Thank you for publishing Jonathan Thompson's article about international economic influences on the American West's natural resources (HCN, 7/25/11). A recent drive to Victor, Colo., was a perfect illustration of the disparity between international profits and marginal local benefits.
With the value of gold rising in the face of unstable national currencies, the town of Victor, home to one of North America's largest gold-mining districts, should be flourishing. Unfortunately, Victor is typified by vacant storefronts and eerily quiet streets. The mine is owned by AngloGold Ashanti, a Johannesburg, South Africa-based company. Luckily, the people of Victor are beginning to see that stable economic development must come from promotion of their community as a tourist and arts destination, or not at all.
My reason for being there was the Gold Rush Days festival, which included an artists' fair and a nine-mile race. Much like the article's discussion of the Salt Creek Oilfield near Midwest, Wyo., the Cripple Creek and Victor Gold-mining District may be a great resource for outside companies, even a major source of local employment. But, as Thompson writes: "How can we expect a firm that's based in another state, or another country, to build a new library or school, or to pay for economic diversification efforts and new roads?" We simply can't. And the sooner towns like Victor realize that community development must be generated locally, the better they will fare over the long term.