I still find it hard to believe that people pay me to travel around the country, touring their towns. Friday was one of those days when I was sure glad that they did.
I was in Pagosa Springs, CO (population 1,591), one of my 397 agurbs®, which sits 7,000 above sea level at the base of the Continental Divide at 11,000 feet. I had been there 20 years ago when I’d skied at nearby Wolf Creek. The whole county (Archuleta County), which is larger in size than Rhode Island, only had a population of 3,664 in 1980 but has grown to 11,886 today. It is being rapidly discovered by Americans looking for a quieter, more peaceful lifestyle. And, wanting to live in the midst of the incredible beauty that surrounds Pagosa Springs!
As I introduced myself around the room prior to my talk, I was struck by the number of people who told me that they had moved to Pagosa Springs because they could work remotely and live wherever they wanted to. It was probably the largest concentration of telecommuters that I’ve seen as I’ve traveled around the USA.
Bart Mitchell, Executive Director of the Archuleta ED Association, was typical of the people that I met. Bart worked for GE in their medical devices group in Milwaukee and when he was promoted to running their Mergers & Acquisitions, which involved a lot of international travel, he decided to move his family to rural Colorado. When his group was sold and he was asked to move back to Milwaukee to run one of the GE business units, he declined and decided to stay in Pagosa Springs.
My seatmate on the plane from Denver to Durango was returning from his monthly visit to Chicago. He designs kitchen faucets from his home office in the Rockies, sending CAD-drawings back and forth via a broadband connection. His wife designs and sells greeting cards from their home. They moved from southern California several years ago.
Places like Pagosa Springs are undiscovered wonderlands that are going to be attracting more of these knowledge workers in the future.