Bob Kennemer has been deeply involved in economic development and tourism in Huerfano and Las Animas counties for more than 30 years. Kennemer is the current president of the Scenic Hwy of Legends (SHOL), which connects the afore mentioned counties. The SHOL is currently up for a federal scenic bi-way designation, which will bring in federal support dollars and marketing programs. The SHOL is also being studied as the foundation for the Southern Mountain Loop, which could turn the SHOL into a major tourist destination and compliment other economic development efforts in the area. Along those lines Kennemer has been working with Custer County and other counties in the region on two Dark Skies Tourism projects. One has resulted in a grant from the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) to create and promote a regional dark ski tour for several southern Colorado counties. The second dark ski project, if successful, will create the largest dark ski reserve in the world encompassing the entire Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range in Colorado and more. Kennemer also sits on the Huerfano County Tourism Board and the San Luis Valley Tourism Board, which represents the Mystic San Luis Valley Tourism region, as designated by the CTO. Kennemer knows full well that a regional approach to economic development and tourism increases the likelihood of projects receiving funding from private, state, and federal resources.
As a former museum director and outdoor guide, Kennemer knows the benefits of heritage and recreational tourism. To that end, he has been a member of the San Luis Valley Museum Association for the past five years and currently sits on the boards of the Cuchara Mountain Park and the Spanish Peaks Alpine Alliance. He is an active member of Pueblo Historical and Archeological Society, the History Colorado, and serves on the board of the Huerfano County Historical Society. He also supports the arts as part of a strong economy and the quality of life they bring. Museums, art galleries, Creative Districts are all proven economic drivers. They also improve our quality of life. Like Trinidad, Kennemer’s home town of La Veta, CO is pursuing a Creative District Corridor. Kennemer supports and assists these efforts.
Business and government are part of Kennemer’s background as well. He served two terms on the La Veta Town Board, where he gained experience in federal, state, and local government working with agencies such as the CTO, DOLA, and the USDA. Kennemer owned a specialty retail sporting goods store and guide service for eight years in La Veta and still works as a part time outdoor educator. He often worked with State Parks and the USFS on a variety of issues affecting public lands e.g. tourism, emergency, and resource management. Kennemer majored in Environmental Science and Outdoor Education at the University of Denver and at the National Outdoor Leadership School.
Like tourism, agriculture is a crucial part of our local and state economies. Kennemer has worked on both sustainable agriculture and agritourism. He wants to continue to support, sustain, and expand agriculture in southern Colorado.
Covid 19 has hit southern Colorado hard just as it has impacted the rest of Colorado. Our service industries were especially hard hit. They are still suffering and dealing with decreased revenue along with numerous job losses. As a disaster recovery planner with SCEDD, Kennemer will combine his skills, background, and experience to develop creative solutions to help the three counties he serves (Huerfano, Las Animas, and Custer) to unite businesses, non-profits, and government to regain and maintain economic stability.