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Friday — March 5, 2004


Business improving, Chamber members say

Group advocates improved transportation

Express Staff Writer

A survey conducted by the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau has confirmed reports earlier this winter that the Ketchum-area economy is gradually improving.

In its 2004 annual membership survey released this week, the Chamber reported that more than half of its responding members indicated that business has improved noticeably in the last year.

Among the 34 business operators who rated their sales, a mere 12 percent said business was down, while approximately 30 percent reported that sales activity had not changed significantly.

All told, 47 businesses, or 7 percent of the Chamber’s approximately 615 members, responded to all or part of the survey.

Carol Waller, executive director of the Chamber, said the response rate to the survey tempers its significance but noted that the questionnaire provided useful data nonetheless.

"This winter certainly was an improvement from last," Waller said. "I think the survey does mirror the economic trends."

Of seven real-estate businesses responding to the survey, none reported a decline in sales activity. In fact, the retail sales and lodging sector was the only Chamber sub-group from which any businesses reported a drop in activity during the last year.

Indeed, figures released by the Chamber last month indicated a slip in Ketchum-area lodging occupancies in late 2003. In November 2003, hotel and vacation-rental occupancies were down 4 percent from the same month the previous year. December 2003 occupancies were down 8 percent.

However, other economic indicators—particularly revenues from local option taxes in Ketchum and Sun Valley—were said to demonstrate that the economy is steadily recovering from a downturn suffered in 2002 and 2003.

In Ketchum, LOT receipts have been up for three consecutive months, from November 2003 through January 2004. In Sun Valley, LOT receipts made gains in December and January.


Members want improved
air transportation

The 2004 Chamber survey also asked respondents to prioritize issues they believe the organization should focus on in the coming year.

Among seven issues put before Chamber members, the group ranked increasing airline service and identifying a location for a new regional airport as the most important topic the Chamber should address.

The remaining six topics, ranked in order of importance by survey respondents, included:

  • Enhancing the local transit system, possibly by expanding the Ketchum Area Rapid Transit bus system to serve the entire Wood River Valley.

  • Increasing the local inventory of affordable housing.

  • Developing more overnight visitor lodging units in Ketchum and Sun Valley.

  • Improving the infrastructure of Ketchum, in part by expanding the intermittent network of sidewalks and enhancing lighting of public areas.

  • Promoting adoption of Sun Valley Company’s forthcoming 50-year master plan.

  • Maintaining public access to the Elkhorn Golf Course, which is slated to become part of a private club.


City of Ketchum

Formula Sports


Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

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.