Devin Middlebrook: The new Tahoe economy (opinion) |

Devin Middlebrook: The new Tahoe economy (opinion)

Devin Middlebrook
Tribune Opinion Columnist


We all know that Tahoe has a job problem, and careers are harder to come by. Our economy needs tourism, and lives or dies by the seasons. For decades gaming played a major role in the community, now more emphasis is being placed on recreation and visitor experiences. Whether it is gaming or recreation, the source of money is the same, tourism. In the past, we had no other option but to play the tourism game, but that is no longer the case, we have the chance to create a new Tahoe economy.

Unfortunately, we are already late to the game. The world is advancing around us, yet we seem to be stuck in time. We must embrace a new way of thinking and take advantage of the opportunities that exist. We have the opportunity to create a new Tahoe economy, one that works year-round, is diversified, pays well, and retains and attracts talented people.

Cottage industries, small scale manufacturing, co-working, makerspaces, and telecommuting are now a possibility at Lake Tahoe. Tahoe no longer has to be isolated in the mountains and segregated from the nearby urban centers of Reno, Sacramento and the Bay Area. The tools exist for us to compete and be a leader on a global scale. Ideas, products, services, and art created in Lake Tahoe can be sold on the global market, bringing money to the economy with no strain on local resources. It takes entrepreneurs to create new ideas, local jurisdictions to foster innovation, and community members to embrace a culture of innovation.

While our reliance on tourism will always exist, it is no longer the only option we have to support our community. Added stability to our economy brings with it new jobs, skilled talent, and diversity of industries. With a new economy, we can strengthen our investment in local talent and intellectual capital. The idea of a four-year university at Lake Tahoe Community College is becoming a reality. They are now offering a four-year business degree and more could be offered in the near future. We need to focus on growing local talent while also bringing outside talent to the area.

The community is ready for something great to happen, you can feel the buzz around town. New ideas are being talked about and innovative projects, ideas, and businesses are already happening. We need every single community member to invest in the new Tahoe economy; start a business, shop local, get creative, and just do something already.

Devin Middlebrook is the civic engagement committee chair for the Tahoe Regional Young Professionals. For comments, questions, or more information on how to get involved please email Devin and or visit

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