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Then and Now in South Western Colorado

In the South Western Colorado City of Cortez there is a rich history indeed. First the Indians came with their cliff dwellings. Then their ancestors returned and still today the Navajo occupy much of the regions population. The white man's history there was of course Mining, Forestry, Agriculture, but today those categories only employ 7% of the population. They grow Alphalfa and pinto beans there in Cortez area, agriculture accounts for only 3-4% of employment and of that much is seasonal.Durango has about 14,000 people, Cortez 8,000 and Pagosa Springs 1600.

Those cities had a 4% growth in last four years. Inflows of income from employment to the area include Federal and State government payments for parks and Indians of 17% of total. Services represent 31% Retail 18% (not including hotel and restaurants). Construction is good at 15%. In retail car sales and automotive are huge 22.

8%, Food 16%, Builder Materials 16.8%, General Retail 12.8%. Sources include many but check out;.http://scan.org/ceds/ceds.

htm.Center for Business Economic Forecasting. Inflows of money to the area include Lodging, Restaurants, Construction and tourism.

Also money from manufactured products of smaller manufacturers. Government payments to employees and projects in the parks. The most circlerable money comes from comes from local construction of homes and upgrades.Pagosa Springs we found interesting in that there is a new buyer coming into the area for homes. Looking for "Traditional West" type living.

This is very interesting as the area had originally been cattle feed, timber, Minerals, wood products which came to be and easily traded with lower lands and farming communities and mining towns. In the last twenty years and after a big decline for mining minerals in the 1970 era, even wood products were not wanted. Wages also decreased and Pagosa re-invented itself now it is similar to resort type mountain towns with shops and real estate opportunities. Growing very high end but making it difficult for locals to keep their kids staying in the area, they cannot afford the homes now with price increases from retirees and second homebuyers to participate in the upscale area.

Of course with that it has taxed the infrastructure and hwys and roads, major projects making travel difficult and dusty as hell.On the other side of the area leaving the north west corner of the Southwestern Colorado region is Dove Creek, with a higher end area southeast of there between it and the road leading to high end skiing at Telluride. The McPhee reservoir has some very large nice homes with land and boating available.

Great little retirement area in that area with money flow. Rico also gets water from reservoir and they have about 8,000 people there.Delores has some small manufacturing and has always been that type of area previously with the mills and mining for Gold, Silver, Copper, Lead, Zinc, and believe it or not what Saddam tried to buy from Nigeria, Uranium, mining. Auto sales today make up 64% and this is good news.

La Plate County consisting of Durango, Ute Indian Reservation and Bayfield have all had growth both from population increases from new borns and move ins. Biggest is Durango, which is quickly becoming a Park City Utah, Jackson Hole Wyoming, Whitefish Montana, type of an area. 1.2% annual growth. Last year we met a gentleman whose sons build high end log cabin houses there and were doing well.

Also of interest is the problem with fire after droughts and thunder and lightening storms. The state park of Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings had some five fires started by lightening with in a two-day period and it is always a concern with Durango. The nearby cabins are quite vulnerable and the area is super careful and very pro-active with fire prevention from campers and tourist folks and very fast responding to natural lightening fires. There were 22,000 lightening fires in the western states in 2001 alone, many in the four corners and Colorado Plains and Mountain areas.Water issues are not a problem in the Cortez area but are in Pagosa and Durango. The reservoirs near Cortez have very high up the food chain water rights, but willfully participate in voluntary restrictions resulting in an immediate reduction of 20%.

Way to go. This same program has been implemented in Northern Colorado and Pueblo, Canon and other parts with excellent success and preventing further law suits from down stream states which are starving. Farmington, NM is mission critical and surely Santa Fe, Las Vegas, Gallup all worried. If you will remember the water issues and fires last few years and the issues with the rivers of Colorado, Arizona and NM you will recall the seriousness.Cortez's water restrictions are similar to the NJ, PA, VA, MD, CA, MT, WY class two drought restrictions such as watering lawns on certain days and hours, washing cars is prohibited meaning carwashes with reclaim are doing well there. Auto sales in La Plate offer 27% of all retail sales even though there is a Super Wal*Mart in Durango, and lots of mom and pop specialty stores selling all kinds of nick-nacks you might enjoy.

Yes not to be out done by NH or Maine or Vermont antiques too. Durango is a bit unfriendly to tourists, which is interesting.Delores is 50% services and Durango has a problem keeping quality people to help to help the wealthy homeowners with handy man services and tradesman work. Inflows of Delores are similar to the region and 27% retail.

Growth is 2.66% in population last three years. It appears to be all good. But our labor most likely will come from Cortez for the region.In San Juan County they use an interesting term "amenity migration" Where residents buy second homes to enjoy the real rural type of life with nearby shopping and anything they would want.

Go read the Magazine Log Home or Country Living some time and you will see what has been started. Blame it on Oprahs higher-end sector or Martha Stewart her self, either way this American Dream lifestyle she created has done very well for many area, and it is most obvious in Southwestern Colorado for sure. Similar to many of the fine homes in Ojai CA, Santa Fe NM, Show Lo AZ. Martha Stewart you have to love what she has done to transform the American Dream for so many. Many of these residents are seasonal in that area.

San Juan was a gold town area in the 1870s. Not quite rivaling Gold Rush CA area along interstate I-80 but close and the area has a resemblance of the area. One issue again there is the kids cannot afford the homes and need to live down the hill or move somewhere else, such as Albuquerque or nearby areas of Utah such as Montecello, Blanding or Aneth.

We had the chance occurance to talk with some young adults who had friends in those areas who had moved and went on Friday night to visit them, they saw our truck and called us on the cell phone and asked "Do you Party?" We just laughed and said sure? Us party, like we have time? Anyway that question had an interesting meaning. Do you stay out all night, do occasional recreational drugs and drink. No we don't. But even with the under tone of a tinge of drug problem there all in all we are bullish on the entire region. It is a good place to live, great place to visit and excellent place to run a business indeed. Think on it.

."Lance Winslow" - Online Think Tank forum board. If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; www.WorldThinkTank.

net/wttbbs/.

By: Lance Winslow



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