Friday, February 13, 2009

Life preserver

The likelihood that federal or state government will throw the area's economy a life preserver in the form of public works projects is slim. Area cities will have to construct their own life preservers.

If all went well in the Ketchum City Council chambers last night, the city will have taken a major step toward preserving itself by approving a development plan for the first major new luxury resort hotel in the area since the Sun Valley Lodge was constructed 73 years ago.

The road before the Warm Springs Ranch Resort Hotel is still long. Developers still have to negotiate a development agreement with the city. They will have to secure financing and create a detailed hotel design, which could also face hurdles.

The importance of the development of new hotels in the Sun Valley area cannot be understated.

Business owners and employees who testified at a Wednesday hearing on the hotel project painted a grim picture of a deteriorating local economy.

A report on resort cities local-option sales tax receipts for December makes their case. The lowest in 10 years, the receipts heralded an annual drop of a half million dollars. That means that millions of dollars that had previously flowed through the local economy have disappeared. That's forcing tough budget cuts on the city, businesses and employees.

This hotel and others in the pipeline would be good first steps. First-class hotels are aggressive marketers. That combined with a resolution of the area's air-service woes will improve chances of recovery.

If there are better ideas out there, we haven't heard them.

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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.