Guide for relocation to Steamboat Springs, CO

Location-neutral businesses booming

Location-neutral businesses booming

While there are plenty of eagles perched on area cottonwoods above the Yampa River, another type related to employment is nesting in Steamboat Springs even more successfully.

Lone eagle workers in Steamboat bring in a big piece of the economic pie. According to local research group Yampa Valley Data Partners, location-neutral businesses in town account for nearly 1,800 people and generate $54 million in annual income, more than the annual payroll of town’s hospitality industry.

“There’s a thriving entrepreneurial spirit in this valley,” says Jay O’Hare, founder of tech consulting business Altera Marketing Group and business networking group Ignite Steamboat.

Location-neutral employees can work anywhere they choose, provided the infrastructure is there to support them. Steamboat is proving to have everything they need, from high-tech broadband services (download speeds of 100 megabits per second and upload speeds of 20 Mbps are available) and direct flight programs to other small business needs.

But all this aside, it’s lifestyle more than broadband that’s the deciding factor for relocating entrepreneurs.

“Actual broadband capacity doesn’t really attract or repel them,” says local entrepreneur Noreen Moore. “They want a sense of community, good schools and a safe place to raise children.”

Companies fitting this mold are as varied as the outdoor activities town offers. From software techs and salespeople to graphic designers and lone eagles for employers like Oracle, the Yampa Valley is rife with employees and entrepreneurs whose business borders extend beyond Steamboat.

“It’s an increasingly important component of the economy,” says local economic analyst Scott Ford. “Location-neutral businesses are significant to our economy and pay on average 20 percent above our current median income.”

One example is LDM Global, a data processing and computer forensics firm headquartered here but with offices in London, New York, Paris, Sydney and Brussels.  “No one should have to work in a dirty city anymore,” says CEO Chris O’Reilly, who moved his job here in 2009 to raise his three daughters. “There’s no reason I can’t have my data center here and still hire intelligent people.”

Other companies fitting the bill include private labeler and distributor NPW USA, outdoor travel company Iconic Adventures, and leading “experience gift” company Xperience Days.

“We comprise a fairly large sector of the region’s workforce,” says Scott Bideau, another location-neutral worker.

What Steamboat has done best to continue luring this working category, adds Ford, is maintaining its reputation as a great place to live, from its many outdoor amenities to high rankings for its hospitals to schools.

“An increasing number of individuals understand that they don’t need to earn their money just from the valley,” he says. “This is fueling the growth of location-neutral businesses. Our strongest economic asset as a community is being a great place to live. It all seems to come together for us better than it does in a lot of other places. If we focus on being a great place to live, we win.”

— Eugene Buchanan

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