Location-Neutral Workers Impact on Steamboat Springs Economy

In just about any Colorado mountain town you’ll hear “location-neutral” as the primary buzzword when it comes to employment and workforce. It seems that more and more people are leaving the bright lights of the big city in favor of the lifestyle that comes with living in the Rockies.

In Steamboat Springs, the portion of the local workforce that could choose to work from anywhere and has decided to call Steamboat home accounts for over 10% of labor. Yampa Valley Data Partners, an independent research group, reports that approximately 1,600 workers hold jobs considered location-neutral. This population contributes nearly $54 million annual income which is more than the aggregate payroll of our entire hospitality sector.

Some of the business-minded folks you’ll find in this category work professions including graphic and website design, financial and investment advisors, software tech, sales and freelance writers. These people influence and network with others living well outside of our county’s borders but choose Steamboat as their base of operations. This makes a strong argument for how the favorable lifestyle that draws people here for their first visit compels them to stay as well.

What’s interesting about such a stable location-neutral business sector is how they bring in dollars from outside of our area and make 20% more on average than the town’s current median income. The income these full-time residents earn is then spent locally and, in turn, boosts our overall tax base. This provides a lot of year-round stability to our economy so long as we continue to maintain the infrastructure needed to keep attracting these types of workers.

Some of the major considerations these people have when deciding to live here include the availability of high-speed broadband services, direct and connecting flights from Steamboat, and competitive shipping programs. But for many it’s purely the lifestyle and quality of living they get from making the mountains their home more than any infrastructure amenity they compare. You simply can’t beat the access one gets to world-class skiing, biking, hiking, arts and overall sense of community you’ll find here as compared to the constant bustle of metropolitan areas.

If you poll our location-neutral workers you’ll most likely find a consensus that Steamboat offers an incredibly high quality of life without much sacrifice in business services. Somewhere between the convenience of both the ski resort and downtown, along with direct access to the Colorado outdoors, you’ll find the perfect blend of work/life balance. You’ll also spot some very happy individuals who have made Steamboat their home over the last several years. There’s a thriving entrepreneurial mindset that’s energizing our community and it’s becoming almost palpable.

So if you’ve ever considered taking the leap of faith and relocating your family and business to Colorado, we ask that you come give it a try. Many of the like-minded individuals you’ll meet here will tell you the story of how they came to Steamboat “for 1 winter” and never left. I suppose you might argue that our biggest economic asset is our community itself. It’s just a great place to live.

by Cheryl Foote, Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty

~MTN Town Magazine

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