Friday, March 11, 2011

Stop talking, start doing

Talk is cheap. Action is not.

That's probably why when it comes to developing the local economy there's a lot more talk than action.

This week, we're seeing some action for a change.

Sun Valley Co. is hosting the U.S. Collegiate Skiing and Snowboarding National Championships with 450 racers participating representing 52 colleges and universities all over the country.

The races are on Baldy, Dollar Mountain and at the Sun Valley Nordic Center.

The young racers are a welcome sight. Their presence is exciting and is creating a happy buzz in the valley. Spectators are lining the courses for the races, which run through Saturday.

Sun Valley has hosted Intermountain race teams for many years. However, college-level racing has been notably absent for a long time. Its return with the USCSA 33rd National Championships is a great development. Even better, it's a smart investment in the resort's future.

The Sun Valley area has long needed to strengthen contact with people who love to ski and board. Hosting races is a great way to do that.

Racing is the first time many young people experience Sun Valley. Chances are, if their experience is as good as we think it will be, they will return with the spouses, families and friends they will acquire as they grow older.

Researchers at Ohio State University found that people who touched an object were far more likely to buy it than those who had not. Just as important, they were also willing to pay more for it.

The same must hold true for the places people visit in their youth.

In the past few years, Wood River Valley governments have created departments for economic development, spent money on consultants and engaged the public to look at the area's future. Private business organizations repeatedly have conducted focus groups to try to get a grip on what the valley can do to lift itself out of the ongoing recession.

There's nothing wrong with planning, but at some point, there must be action.

There's no magic formula for economic success and the valley must engage in some trial and error. To do so, officials, residents and businesses must move beyond the fear of failure.

Getting collegiate races here is a good start. Paying someone to reach out and recruit new, clean businesses or to develop an institute of higher education here would be worthwhile as well.

These actions won't happen if all people do is sit around and talk about "what if."

Valley cities, Blaine County and local economic groups should quit spinning their wheels and adopt two phrases. "Why not?" and "Let's go!"

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