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Opinion: A chance to exchange ideas at Tahoe summit

The Tahoe Prosperity Center, the region’s economic and community development organization, is hosting the first annual Tahoe Economic Summit on Monday, Oct. 30, at the Hyatt Regency in Incline Village, Nev.

This daylong event is a way for our communities to come together and discuss economic issues that are important for the future vitality of our region. This year’s theme is “Building Community through the Sharing Economy.”

Why talk about economic issues? Primarily because Lake Tahoe’s economy is not thriving. I know, usually my columns are more positive, but the numbers and data don’t lie. Our Measuring for Prosperity Report is currently being finalized (it is a “State of the Lake” review of economic and community demographic indicators — see the 2015 version at our website: tahoeprosperity.org/data).

And while the 2017 report is almost ready for release to the public, the updated data shows our economy has not improved since 2010, when the first economic report for our region was completed.

A Tahoe Economic Summit will not solve the dilemma of our economy’s poor performance in a one-day event. But, by focusing discussions around the economy, we can begin the conversations to reverse the negative trend.

The keynote speaker is Gino Borges, Ph.D. He will talk about the sharing economy, impact investing and thinking differently about economic prosperity. We will also share the results of the 2017 Measuring for Prosperity Report so you can review the economics data for yourself.

In addition, there will be three important focus areas at the Summit. The first focus area is Workforce and the speakers are all local — Alicia Barr, FiftyFifty Brewing; Chris McNamara, OutdoorGearLab/TechGearLab and Emily Deane, Big Truck.

The second focus area is Housing, another critical area for our communities. In this focus area, we have three experts from other regions to share what is working — Jennifer Kermode, Crested Butte/Gunnison, Colorado; Rob Fredericks, Santa Barbara, Calif., and Pooja Kondobalu, Airbnb.

Finally, in order to grow our economy, we must talk about Entrepreneurship. Speakers in this area include: Shawn Kernes, CEO of LARKR.com (former co-founder of StubHub); Rachel McCullough, McCullough Web Services and co-founder of Tahoe Silicon Mountain, and Nick Fong of LimeBike.

What can you expect at the summit? Your ticket price includes the sessions around each focus area outlined above, the keynote speaker, and a fun lunch discussion with the Tahoe Food Hub. It will also include interactive dialogue with other community members (business owners, real estate professionals, academia and government representatives) around these important topics.

We are also going to ask summit participants to take action around the ideas that resonate most with them. Maybe you’ll introduce your neighbor who wants to open up a new business to someone who has already done so. Or maybe you like one of the workforce housing programs you’ll hear about at the summit and ask your government representatives to consider it here in Tahoe.

Who knows what ideas might come from these conversations. Of course, your ticket also includes a full buffet lunch and beverages throughout the day. Our goal is to begin the dialogue that will start to move the needle on our economic engine. We’re puttering along in first gear, and now is the time to get moving.

The Tahoe Prosperity Center’s mission is uniting Tahoe’s communities to strengthen regional prosperity. A step toward that mission is to bring us all together around what a thriving economy actually looks like in our region. We hope you will join us at the first, but not last, Tahoe Economic Summit. All the details for the event and tickets can be purchased at tahoeeconomicsummit.org.

Heidi Hill Drum is the CEO of the Tahoe Prosperity Center, a Tahoe Basin-wide organization dedicated to uniting Tahoe’s communities to strengthen regional prosperity. She has expertise in collaborative governance and is a 21-year resident. Heidi and her husband John are happily raising their two boys in Lake Tahoe.


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