Opinion: Let's change Tahoe's story

by Placerville Newswire / Apr 24, 2016 / comments

[by Heidi Hill Drum] The Tahoe Prosperity Center’s mission is uniting Tahoe’s communities to strengthen regional prosperity.

Our five strategic pillars (which guide every one of our projects) are leadership, economic revitalization, infrastructure development, planning and policy, and capital generation.

Now, let’s break it down further:

LEADERSHIP

I hear constantly how challenging it is to do anything in Tahoe. There are numerous agencies, PUDs, districts or governments that all have different rules, policies and levels of influence. I’ve lived here 20 years and dealt with it recently when we needed to cut a tree down. But here’s the thing — it wasn’t difficult. That was just the “story” we’ve all gotten used to. Yes, Tahoe has its challenges, but they aren’t insurmountable and we are more collaborative than ever. Leadership means taking on these old stories and old guard. We applaud the work of Leadership Lake Tahoe, Tahoe Regional Young Professionals and others leading positive change in our community. We will continue to do the same.

ECONOMIC REVITALIZATION

This is when all in our community are thriving — not just a few and not just those here on vacation. It’s everyone — from the dishwasher at your favorite restaurant to the police, teachers and firefighters who are integral to our towns. Everyone who lives here should share in the thriving nature of our community. Of course we are dependent on tourism and the weather, but becoming a year-round destination is important. Focusing our economic development efforts on improving job opportunities, training a skilled workforce and revitalizing our blight will have positive long-term impacts that will keep Lake Tahoe as one of the top destinations in the world, which helps all of us who live and work here.

INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT, PLANNING AND POLICY

These two are closely related because the right planning and policies need to be in place before infrastructure development can occur. The Tahoe Prosperity Center’s Connected Tahoe project is a high priority because we all need high-speed internet and better cell phone service. It’s not just for businesses in Tahoe, but for residents and visitors who also want to work from home. Broadband is as important as electricity in today’s digital age and we have prioritized expanding it in our region as our most important infrastructure goal. No one besides the Tahoe Prosperity Center is working on this issue, but we happily take that leadership role on for broadband and other critical infrastructure needs.

CAPITAL GENERATION

This is not asking tourists to spend more when they are here. This is monetary investment in our region. Look at the recent improvements of four hotels in the South Shore Stateline area — Basecamp Hotel, Coachman Hotel, The Landing Resort & Spa and 968 Park Hotel. All projects significantly improved the blight that was there before renovations. Tahoe’s image varies depending on where you land around the lake. Our visitors and locals all enjoy The Shops at Heavenly Village, improvements made in Kings Beach and Tahoe City, plus new hotel developments. Let’s do more.

By focusing on doing the above, we can change the region’s story to: Tahoe is a great place to live and work; Tahoe has a skilled workforce; Tahoe has thriving local businesses and governments that work corroboratively together; Tahoe has strong investment opportunities; Tahoe is (you can insert your positive statement here).

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Heidi Hill Drum is the executive director of the Tahoe Prosperity Center, a Tahoe Basin-wide organization dedicated to uniting Tahoe’s communities to strengthen regional prosperity. She has expertise in collaborative governance and is a 20-year resident of Tahoe. Heidi, with her husband John, are happily raising their two boys in South Lake Tahoe.