Friday, August 10, 2012

Mountain Town News


Romney, governors barnstorm Colorado

BASALT, Colo.—Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and 10 of his best buddies, all of them Republican governors, as he once was, shared the stage at a rally held in Basalt, located near Aspen.

"Get out of our way, government, we know what's best!" demanded one of the governors, Arizona's Jan Brewer.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert testified that based on what Romney did in turning around the corruption-tinged and financially troubled 2002 Olympics in Utah, he's convinced Romney will do the same for the United States. "I saw it happen, and the nation needs the same kind of turnaround," said Herbert, according to a report in The Aspen Daily News.

Twelve employees of Gould Construction, an excavating firm, were placed behind Romney, some of them wearing their hard hats, and before the backdrop of a giant American flag.

For students of irony, there's a delicious one here. Arizona's governor has defended that state's crackdown on illegal immigration with tactics that many people believe constitute racial profiling.

However, Gould Construction officials talked in 2006 on a television special with Tom Brokaw about the company's troubles in finding hard-working but legally documented workers willing to dig trenches at construction projects for $14 an hour.

Colorado then was considering an immigration law, and Mark Gould, principal of the firm, told Brokaw of adverse consequences.

"If it's enforced and everyone complies, we are going to lose almost 10 percent portion of our workforce in Colorado, which is absolutely—will have an impact on our economy," he told Brokaw.

And the result of shipping illegal immigrants home? "Well, the cost of construction is gonna go up and so that's a barrier to people getting into their houses," he said.

Summer economy roars in Colorado

ASPEN, Colo.—While Aspen city officials continue to be cautious about the future and real estate sales are a perplexing, muddled story, the tourism economy is bursting at the seams.

During June, the city recorded $44 million in activities subject to the sales tax, such as restaurant meals and lodging. That's an increase of nearly 16 percent over the same month in 2011.

In Vail, the story is also of rapid growth in retail sales and lodging. June sales tax collections were the second highest ever.

In interviews with the Vail Daily, local officials responsible for marketing were happy to take credit for the gains.

"Instead of branding Vail as something for everybody, we're really honed in on messages about events and activities people say they're interested in," said Mia Vlaar, a member of the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council.

But again, as in winter, when good snow makes heroes and heroines out of marketing people, there was something else going on in June, too. "It's no minor detail that hot weather has driven people here," said Beth Slifer, chair of the marketing council.

Squaw Valley hopes to expand bed base

SQUAW VALLEY, Calif.—When Denver-based KSL Capital partners purchased Squaw Valley in 2010, it was clear that the resort would be remade in the model of the destination ski areas of Colorado. That is happening.

Local government officials in California recently heard that KSL is applying to do a real estate project that will substantially add to the resort's bed base.

The resort has 100 acres planned for development. The first phase, of 1 million square feet, would use a quarter of that land.

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