Thinking Long Term in Grand County

An interesting story caught my eye this morning on the Facebook feed from The Sky-Hi News.  It speaks to both potential opportunity and a possible absence of long-term thought for the county and its residents.

The once-Shorefox property has been approved for sale from the Town of Granby to Sun Communities, an RV and manufactured home community developer based in Michigan. According to their website,

“Sun Communities, Inc. is a fully integrated real estate investment trust, which together with its affiliates and predecessors, has been in the business of acquiring, operating, developing and expanding manufactured home and RV communities since 1975.

As the nation’s premier owner and operator, we pride ourselves in our commitment to our residents and guest, bringing them outstanding amenities, value and customer service consistent with the Sun Communities experience.”

On its surface, this sounds like a phenomenal concept. Something of a KOA-alternative to some extent and it has the potential to alleviate the housing crisis that has pushed so many natives out of the county.

However, according to this story dated August 18, “Sun’s proposal lists 228 vacation villas and 341 individual “park models”, which are essentially tiny homes constructed on mobile chassis typically used for vacation accommodations.”

My concern, in advance, has to do with the opportunity present which has mostly gone unnoticed. I wrote this article for a magazine writing course at CSU a few years ago. Nothing has changed.

Ranch Creek Ltd., owned and operated by Mike Jolovich and his son Daniel, is still operating in Grand County and as you may have noticed, have no shortage of available blue pine available for tiny homes. If, and I do mean if, Sun Communities fails to solicit a bid from Ranch Creek, something is very wrong.

In fact, the Town should require Sun Communities to solicit local bids, if for no other reason than to point Sun Communities in the direction of a local source for materials. After all, the beetle kill has to go somewhere, and it may as well be close and useful.

Pat Brower is doing his best to help the local entrepreneurs improve their businesses, but without the Town supporting locals and without locals supporting each other, locally-owned businesses will continue to die slow, painful deaths.

And that’s the point. When you’re asked for a referral for a product or service, do your best to think of locally-owned options, rather than directing people towards the chains.

Yes, I realize national chains are better for your individual wallet; however, locally-owned businesses are more sustainable during periods of national or even state economic austerity.

If we don’t support each other, and give other business owners feedback on how to improve, local businesses will continue to shutter and chains will continue to gain a larger foothold, sending more and more money out of the county.