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April 23, 2013
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Officials looking to define Truckee’s economic future

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Sustainable economic prosperity. That’s the hope Truckee Tomorrow has for Truckee and the greater North Tahoe region.

But that begs the question — how to get there?

It’s a question Truckee Tomorrow — a collaborative economic development initiative among the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce, town of Truckee and Truckee Downtown Merchants Association — and other community members are trying to answer.

“I think any time you can bring the cross section of the community together — that’s what Truckee Tomorrow is doing — and a collective voice comes out of that, (it) is very powerful,” said Robb Etnyre, chair of the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce board of directors. “It helps to provide a focus, a vision for the collective community about economic prosperity here for the community.”

At a recent Truckee Tomorrow meeting, where about 50 community leaders discussed economic development for the area, two strategies were identified as priority: a place marketing and branding campaign for Truckee to attract not only visitors, but businesses and talent; and creating a local community/economic development corporation to replace the region’s economic redevelopment engine.

How to practically implement those priorities has yet to be determined, Etnyre said.

The Center for Strategic Economic Research, a Sacramento-based economic and consulting group, helped produce a draft action plan, based on meeting input and economic data.

Nevada County through $10,000 is helping fund the plan, which is expected to be reviewed before being published in the next two months, Etnyre said.

“What we’re going to talk about in the larger group (is), how do we practically focus on implementation?” he said. “What does that cost and where does the funding come from for those things?”

HISTORY, AND FUNDING

When Truckee Tomorrow was founded in November 2010, largely in reaction to the poor economy at the time, it had access to town redevelopment funds to help finance efforts to improve the local economy.

“The relationship (of the partnership) revolved around positive opportunity, redevelopment — what are we going to do with that, how do we leverage that the best possible way? — but also the recession,” recalled Tony Lashbrook, Truckee town manager, from Truckee Tomorrow’s early days.

Out of community meetings in the fall of 2010, four economic development priorities were identified: downtown improvements; enhanced marketing for Truckee; business retention and recruitment; and transportation, leveraging Truckee’s position as a gateway to the region.

Practical implementation of those objectives, officials said, include the Coffee Connection, a monthly meeting between representatives of Truckee Tomorrow and two local businesses to discuss the business environment in Truckee; Good Morning Truckee; the free ski shuttle, which launched this winter; involvement in marketing special events such as the Amgen Tour of California; and the Truckee Depot Streetscape Improvement Project, among others.

Then in December 2011, the California Supreme Court upheld a previous passed law abolishing redevelopment agencies throughout the state — including the town of Truckee’s — eliminating that funding source for many local economic development projects.

Alyssa Thomas, president of the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association, said the loss of redevelopment funds was “impactful.”

“At the downtown side of things ... the loss of redevelopment for the infrastructure things, it’s disappointing,” she said. “It’s almost more (so) on the programs and things we were able to partner on that were showing direct positive economic consequences.”

Today, Truckee Tomorrow is looking at private-public partnerships, grants and volunteer efforts to carry out its future endeavors, Etnyre said.

“I think the lasting power is in our ability to move effectively, rapidly on new issues that we don’t even recognize right now,” Lashbrook said.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Apr 23, 2013 05:17PM Published Apr 24, 2013 08:44PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.