Summit County: Senate candidates zero in on local economy |

Summit County: Senate candidates zero in on local economy

summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado

While both candidates for state Senate District 16 agree that encouraging small business is critical to improving the local economy, Don Ytterberg and Dan Gibbs differ in their views on promoting growth.

Coming off his freshman term at the Capitol, Gibbs is looking to continue his work toward eliminating personal business property taxes and alleviating the financial presses on small businesses throughout the state.

“I want to continue to look at ways to cut the red tape and reduce the tax burden on our local business owners,” the Summit County Democrat said. “I want to increase the threshold for the exemptions so businesses can write off more money and make more of a profit.”

While his Republican challenger supports the idea of reducing tax burdens for small businesses, Ytterberg also feels it’s time to entice more outside businesses to grow roots in Summit County.

“To say small business is the backbone of the Colorado economy is an understatement,” said Ytterberg, who lives in Evergreen. “I think what we really need is greater access to our available resources so we can stimulate our own economy.”

If elected, Ytterberg’s main goal is the creation of more primary jobs in the region. More specifically, Ytterberg feels the state needs greater access to federal forest lands to become more appealing to the timber industry.

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“If we had federal permission to do timber work in our forest, we could create more jobs and put more money back into our economy,” Ytterberg said. “There are already resources in Colorado that could help businesses thrive.”

Given that Summit County’s economy is largely dependent on tourism, Gibbs believes that encouraging the timber industry would significantly disrupt the natural aesthetics of the county, thus hindering the economic climate.

“Looking at the bigger picture, people visit and live in Summit County because of its beautiful scenery,” Gibbs said. “Taking bulldozers through our forest is not well thought out, and the state already does not have the money to manage the forest. I’ve been a champion for the environment because I understand that up here the economy and the environment are linked.”

Despite party differences, both candidates bring business experience to the ballot.

As a longtime business owner, Ytterberg is the past president of the Colorado Association of Metal Finishers and former director of the Northwest Metro Chamber of Commerce.

A former small-business manager, Gibbs is a current member of the Summit Chamber of Commerce and a former board member of the Colorado Tourism Office.

“Our No. 1 business up here is tourism, and we need an elected official that understands the unique challenges that the industry faces,” Summit Chamber of Commerce director Sharon Russell said. “Things like staffing, housing and childcare have huge impacts on small business, and many times it becomes an issue of survival.”

In the midst of tough economic times, both candidates are vowing to put the local economy on the top of the priority list if elected.

Gibbs and Ytterberg strongly support the work being done by local chambers and encourage businesses to use the networking tools provided through existing infrastructures.

“We need to have our trade school and local colleges working together with the local business community,” Ytterberg said. “To advance the next generation of competent business people we need to provide them with opportunities today.”