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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, July 28, 2004


Secondary homeowners important segment of valley economy

Guest opinion by Carol Waller and Deborah Burns

Carol Waller is executive director of the Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau.

Deborah Burns is the owner of Burnsie’s Boca and president of the Ketchum Retailers Alliance.

At the Sun Valley/Ketchum CVB budget hearing last week at Ketchum City Hall, there was discussion about the changing demographics of the Wood River Valley and how that is changing the economics of our various communities. As in many other resort areas all across the country, we are experiencing a greater shift in migration of working residents to the down-valley towns (such as Hailey, Bellevue and Carey) and more and more in-migration of secondary-homeowners and non-working residents into the resort towns of Ketchum and Sun Valley.

The driving pressure of this shift in demographics is a rising cost of real estate. Along with the shift comes a changing economic picture for the valley. More businesses are opening secondary outlets or relocating to the southern valley, where the bulk of the valley's year-round population now resides. But as the secondary-homeowners become a larger portion of the population in the Ketchum and Sun Valley area, the more of an important economic force they become.

For many years, this group has been a key component of the real estate, construction, landscaping, architecture, interior design, furnishing and services businesses. Now that baby boom generation is driving this demand to new heights. But the secondary-homeowners are also an important visitor segment. When they spend time here, they spend resources on retail, restaurant, recreation, and the arts, which are equally important segments of our overall economy. The key is for us to encourage these secondary-homeowners to visit here more than a few weeks per year, to increase their repeat visitation and economic impact; just as we do with our traditional visitor segments.

It is also important for us all to remember why we chose to live in this place, whether it was 30 years ago or 3 months ago. We came for the quality of life, which is unique here. We came to enjoy ourselves and experience living in a small community. And with that decision we take on the responsibility of supporting our community.

This shift in demographic requires that all of us that live, or have secondary homes in Sun Valley/Ketchum do what is necessary to support local business. We live here for the wonderful selection of world-class outdoor recreation, great restaurants, unique stores, the arts; all surrounded by thousand of acres of National Forest. And we would not have any of these amenities if not for the secondary-homeowners and tourists. We love our mountain home and we are doing our best to keep our communities prosperous and alive.


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.