How communities attract, grow and keep jobs and talent in the Rocky Mountain West

This study was completed through Community Builders, an initiative of the Sonoran Institute. Community Builders provides information, research, insight and analysis for developers, realtors, planners, public o cials and engaged citizens who are actively building stronger economies in the towns and cities of the American West.

The Sonoran Institute is a nonprofit organization that works on community development and conservation throughout the West. The Sonoran Institute’s Western Colorado and Northern Rockies o ces are partners in this study, covering Western Colorado, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

With this study, the Community Builders team received support from a consultant team that included:

• GP Red, a non-pro t organization founded to fully recognize and expand research, education, and resource development activities for community “quality of life” agencies; and

• RRC Associates, a rm specializing in survey research for mountain communities and resorts

Local leaders intuitively recognize that building a great community is essential to building a strong and resilient economy, but what underlies this linkage and how can communities strengthen it?

These are the guiding questions behind the Place Value study, which explores why people and businesses are drawn to particular communities in the Rocky Mountain West.

Place Value comes at a time when many communities are seeking new approaches to economic development that respond to changing market and scal realities. What people are seeking from their jobs and communities is also changing. A growing number of people prioritize quality of life over other factors, including employment opportunities, in decisions about where to live, work, or start a business. At the same time, today’s technology and the growth of knowledge-based industries allow people and businesses far greater exibility in where they locate. Yet for many communities, particularly those with resort economies, high cost of living, long commutes and limited employment opportunities are barriers to attracting and retaining a talented workforce.

Place Value explores these trends and what they mean for Rocky Mountain communities. Drawing on the perspectives of business owners as well as community members, Place Value aims to clarify the role of different community attributes – from taxes and zoning to quality of life and cost of living – in creating and supporting resilient local economies.