Gunnison Valley One Valley Prosperity Project

APA Colorado Chapter


Thursday, October 5, 2017
10:30 a.m. - noon MDT

CM | 1.50

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One Valley Prosperity Project: Learn how a diverse group of stakeholders in the Gunnison Valley came together around a shared set of values and common vision for the future to implement actions to enhance the prosperity of a community reliant on tourism, ranching, and a four-year University. This topic fits well with the theme of this conferenceEnvision the Future.......what if” in that we asked our community to envision a common vision to improve our community’s prosperity.

Learning Objectives:

1. How identifying shared community values can create the frame work for implementation of any long range plan.

2. How to create actionable partnerships in a regional plan.


3. How rural economic development can work by creating a strong sense of place.


The One Valley Prosperity Project (OVPP) panel will include representatives from the City of Gunnison, Gunnison County, and Community Builders.  The following is the proposed outline:

1)    Purpose and objectives for OVPP:  The project started with a request from the Gunnison Board of County Commissioners to develop a meaningful partnership to implement actual change to improve the economic prosperity of the Gunnison Valley.  At the time in 2014, an economic recovery was not being realized, particularly as mining operations were being closed down for a variety of reasons in the region.  Our initial goals were ambitious:  improve average incomes, improve economic resiliency, reduce poverty, improve affordable housing options, and improve our environmental sustainability as a tourism based economy.

2)    Partnership Development: The initial task involved developing an effective working partnership around a common purpose.  This task was achieved by first learning (among the public and private business leaders in the valley) how we as a valley are interconnected and interdependent.  We also worked to form lasting relationships between partners so that we could find common ground around challenging topics.

3)    Values & Vision:  We implemented a multi-pronged grass roots community outreach effort to identify our community’s values and then identified where decisions and policies were and were not aligned with those values.  From that discussion we focused on four areas for developing a vison and specific strategies and actions.   Community outreach included going to residents and stakeholders in coffee houses, bars, not for profit meetings, on the web/social media, and in engaging community meetings.

4)    Action Planning: Based on significant public input we focused action planning on four areas:  Economic Prosperity, Housing, Sustainable Tourism, and Community Health and Equity.  Community action planning teams formed around each topic to develop specific action plans that included a responsible party for each action.

5)    Results:  Before the plan was even completed we were working on achieving results including receiving funding for the ICE-Lab (entrepreneurial center), creating a campaign to better manage outdoor recreation, creating unique partnerships to support residents experiencing poverty, and funding a housing needs assessment.  We now have a variety of results from the project and a new capacity to address challenging regional issues

Lesson Learned; Finally, we will wrap up the session with what we learned from the project and how others can transfer what we learned to their own local and regional planning projects.  Most importantly we want to emphasize how good regional planning and collaboration can result in action to address challenging issues such as affordable housing and economic diversification which no one entity could achieve on their own. 

CM Criteria:

This proposed panel presentation will address multiple planning related topics/objectives including regional planning, economic development, affordable housing, community health, and demonstrate innovative practices for public engagement and collaboration among multiple stakeholders.   The presenters are professional planners with 80 years of collective experience.  We are representing public sector institutions and a nonprofit in the case of Mr. Anderson and would fully comply with the 2nd criteria above.  Our only goal is to serve the communities we are working at the highest level of professionalism and to uphold the ethics of AICP.   The learning objectives for this course are identified above.  If selected, this topic would be part of the annual Colorado American Planning Association conference and we would fully comply with the third criteria. 


Russell Forrest, AICP

Confirmed Speaker

Since September of 2016, Russell Forrest has served as the City Manager for Gunnison, Colorado . Prior to joining the City of Gunnison, Russ was the Assistant County Manager and Community Development Director for Gunnison County where among other projects, he led a regional planning project called the One Valley Prosperity ... Read More

Catherine Pagano, AICP CEP

Confirmed Speaker

Cathie Pagano, AICP CEP is the Director of Community and Economic Development for Gunnison County. Previously she was the senior planner in the same department. Cathie has a bachelor's degree from the University of Colorado in Environmental Science and English and a Master's degree from the University of ... Read More

Clark Anderson

Confirmed Speaker

Clark Anderson is co-founder and Executive Director of Community Builders. For the past decade, Clark has helped communities throughout the Western US better align their local planning, transportation, economic development and natural resource management goals. Previously, Clark was the Rocky Mountain Regional Director for the Sonoran Institute and the Water ... Read More

Contact Info

Shelia Booth,