Louisa Morrissey: Silverthorne at a crossroads
Driving home to Silverthorne I was struck once again by the beauty of the Blue River Valley; of the Gore Range, Mount Silverthorne, and my old friends, Red and Buffalo. A river flows through this valley, so does history. The Native Americans, the miners and settlers, the ranchers, the dam, the freeway, the resort development, and in recent years, the coming of the big box retailers. The Blue River has flowed along through all of this, but sometimes these days, its hard to find the river, and recent plans for a Home Depot threaten the health of this river, and also the health of this community.
As the town of Silverthorne awaits a viable plan from Home Depot regarding traffic impact, the town council has a chance to reevaluate if this development is truly good for the environment, business and physical, of its town. The council has an understandable interest and responsibility in maintaining a solid tax base, and the lure of a Home Depot is certainly appealing when looked at from the surface. But let’s think about it a little more.
Recent studies show some important statistics:
• Three times more revenue is returned into the local community from locally owned businesses than from big boxes. Local businesses use other local businesses for services. Big boxes outsource these.
• Hidden costs of big boxes include subsidies from the local towns as well as increased costs of roads, transportation, sewers, etc. Local businesses actually lower taxes by not requiring the extent of these improvements as big boxes do.
• Local businesses actually bring in MORE tax revenue per sales dollar
• Local businesses consume less land and resources and tend to carry more locally made products.
Most importantly, local business owners LIVE in their communities. They have kids in school, they fish the river, they hike and ski the mountains. The corporate execs of big boxes do not live in this community. Their ultimate purpose is to make money for their shareholders on Wall Street. Let me repeat … their ultimate purpose is to make money for their shareholders on Wall Street. The Wall Street people DO NOT CARE about this valley, they probably don’t even know it exists. They DO NOT CARE whether people in this valley will be hired for three months, then laid off once the big box or chain has purposely choked and killed any local competition. In bad times they DO NOT CARE what happens to this community. If they do not make money here, they have no problem leaving and abandoning a huge monolith to failure, left in our valley.
We stand at a crossroads. There is a growing interest from the public in supporting and buying from local business. In Silverthorne, we can maintain and even enhance our local flavor and character, giving tourists a better reason to come visit. What if we made a place where people came to visit our TOWN and not just a store?
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