TAPP-ing into local economic development
By Cayla Vidmar
The Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association is taking on an updated mission and a new name to reflect its involvement with economic growth and creation of entrepreneurial opportunities in the valley.
John Norton, executive director of what was formerly called the Tourism Association, announced to the Gunnison Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) this week that they were excited to be embarking on a new mission that “encapsulated tourism, STOR [Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation], Western Colorado University, and the economic element in other ways besides tourism.” With the expanded mission, comes a new name: the Tourism and Prosperity Partnership, or TAPP.
The group decided to update its mission, to read “TAPP will also diversify and develop our economy in a sustainable manner through leadership on the Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee, support for Western Colorado University, and creation of entrepreneurial opportunities (e.g., ICELab). As such, TAPP will grow prosperity and opportunity for Gunnison Valley Residents.”
The BOCC supported the updated mission. “I’m happy to see the expansion because it identifies that there’s more opportunity here to grow our economy with an expanded mission… and I think you guys have the reach to help our community achieve these goals,” said BOCC chairperson Jonathan Houck.
“What we’re hearing from the community is that efforts around sustainable tourism, and the importance of the economic driver of Western Colorado University, and the opportunities this valley has for encouraging entrepreneurship, and those efforts for economic gardening with the ICELab—there’s lots of opportunity here and I think you guys are the ones to tell that story,” echoed commissioner John Messner.
“The board members took a very thoughtful approach, and are very enthusiastic to help the valley in ways we haven’t yet,” replied Norton.
Messner explained that two years ago, the conversation had centered on whether to ask the then-Tourism Association to take on a larger role with economic development, or to create something new. He reported he was happy they decided to keep those two points—economic development and sustainable tourism—under the same roof with the expanded TAPP mission.
In other news, the ICELab, which is now managed by TAPP, is seeking a new executive director with Delaney Keating’s departure. Norton reported that they’re already receiving interest from “pretty strong candidates,” and he expects they’ll have a good group to choose from.