The Pagosa Springs Sun weekly newspaper had a full page article this week on four families that had recently moved back to the town of 1,591. These young people, in their late 20s and 30s, all felt the tug of their hometown and decided to leave big city jobs to return home to family and friends to raise families.
One of the challenges of a place like Pagosa Springs, CO is finding jobs and opportunities for these young people. With 59% of the homes owned as second homes, housing prices are escalating and unless high paying jobs can be found for the area, many of the locals can get priced out of the local housing market.
Bart Mitchell’s charge as head of ED for the county is to find the high tech, high paying jobs that a town like Pagosa Springs needs for the future. He recently landed a toy distributor that will bring 10 jobs at an average salary of $43,000 to the town. Another company, Parelli Natural Horsemanship, moved their headquarters from FL to a ranch on the outskirts of town, creating 30 new jobs. Pat and Linda Parelli bring in horses and owners from around the world for their unique horse and rider training methods.
Bill Goddard started a restaurant in 1998 after running a produce stand. His homemade jams, jellies and candies were a big hit and he set up The Choke Cherry Tree (www.thechokecherrytree.com) with five employees. After I tasted his product I bought almost $100 of products. The Key Lime Fudge and Carmel with Nuts were both hits at home.
Places like Pagosa Springs, with its natural beauty and tranquil setting, are going to be easy sells for entrepreneurial businesses. They are going to become meccas for creative, artistic individuals and businesses.