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Economy & Employment

The pandemic has beef markets on a roller coaster, and Shohone, Idaho's Amie Taber is among the ranchers along for the ride.

 


Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Tourism is returning to Pitkin County, and short-term lodging, like hotels and condos, can operate at 50% capacity each day. In a recent Board of Health meeting, Snowmass Village Mayor and board chair Markey Butler said that isn’t the best fit for her town. She spoke with reporter Alex Hager about why she's pushing for a different plan.

Eleanor Bennett / Aspen Public Radio

Longtime local resident Maria works in housekeeping and lives in a shared mobile home in El Jebel. She said she’s worried about paying her $300-a-month rent this summer. (We’re not using her full name because she’s undocumented.)

Courtesy Photo

Starting a business can be a gamble, and the stakes are even higher during a pandemic. Owners of two new businesses in the Roaring Fork Valley are taking the leap at a time when unemployment is soaring and social distancing measures are hurting industries all across Colorado.

Elise Thatcher / Aspen Public Radio

Basalt Town Council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday launching the Basalt Bucks program. In an attempt to help businesses ordered to shut down by Gov. Jared Polis when the pandemic made its way to Colorado, all addresses within the town limits will receive a $20 voucher to use at Basalt restaurants or retail stores.

Courtesy of Tracy Doherty

When the pandemic took hold, Tracy Doherty kept going to work as a pediatric nurse at Valley View Hospital. Her line of work usually comes with some stability, so she was surprised when she was laid off earlier this month. 

 “Being a nurse you kind of never expect to lose your job,” Doherty said. “I knew they were going to be cutting staff, but I didn't think it would be nursing staff.”

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

If you want a hearty breakfast in the small town of Thompson Falls, Montana, Minnie's Montana Cafe has you covered.

 


Everyone knows that living in the Rockies can get expensive. Headwaters Economics wanted to know why. The non-profit published new research this week that examines what causes housing to become so expensive in places where outdoor recreation is a main economic driver.

via City of Aspen

The City of Aspen is asking for input on a plan that would allow local businesses to operate on sidewalks and streets in the downtown core. In a press release, the city said doing so would “increase physical space to facilitate social interaction, community connection and commercial activity while adhering to Pitkin County Health Order gathering guidelines.”

The grim task awaiting lawmakers - balancing a budget devastated by the coronavirus outbreak - is even more grim on Tuesday after they learned they'll have to cut significantly more than originally thought.

At the end of April, the national unemployment rate hit 14.7% – the highest rate since the Great Depression. On CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett predicted the rate will exceed 20% when the Department of Labor issues May's numbers.


Sound Wave Events in Boise, Idaho, is usually busy with weddings and graduation parties this time of year. But with most gatherings now canceled, the business has pivoted to block parties.

"If you told me a month ago that we would be DJing out of the back of a truck I would not have believed you," said Sound Wave owner Kristin Cole.

Chris Descheemaeker ranches black angus, red angus cross with her family outside of Lewistown, Montana. The coronavirus pandemic, she says, comes after a few tough winters and an already tough market.


Half the country has been personally economically impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and overwhelming numbers of Americans do not think schools, restaurants or sporting events with large crowds should reopen until there is further testing, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

President Trump does not fare very well as far as his handling of the pandemic goes. Most Americans, except Republicans, disapprove of the job he's doing, and there are massive divides by gender and educational level.

ALEX HAGER / ASPEN PUBLIC RADIO

 

 

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide whether the Trump administration has the authority to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program any week now. This could have a huge impact on DACA recipients in the Roaring Fork Valley.

 

Julio Diez

 

Aspen-based company Detailing HQ usually provides cleaning and paint touch-ups for cars. But now, owner Jake Greene is offering disinfecting services for essential businesses and workers on the frontlines of COVID-19.

Robin and Steve Humble

 

The Town of Basalt has asked the Colorado legislature to require insurance companies to reimburse small businesses for losses due to COVID-19. That's if those restaurants had “business interruption insurance.” It’s a type of property or casualty insurance required by most landlords that covers income lost to an event, like a fire or storm.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

During the first week of April, new unemployment claims across Colorado were up 3836% from last year’s average. According to the latest data from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, nearly 200,000 new claims have been filed statewide since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Creative Commons

  

Roaring Fork Valley non-profit MANAUS is giving financial support to immigrant families to help them make it through the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Friday, the organization had ensured $1,000 to 377 immigrant families in the Valley.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Aspen/Pitkin County Airport is receiving about $3.4 million in federal emergency funding. It is one of 49 airports across the state to receive a portion of nearly $367 million allocated to Colorado by the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA. The funding is part of the nationwide Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Courtesy of Two Leaves and a Bud

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Basalt-based tea company Two Leaves and a Bud started thinking about how they could help. CEO Rich Rosenfeld said the decision was easy.

 “We thought, well, who needs tea? Well, healthcare facilities, senior centers, doctors offices, people who are stuck where they are, and can use a really good cup of tea,” Rosenfeld said. 

Janie Joseland Bennett

Last week, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act was signed into law. The $2 trillion COVID-19 rescue package includes what are called Small Business Administration, or SBA, loans. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Travel restrictions and social distancing requirements have left many local businesses closed, with some staying shut through the spring offseason. The Aspen Chamber Resort Association expects that the impact will last into summer and the cancellation of Aspen Ideas Festival and the Food & Wine Classic will deal a blow to the summer economy.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Few retailers in the Roaring Fork Valley remain open after a statewide order shut down those that were not deemed essential. Liquor stores and dispensaries are on the short list of essential businesses, but are reporting a slowdown in sales.

Courtesy of Stephen Stacey

Stephen Stacey moved to Glenwood Springs three years ago with his daughter. He said they live a simple life, and love to fish. 

 “Glenwood Springs is a great place to live if you love to fish,” he said. “The only town in the United States of America that has two gold medal rivers in the town boundary.”

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority says it does not expect to completely suspend bus service amid concern over COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. RFTA is sanitizing buses, expanding sick leave for drivers and drafting contingency plans should a reduction in service prove necessary.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Housing can be tough to find in the Roaring Fork Valley, and the list of properties gets shorter when it comes to finding places that accept pets. 

Charissa Carvell, a dog trainer at Colorado Animal Rescue in Glenwood Springs, knows this situation all too well. People will come to the rescue to surrender their cats and dogs because they can’t find housing that will take their pets.  

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Presidents Day weekend marks one of the busiest on the calendar for Roaring Fork Valley hotels, and this year is no exception.

The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association says the long weekend lines up with Valentine’s Day and attracts Front Range visitors looking for a romantic getaway. Lisa Langer, the chamber’s director of tourism promotion, says she heard from about nine hotels that plan to be at or near capacity for part of the weekend.

 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

In the Roaring Fork Valley, it can be tough for people to find a place to live. Finding a place that is affordable and close to their workplace is harder still. That housing crunch means that businesses can have trouble retaining workers.

Wyatt Orme / Aspen Public Radio

Before the 2020 census opens for online responses in March, local officials are making an effort to reach the Valley’s Latino community. 

According to estimates from a 2017 census survey, almost a quarter of people in the Roaring Fork Valley said they were Hispanic or Latino. That study shows 28% of the population in Garfield County as Hispanic or Latino, 30% in Eagle County and 10% in Pitkin County.

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