Fire training academy at Aims gives area economic boost

Fire training academy at Aims gives area economic boost

6 January 2010

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USA — The hundreds of firefighters flocking to Aims Community College this week aren’t the only people being kept busy.

The Colorado Wildland Fire and Incident Management Academy has proven to be the first boost to the economy of the new year, as 600 students from 16 states — as well as 100 trainers and staff members — have kept Greeley businesses and hotels busy.

On Tuesday night, Charles B. Kirmiss, director of Rampart/Adams County Search and Rescue, led a presentation on field GPS technology and touched on the use of the devices regarding the aftermath of the Windsor tornado in 2008.

Kim Parker, conference and tourism director for the Greeley Chamber of Commerce, said the event was expected to generate $700,000 in Greeley, Evans and Loveland through visitors spending money and businesses then paying their employees with the increased sales. In Greeley alone, the academy is expected to generate $557,500.

Often, the revenue begins with hotel room reservations. Jim Martinez, general manager of Country Inn and Suites, 2501 29th St. in Greeley, said he was pleased with the influx of business, as he had 22 reservations on Tuesday — equaling roughly a third of the hotel’s rooms.

Clark Davis is the director of sales Embassy Suites Loveland Hotel Spa and Conference Center, 4705 Clydesdale Parkway in Loveland. He said about 40 people were staying at the new hotel, which opened in April 2009.

But thus far, not everyone benefited from the academy as hoped. Frank Brewster, owner of Days Inn at 5630 10th St. in Greeley, said he was disappointed that some people decided to stay in Loveland for the academy and was hopeful that more people would stay in Greeley next year.

In all, about 25 percent of his hotel is occupied this year by people from the academy — down from last year, when firefighters stayed in most of the rooms in his hotel, 5630 10th St. in Greeley.

The academy’s timing, he said, is too essential to be neglected.

“What happens after New Year’s?” said Brewster. “Not a lot; not a lot of people moving around, not a lot of people doing anything. The economic impact of this group this week is tremendous.”

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