It may be a long road fraught with unknowns, but local community members and officials are joining forces to take the first steps along that road to recovery.
At the latest intergovernmental meeting on Monday afternoon via Zoom, officials from Telluride, Mountain Village, the county and other local officials discussed a range of issues related to the current state and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic within the region. Dan Jansen, chairman of the Telluride Tourism Board and the recently formed Economy Recovery Committee (ERC), provided an update on the progress of the ERC.
“Our goal is simple: It’s really to get our locals back to work. This is a public health crisis, but we can start to plan for what we know will be the recovery. Our charter is to coordinate, communicate and provide input to our decision makers,” he said, highlighting that the committee does not possess decision-making authority, but rather is composed of various members of the business community, regional governments and local organizations to strategize and advise on the best path towards economic recovery.
The committee, comprised of over two dozen members, has focused recent work on developing protocols for the eventual reopening of the area’s various business sectors, such as lodging, food and beverage, retail, and outfitters.
“Each of the 10-plus sectors represented have developed operating protocols for how they will open,” Jansen said, noting the many interdependencies between the sectors and the necessity of a phased approach. He said the committee’s work to develop sound protocols marked a milestone as community heads into the next phase of recovery.
“It will have its own challenges, and we are by no means declaring victory. We also know that there are a lot of issues that remain,” he said, citing unique considerations for industries such as restaurants and real estate, as well as both the supply and demand sides of the business equation providing further unknowns to navigate on the path to recovery.
For the medium-term, the ERC will continue to address the myriad questions surrounding a phased reopening, including the reopenings of the restaurant, bar and events sectors; further openings for partially opened sectors like construction and real estate; communications with second homeowners who provide critical support for local businesses; and the when-where-how of allowing and promoting visits to the area, among other concerns. As local communities prepare for the new normal of an upcoming summer season without many of its major festivals and events, the ERC aims to work more closely alongside county recovery initiatives and to solicit input from the general public.
“There’s a lot of work to be done. It’s great to see the community come together for a common goal at a time like this,” Jansen said before thanking Telski CEO Bill Jensen, who will soon be taking the helm as the new ERC chair.
Jenson agreed that the path to recovery will be “a long road,” and one that requires the difficult task of striking a delicate balance between protecting the financially vulnerable and local businesses while prioritizing public health and safety.
“The safety of our community always has to be the first priority, but I also realize that many, many people in our community live paycheck to paycheck, and I also realize that many of our small businesses survive season to season,” Jenson said, while expressing hope that the spread of the virus may be slowing and thus allowing the community to move towards recovery. “As ERC chair, I want to ensure that every voice is heard, that those ideas and comments are considered in the decisions that this committee makes, that will then report to the county with guidance from the business side.”