This first appeared in the Vail Daily on May 7, 2020.
Question: what is the single best thing for the economy — other than waving a wand to wish away COVID-19?
Some will suggest the answer is weighted toward public health. After all, we need public health data to support reopening our economy. And they’re right.
Others will advocate the answer must be weighted toward maximizing economic activity as quickly as we can. And they’re right.
The answer is more nuanced. The answer to the single best thing for the economy is personal responsibility. Personal responsibility bridges public health and economic activity and is vital to moving us forward.
Personal responsibility is the best thing for our economy; it is required in order to ensure our public health and maximize our economic activity. These are not mutually exclusive; in fact, public health and economic health are the same thing. The only reasonable, practical, and logical way to achieve community health is for every member of our community to demonstrate personal responsibility.
With consumers stopped in their tracks, our biggest employment sector has (understandably) shuttered venues and has shed thousands of jobs. Its mighty contribution to our local tax coffers slowed to a trickle almost overnight. Reigniting our economy does not occur without our community focusing on personal responsibility to observe and respect the public health orders.
When the time is right, welcoming our guests to visit and spend (and spend, and spend) will provide the swiftest possible infusion of dollars to support jobs and tax receipts throughout the county. Economic recovery efforts continue to focus on restoring the health of vital economic contributors including restaurants, lodging, retail, event venues, activities, and more. That won’t happen unless we first embrace personal responsibility.
Vail Health CEO Will Cook recently shared that our valley is ready to help lead and navigate into the new normal. We have the testing infrastructure in place. We have the health care and public health infrastructure in place to rapidly isolate cases and quarantine contacts. We have a community of nonprofits, governments, businesses, and residents that know how and like to work together. This leadership will only happen when we embrace personal responsibility.
Heath Harmon, the Eagle County public health director, doubled down on the need for personal responsibility by sharing that as we work closely with our community to implement a phased approach in the coming weeks and months, we all need to recognize the way we socialize and do business will be different. Much of our success has relied so heavily on the personal responsibility of everyone to implement the social distancing requirements, and our ability to reopen without a resurgence of COVID-19 cases will rely heavily on each and every one of us.
Stephen Covey summed up responsibility as “look at the word responsibility — “response-ability” — the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning.”
Our economic recovery is dependent upon following the words of Will, Heath, and Stephen. We must embrace personal responsibility. We’re right by your side at Vail Valley Partnership; as we face our greatest challenges, we are the partner you can trust to be by your side, working for a better tomorrow.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at www.vailvalleypartnership.com.