Like other mountain towns in Colorado, the economy in Gunnison and Crested Butte is surprisingly diverse even though tourism is the largest driver. Other leading industries include public lands, education, healthcare and business. There is also a thriving small business and entrepreneurial community. This community and resources like the ICELab at Western, the Chambers of Commerce and the Small Business Development Center all provide support for startups, small businesses and entrepreneurs. But the best part of the work environment in the Gunnison Valley is the culture of balancing hard work with big adventures.
Given our proximity to public lands and the thriving outdoor-minded business community in the valley, Gunnison Crested Butte is the perfect spot for an outdoor industry hub. Existing outdoor industry businesses will find many resources for growth and startups will have the help they need to get up and running. The ICELab at Western is a business resource center and coworking space that provides business consulting and office space for local businesses and their employees. ICELab also hosts an incubator and accelerator every year. The incubator is designed to help businesses get off the ground. The accelerator is for businesses looking to grow and expand and is specifically geared to outdoor industry companies. Pact Outdoors, SheFly Apparel and Hustle Bike Labs are a few companies that went through an ICELab accelerator. They then decided to move their companies here because of the community and support they found—not to mention the beautiful location in the Colorado Rockies.
Western Colorado University is located in Gunnison. Higher education is a unique amenity in this mountain town. The school’s location in the Rocky Mountains provides opportunities for hands-on experience with things like guiding, gear testing and, through partnerships with local businesses and the ICELab, running outdoor industry businesses. Other opportunities at Western include an Outdoor Industry MBA degree program, mountain sports teams and The Paul M. Rady School of Computer Science and Engineering. The Rady School opened in 2021 and operates an outdoor industry gear testing lab unlike any other of its kind.
There are a few major employers in the valley. The United States Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service are all public lands offices operated by the federal government. Other major employers include Western Colorado University, Vail and Eleven Experience. These jobs range from teaching, facilities and maintenance, media and marketing, guiding and more.
Gunnison Rising is Gunnison’s newest community. It was born out of seeing a need for better and different housing and work options. It will be a place to live, work and recreate in. The project will add 1700 housing units to Gunnison and grow the town by 40%. There will also be space for dining, shopping, community gathering, a maker’s district, trails, a concert venue, a campground and spaces for local entrepreneurs. The goal of this live and work community is to provide a safe community and give people the chance to live the Gunnison Valley lifestyle in an affordable setting.
What you might find most captivating about our work environment are the individual movers and shakers who have shaped it into what it is today. Their stories are inspirational in that they’ve found a way to balance their passions with professional pursuits—like a mountain guru, an extreme filmmaker, partner ski shapers and so many more. These characters are emblematic of the passion people hold for Crested Butte and the Gunnison Valley. Play the videos below to get a glimpse of our unique type of mountain living.
Whether you decide to visit for a few days or a few decades, this mountain town is ready for you.
Learn more about what it’s like to set up shop in Gunnison Crested Butte.
Has your job recently become remote? Gunnison is the perfect paradise for remote workers with over 2 million acres of public land. Enjoy a career where you can spend your off time in the great outdoors.
Uncover stories from Gunnison Crested Butte’s business leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs.