Guide for relocation to Steamboat Springs, CO

Location-neutral businesses booming

Oracle program manager Amy Anderson works remotely at her dining room in Steamboat Springs. (Photo by John F. Russell.)

Oracle program manager Amy Anderson works remotely at her dining room in Steamboat Springs. (Photo by John F. Russell.)

Call it a business buzzword if you want, but location-neutral workers in Steamboat Springs continue to make up a bigger and bigger piece of the local economic pie.

 

Thanks to fast broadband, easy traveling logistics and everything one needs for a great work/life balance, Steamboat is home to a thriving location-neutral workforce .

According to Yampa Valley Data Partners, location-neutral businesses account for nearly 2,000 workers in town and generate $54 million in annual income, more than the annual payroll of town’s hospitality industry. Their occupations are as varied as town’s outdoor activities, from software techs and salespeople to graphic designers, writers and financial advisors — all of whose business borders extend well beyond Steamboat.

“It’s an increasingly important component of the economy,” says local economic analyst Scott Ford. “They bring in outside dollars, making on average 20 percent more than town’s current median income, and contribute greatly to the local economy.”

Location-neutral employees can work anywhere they choose, provided the infrastructure is there to support them. Steamboat has everything these employees need, from high-tech broadband services to competitive direct flight and shipping programs. One service in town, The Ski Locker, recently sprouted to offer them a communal work space in the heart of downtown.

“I’m lucky to live in such an amazing town, yet have the same career opportunities as people living in a big city,” says Aaron Bergemann, a senior software developer for Boulder, Colorado, tech company, SnapEngag, a provider of live chat software. Bergemann works with team members in Boulder and Berlin, Germany, while still taking advantage of powder days on the mountain. “We have a great community of location neutral tech workers here in Steamboat, and I’m proud to be a part of that,” he says.

Jon Albro is another. He moved to Steamboat from Philadelphia, where he ran investment distribution company Penn Square for 18 years. His workspace now is a 1,500-square-foot office downtown. “We’ve been able to save money on rent, outsource a number of positions, and our travel is easier because we’re more centrally located. And the lifestyle is an enormous upgrade.”

Another benefit, he adds, is that while his kids were in expensive private schools before, now they’re happily enrolled in Steamboat’s great public school system.

“We’ve also been able to find good employees,” he adds. “They’re highly educated and are people who want to live here.”

Local Troy Hill is a partner and web developer for Brooklyn-based Democracyworks.org, which keeps users updated on local, state and national elections. He does it all out of the Ski Locker co-working space downtown, video-conferencing across the country when not cross country skiing a block away.

For many, lifestyle as much as infrastructure is the deciding factor. Such is the case for Avrom Feinberg, a software consultant for Michigan-based Logi-Serve. The company has a 15-person staff located in four different time zones, with Feinberg running his global client services position out of Colorado Mountain College’s Entrepreneurial Center, whose T1 Internet connection is all he needs.

“The only drawback,” he says, “ is resisting the 30 miles of single track mountain bike trails out my door.”

Steamboat’s centralized location, and proximity to Hayden’s Yampa Valley Regional Airport, makes it easier for these employees and more to visit clients on both coasts. “I can deal with clients on both coasts easily, without extending my work hours,” Feinberg says. “Having the airport nearby is a huge advantage.”

Matthew Cutts, who moved Petroleum Equipment International to Steamboat from Houston four years ago, is another example. “I interviewed mountain towns all over and Steamboat was best,” he says. “It has a great direct flight program — I can get to Europe and elsewhere on one hop — and it offers a great quality of life, hospital, housing and more.”

The financial end of doing business here, he adds, which for him involves buying and selling drilling equipment to oil companies, was also a selling point. “If you take into account our home insurance, city taxes, more affordable banking and more, it’s a big savings,” he says. “My cost of doing business has actually gone down.”

Nearly 2,000 workers like these comprise Steamboat’s multi-faceted, location-neutral workforce, and they’re all here for the same reason: the quality of life, without sacrificing business services. “There’s a thriving entrepreneurial spirit in this valley,” says Jay O’Hare, founder of tech consulting business Altera Marketing Group and 50-member location-neutral think tank Ignite Steamboat. “People with a location-neutral ethos make up a growing chunk of our employment base.”

Steamboat entices this economic engine by being a great place to live, from its outdoor amenities to quality hospitals, schools, business services and more.

“Some work from home and others in scattered offices, but they’re all here enjoying everything Steamboat has to offer, from the convenience of downtown to the outdoors,” says Ford. “Our strongest economic asset as a community is being a great place to live.”

The only drawback is resisting the 30 miles of single track mountain bike trails out my office door.”

—Location-neutral software consultant Avrom Feinberg

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