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Some bright spots on the horizon

Most people in business and finance agree that, although it has been publicly announced that we are out of the recession, the concern is not over yet.

Public confidence is not back, as people are still conservative in purchasing large items, and cautious in small “buying excursions.”

Families are traveling closer to home and taking shorter and more regional trips.

Pagosa has experienced some loosening of dollars as, in recent weeks and through the summer months, business has been up. Tourism is up, and there are some bright spots on the horizon.

Just a few months ago the Pagosa Lodge sold, and plans for its renovation have been announced. Pagosa’s largest banquet facility will get a facelift, and owners Neel and Chirag Patel have plans to attract clientele and group business.

Another recent sale involves the San Juan Motel and plans for an upgrade there. With the combination of cabins, motel rooms, new suites and nearby meeting facilities, this upgrade will be another enhancement of the downtown district.

Staying in the lodging industry, we also congratulate Hart’s Rocky Mountain Retreat for an expansion to include more meeting space and provide packages to attract people to Pagosa. Two conference rooms that can seat up to 24 people, audio/visual equipment, and catered meals are just a few of the amenities that are now in place in an attempt to serve local meetings and attract out-of-town trade to a business retreat.

A part of the market we get a number of calls about, and that the Town Tourism Committee is trying to market better, is the wedding sector. What prettier place to have a wedding than in Pagosa Springs? Various entities are improving their facilities to accommodate this sector of the tourism market.

In the arts department, a private entity has just purchased the old Paint Connection facility and is looking at turning it into a performing arts facility. At press time, all the details are not known, however, I hope to report back soon with more information. The Pagosa Arts Alliance is working with the private entity to expand theater arts in Pagosa. Also revamping space is Wild Spirit Gallery. They will be able to seat about 100 people, also in a performance area. Anything from poetry readings, to music, to theater can be arranged.

The community has really jumped on board with the improvement of the Reservoir Hill area. The creation of as little as a sledding hill will help the community immensely, offering a location in town for families to enjoy our snow. If the pass is closed, we will also be able to offer an expanded “Winter Whiteout” program.

With creation of a Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation community grant writer position, we hope that various Pagosa entities will receive funding to help with beautification efforts, parks and trails, or other community improvements on the “wish lists” of the town, county, CDC and TTC. Having someone focus on grant money our community can tap into in order to fund improvements is a tremendous bonus to Pagosa.

The housing market has also seen a bit of a brighter day recently. There have been more homes sold so far this year, and for a higher average price. The real estate agents are working hard to keep properties moving in Pagosa. Construction has still not returned in great force, but there are renovations taking place and there is construction work to be had.

There are still areas to improve on. We need to continue trying to fill the old City Market space as soon as possible. Even removing the skeletal sign would be an improvement.

With the groups coming to town later on this year and scheduling visits next year, every business needs to offer the best in hospitality. Look at your hours of operation for the winter. Would it behoove you to open earlier, or stay open a little later on the weekends to accommodate the skiers? How about your hours during the Parade of Stores, to accommodate the local shoppers?

We want to strongly encourage businesses to take advantage of the Economic Development Incentives offered by the town. If you have expanded your business, started a business, or attended training classes to improve your business, you might qualify. Why not take advantage of this financial opportunity? Deadline dates have been expanded, so there is no reason not to apply.

Where are you going to take your business in the next few months? Keep reading this column and see if you can get some ideas or take advantage of some of the educational opportunities the Chamber has in store for you.

Business Bites

On Tuesday, Oct. 19, the Chamber will host the monthly Business Bites luncheon.

This month, David Mitchem, Pagosa Springs town manager, will discuss the economic development rebate incentives that were put in place last year for builders, new businesses, expanded businesses, and others. As mentioned above, the due date has been extended. I can easily think of six to 10 businesses that could qualify.

Directions and guidelines for the incentive are available online at If you want to fill out the forms for the incentive, stop by Town Hall. There will also be forms available at the Business Bites luncheon on Oct. 19.

Mitchem will explain in detail how you can qualify, make this a painless process and score some potential revenue for your business. You deserve it — don’t miss taking advantage of this business opportunity.

The Business Bites session will be held at the Ross Aragon Community Center on Tuesday, Oct. 19, at noon. Lunch will be served and the cost is only $5. Walk-ins are always welcome; however, we would appreciate a call to the Chamber to reserve your space and to ensure we have enough lunch for everyone.

Voter information

It is election year and the candidates and issues are in the news these days. Now is the time to be educated. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2. There will be several opportunities to research the issues.

First off, you should receive a 2010 State Ballot Information Booklet in the mail. It will give you pros and cons of the state issues.

On Wednesday, Oct. 13, and Tuesday, Oct. 19, the League of Women Voters will host forums. The forum on the 13th will focus on the state candidates and ballot issues, while the forum on the 19th will focus on local candidates and issues. Both forums will be held at the County Extension Building at 6 p.m.

Then on Thursday, Oct. 21, the Chamber will co-host a forum focusing on the statewide ballot issues: Amendments 60 and 61, and Proposition 101. Reeves Brown, executive director of Club 20, a Western Slope advocacy group, will be on hand to conduct the annual Archuleta County caucus meeting and then speak about the “Bad Three.” The luncheon will be held at Pagosa Pub Works at noon for the caucus meeting, with the interactive session after the meeting. The lunch and forum is open to the public. The Chamber also has lawn signs available for any businesses or entities in opposition to 60, 61 and 101.

Club 20 focuses on issues important to the state, particularly on those that affect Western Slope communities of Colorado. Water, public lands, education, transportation, business, telecommunication, tourism, and health care all have an impact on our rural part of the state. If you are interested in finding out more about Club 20 and how you can be involved, please attend the meeting.

We hope you will get out and vote. Before voting, though, learn about the candidates and issues. We hope you take advantage of your opportunities.

October SunDowner

Typically, SunDowners are held the fourth Wednesday of the month, except in November and December. Due to a schedule change, the October SunDowner will be held the third Wednesday of the month, Oct. 20. This month, the Chamber of Commerce is taking the opportunity to host the monthly SunDowner to honor one of Pagosa’s businesses — Growing Spaces.

Nominated by the Small Business Development Center, Growing Spaces was recently awarded by the state as “One of the 2010 Colorado Companies to Watch.” To receive the award, companies must be in a second-stage growth position and developing valuable products and services, creating quality jobs, enriching communities and creating new industries throughout the state. No other Pagosa business has ever won this award.

We thought this would be a perfect opportunity to celebrate one of Pagosa’s own, which, for over 21 years, has been working to improve the business and its business contributions.

We would like to see more Pagosa businesses nominated in the years to come. Come to the SunDowner and find out how you can qualify for this award, or just come out and support one of Pagosa’s own. The SunDowner will be held at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center beginning at 5 p.m. We will have some delicious food and beverages available in a festive fall environment.

Cake decorating

Ever wonder how those fancy cakes are decorated? Ever wanted to try your hand at decorating cakes? Maybe you make a delicious cake but would like to add a little bit more pizzaz in the display.

Join Tracy Nations, cake decorator at the Pagosa Baking Company, Saturday, Oct. 16, from noon to 2 p.m. as she takes you through the motions of beginning cake decorating. Learn to level, flat ice and border a cake, plus make a simple rose. The class includes an 8-inch cake, the icing, icing spatula, pastry bag, coupler, decorating nail and three decorating tips. The class is $65 and is limited to eight people. Interested parties must register by Oct. 11. For more information, contact Pagosa Baking Company at 264-9348.


We have these business renewals to mention this week: Pagosa Springs Family Medicine Center; Jim Smith Realty; Centerpoint Church; and Mary Jo Hannay with Concierge Real Estate Services. Our renewing Friends of the Chamber this week are the person in perpetual motion — Lisa Scott — and Genelle Macht, who continues to be a Visitor Center diplomat even in her 90s! Both these ladies are inspirations.

We look forward to seeing you at the events this month. Don’t miss your opportunity to pick up some funding through the town initiatives and find other ways to enhance your business.