Residents will soon have the opportunity to help shape a more prosperous and successful future for the valley’s communities through the One Valley Prosperity Project.
The One Valley Prosperity Project is the result of previous discussions between the County, municipal government and local business representatives focused on finding ways to strengthen economic opportunity for the valley’s businesses and communities and to improve regional collaboration.
Leading the County-wide initiative is the Community Builders Task Force, which includes representatives from Community Foundation of the Gunnison Valley, Gunnison County, the City of Gunnison, Western State Colorado University, Crested Butte South Property Owner’s Association, Town of Crested Butte, Town of Mt. Crested Butte, and Crested Butte Mountain Resort. The task force organized after attending a training hosted by the Sonoran Institute in 2014.
Gunnison County entered into a contract with the Glenwood Springs office of the Sonoran Institute, a non-profit organization that helps communities throughout the west achieve their economic and community development goals. The contract outlines activities and responsibilities associated with a new initiative called the One Valley Prosperity Project (OVPP), which aims to achieve making all of the valley’s communities more prosperous places.
According to the contract, the first initiative of the prosperity project is to conduct a community-wide dialogue providing residents – from Gunnison to Gothic – an opportunity to think strategically about how to create a more prosperous future for the region – one that honors the community’s values, builds upon local strengths, and synergizes local efforts. The result of this dialogue will be the One Valley Prosperity Strategy. It will guide policy and investments to support the economy for all three municipalities and the county.
Historically, communities in Gunnison County have higher poverty rates, lower wages and higher costs of living compared to most cities in Colorado. We can do better.
“By gathering the valley-wide community to conduct an honest, open and inclusive assessment of our strengths and challenges, we can collectively build a foundation upon which we guide our vision,” said Gunnison county commissioner Jonathan Houck. “This can be a vision that respects our values while actively pursuing opportunities that will increase potential for true prosperity and long term security for the Gunnison Valley.”
Sonoran Institute staff will provide technical assistance to the Community Builders Task Force as the prosperity project advances, and will be working with community partners to develop the project, offer feedback, and provide guidance and facilitation.
Public opinion and inclusion is at the center of the project, said Julie Feier, chief financial officer for Western State Colorado University (WSCU), and member of the Community Builders Task Force.
“Community prosperity can be defined in a unique way by each of us and we hope to have a large community turnout to establish a shared definition of prosperity,” she said. “WSCU is honored and excited to be working with such a committed group of valley residents focused on generating actionable outcomes for a more vital community.”
The project’s goals and timelines will be officially unveiled at the project kick-off event on March 4, 2015 in the University Center Ballroom at WSCU. Over the next few weeks, the project is holding a photo contest with cash prizes for the best images depicting what residents love about the Gunnison Valley. To learn more about the One Valley Prosperity Project, the contest and how to become involved, visit the project’s website, www.onevalleyprosperity.com or Facebook page.