ACRA support growing for new economic coordinator position | AspenTimes.com
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ACRA support growing for new economic coordinator position

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The Aspen Chamber Resort Association board voted Tuesday to support a proposal to hire someone who could coordinate the city’s efforts to revitalize the economy.

But the board of directors would like the job to be more well-defined before they consider whether or not to throw any money behind it. Board members asked the Economic Sustainability Committee for a more specific job description before any plans are set in stone.

Groups currently working to liven up the town’s economic situation include the Aspen Retail Merchants Association and the Downtown Improvement Group. The city has determined that their mission statements overlap.

The proposed position would unite the ideas of several committees and task forces, and work to implement them.

But under what entity that person would be employed, and the job description, are still up in the air. Mayor Helen Klanderud said the city is not interested in reinventing the wheel when it comes to future plans for economic sustainability.

“Instead of never being able to coalesce all of the efforts, this person would be here to do that,” she said.

But other ACRA directors noted the chamber does not necessarily have the financial wherewithal to support a new staff member.

“It’s not in our current budget to support a full-time position,” said ACRA President Hana Pevny. “It also needs to be evaluated in terms of how it’s funded because not every [commercial] core business is a member of the chamber, therefore we have to say, is it fair for our members to fund something that benefits the entire business community?”

Support for the position by ACRA can be found in the fact that even though it was initially proposed as a temporary, one-year job, board members were talking about a program that would last three to five years.

City Manager Steve Barwick attended Tuesday’s meeting, saying the City Council also does have funds available to support the position. However, the mayor questioned whether the person should wind up as a city employee.

“What I’m hearing this morning is that more clarification is needed. The city has run with the ball on this, and needs to know how quickly to move forward,” Klanderud said. “If the city decides to fund this, it’s in their control. How credibly is anything done if it comes straight from the city?”

Barwick said the position would include marketing and downtown revitalization ? two areas in which the city receives plenty of suggestions, but has no one to follow through with ideas. Determining how to implement the city’s own sustainability report would also be a key element of the position.

“I’m very excited about the city moving forward with the sustainability report, and I’m happy the city is behind it,” said board member Andy Modell. “I hope the community gets behind it, too.”

Molly Campbell, the ACRA board chairwoman, said she will meet with a subcommittee of ACRA board members to come up with their own specific work plan for the position ? and the maximum they might be able to spend.

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com]


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