Carbondale talks economic crisis | AspenTimes.com

Carbondale talks economic crisis

John Stroud
Carbondale correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE ” A national economic crisis fueled first by greed and then by fear may force consumers to think and act locally when it comes to weathering the recession.

That was one conclusion reached by a panel of local financial analysts convened as part of a two-day “Community Conversation on the Economy” on Wednesday night, organized by the town of Carbondale and the town’s chamber of commerce.

“One of the things we can do is keep things local, and work together to encourage people to shop local and focus on our local economy,” said Farrah Roberts, senior vice president of Alpine Bank in Carbondale.

At the same time, businesses may need to adjust the way they do business to better serve local consumers if they want to survive, she said.

Roberts was joined by Ron Speaker, president and CEO of the Carbondale-based Equus Private Wealth Management, and Dan Korleski, chief investment officer for American National Bank. The discussion was held to assess how the economic situation got to where it is today and what steps are being taken nationally to address the problem.

Perhaps more importantly for the nearly 100 people who turned out for the community roundtable was how the economic downturn is likely to affect Carbondale, and what local communities can do to weather the storm.

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“Be glad you are in Carbondale, Colorado, because it is a better place to survive this crisis,” said Speaker, who works with fixed-income investors to manage their finances.

That’s because the kinds of unique solutions required to pull through a recession of this magnitude are more likely to catch on in smaller communities that are already used to working together to address problems locally, he said.

“I believe people are really going to pull together on a local level,” Speaker said. “And people in this community know how to work together.”

Korleski pointed out that the “fear factor” as measured in the market volatility during the October meltdown was actually greater than it was after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“And that was a pretty fearful time,” he said.

The crisis on a national level was a result of too much greed and too many consumers spending beyond their means, the panel agreed.

“Everybody is to blame, and everybody had a part to play in this. Greed ruled the day,” Speaker said. “We consumed our way into this problem, and Wall Street and the lenders helped us get there.”

Carbondale resident Wendy Anderson turned it back onto the bankers on the panel to help the community find solutions.

“Banks are getting bailed out, but we’re not,” Anderson said. “We need our financial leaders to stand up as leaders and help bring it back to Main Street, and look at what

kinds of things can be done in the way of grants to small businesses and micro-enterprising.

“What we have in this community is incredible ingenuity. What we need is some leadership.”

The series continues Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Carbondale Town Hall with a follow-up discussion among local businesses on how to implement some of the ideas that arose from Wednesday night’s conversation.

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