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.

According to research group 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 the city’s hospitality industry. The occupations fitting this mold are as varied as 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 work-from-afar employees need, from high-tech broadband services to competitive direct flight and shipping programs.

Jon Albro moved to Steamboat a couple of years ago from Philadelphia, where he ran investment distribution company Penn Square for 18 years.

“We came out here for a year, and then our kids said we had to move here,” he says from his 1,500-square-foot office above Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare downtown. “So we relocated the company. 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. The lifestyle is also an enormous upgrade.”

Another benefit, he adds, is that while his kids — ages 13 and 17 — were in expensive private schools before, they’re now happily in Steamboat’s great public school system.

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

For many, it’s lifestyle as much as infrastructure that’s the deciding factor. Such is the case for Avrom Feinberg, a longtime resident now working as a software consultant for Michigan-based Logi-Serve after a career in human resources for previously Steamboat-based TIC. 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. There, a 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.”    

As with Albro, Steamboat’s centralized location and proximity to Hayden’s Yampa Valley Regional Airport makes it easier for Feinberg to travel and work with clients on both coasts.

“I can deal with clients on both coasts easily, without extending my work hours,” he says. “And having the airport nearby is a huge advantage.”

Matthew Cutts, who moved his company, Petroleum Equipment International, to Steamboat from Houston three years ago, is another example.

“I interviewed mountain towns all over, from Aspen and Vail to Telluride and Jackson,” he says, “and Steamboat was best, for a variety of reasons. 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, great hospital, affordable housing and more.”

The financial end of doing business here, he adds, which involves buying and selling drilling equipment to oil companies, was also a selling point.

“If you take into account our home insurance, city taxes, easier and more affordable banking and more, it’s a big savings,” he says. “My cost of doing business has actually gone down.”

Cutts, Feinberg, Albro and nearly 2,000 location-neutral workers like them comprise Steamboat’s multi-faceted workforce, and they’re all here for the same reason: the quality of life the area offers, without much sacrifice in business services. 

While some work from home and others in scattered offices, they’re all here enjoying everything Steamboat has to offer, from the convenience of downtown to access to the outdoors,” says Ford. “They simply choose to live where they want to.”

And as word continues to get out, this workforce is growing every year.

“There’s a thriving entrepreneurial spirit in this valley,” says Jay O’Hare, founder of tech consulting business Altera Marketing Group. “People with a location-neutral ethos are making up a growing chunk of our employment base.”

All Steamboat has done to lure in this economic driver, adds Ford, is maintain its reputation as a great place to live, from its outdoor amenities to quality hospitals, schools and more.

“Our strongest economic asset as a community is being a great place to live,” Ford says.

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