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Economic summit starts Wednesday

Panels, speakers to focus on future


Data has been gathered, business owners have been contacted and Sustain Blaine is ready to host its first Wood River Economic Summit next week, focused on the state of the local economy and what it might look like in the future.

The day-long summit will feature four speakers and two panels of local business owners, all of whom will discuss the nature of the local and global economies as well as the distinct challenges facing businesses in the Wood River Valley.

The most locally based information is likely to be presented by Sustain Blaine Executive Director Harry Griffith, who will give an update on Blaine County’s economic climate as well as an analysis of the economic impact of 25 of the valley’s largest events.

Griffith said last month that he has been collecting data from the major events in 2011 and determining the economic impacts of each one, including how many people came, how much money they spent and how much business the events brought to local businesses.

He will also present city-specific economic data from 2011, some of which may show the economy is slowly but surely improving. Skier days and hotel occupancy rates in Ketchum and Sun Valley were slightly up from 2010, though the numbers of jobs and businesses in the county either held steady or were slightly down from 2010.

Griffith’s presentation will be followed by an audience poll to determine how locals feel about the economy and what their business strategies will be for 2013.

The summit will also include two panels, one on the challenges of operating a business in Blaine County and one on local opportunities. The first panel will feature developer Jack Bariteau, restaurant owner and real estate agent Rob Cronin and Bryan Furlong, area president of Zions Bank. 

The second will feature Aimee Christensen of Christensen Global, Pia Ayliffe of Hailey-based biosciences company ORFLO Technologies, Greg Siebert from the Idaho Department of Commerce and Tory Ballard of PACT Apparel, which is opening a branch in Ketchum;

To register, visit

Kate Wutz:

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