Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Vision needed for valley to compete


This letter is in response to two stories that appeared in the July 27 issue: "Pro-business group endorses new tax" and "What was the impact of MASSV?"

They are related. The Wood River Valley is experiencing changing times and a weak economy. But the communities of the valley must move forward and plan and build for new generations, the next two generations after the baby boomers. These two generations are starting to control economic activities of both government and business, where, before, the much larger baby boomer generation, 40 percent larger than the next, controlled the majority of the local economy in government and business. The serious competition for these two next generation's attention, travel dollars and loyalty has started globally. 

The following is what I feel has to be achieved by each local government and their business community in the Wood River Valley. There has to be a clean understanding of what these two next generations find appealing, in sports activities, social events, community and business services. 

Here are several must-do examples:

( The airport does have to provide direct service to and from more regions of the West, but must combine that effort and service with the right direct marketing to the next two generations. 

( Sun Valley Resort must build the most advanced snow park and work on providing a greater area for backcountry skiing and boarding. These are the two elements in winter sports that the next two generations are absolutely focused on.

( Marketing the region must now turn to becoming part of the very successful X Game series of events, both Summer and Winter. Main Street in Hailey is very well-suited for hosting the Summer X Games.

( The surrounding terrain of the Wood River Valley holds great potential for building the best competitive mountain-bike course in the world, with today's requirements of natural terrain and man-made aspects to the course. Add national and global television broadcasting rights, these can absolutely be obtained. 

( There is also land available for a science and technology college, which would promote conversion of many of the valley's at least 50 empty buildings into what are called satellite tech research offices. Tech companies and universities now provide offices and research labs in mountain and seashore towns across the U.S. so their innovative staff members can do their research or post-graduate work and mountain bike, ski and board all in the same place.

- Musical entertainment provided through the many venues of the Wood River Valley communities has been the best over the past 30 years, but each community needs to provide its youth and young travelers venues for their kind of music, which MASSV did very successfully. The young people attending these concerts and events at MASSV were absolutely ecstatic—they felt they are now finally part of their community and said so to me.

The Wood River Valley is one of the best destinations in the world, if we all understand the needs and interests of each generation. Build on that through great government leadership and business services and the valley will once again stabilize its future for all generations.

Jim Evanhoe is a resident of Hailey.

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