Friday, February 4, 2011

How will city stimulate economy?

Ketchum leaders to spend 2 days discussing economic development


By TREVON MILLIARD
Express Staff Writer

Economic development has become a hot term, like green or sustainable, and achieving such is a front-burner priority for Ketchum's city leaders, who will tackle economic development in meetings on Monday and Tuesday.

The meetings, at 7:30 p.m. Monday and 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall, will begin the process of rewriting the city's comprehensive plan, now 11 years old. The Economic Development chapter is the first to be updated.

The city held one previous meeting on the topic two months ago, joining with economic-development nonprofits to brainstorm goals for sparking economic growth. The top-voted priority was to build the Sun Valley brand and spread it to the world. Second place went to elevating service across all businesses to follow through on the experience that the Sun Valley brand promises. Creating a business-friendly environment ranked third.

Next week's two meetings will be City Council workshops intended to clarify goals of the community at large and move toward initiatives to achieve them. The public and the Planning and Zoning Commission have been invited to participate. A follow-up meeting is planned for Wednesday, Feb. 23, at 5:30 p.m.

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In its final form, the updated Economic Development chapter will act as a roadmap, guiding the efforts of Ketchum and independent groups, including the city's Urban Renewal Agency. The URA is separate from the city government and receives about half a million dollars in annual revenue from property taxes to fund city improvements.

The city has hired Tom Hudson to coordinate the chapter rewrite. Hudson, principal of planning, urban design and sustainable development for Seattle consulting firm Collins Woerman Hudson, is one of the key creators behind Ketchum's downtown master plan, the Urban Renewal Agency and the Ketchum Community Development Corp. The chapter rewrite is expected to cost at most $50,000.

Hudson won't just create a list of what the city would like to do to improve its economy; he has been asked to develop an action plan laying out who will do what and how. For that reason, the input of the community and economic development organizations will be important.

Trevon Milliard: tmilliard@mtexpress.com




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