communities. In the early 1960s, visionaries sought approval for a college district. Taxpayers caught the vision and overwhelmingly voted to fund it.  The two original campuses were built simultaneously with modular buildings transported from Denver.
Classes opened on October 2, 1967 to the sound of carpenters' finishing cuts.
Within five years, classes were also offered in Aspen, Rifle, Salida, Eagle County and Summit County.  Today, CMC has 7 campuses in our region.
CMC now offers the third most affordable bachelor's degrees in the nation. It offers five 4-year Bachelors degrees (Business Administration; Elementary Education; Nursing, Sustainable Studies; Leadership and Management), as well as 54 Associates Degrees and 71 Certificate programs. It is home to the Isaacson School for New Media and is planning to add programs in avalanche technology and action sports in fall 2017. CMC has 7 campus in NWCCOG member communities:
  • Aspen
  • Breckenridge
  • Dillon
  • Glenwood Springs
  • Carbondale
  • Steamboat Springs
  • Edwards

 Colorado has lowest adult obesity rate in the nation

 The Trust of America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a report comprised of data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed 25 states had adult obesity rates above 30 percent, topped by West Virginia at 37.7 percent. Mississippi was second at 37.3 percent. In 2000, no state had a rate above 25 percent. Colorado was the lowest in the nation at 22.3 percent.  We are in a healthy state!
Read full story here - Denver Post, 09.01.17

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Archived Success Stories Bulletins:

August 3, 2017- Stories:

  • Two NWCCOG communities recipients of second round of Blueprint 2.0 Initiatives designed to boost economies
  • Vail looking to be the 1st Certified Green Destination
  • Rocky Mountain National Park receives $200,000 grant
  • Flight capacity expanded at airports in the NWCCOG Region

July 24, 2017 - Stories:

  • Business in the Region Recognized as one of 50 "Colorado Companies to Watch" - Two Leaves and a Bud Tea Company in Basalt
  • Duke University Completes Successful Nonprofit Management Course through the Vail Centre's University Program
  • NWCCOG's New Year's Wellness Challenge: An Initiative of the Worksite Wellness Program
June 27, 2017 - Stories:
  • The Vail Centre Offers Top University Certificate Courses  Recently completes successful Cornell Certificate Course for Hospitality Professionals 
  • Steamboat Springs - a NWCCOG community -receives Certified Creative District Status
  • Eagle County awards first round of Neighborhood Partnership Program grants
  • WorkWell Collaborative Completes Year 2: Helps 77  businesses start worksite wellness programs in the region
June 5, 2017 - Stories:
  • City of Aspen initiatives Compact for Colorado Communities: Committing to Forming Statewide Network to Fight Climate Change - 14 NWCCOG Communities are signatories
  • Vail Valley Partnership Celebrates Business Success with 14th Annual Awards
  • Our Region is Healthy! Summit, Eagle and Pitkin Counties take first, second, and third in highest life expectancies in the nation
April 19, 2017 - Stories:
  • Startup Weekend Breckenridge a Great Success
  • Peak One Neighborhood in Frisco Featured in National Affordable Housing Report
  • Town of Silverthorne Plans for its Downtown; Developer Selected for 'Fourth Street Crossing,' a Downtown Revitalization Catalyst Project
  • Our Region is Healthy! Three of our counties rank in top 10 in Report on Health Statistics