South Lake Tahoe chips in to support basin-wide Tahoe Prosperity Center |

South Lake Tahoe chips in to support basin-wide Tahoe Prosperity Center

Jack Barnwell
Jamie Orr works at her station at the Tahoe Mountain Lab, a co-working hub on Ski Run Boulevard, on Monday, Sept. 21. Tahoe Mountain Lab would be one of many businesses to benefit from high-speed broadband Internet, a project the Tahoe Prosperity Center has been working on recently.
Jack Barnwell / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The City of South Lake Tahoe invested $10,000 in the Tahoe Prosperity Center on Tuesday, Sept. 15. The nonprofit serves as a basin-wide economic driver.

Heidi Hill Drum, Tahoe Prosperity Center’s executive director, said there is value in the city’s investment.

“We are the community and economic development organization for the basin,” Drum said.

She noted that Tahoe Prosperity Center is a good example of private-public partnerships in the Lake Tahoe Basin, and that its projects benefit South Lake Tahoe residents.

“With its $10,000, when leveraged with funding from all the other jurisdictions, we can go much further than the city could on its own,” Drum said.

She added that the Measuring for Prosperity report, a $20,000 analysis of the basin’s socio-economic situation, has value as well. The report, which was funded by Tahoe Prosperity Center, was recently released; and it’s available online.

“The city will benefit from that economic data through business recruitment and other economic development expansion efforts,” Drum said. “It is also something that their previous economic development department used to do for them.”

Tahoe Prosperity Center spearheads projects like AlertTahoe and ConnectTahoe, which focus on fire safety and broadband Internet respectively. The organization asked for $10,000 from the city multiple times already this year, but they were asked to back the request with data.

Both public and private organizations sit on Tahoe Prosperity Center’s board of directors. Other public entities — like Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, El Dorado and Placer counties in California, and Douglas County in Nevada — invested in the center.


Mayor Hal Cole, who sits on Tahoe Prosperity Center’s board, supports Tahoe Prosperity Center’s initiatives, like AlertTahoe, a University of Nevada, Reno-led program. It helped increase fire safety in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

AlertTahoe is a system of networked sensors designed to protect the Lake Tahoe Basin from catastrophic wildfires, earthquakes, and other natural hazards.

The project has eight camera sites situated around Lake Tahoe to date; the network prevented several fires in the basin already. An additional four cameras sponsored by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management provide additional coverage in Western and Northern Nevada east of Carson City.

“We are living in an unprecedented time of fire danger, and to have the Tahoe Prosperity Center take the lead on that is great for our basin,” Cole said.

Another project is ConnectTahoe, a study funded by the California Public Utilities Commission. Tahoe Prosperity Center is mapping the basin to determine gaps in high-speed Internet locally.

Not all council members agree the city’s $10,000 investment was a wise one.

Councilwoman JoAnn Conner said the city should not invest money that could be used for another purpose, especially for an organization she said hasn’t produced measurable results yet.

“I’m very concerned that we are paying the salary of an employee that is not accountable to us,” Conner said.

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