CRAFT Impact Report: Rio Blanco County

Rio Blanco County was awarded a CRAFT Studio 201 program by the Colorado Tourism Office in 2017. Program objectives included:

  • Evaluate the existing marketing plan
  • Establish an evaluation tool for marketing strategies
  • Help local tourism businesses and the County to develop cohesive marketing strategies

Located in The Great West region, Rio Blanco County is home to two communities—Meeker and Rangely—and has an economy based primarily upon mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction. Community representatives sought support from the CTO to help diversify the local economy through tourism. 

This CRAFT program delivery built upon Rio Blanco County’s previous participation in CRAFT Studio 201 to further advance tourism awareness and promote the County’s existing assets.

CRAFT Studio 201 Program Outcomes

One hundred hours of complimentary consulting support were delivered over [number of months] months.

The Colorado Tourism Office matched Rio Blanco County with Beth Buehler, a CRAFT Mentor with expertise in marketing and communications, to achieve the following outcomes.


The following occurred as a direct result of the program:

  • The Mentor delivered a comprehensive report to summarize the program and recommend next steps.
  • Following the successful completion of CRAFT Studio 201, Rio Blanco County applied for and was awarded a CRAFT Studio 201 Implementation Grant of $7,500 to implement the strategies developed through CRAFT Studio 201.


The following changes happened after the program took place:

  • Increased the number of jobs. Over the last 10 years the County has seen a decrease in jobs except for in government agencies, which comprise 60% of the workforce. In 2016-2017, the County experienced an increase in tourism and service industry jobs such as housekeeping, wait staff, and retail staff. There is a trend and demand for these types of services as they begin to have new markets in town
  • Decreased the unemployment rate by 1-1.5%
  • Doubled lodging tax revenue in 2017 as compared to the same quarter in 2016 in both Meeker and Rangely
  • Diversified funding streams, receiving CRAFT Studio 201 funds for $7,500 and a CTO Marketing Match Grant for $12,771
  • Created new business opportunities, including: 
    • In October 2017 the County was awarded the Certified Small Business Community by the state which allows them access to more robust state business service support
    • From 2015 to present, 68 new businesses have been established in Rio Blanco County
    • Two new food service businesses opened in Meeker
    • Multiple product lines were expanded
    • Created new co-working spaces in collaboration with local businesses.
    • Exploring new industries for the County
    • Working on a pilot project for a tourism incubator
  • Determined how Rio Blanco County can better access Colorado Tourism Office services
  • Designed and distributed a survey to tourism-related businesses and organizations to see what marketing and public relations approaches they are using to reach tourists. Created workshop themes based on results
  • Developed and facilitated a workshop with supportive resources/materials to help local tourism-related businesses improve their marketing strategies and efforts. The workshop addressed inexpensive ways to reach tourists and journalists. The workshop also addressed how and why Rio Blanco County is promoting to tourists outside the county and assessed resources available through the Colorado Tourism Office. Twenty-five people attended the first workshop.

“Developing a cohesive Rio Blanco marketing strategy and getting all of the players on the same page to combine resources and leverage buying power for ad placement and marketing [was valuable].” – Katelin Cook, Project Lead

Get inspired to visit Rio Blanco County by exploring
Flat Tops Wilderness: Meeker & Rangely 
Discover the Great West
Small-Town Treasures in Northwest Colorado 
Falling for Glenwood Springs


About CRAFT Studio 201

CRAFT Studio 201 provides 100 hours of customized mentoring for tourism destinations wishing to advance a specific tourism-related goal or strategy. Participants receive $7,500 of implementation funding upon completion. 


Rio Blanco County
(970) 878-9582