Editorial: Sustainable industry needed
December 8, 2009
Editor’s Note: This is part 2 in a series of editorials about the lessons learned from the economic recession.
Picture a thriving economy. What most everyone imagines are a blend of traditional, mom-and-pop businesses and a big-box or two boosted by an economic advantage and#8212; a region’s geography or resources, or a combination of the two.
Those economic advantages set up a town’s tax base to avoid large-scale changes during economic upticks or downturns and#8212; like teacher layoffs or social services support.
In the Truckee Tahoe region, we have several economic advantages and#8212; snowfall, mountains, Lake Tahoe, to name just a few and#8212; that bring in millions of visitors and their wallets. Many of us focus so much on those tourists that we often forget to have a foundation, a set of economic pillars more sustainable than the finnicky, pop-culture-driven travel industry.
To be clear, ski resorts and tourism are not sustainable and#8230; yet. Climate change, a tight tourism economy, and the whims of national corporations all can pull the rug from a region before we know it. And in the past year, we found real estate to be victim of the same types of uncontrollable pressures.
But there is an answer, but it will take a long-term approach to succeed: Recruit year-round industries into the region.
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The health care industry and#8212; including the hospital system, naturopaths, physical therapists and even Yoga instructors and#8212; would provide us one tool to sustain our high quality of life, due to our proximity to high-level care, to large cities, and to nature. We can see the slogan now: There is no better place to heal than in the serenity of the Sierra.
There are others, like outdoor sporting goods, secondary learning and clothes manufacturing (some of which is naturally occurring without many local incentives), that would fit our area. But whatever form that takes, we need cooperation among our region’s towns, business associations and chambers to focus, and decide on a couple we can recruit through local incentives and#8212; affordable housing programs and tax incentives are just two examples.
Then, we fill our foundation with a sustainable industry, and we let the whims of tourism put us over the top.
Next week: Read the next editorial, and#8220;Why giving back is so important,and#8221; in a series on the recession.