Guest column: Investments drive progress (opinion)
Investment is the theme that comes to mind as the Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce reflects on the past year and looks to the year ahead. Investment drives revitalization and progress is clearly visible in key areas of our community across the South Shore.
We see many signs of business and community revitalization along and near the U.S. 50 corridor, anchored at the South Tahoe Y by the transformation of a dated shopping center into The Crossing at Tahoe Valley.
Other business and community improvements contemplated by the city’s adopted Tahoe Valley Area Plan are coming to life. These include the Blue Granite Climbing Gym and design of a class-one trail connecting Viking Way and the Y, one of several new segments mapped out in the plan.
While there were certainly travel delays and other challenging impacts, the investment by Caltrans in water quality and aesthetic improvements along the highway from the Y to Winnemucca Avenue is another significant community enhancement. 2017 marked completion of phase one of three that will continue corridor improvements east to the Trout Creek bridge.
Not far away, construction continues on the Robert Maloff Center of Excellence on the grounds of Barton Memorial Hospital. This 25,000-square-foot facility will further underscore Barton’s expertise in orthopedic, sports performance, rehabilitation and its growing focus on wellness.
Investment continues in the Harrison Avenue district where several businesses and buildings are being reconstructed. The city took the lead to add more public access amenities to the east of popular Lakeview Commons, including a new segment of bike and pedestrian trail connecting El Dorado Beach and Ski Run Boulevard. Across the street, the old Knight’s Inn has been demolished to make way for the Bijou Marketplace. This public-private partnership involving the city and Halferty Development will feature a fresh new design and mix of businesses as well as urban watershed restoration improvements at one of the city’s highest profile locations.
Stretching from the lake to Heavenly Mountain Resort, Ski Run Boulevard is known as the home of a signature blend of restaurants, retail, and lodging. Tahoe Chamber sees the next wave of entrepreneurial energy and enterprises coming to this district as we transition into 2018.
From Ski Run east into Nevada, millions in capital have been infused into businesses and resorts, from The Lodge at Edgewood and Zalanta at the Village to new and re-energized restaurants and retail. Several older motels have been transformed into popular contemporary properties, including the Coachman, 7 Seas Inn, Hotel Becket and The Landing.
It’s important that we invest in people, too. Lake Tahoe Community College (LTCC) is in the early years of implementing its master plan, designed to support the College’s mission to serve “our local, regional, and global communities by promoting comprehensive learning, success, and life-changing opportunities.”
In 2017, Tahoe Chamber laid the foundation for a workforce training and development partnership with LTCC’s ADVANCE adult education program. ADVANCE is a collaborative network of local organizations, government offices, and employers working together to support adults in meeting career, education, and other personal goals.
These goals can include; improving current employment, completion of a high school credential, entering college or career training, and even connecting job seekers with high demand, local industry needs. We expect to sign a formal Memorandum of Understanding with ADVANCE early in 2018.
Another people investment we need is in affordable primary residential housing for all income levels. At their November meeting, members of the Tahoe Chamber Board of Directors adopted a set of underlying principles that will support a series of chamber action steps to be adopted in early 2018:
Affordable primary residential housing is essential to support the economy and sustainability of our community, workforce, and residents.
Affordable housing helps households build wealth and invest in their well being and future. It provides for a more reliable and abundant source of employees and reduces the demands on public health and safety services.
Affordable housing that is in closer proximity to places of employment helps to reduce the environmental impacts on air and water quality and the other unique Tahoe attributes we treasure.
More pivotal community investments are being shaped and on the way. These include the new South Lake Tahoe recreation complex, a year-round indoor multi-purpose events center in Stateline, and the U.S. 50 South Shore Community Revitalization Project. Each of these projects will trigger a further round of other public and private sector investments.
Tahoe Chamber remains alert to missed investment opportunities. While Measure C in the city of South Lake Tahoe received a majority vote this past fall, it did not carry the required two-thirds approval for passage. The substandard status of local roads within the city must still be addressed with a comprehensive, financially viable plan.
As demonstrated by our commitment to the Chamber’s Leadership Lake Tahoe program and our active engagement in the representation of business with government, we remain committed to the twin principles of common sense and bold investments in the sustainable future of our community.
We know and celebrate that investments drive progress.
Steve Teshara serves as CEO of the Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce (Tahoe Chamber).
Editor’s note: This column was part of the Tribune’s annual progress edition. Check out the e-edition here.