Friday, October 11, 2013

Sustain Blaine summit data to be analyzed for opportunities

Polls show high support for air service, marketing and increased seating at venues

Express Staff Writer

     The 2013 Sustain Blaine Economic Summit, which took place Tuesday in Sun Valley, yielded a wealth of ideas pertaining to enhancing the local economy.

     The conference began by defining the features that participants believe contribute to the Sun Valley area’s “quality of place,” and ended with a polling of priorities for enhancing those qualities.

     The quality-of-place index was defined as a combination of infrastructure and business development, social and cultural offerings, transport and mobility access, and recreational and environmental opportunities.

     Sustain Blaine Executive Director Harry Griffith said he would be taking the data into consideration while forming an action plan for 2014.

     “A lot of ideas were put out there,” Griffith said. “What we are going to do next will come from the discussions that took place during the event. Networking within the community is the important part, and that is already taking place.”

     Griffith said he would take time to further define the concept of “leakage” of money from the local economy due to a lack of local purchasing, and explore, through more detailed analysis of data, ways to keep more tourist dollars in town.

     Griffith said he would also explore further the practicalities of developing ideas for local investment. Ideas discussed at the forum ranged from establishing a local or statewide stock exchange to forming cooperatives and using small-scale, sector-specific business incubators.

     “There is a whole spectrum of local investment opportunities,” he said. “Sustain Blaine will be evaluating which of these might be priorities.”

Griffith said he will meet with his board in two weeks to further define ways in which the summit can contribute to Sustain Blaine’s mission goals; innovative project development, business retention and attraction, and education and advocacy.      

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