Over the past two years, Grand County Economic Development conducted several public workforces and housing workshops that included major employers, residents, small business owners, town and county officials along with other stakeholders. All collectively worked together to address two key issues to our local economy; jobs and housing. To simplify, businesses are in desperate need to hire and retain quality employees but struggle because employees can’t find housing. Businesses often operate understaffed, losing opportunities to grow and expand.

Aside from the notable lack of rentals in our market, employers and stakeholders collaborated with a consulting firm to develop the Work in Grand (WIG) webpage. While the webpage doesn’t solve the housing issue, it does serve as a central location where people can search for and apply for jobs and available housing.

Prior to WIG, employers spent a good deal of time and effort posting their job opportunities on various online job sites like Indeed, Craigslist, etc. Some placed newspaper ads and most solicited on local social media community pages like Grand County On-Line Garage (GCOLGS) which has over 17,000 members. On average, GCOLGS receives over one thousand posts per day. Postings can range from lost and found pets, valley events, personal merchandise for sale, business promotions, road conditions and more. Unless a business is willing to search for and refresh their posts on a routine basis, their job openings compete with a barrage of random items.

Likewise, property management companies and private homeowners faced similar challenges. Advertisement responses from pages like Craigslist involve money wiring scams. When a rental does become available and is listed on community pages, they usually include restrictions and a price tag some either can’t afford or don’t agree with. It’s commonplace to witness multiple online verbal attacks and threats to those trying to rent out their properties. Like the job listings, unless a property manager/owner is diligent in updating their posts, potential rental income is overshadowed by household items, yard sales, automobiles and other items that people are trying to sell.

To date, nearly 200 hundred Grand County jobs have been listed for free along with dozens of rentals on WIG. Employers, property owners and property managers can safely advertise their jobs and rentals without the fear of public ridicule and threats. They can view all candidates who have responded to their listings and set up interviews. Many employers scout WIG rentals to help their workforce secure housing. Individuals who register on WIG are provided with a free dashboard view so they too can organize rentals and jobs.

WIG also includes a county Resource page that lists available services like housekeeping, home repairs, real estate, pet-care, nursing, child-welfare, town specific contacts and individual Chamber of Commerce information. Resource providers are encouraged to list their offerings to expand their network. This information is regularly updated and listed by town. Users and businesses who register on WIG can even share their own activities on the Events page.

While still in its infancy, the WIG is evolving and constantly improving. Rideshare and room share forums are currently in the works. Page users are encouraged to submit ideas and suggestions through the Contact Us link. A great amount of effort and teamwork was required by all parties. Below is a partial list of participants and entities who worked together to make WIG a reality.

Winter Park Housing Authority, Citizens and Residents of Grand County, Grand County Housing Authority, Freeport McMoRan (owner of the Henderson Mine and Mill), Winter Park Resort, Colorado Timber Resource, Devil’s Thumb Ranch, Snow Mountain Ranch – YMCA Rockies, Town of Granby, Sun Communities, Granby Ranch, Fraser Recreation District, Middle Park Medical Center, The Roofing Company, Mountain Parks Electric, Cabin Works, C Lazy U Ranch, East and West Grand School District, Grand County Higher Ed Initiative, Grand Beginnings, Colorado Workforce, Grand Foundation, and Grand County Housing Authority.

Tracy Navarrete