Guide for relocation to Steamboat Springs, CO

Technology

Location-neutral businesses booming

 

Who says you have to be based where your company headquarters are?tech_Location-NeutralLDM-GlobalChrisOReilly

Location-neutral workers in Steamboat Springs continue to comprise a big 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 town’s hospitality industry.

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

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 with download speeds of 100Mbps and upload speeds of 20Mbps to competitive direct flight and shipping programs. For many, it’s lifestyle more than broadband that’s the deciding factor for relocating entrepreneurs.

“Broadband capacity doesn’t really attract or repel them,” maintains local entrepreneur Noreen Moore. “They want a sense of community, good schools and a safe place to raise children.” Adds Ford: “Some work from home, others in offices scattered throughout the community, enjoying everything from the convenience and energy of downtown to the base area for its quick access to skiing. They simply choose to live where they want to.”

The occupations fitting this mold are as varied as town’s outdoor activities. From software techs and salespeople to graphic designers and writers, town is rife with workers whose business borders extend beyond Steamboat.

“There’s definitely a thriving entrepreneurial spirit in this valley,” says Jay O’Hare, founder of tech consulting business Altera Marketing Group and entrepreneurial community think tank Ignite Steamboat. “People with a location-neutral ethos are making up a growing chunk of our economic pie. And they love sharing ideas with each other.”

What Steamboat has done best to lure this working category and economic driver, adds Ford, is simply maintaining its reputation as a great place to live, from its outdoor amenities to high rankings for its hospitals to schools. “Our strongest economic asset as a community is being a great place to live,” Ford says. “If we focus on that, it’s a win-win for everyone.”

Business Profile: 305 Spin

Putting a new spin on location-neutral businesses, 305 Spin, founded by John Moore in Sedalia, Mo., in 1993, opened its Steamboat Springs office in September 2014 and has been blending its website services with the Steamboat lifestyle ever since.

090415305Spin2Managed by locally raised Casey Barnett, who also runs location-neutral consultant ConnectTech, the company serves clients nationwide by providing such integrated marketing strategy tools as web development, SEO and social media services. Moore, who has skied Steamboat since 1986 and hails from the same town as resort founder James Crawford, established the office here for both the town’s recreational amenities and business infrastructure.

“I met him at the annual Ski For Yellow event and then he hired me two years later,” says Barnett. The company’s core technology is in developing websites, extranets and intranets to grow brands online. This ranges from consumer websites that feature marketing, services, SEO and online transactions to content management systems, business-to-business extranet and intranet operations and backend data storage. It also offers email marketing manager tools, website analytics and more for whatever best fits its clients’ needs.

The company’s “code to ride” recruitment philosophy lures developers who share Moore’s mountain town mantra: work hard and play hard. “We find people with an entrepreneurial spirit who also enjoy all the outdoor recreation Steamboat has to offer,” says Barnett, adding that town’s broadband access is crucial to the company’s success. “Steamboat is a great place to come to, whether it’s our workers or our clients. Work-life balance is a big part of our company motto, and Steamboat offers the best of both.”

Since its opening, 305 Spin has produced more than 20 dynamic web sites for both local and national clients, with easy-to-use online content management systems for updating everything from pricing to news releases. Its frameworks are friendly for all browsers and platforms and offer as a rich user experience as the life its employees get to live.

“Certainly, there are cheaper and more business-oriented places to live, but Steamboat provides the great lifestyle component,” says Barnett, who often meets clients skiing or biking. “It offers the chance to both play and work.”

Broadband on the rise

 

The Yampa Valley has experienced a surge in location-neutral employment, due in large part to the availability of high-quality broadband service in Steamboat Springs and many parts of Routt County. Community partners continue to work toward abundant, affordable and redundant broadband service for all residents and businesses in Routt County.

In August 2015, Routt County, the City of Steamboat Springs, the Steamboat Springs School District, Yampa Valley Medical Center, Yampa Valley Electric Association and Colorado Mountain College kicked off a county-wide broadband planning effort to document current levels of internet service, identify gaps and suggest strategies to fill those gaps. The same group, in partnership with the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, has also been working through Northwest Colorado Broadband to improve service to the public and anchor institutions in the community, successfully aggregating demand into a carrier-neutral location and securing service at significantly lower cost, with redundancy.

Routt County has finalized an agreement with NEO Fiber of Glenwood Springs to develop the broadband plan. “Broadband is essential infrastructure for business, government, education, healthcare, public safety, and the sharing of knowledge and entertainment,” says Jane Blackstone, economic development director for the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association. “Steamboat Springs and more populated areas have good service. Now it’s time to look at ways the public and private sectors can partner to bring high-quality service to the more remote areas of the county.”

The move comes on the heels of last year’s conversion of a school district administrative building room into a new carrier-neutral location (CNL), allowing Northwest Colorado Broadband to connect to middle-mile broadband provider Mammoth Networks, affording the city and county 150 Mbps and the school district 700 Mbps, a dramatic improvement to their connections. Mammoth Networks can scale the connection to 10 Gbps and beyond.Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 2.17.46 PM