Each year, Vail Resorts gives over $13 million in cash and in-kind support to more than 250 nonprofits in the communities where they operate, including Park City. Since PCMR and Canyons Resort combined in 2015 to create the largest ski and snowboard resort in the United States, Vail has poured millions into our community. Earlier this month, Chamber VP of Partner Services Scott House and I attended a listening session with dozens of local nonprofit grant recipients, most of them Chamber partners. Vail’s Epic Promise, the internal group charged with leading the company’s community support programs, organized the day.
Epic Promise supports at least 40 nonprofits in PC, from (alphabetically) the Alf Englen Museum to the Youth Sports Alliance. With recipients ranging from the Kimball Arts Center to the National Ability Center, the Park City Institute to the Swaner Preserve, Park City Tots to the Peace House and the Egyptian Theatre, you would be hard-pressed to find one not benefitting from Vail’s assistance.
The August 2 meeting demonstrated that Vail’s support is vital and much appreciated. When discussing what is going well with the partnership, nonprofit leaders cited good back-and-forth communication, shared goals and openness, Vail’s commitment to Park City and access to local leadership. As to how Vail can continue helping, attendees said, “Keep doing what you’re doing,” or, “Stay the course,” and “Keep supporting us.”
Things got interesting when the conversation turned to priorities. An on-the-spot survey of the group – the cream of Park City’s nonprofit leadership – produced three clear priorities related to Park City’s affordability or lack of it: the cost of living, the price of housing, and the expense and availability of childcare. While mental health, climate, diversity, and transportation also emerged as priorities, these three were the most frequently mentioned by far.
The region’s largest civic and business advocacy organization, the Chamber, is tackling these issues as threats to Park City’s livability and sustainability. Childcare is a significant challenge in business efforts to retain staff. Unattainable housing forces our workforce to increase expenses and inconvenience by living far from their employer. The overall cost of living makes it harder to attract workers and puts pressure on wages, a difficult challenge in an economy where inflation persists.
In the coming months, we will join PC Tots and the Early Childhood Alliance at the Park City Community Foundation to host a Wasatch Back forum, getting private-sector childcare solutions on the table. We supported the City Council’s recent decision to fund childcare-provider subsidies as a critical first step. We have begun publicly advocating for responsible workforce housing developments as they come up, and we support the joint PC and Summit County decision to form a regional housing authority. Throughout Park City, organizations implementing the Sustainable Tourism Plan are addressing these and all the issues raised that day.
I appreciate that Vail is more than a corporate funder but an open-minded partner for a better Park City. The Epic Promise approach to community investing is helping Vail – a large corporate presence many Parkites are still adjusting to – demonstrate their commitment to forward-thinking, sustainable solutions greater than any individual local program can offer. Their support of so many local non-profits is proof that Vail is making – and will continue to make – vital contributions to the sustainability of Park City and Summit County.