Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What you can do to save jobs and help the local economy

While the Sun Valley area economy waits for federal financial rescue efforts to take effect, local residents, second homeowners and businesses must not stand panicked like deer in the headlights.

We know what happens to them.

Instead, we need to take action. We need to keep as much money as possible circulating in the area, engage in planning for a more stable economic future and encourage local leaders to take steps to secure a prosperous future.

What can one person, one vacation homeowner or one business do? A lot.

For starters, shop local first. Jobs depend on it. Don't leave town to shop. Don't shop on the Internet. The good feeling that may come from a "discount" will evaporate when a neighbor's job disappears because the local company that carries similar items collapses.

Vacation homeowners should come and visit. They should stock up for these visits from valley stores and buy services from valley businesses—not elsewhere. In the process, they will prop up the values of their own vacation homes.

If they don't, the cute little towns with the friendly people that led them to buy homes here may be hollow shells when next they return.

Admittedly, not everything families and businesses need is available in the valley, but most of it is. Local wisdom says it's more expensive. But local wisdom is often wrong. When time and travel, freight and gift-wrapping charges are included, the price difference for shopping locally is often minimal.

Can't find what you want? Ask a local business to order it.

Individuals also can engage in planning the valley's economic future by taking the economic survey posted on the Web site Just search "Sustain Blaine" to find it. This will help economists who are studying the area to recommend strategies that are politically as well as economically feasible for diversifying and stabilizing the local economy.

Finally, everyone should demand that local governments create a new position: director of economic development.

Blaine County and its cities have spent huge sums of money over the years employing land planners. With real estate development slowing down for the foreseeable future, it would be wise to employ an expert to find, promote and guide new economic development initiatives that are compatible with the area's existing tourist-based economy.

With goodwill, brains and initiative, the area will not only survive the recession, it could triumph.

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