Wednesday, December 4, 2013

City to give $10K to Sustain Blaine

Economic development organization touts its successes


By ERIC AVISSAR
Express Staff Writer

The Ketchum City Council voted unanimously Monday to provide the economic development group Sustain Blaine with a $10,000 contract for services.
Sustain Blaine Executive Director Harry Griffith gave a presentation to the council in which he gave updates on a number of projects the nonprofit organization is working on.
“At Sustain Blaine, our strategy remains the same,” Griffith said. “We have three main points of emphasis: One focus is data analysis, the second is advocacy and education, and the third is development and innovation.”
Griffith said the organization has done substantial work to provide information to the community on how to improve its commercial air service. He said the organization is also working on development of a culinary institute that could be located in either Sun Valley or Ketchum.
“We have continued to make progress on the culinary institute with the College of Southern Idaho,” Griffith said. “I achieved the objectives I set out to do, taking this from an incubator approach, making a business plan, then passing it off to CSI. CSI has embraced the concept, and have basically run with the business plan.”


“[Our first] focus is data analysis, the second is advocacy and education, and the third is development and innovation.”
Harry Griffith
Sustain Blaine




Griffith said CSI is currently finalizing a branding concept, and the institute will likely be named “Culinarium Sun Valley.” He said that if their application for a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor is successful, they will fast-track the project. Should the grant application be unsuccessful, there will be a different path taken forward.
In addition to the culinary institute, Griffith touted the recent success of the renovations that drastically improved the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s facility in Ketchum. With that in mind, Griffith said he is working on a “human performance laboratory” that could be built in “under-utilized space” at the Wood River YMCA.
“There are a number of players collaborating for a state-of-the-art testing facility in the YMCA,” Griffith said. “We’d leverage all the ski athletes with the Ski Education Foundation to use this for both Nordic and alpine.”
He said he also plans to get the Boise State University sports medicine program involved with the project to provide expertise, guidance and resources for the athletes. While local athletes would benefit from the program, Griffith said the facility could also help tap into another market of athletes.
“The really interesting side of this is bringing in sports tourists here while bringing a clientele who wants to understand why their friend beats them down the hill,” Griffith said. “The business plan on this has been finished. We are working to finalize a consortium among players to come forward for a partnership arrangement to build participation for this facility. We would be one of few resort towns with a high-performance sports training laboratory.”
Eric Avissar: eavissar@mtexpress.com




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