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IDAHO MOUNTAIN

Express AND GUIDE

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2019

VOLUME 44

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NUMBER 96

ONE COPY FREE – ALL OTHERS 50 CENTS

E C ONOM I C

ALMANAC B L A I N E

C O U N T Y

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N U M B E R S

2019 SUN VALLEY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ECONOMIC SUMMIT What: Eighth annual gathering of Blaine County, Idaho, community leaders to learn, network and engage. When: Monday, Oct. 28, 2019, from 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Where: Limelight Room, Sun Valley Resort. Theme: “Bridging the Gaps in Our Resort Community: Building a Working Economy for Those That Live It.” Tickets: Go to sunvalleyeconomy.org.

AGENDA 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Registration, continental breakfast and networking.

8:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. Welcome and context: David Patrie, Harry Griffith (Sun Valley Economic Development).

8:45 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. National trends—regional and local impacts: Robert Spendlove, senior vice president, economic and public policy, Zions Bank.

9:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. Many residents of the Wood River Valley cherish the mountain scenery and recreational opportunities, such as trail running and skiing on Bald Mountain, but face higher costs of living than most small communities in Idaho and the West. Express photo by Roland Lane

Keynote Address from Lowell Aplebaum, CEO and strategy catalyst, Vista Cova: “Building Networks to Bridge our Gaps.”

Building an economy for the working class

10:15 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.

Sun Valley Economic Development Summit set for Monday, Oct. 28, in Sun Valley

10:45 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

By EXPRESS STAFF

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or many travelers to the quaint resort towns of the Rocky Mountains, including Ketchum/Sun Valley, it is easy to engender envy of the locals and their seemingly privileged place of residence and laidback lives. The smiling, tanned waitress at the bustling steak house who just got off the hiking trail. The boot fitter at the ski shop who catches the first chair every powder day. But, those working-class residents who make the resort economy go—the vast numbers in the service industry, public service and skilled trades—will inevitably paint a reality that is vastly more complex. Some carry two, or even three, jobs to make ends meet. Many forgo nights on the town and ski passes to cover steep rent payments. That policeman you saw patrolling the streets—there’s a good chance he’s planning a stay-cation instead of a sun-splashed week in the islands. In its eighth annual Economic Summit, the nonprofit organization Sun Valley Economic Development will facilitate discussions about some of the challenges facing

Registration and payment for the summit can be done online at Sun Valley Economic Development’s website, www.sunvalleyeconomy.org.

begin at 8 a.m., followed by Blaine County’s working class—the lack of affordable a welcome address at 8:30 housing, the high cost of a.m. That will be followed health insurance, the costat 8:45 a.m. by a presentaof-living bonuses that don’t tion from Robert Spendlove, the senior vice president, ecocome every year. The theme nomic and public policy, of of the event—“Bridging the Gaps in Our Resort ComZions Bank, on national munity: Building a Working trends impacting local econEconomy for Those That omies. The keynote speaker will begin at 9:30 a.m. Other Live It”—will feature several speakers who will offer speakers and discussions will follow, concluding with feedinsight on how our community can provide better for back and final remarks from those who aren’t retired and 2:15 to 2:45 p.m. aren’t enjoying days off in Following the summit, one of those luxurious sec- Harry Griffith is the executive Sun Valley Economic Develond homes. director of Sun Valley Economic opment will compile the The keynote speaker, Development, the organizer ideas generated and report Lowell Apelbaum, will dis- and host of the eighth annual them to the community. cuss how Blaine County Economic Summit. The event is a fundraiser for Sun Valley Economic leaders and residents can Express file photo Development, a nonprofituse enhanced communication and networking to bridge the dispari- private partnership organization in the valley ties in incomes, housing alternatives and that brings economic education and advoaccess to health care and education. Addi- cacy to bear on issues that affect businesses tional discussions will include “Building a and communities in Blaine County. Regional Partnership,” “Our Future: Can The organization has worked on bringing the Next Generation Live the Dream?” and new businesses and entrepreneurs to the Wood “The Nonprofit Role in Building Commu- River Valley, as well as advocating for existing nity Bridges.” businesses and causes that support them, such This year’s summit will take place Mon- as the development of workforce housing. day, Oct. 28, from 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. in the Registration and payment for the summit Limelight Room of the Sun Valley Inn, at Sun can be done online at Sun Valley Economic Valley Resort. Development’s website, www.sunvalley Coffee, breakfast and networking will economy.org.

Break.

“Our Future: Can the Next Generation Live the Dream?” —A panel of the community’s newest business owners and leaders will explore what it takes to “make it here.”

Lunch 12:15 p.m. to 12:35 p.m. “YIMBY’s in our Backyard” —Andrew Mentzer, SVEDx Talk.

12:35 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. “Building Regional Partnerships”—Local and regional elected officials and regional planning leaders talk about the impact of regional cooperation.

1:15 p.m. to 1:35 p.m. “The Nonprofit Impact: More Than Just Charitable’ —Jenni Riley, SVEDx Talk.

1:25 p.m. to 2:05 p.m. “The Nonprofit Role in Building Community Bridges” —Representatives from the nonprofit sector explore their challenges and successes.

2:05 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Attendee Exercise—unanswered questions, take-aways and follow-up actions.

2:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. Identify highest-priority action items and identify organizations and individuals to implement actions.


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Express

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“Networking, which has so many possible meanings, here references the ability to make more personal connections for greater understanding so that, when issues of key importance arise, the relationships that you have built will allow there to be a more collaborative dialogue on how to face those issues together,” he said. In the Wood River Valley, these key issues are likely to center around housing and wage stagnation in the face of rising land costs. One could imagine a fruitful co-listening experience that includes a real estate broker, a teacher looking for a place to live, a homebuilder and an elected leader who has to face pushback from real estate owners concerned about property values. “In our session, it is my hope that the members of the Sun Valley community will come to the table with an open mind. We will start not from a place of singular topic or issue—rather, our kickoff session will be focused on how we can open the door to greater interpersonal

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“Our work is not passive. We believe in active learning.”

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understanding, with the hope that if we know each other better, if we develop our interpersonal networking skills into mastery, that the topics and areas we will address in the duration of the day will be met with impassioned community members who both bring their own points of view but also better seek to hear and understand the viewpoints of others.” Aplebaum recently facilitated a community of 300 accountants from different-size firms based in varied places and with diverse demographics. “I led them through an inquiry approach where they started their meeting identifying a key question where they wanted insight, advice or a host of colleagues’ responses for open discussion,” he said. Each question was placed on a sheet. Around the room and throughout the day, all attendees had the opportunity to give input on each other’s questions or add their own name to the sheet for future discussion. “Each person walked away having given of their own thoughts to others, as well as having a personal need of their own answered with thoughtful responses. It also provided introductions to colleagues who wanted to delve further,” Aplebaum said. In another recent workshop, Aplebaum had individuals compose their unique vision of success for their community—all the facets that would be included if they were describing a thriving community three years hence. “They highlight places of concurrence where what another leader said echoed with what they had authored. In the end, we were able to pull out those places of overlap—of group vision—that aligned the direction that they wanted to go together, and that served as a North Star for the rest of our strategy work,” he said.

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as well as having a focus on the back end of how an organization works as a chief operating officer,” he said. “Through that journey, I always come back to facilitation— the importance of helping people better hear one another—and that is at the heart of my company and its purpose.” What sounds simple can in fact involve a methodical process, far beyond what most people think of as “networking” within a chosen profession.

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Lowell Aplebaum will give the keynote address during the eighth annual Sun Valley Economic Development Summit on Monday, Oct. 28, in Sun Valley.

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he obstacles to success in a community can be personal as well as professional, due to misunderstandings and a lack of communication as much as a difference in priorities. Speaker Lowell Aplebaum has spent many years working with leaders and communities to create aligned visions and strategies. He aims to bring an interactive experience to his keynote address at the 2019 Economic Summit that will facilitate long-term communication between people from the public and private sectors, people from many walks of life who hold the reins of potential collaboration for a community facing deep economic challenges. “Our work is not passive,” Aplebaum said. “We believe in active learning.” Aplebaum quotes author and businessman Stephen R. Covey in identifying a primary obstacle to learning about others: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” “This quote is really at the heart of what it means to bridge gaps when it comes to networking,” said Aplebaum, a certified professional facilitator and CEO at Vista Cova, a company that partners with organizations on strategic visioning and planning to create stronger stakeholder connections to “reimagine value and engagement.” “Building a Working Economy for Those That Live It,” a theme of this year’s summit, will use Aplebaum’s philosophy and facilitation skills to develop methods and solutions to bridge the disparities in Blaine County’s incomes, housing options and access to health care and education. Potential “stakeholders” could be from numerous sectors in the Wood River Valley economy, including teachers, bike mechanics, homebuilders, real estate agents, firefighters, politicians and nonprofit leaders. Beneficiaries of such a wide spread of collaboration would be the thousands of wage-earners struggling to make ends meet in the valley and provide opportunities for the next generation. “Within any community you have many audiences, each with unique perspectives, circumstances and even goals,” Aplebaum said. “Communities are strongest when, even if there are varied points of view, each arm of the community, each person, comes together with the intent to hear one another, to understand each other.” With a master’s degree in informal education and a focus on leadership development, Aplebaum said he has always been interested in finding ways to bring people together through experiential learning and dialogue. “My career has taken me through the ranks of nonprofit management, including creating value for varied member communities and negotiating global alliances,

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Lowell Aplebaum will bring ‘interpersonal networking’ to economic forum

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County replacing many, not all, jobs An in-depth look at Blaine’s shifting economy By EMILY JONES—Express Staff Writer

T

hough unemployment in Blaine County has dipped to its lowest level in years, the local labor force is still far removed from its pre-recession peak, economists say. “We haven’t had a vibrant recovery. From a strictly jobs perspective, we peaked in 2007,” said David Patrie, Sun Valley Economic Development outreach director. But Ketchum, Sun Valley and Hailey continue to keep the job market afloat with big-time employers such as Atkinsons’ Market, Power Engineers, Rocky Mountain Hardware, St. Luke’s Wood River hospital and Sun Valley Resort. A decade ago, top valley employers looked a little different. Major players Scott Sports and Smith Optics—born and bred in Ketchum—together provided more than 100 jobs with ample promotional opportunity. “There was good potential for upward mobility working at Scott and Smith—you weren’t just stuck in a menial position,” Patrie said of the Ketchum companies. By 2015, both Scott and Smith had left the valley for good after being bought out by multinational corporations. In the past four years, a number of hotels—including the Limelight, Hotel Ketchum and Bellevue’s Silver Creek Hotel—have stepped up to provide jobs in the hospitality industry, which currently employs the most Blaine County residents. Idaho Department of Labor economist Jan Roeser said one attribute of the prominent leisureand-hospitality industry, whose employees make an average of $25,130 annually, is a higher volume of commuters from out of town due to a lack of economical housing.

“There is less housing available, as more units transition into vacation properties,” she said. “Most jobs are in the lower-paying hospitality and retail sectors, so the labor pool continues to be restricted by a lack of affordable housing.”

2000-2017: A rollercoaster period

From 2000 until 2017, Blaine County lost 108 businesses—from around 1,540 to 1,430—but saw a net increase of around 1,000 jobs. However, Roeser said the number of businesses closely paralleled the number of jobs most of the time during this time period at a 97 percent correlation rate. That’s not to say that a decrease in the number of businesses is necessarily a sign of a

“The construction industry got decimated by the recession and to this day is recovering.” David Patrie

Sun Valley Economic Development

slumping economy—more likely, it’s a sign of consolidation. Patrie listed one such example. “When you have a large percentage of people who moved here in the ’80s and are ready to retire, you’ll see some of them shut down their companies instead of passing them on to relatives. Other retirees will sell, so you’ll get a ‘Company A absorbs Company B’ situation,” he said. Roeser said the aging local demographic has created a bit of a conundrum. “There are a lot of baby boomers retiring, and also contributing to the loss of workers since it’s more

difficult to find individuals willing to work in a high-cost area,” she said. According to data from the Idaho Department of Labor, the number of employers in Blaine County surged from 2002 until 2010, averaging at around 1,740 per year. This upward trend came to a halt, however, when the economy entered a rough patch between 2011 and 2014 following the Great Recession. In those three years, the business count fell to 1,410, with around 330 companies folding; the lowest point came in 2012, when 1,320 businesses remained in operation. By 2015, though, Blaine County’s business count had surged back to pre2011 levels (1,565). But the improvement was short-lived: In 2016, more than 240 businesses folded, bringing the total down to about 1,320. Blaine County saw a second surge in business count in 2017, adding back nearly all companies lost in 2016. Then, in 2018, the number dipped again to around 1,430. Roeser said she had her theories of why that is. “There is commentary out there that the lack of workforce, due to demographics and more place-specific challenges, is catching up and slowing down growth of business overall,” she said. “In Blaine County and Ketchum, much is dependent on weather, and the snow was not as great last year, if I recall correctly.”

A long recovery

In 2011, when Blaine County was still scrambling to recover from the recession, jobs fell to their lowest number at around 11,410. That’s 2,280 down from 13,690 just four years earlier. See JOBS, next page ä

NUMBER OF JOBS AND BUSINESSES IN BLAINE COUNTY

YOUR BUSINESS’ EST FRIEND B --------------------------• COPY & COLLATING SERVICES • INK CARTRIDGES • BUSINESS ACCOUNTS • SCHOOL SUPPLIES AVAILABLE • BUSINESS SUPPLIES • COPY PAPER • EXTENSIVE ARTS & • CUSTOMER CRAFTS SUPPLIES PRINT JOBS

WE DELIVER

jane’s artifacts arts // crafts // papers // office // party

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Source: Idaho Department of Labor

NUMBER OF BUSINESSES IN BLAINE COUNTY BY CITY 750

737

Bellevue 712

711

675 564

543

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588

582

577

610

666

519

500

559

487

479

470

142

142

154

152

159

50

53

56

54

57

69

60

29 ‘12

28 ‘13

30 ‘14

37 ‘15

33 ‘16

39 ‘17

33 ‘18

375 300 225

204

197

190

171

150 4th & Washington Ketchum

Sun Valley

591 532

450

SUCCESSFUL LOCAL BUSINESS

Ketchum

666 596

574

Hailey

688

600 525

Carey

75 0

70

71

71

70

40 ‘08

40 ‘09

38 ‘10

28 ‘11

188

162

Source: Idaho Department of Labor


Express

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

ECONOMIC ALMANAC äJOBS Of all year-to-year drops in job count, the most dramatic occurred between 2008 and 2009, when 1,570 Blaine County residents were put out of work. (That’s an 11.7 percent drop.) Around 50 businesses were shuttered in 2009, bringing the county’s total number down 2.7 percent. Ketchum was particularly hardhit during the Great Recession: While it provided 5,380 jobs in 2008, or 40 percent of all jobs in Blaine County, that number had fallen to about 4,700 by 2009. Curiously, when Ketchum’s job count dropped between 2008 and 2009, Sun Valley jobs picked back up at an increase of 5.5 percent and climbed throughout the recession. (The same thing happened when Ketchum’s job count once again fell in 2018, from about 5,080 to 4,830 positions, and Sun Valley added more than 60 jobs.) “It makes sense that businesses close during downturns, and when another business closes or reduces employment there can be synergy,” Roeser said. Patrie said the cause of this inverse relationship is unclear, but Sun Valley—and specifically the resort—has proven to be recession-resistant. “Sun Valley is a much smaller pool, obviously, but the fact is it’s the 800-pound gorilla in the city’s job sector,” Patrie said. Between 2015 and 2016, a much smaller-scale recession was felt throughout the valley, with about 390 jobs lost (a 3.1 percent decrease) and more than 240 businesses folding (a 15.4 percent decrease). That mirrored a nationwide minirecession from 2015 to 2016 caused by a stagnation in business investment, falling oil prices and a “run-up in the value of the dollar,” as detailed in The New York Times’ “The Most Important Least-Noticed Economic Event of the Decade.”

The construction sector

Of all job sectors, the construction industry appears to have been the hardest hit by the recession. “With the liberal underwriting [prior to the recession], the building and construction was going full bore. The recession practically shut those down,” Roeser said. Patrie agreed. “The construction industry got decimated by the recession and to this day is recovering,” he said. “As it was damaged so heavily, though, it also had the most growth potential and room for recovery.” Evidence of restoration can be seen in the last five or so years. From 2013 until 2018, the construction industry in Blaine County increased its hold on the total county workforce from 11 percent to 15 percent, and last year alone, the sector added about 1,070 jobs in Blaine County and saw an increase of 90 employers, from 1,685 to 1,775. Roeser said the overall jump in employers and jobs may seem

significant, but context is key. “Blaine County construction employment once comprised 40 percent of the regional construction jobs—it’s still short 30 percent of full employment in 2006,” she said.

The workforce in 2017-2018

As the largest supplier of jobs in Blaine County, Ketchum continues to function as the heartbeat of the economy—today contributing around 4,830 jobs to the Blaine County workforce. Ketchum had a particularly fruitful year in 2017, adding more than 80 businesses and 180 jobs. Other valley cities saw similar growth that year—Bellevue, for example, saw an addition of about 30 businesses and Sun Valley gained a dozen. Hailey, the next biggest supplier of jobs in Blaine County after Ketchum, added 91 businesses and 204 jobs to its workforce in 2017. The solar eclipse may have partly contributed to an increase in tourism that year, Roeser said, as natural events in the Wood River Valley heavily impact business. “When there are fires such as the big one in 2013, or something that impacts tourism like a recession—or on a more positive side, an eclipse— we will see the employment in Sun Valley respond accordingly,” she said. In 2018, Sun Valley wasn’t the only town to see an increase in available positions. Carey added 30 jobs between 2017 and 2018, and Hailey added at least 20. Despite gains in jobs across most sectors that year, each town throughout the valley experienced a noticeable drop in the number of businesses, implying consolidation. In just one year, Ketchum reported a loss of more than 250 businesses; Hailey lost more than 30; Bellevue lost more than 25; and Sun Valley lost nine. From 2017 to 2018, average wages increased to reflect the cost of living. For the leisure and hospitality sector, average salaries rose from around $23,630 to $25,130; for trade, utility and transport jobs, they rose from around $36,415 to $37,705. According to the Idaho Department of Labor, the professional and business services category (lawyers, financial consultants, etc.) also saw a loss of 33 employees during this time, and the government sector saw a loss of around 89 employees. “It’s a seasonal economy and a small labor market. There were 84 jobs lost when reviewing all four quarters, in seven industries,” Roeser said. Those included education and health care (49 jobs lost), manufacturing (32 jobs lost), agriculture/forestry/hunting and fishing (nine jobs lost) and financial services (eight jobs lost).

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ECONOMIC ALMANAC

Real estate market continues to bounce back following recession Affordable housing still lacking in Blaine County BY ALEJANDRA BUITRAG0—Express Staff Writer

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he real estate market in Blaine County has continued on a steady stride upward since the Great Recession, with some saying 2018 has been the strongest comeback year since the market crash in 2008. But while luxury homes are still plentiful in the valley, affordable housing remains lacking. Between 2017 and 2018, prices have been stable and the market has been active with sales throughout the valley. While more units were sold in 2018 in Blaine County than any other year in the past decade, the median price of units in the county in 2018 was nearly identical to the prices in 2017, around $400,000, according to data provided by the Sun Valley Board of Realtors. But according to Sun Valley Board of Realtors President Ned Burns, the inventory is limited in the range of $325,000 to $395,000 outside of the south valley. Bellevue’s median home price in 2018 was $303,000 and Carey’s was $215,000. That

being said, Hailey remains on top with the largest number of residential units sold in the valley, at 222 in 2018, and a median home price of $345,000 in 2018. Burns said there is still a “lack of inventory” that often influences buying decisions—limiting buyer options to two or three homes.

“[2018 was] probably the strongest recovery year since the crash.” Grace Summers

Sun Valley Board of Realtors

In terms of demographics, Burns said there does seem to be a stronger presence of new full-time residents moving in, either to retire or for a job opportunity. As in years past, Sun Valley and Ketchum generally attract the retirees and those with more spending power, while Hailey

and Bellevue seem to offer more of what families are looking for in the housing markets. In general, the market is healthy— but essentially for those who have money to spend. Burns said that if someone is looking to move to the valley but is in a stable housing situation where they are, they may wait from one to three years for something in the market to open up that fits what they’re looking for. Overall, 2018 was “probably the strongest recovery year since the crash,” said Grace Summers, chief executive officer of the Sun Valley Board of Realtors. In comparison to 2007, at the height of the economic boom, the housing market is still down, but Burns said growth has been stable overall since the last market dip in 2012 and there is optimism that over the next two to four years the market appreciation rate will teeter around See REAL ESTATE, next page ä

RESIDENTIAL SALES HISTORY IN BLAINE COUNTY

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Source: Sun Valley Board of Realtors

MEDIAN HOME PRICE BY CITY ($000)

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ALL BLAINE COUNTY RESIDENTIAL INVESTMENT ($M) 89,475 16,996 78,244 14,708 35,925 8,346 47,154 14,796 29,080 7,818

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3 percent, though he acknowledged that it’s hard to predict. According to Burns, 2012 was an oddball year in terms of bounce-back in the market, due to the “second ‘short sale’ wave,” of homeowners who couldn’t afford to pay their mortgage due to a jump in adjustable-rate mortgages that they could no longer afford. Burns said some homeowners fell out of the market immediately in 2008, but others held on, gritting their teeth and intending to remain homeowners. However, because of the way adjustable-rate mortgages work—low rates up front and higher rates when the adjustable rate kicks in—some homeowners who entered into adjustable-rate mortgages in 2007 and 2008 managed to hang on longer than most because they were still at a low rate. Because of that, homes sold about five years after the Great Recession tended to be concentrated at the lower end of the market. In Blaine County, median home prices dropped between 2007 and 2009, followed by a very slow rise in 2010 and 2011, and then another significant drop in 2012, when the median home price in Ketchum dropped from just below $600,000 a year earlier to $290,000, according to the Sun Valley Board of Realtors. Since then, the market has once again leveled out, with general increases across the county. Even so, only Carey, Bellevue and Hailey are back around where they were in 2007. In 2007, Hailey’s median home price (which includes single-family homes and condominiums) was $402,000; last year it was $345,000. Bellevue’s median home price was $345,000 in 2007 and last year was $303,000. Carey had a median home price of $224,000 in 2007 and was just below that at $215,000 last year. Ketchum’s median home price in 2007 was $1,542,000 and last year was still less than half that at $650,000. Sun Valley’s median home price was $1.9 million in 2007 and last year was far below that at $499,000. According to Summers, Sun Valley’s median home price is pulled down by lower price points in condominium sales in Elkhorn versus

condominium sales in Ketchum. In the Elkhorn area of Sun Valley, the median condo price was just under $300,000, with 67 condos sold in 2018. Ketchum’s median condo sale price was $452,000 and 74 condos were sold last year. In addition, Ketchum sees more single-family home sales, Summers said. For those buying homes, Wood River Valley homes still cost less than those in other ski communities such as Vail and Aspen, Burns said. “It’s still a tremendous value compared to other resort communities,” he said. But for people who are renters and make below the area median income of $54,900, according to a 2018 data number from the Blaine County Housing Authority, housing options are limited. According to the Housing Authority—whose goal is to promote various methods for providing housing at affordable sales prices and rental rates to people comprising the “local population,” according to its website—a person making 60 percent of the area median income, $32,950 in 2018, can afford a monthly housing cost of $824, 30 percent of their income. However, in 2018, the average advertised rent for a studio apartment in Ketchum was $1,104, more than a studio listed in Sun Valley ($965 in 2018), according to the Housing Authority, based on data from rentals advertised in the classified section of the Idaho Mountain Express. Based on its analysis, in order for someone to live in a studio apartment in Ketchum, they would need to have an annual income of at least $44,168. In Hailey, things are slightly better, with an average studio rental in 2018 of $812, meaning someone would need a salary of $32,492 to spend a maximum of 30 percent of their income on rent. Even so, the inventory is limited, with only 12 studio apartments in Hailey advertised in the Idaho Mountain Express in 2018. Looking ahead, Summers said many people will continue to move to the valley due to its “geographic prestige,” while many working people will continue to be priced out of the housing market with a diminishing inventory of affordable homes for first-time buyers.

XP



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I

H OF T



A LL HE V OF T



 

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RES S

ALL BLAINE COUNTY RESIDENTIAL INVESTMENT ($M)

EY 

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Source: Sun Valley Board of Realtors

RESIDENTIAL UNIT SALES BY CITY 46

7

222

43

8

32

4

194

12

33

3 4

160 158

133

57

23

185

117

124 140

111 82

98

92 72

52 61

Source: Sun Valley Board of Realtors

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Investment Success: Starts with a strategy!

ECONOMIC ALMANAC

AGE DISTRIBUTION BY CITY IN BLAINE COUNTY

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Source: American Community Survey 2018

A Blaine County portrait: What demographics tell us

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LIVING DREAM TOGETHER E

25

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or decades, snow-capped mountains and endless recreational opportunities have guaranteed Blaine County a spot at the table among top Western tourist destinations. But what does demographic data say about year-round residents, and what trends are currently shaping the valley? The following statistics, gathered from the U.S. Census Bureau and the nonprofit organization Sun Valley Economic Development, may help answer those questions.

“It’s concerning. The later years of this segment are when people tend to solidify their professions, form households and set roots that are likely to last through their prime working-age years,” he said. Blaine County’s prime working-age supply—those 35-54 years old—has also dropped in the past two decades, from a robust 36 percent of the population in 2000 to 27 percent in 2017. Patrie said this middleaged demographic primarily correlates with economic stability and output and plays an important role in the A Blaine County overview Wood River Valley’s retail and restaurant sectors. According to the American Community Survey com- “This trend of diminishing service-providing age piled by the U.S. Census Bureau, Blaine County has groups, coupled with rapidly rising service-consumseen a 284 percent increase in population since 1970— ing age groups, is already starting to show its negative from about 5,750 people to 22,060 in 2018. impacts, through reduced hours and days of service,” he The survey also puts the county’s said. “Without changes, this issue will become more acute in the near future.” annual growth rate since 2010 at a stagnant 0.4 percent, down from the “While some may In total, around 10,685 Blaine 6.8 percent average annual growth rate residents between the ages of view [0.4 percent] County 20 and 54 are working to sustain the enjoyed from 1970 to 2010. as an ideal “While some may view [0.4 percent] economy right now. If the trend from to 2017 continues, the county as an ideal growth rate, it does not supgrowth rate, it 2000 can expect to see only 8,275 in that age port a sustainable economy. The low rate represents a significant economic head- does not support bracket in 10 years. wind,” said David Patrie, outreach direc “Businesses need to let their elected a sustainable tor of Sun Valley Economic Development. officials know this is a problem for economy.” Upon further analysis of Blaine them, and advocate for policies that will help reverse the trend,” Patrie said. County’s various age brackets, it’s David Patrie clear that the under-20 age group has For residents over 55, the demoSun Valley Economic Development remained relatively stable since 2000 graphics of Blaine County show a much and continues to represent about a quardifferent projection. While this group ter (26 percent) of the population. Of all towns surveyed made up only 10 percent of the population in 2010, it in 2018, Sun Valley had the fewest children and teens in now represents about 16 percent. This growth is even its city makeup—at only 10.3 percent—but in Hailey, more pronounced in the 65-plus demographic, which has this young group made up 32 percent of the population. seen a whopping 140 percent increase since 2000. After combining each town’s under-20 demographic That can largely be attributed to more retirees movwith those ages 20 to 34, a picture of Blaine Coun- ing to the Wood River Valley, specifically Sun Valley, ty’s most youthful towns begins to emerge: Carey and where around 34 percent of the population is over 65. Bellevue come out on top as the youngest, each with With the Visit Sun Valley marketing organization around 50 percent of residents under 34, and Ketchum receiving a steady $440,000 in funding from Ketchum every year (reduced to $400,000 for fiscal 2020), marshows the fewest residents under 34 (34.4 percent). It’s worth noting that the county’s second-youngest keting efforts in Sun Valley and Ketchum have undoubtage bracket (ages 20-34) has seen a 5 percent drop in edly attracted retirees as well as tourists. population since 2000, from 20 percent to 15 percent. After Sun Valley, Ketchum has the next-largest per Patrie said that can be partly attributed to young centage of seniors over 65 (19.4 percent). In contrast to people moving away after college and electing not to See DEMOGRAPHICS, next page ä return home, but even so it isn’t a great sign.

HOUSEHOLD INCOME BY CITY IN BLAINE COUNTY

YEARS

E T EA S U H L P PORT ING T NI U ES T A T E COM M

Y

R

Look for the Winter

REAL ESTATE GUIDE ON STANDS

NOVEMBER 20 Source: American Community Survey 2018


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October 23, 2019

ECONOMIC ALMANAC ä DEMOGRAPHICS its two northern neighbors, Hailey has the fewest seniors, at 9.9 percent.

Growing diversity

Between 2000 and 2010, the Hispanic population in Blaine County nearly doubled—from 2,030 people to more than 4,270. But since 2010, for unknown reasons, it has only increased by about 310 people. Overall, Idaho has a much more diverse population than it did in 1970. Back then, 98 percent of Idahoans were white; today, almost 50 years later, the Census Bureau estimates that that number has fallen to 90.9 percent. One explanation may be a growing number of those who identify as “other” or multiple races or ethnicities. Since 2016, Idaho has seen a notable 6.4 percent increase in people who identify as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, according to the Idaho Department of Labor, as well as a 5.5 percent increase in those who identify as biracial. In Blaine County, Hailey has the highest percentage of residents who identify as Hispanic or Latino, around 30 percent. (A number of annual events, such as Hailey’s Hispanic Heritage Latinx Fest, have been organized to celebrate this demographic.) Bellevue has the next-highest Hispanic population at 28.8 percent, followed by Carey at 17 percent. Sun Valley is without question the whitest city in Blaine County: In 2018, 91.8 percent of its residents were white, while only 3.9 percent were Hispanic. Ketchum isn’t far behind in this regard, with 86 percent of its population white and 12.3 percent Hispanic. Of all valley cities, Bellevue has the lowest percentage of white residents (66 percent); it also has the highest percentage of those who identify as “other” (4.8 percent).

about one person per square mile— live in poverty. Similarly, around 16.9 percent of residents in Butte County, where about 1.3 people live per square mile, fall under the poverty line. In comparison, the poverty rates of Idaho’s top-three most populous counties (Ada, Canyon and Kootenai) average out at 12.3 percent, the nationwide poverty rate. With around 8.1 people living per square mile, Blaine County is the 17th most populous county in Idaho. This is below the state’s average density (19.9 per mile), as much of its land is not open to development. Blaine County is also relatively affluent: In 2017, its median household income was $58,835, above Idaho’s statewide average of $52,225, and 8.5 percent of residents lived in poverty. Bellevue has the highest percentage (32 percent) of households that fall within the $25,000-$50,000 income bracket. For households in the $75,000-plus income level, Ketchum comes out first at 44.7 percent, followed by Sun Valley at 40 percent. Overall, these numbers show stability in Bellevue’s lowermiddle class and Ketchum and Sun Valley’s upper classes.

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A blue county

Blaine County has consistently asserted itself as the most liberal, or “bluest” county in Idaho. In the 2016 election, 59.3 percent of Idahoans voted for Donald Trump, compared with only 31 percent of voters in Blaine County. Likewise, Clinton received only 27.5 percent of Idahoans’ votes, compared with 60 percent of votes in Blaine County. Blaine County also has a much higher voter-registration rate (over 61 percent) than the rest of the state, which in 2018 was reported to be around 49 percent.

Quick stats on Blaine County

Wealth and economics

According to 2018 data, unincorporated Blaine County ranks as the county’s poorest subsection, with more than a quarter (28 percent) of working residents earning below $25,000. Hailey is the next poorest, with 27.3 of its residents reporting earnings below $25,000; of all valley cities, it also has the highest number of people living in poverty (17.2 percent). Across Idaho, a slight correlation is noticed between population density and wealth. In Clark County, not far from the state’s eastern border, around 20 percent of residents—distributed at

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Seattle

Spokane

WA

Portland

Pasco

Kalispell/Glacier Missoula

Lewiston

Redmond Medford

ID

OR

Great Falls

MT

Idaho Falls

Boise

Cody Jackson Hole Pocatello

Sun Valley Twin Falls

CA Sacramento Oakland

Reno

NV

Elko

UT

San Jose Las Vegas

Cedar City St.George

Casper

Burbank AZ Ontario Palm Springs Orange County San Diego

CO

Denver

PA

Midway

OH

IN

IL

WV

Oklahoma City

AR MS

Dallas

LA

New York-JFK

MD

Charlotte

Nashville

Birmingham

Atlanta

AL

GA

SC

New Orleans

Austin San Antonio

DE

VA

Boston

RI

NC

TN Memphis

TX

NJ

Baltimore Wash. Dulles Wash. DC

KY

Tulsa

OK

Newark

Philadelphia

Pittsburgh

Cincinnati

MO

MA CN

Detroit

St.Louis

KS

Colorado Springs

NM

MI

Chicago

IA

Kansas City

Grand Junction

Tucson

Alaska Delta United

Omaha

NH

NY

Indianapolis

Albuquerque

Phoenix

Madison

Rapid City

NB

VT

WI

Minneapolis St. Paul

SD

Los Angeles

Long Beach

Fargo

MN Gillette

Rock Springs

Salt Lake City

San Francisco Fresno

WY

ME

ND

Helena Bozeman Butte Billings

Eugene

FL

Houston

Orlando

Tampa

Fort Lauderdale Miami

(2013-2017)

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• Bachelor’s degree or higher education: 40.4% • High school or higher education: 89.7% • Mean travel time to work: 19.2 minutes • Median household income: $58,835 • Foreign-born people: 14.2% • Veterans: 6.2% • Poverty rate: 8.5% • Unemployment rate: 2.4% • Uninsured rate: 17.7%

POPULATION IN BLAINE COUNTY 25000 21376 20000

21592

22061

OUR COMMUNITY INVESTMENT IN THE AIRPORT IS WORKING TOO!

18991

15000

13552 9841

10000 5749 5000

0

1970

1980

1990

2000 2010 Blaine County Population

2015

2018

Source: American Community Survey, Sun Valley Economic Development

ETHNICITY BY CITY IN BLAINE COUNTY

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iflysun.com • 1610 Airport Circle, Hailey, ID 83333 Source: American Community Survey 2018

9


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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

ECONOMIC ALMANAC

Mind ‘the gaps’ Blaine County’s economy isn’t working for everyone. Who is left out—and why? By MARK DEE—Express Staff Writer

S

haron Dohse hears the same thing whenever someone new steps into her office. “The first thing they say when I greet them is, ‘I shouldn’t be here,’” said the client resource manager at The Hunger Coalition, a Bellevue-based food pantry. “If you want a picture of our average client, look in a mirror. They’re like you and me, and they never thought they’d be walking through our doors.” Dohse first worked at The Hunger Coalition 2009. She came on full-time in 2011, as the Great Recession continued to beat the battlements of Blaine County’s economy. Back then, people came looking for jobs. They were dredging for hours, as banks inched in on their underwater homes. Not the case anymore. People have all the work they can handle. Now, there just aren’t not enough hours in the day to work as much as they need. More and more of Dohse’s clientele have multiple jobs. They have families, dreams of the brass ring and the white picket fence. Yet they’re flagging, falling behind. As the national economy steams ahead, these are people left in its wake. “You think you’ve done everything right,” Dohse said. “You grew up in a middle-class home, you found work, but you can’t keep up. These are resourceful people. They’re working hard. I meet them, and think, ‘I would go to war with you.’ But circumstances are what they are, and they find themselves here.” Those circumstances: rampant housing costs, stagnant wages, food prices that rate eighth highest nationwide. The markets by which the upper classes realize gains—such as real estate

and the stock market—have little meaning to workers falling through the economic cracks in the shadow of Sun Valley. “We have two types of residents,” Sun Valley Economic Development Outreach Director David Patrie said at the group’s third-quarter member forum in September. “We have those who derive income from outside the county—they could be trust-funders, or they could work remotely for Google. Our economy works pretty well for those folks. Then, we’ve got people who depend on Blaine County to make a living. It’s not working as well for them.”

“If you want a picture of our average client, look in a mirror.” Sharon Dohse

Case manager, The Hunger Coalition

Gaps in income, in education, in access to what brings people to this valley to begin with. Gaps by race, by place, by gender. In Blaine County’s highly seasonal tourist economy, the split Patrie described runs deep, and it echoes everywhere. “Healthy communities have fewer gaps,” he said. “If we want to keep what we have—a beautiful place, with a real soul, and not just become ski-Disneyland—we need to pay attention to all of our people. “We’ve got to walk and chew gum at the same time. We’ve got to do it all.”

FAMILIES & PEOPLE WITH INCOME BELOW POVERTY LINE

Those divisions—to borrow from Ketchum’s laureate Hemingway, the what it means “to have and have not”—are starker here than most other places in the United States. It’s highlighted by every $10 million house on the market and $100,000 car on the street. It’s less visible, but still lurking in every grocery run to Twin Falls, and the tanks of gas to get there. Here, the bottom 99 percent of earners average $77,353 per year, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a traditionally pro-labor think tank. The top 1 percent makes $3.62 million—46.8 times more. That made Blaine County the most unequal in Idaho, and 27th in the nation during 2015, according to a report published last year. San Francisco and Marin County, Calif., check in at 25 and 26. Turns out—unsurprisingly—ski towns have a thing for inequality. Teton, Wyo., is the most disparate county in the country, and the Jackson metro area—which also spills into Idaho—is the most unequal city. Flush with cash out of Silicon Valley, Teton’s 1 percent averages $16.2 million, 132 times more than the mean of the rest. Pitkin, Colo. (Aspen), San Miguel, Colo. (Telluride), and Carroll, N.H. (Mt. Washington/ Bretton Woods), also have higher ratios than Blaine County. Whether you view it as a good thing or a bad thing, that ratio is a litmus test. Few see it as a fundamentally neutral figure. “Look at who lives here,” said County Commissioner Jacob Greenberg, an ex-officio member on SVED’s board. “The spread between people who have a bunch, and people See GAPS, next page ä

PERCENT WITH BACHELOR’S DEGREE OR HIGHER

Source: American Community Survey

UNINSURED POPULATION BY HOUSEHOLD INCOME LABOR POOL IN BLAINE COUNTY

Source: American Community Survey

Source: American Community Survey

UNINSURED POPULATION BY HOUSEHOLD INCOME

Source: American Community Survey

HOUSING STOCK UTILIZATION IN BLAINE COUNTY (# UNITS)

Source: American Community Survey

MO. OF HOME OWNERSHIP SUPPLY HISTORY IN BLAINE COUNTY (<$450K) 35.0 31.0 30.0 25.0

27.0 22.0

20.0 16.0 15.0

15.7

13.0

10.0

8.4

Source: American Community Survey

3.8

6.7

5.0 0.0

8.5

4.9 2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

4.0 3.2 2.7 1.8 2018

Source: American Community Survey


Express

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

11

ECONOMIC ALMANAC

As a small business owner,

ä GAPS who don’t—it’s huge. You’ve got billionaires, and you’ve got people washing dishes. There’s a huge disparity. “But, what’s the relationship? Is it relevant to your daily life?” Depends where you look and whom you ask. Blaine County’s economy is largely built on money earned outside of it. And, many of jobs you’ll find locally are geared towards serving that wealth. About half of all employees work in the leisure and hospitality or food service and accommodation sectors, according to 2018 figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. On balance, those positions pay better than Idaho’s minimum wage, but not all that much—around $23,000 per year, between $10 and $11 per hour. (For more on wages, see Page 14.) Companies follow the money—and the margins, too. “The people who are in business for profit put a lot of effort into catering towards wealth,” Patrie said. “It’s more profitable, and it’s safer—what are you going to do?” So: Is a builder going to put up five middle-income homes chasing a 15 percent return, or one well-appointed mansion the same size for 30 percent? A restaurant needs to sell a lot of $2 Rainier beer to catch the profit on a $100 cabernet. “Our economy provides more opportunities for the super-wealthy, at the expense of services to everyone else,” Patrie said. “We don’t have the capacity for everything. You’re going to get a lot of fancy restaurants trying for high-end bottles. Whereas, I haven’t seen a new Lefty’s open up in a while.” Meanwhile, everyday prices drift towards what the top end can pay. Recently, strong markets helped raise that ceiling, and the cost of living followed close behind. In fiscal 2019, the median rent on “Our economy a two-bedroom unit was no longer affordable on a median household’s provides more income, according to advertisements opportunities for the in the Idaho Mountain Express aggregated by the Blaine County super-wealthy, at the Housing Authority. The April advertised price for one of those units hit expense of services to $1,700—which, by federal guideeveryone else.” lines, you’d need about $68,000 a David Patrie year to afford. Just a year earlier, Outreach Director, it cost $1,422—affordable on just Sun Valley Economic Development under $57,000. When the Housing Authority started compiling rents in 2013—around the time Blaine County was fully emerging from the recessionary cloud—a similar place would have cost $925, adjusting for inflation. That’s about a 45 percent difference between then and now—nearly 10 times the growth rate of per capita wages during that time. Food prices, always high, continue to rise, too. Blaine County is the eighth most expensive place in the nation to buy a meal, according to hunger-relief group Feeding America. A weekly market basket of groceries—basically, a standardized version of a household shopping list—cost $225.62 for a family of four at last count in 2017, 1.5 times more than the national average. That adds up to $11,700 per year, nearly 30 percent of a worker’s median wage. The federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program—food stamps—paid a maximum of $1.86 per meal at that time, $2.72 short of what it costs in Blaine County. Even those who would qualify for the program needed to cover 60 percent of food costs themselves. No surprise then that one in five residents goes to The Hunger Coalition for help, according to spokeswoman Kristin McMahon. And, based on data from the United Way, the organization estimates that 38 percent of the local population is one crisis away from needing help to put a meal on the table. Under those pressures, people can usually handle one extra hit, Dohse finds. The car needs a new transmission. The kid needs braces, or something more serious. Some can take two—a medical issue, time off of work.

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MEDIAN EARNING IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS

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Source: American Community Survey

BLAINE COUNTY PER CAPITA INCOME COMPARISON

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Source: American Community Survey


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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

ECONOMIC ALMANAC

Philanthropy is an ‘economic engine’ Jobs and services are only part of the picture By TONY TEKARONIAKE EVANS—Express Staff Writer

T

he Wood River Valley is known for its quality of life, and the nonprofit sector of the economy is a driving force for many lifeenhancing programs in education, sports, health, arts and culture. Anyone who has attended a free Sun Valley Music Festival symphony, adopted a pet locally or supplemented pantry stores by frequenting The Hunger Coalition’s foodbank or gardens has enjoyed the services of a local nonprofit. Local philanthropic organizations are an integral part of the economic landscape, providing jobs, services, financial resources and high-quality opportunities for employees and local citizens of all ages. Charitable organizations big and small thrive on their tax-exempt status that allows donors to provide tax-deductible donations. The donations could come in the form of cash, property or donated services. Many of these organizations also thrive on support from teams of volunteers who provide thousands of hours each year in support of good causes, often in exchange for services, food or entertainment. “Philanthropy is key to the character of our community,” said Sally Gillespie, executive director of the recently established Spur Community Foundation, based in Ketchum. The foundation is focused on directing charitable funding toward local causes. Since 1955, and the opening of The Gold Mine thrift store to sup“Philanthropy is key port The Community Library in Ketchum, the number of philanto the character of thropic organizations has grown our community.” steadily in the valley, now providing 1,300 jobs, with some people Sally Gillespie remaining in the nonprofit sector for Spur Community Foundation their entire careers, Gillespie said. The Community Library brought in $6.9 million in one recent year, employing 58 people and, like so many nonprofits in the valley, provided an invaluable service to the community. Gillespie compiled publicly available Internal Revenue Service data on incomes from 74 of the 450 registered nonprofit organizations in the Wood River Valley. The Spur list narrows the field down to only those that are incorporated in Blaine County, raise funds from the general public and provide services locally. Gillespie found that during 2017 and 2018, about $76 million was brought in by these 501(c)(3) nonprofits per year. About $63 million of that went back out into the broader community during the same time period through expenses. “That was a surprisingly high amount for one year in this small community,” Gillespie said. “Philanthropy is an essential economic engine in this community.”

GROWTH IN NUMBER OF NONPROFITS IN BLAINE COUNTY Data Notes and Criteria Data Source: most recently published IRS 990 and 990EZ filings (2017 or 2018) Criteria for Inclusion: Incorporated in Blaine County, actively provide services in Blaine County and actively raise funds from the general public Excluded: Private foundations, churches, fraternal orders and associations, clubs and organizations registered in Blaine County whose mission and primary services are not in Blaine County Does not include: St. Luke’s Health System, Blaine County School District, Wood River Women’s Foundation, 100 Men Who Care and Spur Community Foundation

Source: Spur Community Foundation

SOURCES OF INCOME FOR NONPROFITS IN BLAINE COUNTY Note: Same criteria apply as in chart above.

By sector

The three highest-earning nonprofit sectors analyzed by the Spur Foundation were Health and Human Services at $17,552,585; Education (primarily private schools) at $18,407,668; and Arts and Culture organizations at $16,408,183. Additional categories include Sports and Recreation nonprofits, which brought in $8,432,869; Animal Welfare (primarily Mountain Humane), with an income of $5,512,943; Environment, with $3,709,623; and Community Development organizations, with an income of $4,890,629. Because the Spur Foundation excluded income to private family foundations, churches, fraternal orders and associations, a potentially significant amount of additional funding circulating in the local economy was not counted. From this group, Gillespie tallied $894,195 in annual income for what she termed “grant maker” nonprofits, including Kiwanis and Rotary clubs, which donate generously to the community. Some nonprofits would be difficult to value, reaching an indeterminate number of clients on small budgets. KDPI drop-in public radio made do with only $17,620 in income.

Job creation

The analyzed data show that the greatest nonprofit job creation sector is Health and Human Services, which supplies 399 jobs in the valley. This sector includes Higher Ground, The Advocates and the Wood River YMCA, the largest job provider in the category. The YMCA alone brought in just over $3 million and employed 178 people, while supplying scholarship passes and after-school programs to hundreds of people. Sports and Recreation nonprofits, including the Blaine County Recreation District and Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, support 321 jobs. The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation brought in $4.1 million and employed 127 people, while training youth who will likely compete in national and international competitions. The Education sector, which includes the I Have a Dream scholarship foundation and the WOW youth philanthropy organization, in addition to private schools, is next in line, producing 296 employment positions. The Syringa Mountain School alone brought in $1.1 million and employed 29 people. The Arts and Culture nonprofit organizations in the valley include the Argyros Performing Arts Center, Sun Valley Music Festival and The Community Library. These groups provide 160 employment positions in the valley. The Animal Welfare category (Mountain Humane) supports 45 employees, offers free spay-neuter clinics, has found homes for thousands of pets and is a leading voice in the state for “no-kill” shelter policies. Environmental groups began to flourish around 1985 and now include the Wood River Land Trust and Environmental Resource Center. This See PHILANTHROPY, next page ä

Source: Spur Community Foundation

ANNUAL EMPLOYMENT IN NONPROFITS BY CATEGORY (Total 1,300 +/- per year) Note: Same criteria apply as in chart above.

Source: Spur Community Foundation


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ECONOMIC ALMANAC ä PHILANTHROPY sector provides 45 job positions and draws attention to preserving the valley’s most ubiquitous and perhaps most valued resource: nature. Community Development organizations, such as the ARCH Community Housing Trust, the Blaine County Housing Authority and similar organizations, support 39 employees. Gillespie said jobs at nonprofits are less likely to be cut during economic downturns. “The nonprofit sector has been one of the more stable employment sectors in the valley, even when construction and the service industries dropped during the Great Recession,” she said.

Funding sources

Charitable organizations receive income from a variety of sources. Funding can come in the form of donations, tickets sales, investments or grants. Though many nonprofit shows and programs are free, some rely more than others on what Gillespie described as “earned incomes” that produce a product; a show, skiing opportunity, workshop or school year of classes, for example, are exchanged for tickets, passes or tuition fees. Other nonprofit organizations such as The Hunger Coalition and The Center rely primarily on “contributed income,” essentially funding from individuals and businesses to keep the organization going. “Philanthropy in this case is helping to address the problem,” Gillespie said. The Education and Sports and Recreation sectors bring in the highest percentage of “earned” income from ticket sales and tuition fees, followed by Community Development (largely from rents), Arts and Culture, and Health and Human Services. Only the Education and Sports and Recreation sectors rely less The analyzed data upon cash contributions than other forms of income. Only a small fracshow that the tion of annual income for any group greatest nonprofit comes from invested earnings and dividends. job creation sector is “None of these charitable organiHealth and Human zations have large endowments,” Gillespie said. “That means they must Services. continually fundraise because they don’t have large reserves of funding to rely upon from year to year.”

Growth over the years

With increased demand, the overall nonprofit sector has grown by leaps and bounds over the last 30 years, more than doubling its number of nonprofit organizations in all categories since 1999. Nonprofits have formed to address a host of concerns. From soccer teams and figure skating to meditation, military veteran recovery and global warming, they run the gamut when it comes to making a difference. There were only a handful of charitable organizations in the valley in the 1970s, but many of those organizations are still around today. The number in some sectors has proliferated (Health and Human Services), while others sectors have remained few in number, yet seen their donations soar (Mountain Humane). Today on the Spur Foundation list are 18 Health and Human Services organizations, 15 Arts and Culture nonprofits, 10 Education organizations, seven Environmental organizations, five Sports and Recreation groups, and one Animal Welfare group. Unlike in some sectors of the economy, nonprofit organizations tend to stay around once they are established. While donor funds may move around, the number of nonprofits in each sector has only grown since 1980.

TOTAL REVENUE OF NONPROFITS BY CATEGORY IN BLAINE COUNTY ( $75M)

Note: Same criteria apply as in previous charts.

Source: Spur Community Foundation

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ECONOMIC ALMANAC

Speakers to talk about impact of national trends and ‘YIMBYs’

‘Wage’ war For many, wages have been left out of post-recession boom. What does that mean for the future of Blaine County? By MARK DEE—Express Staff Writer

F

Robert Spendlove

Andrew Mentzer

Jenni L. Riley

Robert Spendlove and Andrew Mentzer are two of this year’s featured presenters BY ALEJANDRA BUITRAGO—Express Staff Writer

A

s part of the Sun Valley Economic Development Summit, two speakers will provide insights into national trends and how they impact the Wood River Valley, as well as information on efforts to support developments deemed healthy investments for growing communities. Robert Spendlove will give a featured address on trends impacting the region and Andrew Mentzer will present a new effort that the West Central Mountains Economic Development Council has begun to promote development in that region of Idaho, which includes McCall, Donnelly, New Meadows and Cascade. Spendlove is a senior vice president and the economic and public policy officer for Zions Bank. In that capacity, he monitors and reports on economic indicators and public policy developments for the bank and is often called on to provide analysis in the media. Particularly, Spendlove said he keeps an eye on gross domestic product—a measure of the value of all the final goods and services produced annually—and the rate of inflation, job growth and what moves the Federal Reserve is making. Spendlove, a member in the Utah House of Representatives since 2014, said Idaho is doing well in terms of economic growth and sustainability. “Things are too good” in Idaho, he said. Consumer spending has been sustained, job growth has risen accordingly, wage growth has exceeded inflation and population is expanding, creating a more robust workforce. But Blaine County’s economy is different than that of Boise, where much of the growth is taking place. As a tourism-based economy, Ketchum, Sun Valley, Hailey and Bellevue—and to some degree Carey—depend mostly on outside spenders to come to town to spend their wealth. According to Spendlove, tourism-based economies are not ideal alone, but should be paired with other industries that create jobs locally to generate goods and services sold outside the region. That being said, the lack of affordable housing in the valley must still be solved before a sufficient workforce can be sustainable. Spendlove said that post-performance-based incentives—such as tax credits or cash grants that are paid out only after companies commit to and invest in a project—could bring business into the valley to create satellite offices or work as a second hub to the booming tech industry. But, without adequate housing, employers will continue to shy away from calling Ketchum a second home base, he noted. In addition, housing and jobs are plentiful in Twin Falls, deterring those who would accept the commute for a job in Sun Valley, for jobs where there is sufficient housing. Spendlove said zoning changes to allow for higher density might be a solution. Mentzer is executive director of the West Central Mountains Economic Development Council, based in McCall. An Idaho native, he founded Boise’s first international traveler’s hostel and managed the Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission for the Idaho Department of Commerce. He has also worked as an account manager for Stoltz Marketing Group and was most recently statewide operational manager for the Idaho STAR Motorcycle Safety Program. Mentzer will present a talk titled “YIMBYs in Our Backyard.” He said the YIMBY—“yes in my backyard”—group was initiated by the council about a year and a half ago and consists of a group of local businesses, organizations and residents in McCall. The group is called upon occasionally to add a new voice to public hearings that generally only garner the attention of opponents to a proposed project. Mentzer said a group of about 40

individuals and businesses signed up, saying they were willing to write letters of support and show up at public hearings to give positive comments on projects deemed good by the Economic Development Council. It’s a little unclear where YIMBY groups were first created. According to The Guardian newspaper, the San Francisco Bay Area had the first groups in the U.S., an area that has some of the highest rents in America. In neighboring Canada, a YIMBY group was created in 2006 in Toronto in response to high housing costs and in support of promoting projects that enhance the quality of life of a community, according to the Congress for the New Urbanism, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that works to address policy about and regulatory obstacles to building better places, according to its website. Mentzer said civility is always encouraged at these meetings, and that people should focus on the merits of a project and community needs, addressing how it will benefit those seeking affordable housing. “It’s kind of a greater good,” Mentzer said, in terms of the philosophy for YIMBY groups. He said people who go to public hearings and speak up the loudest at the planning-and-zoning or city council level are usually those who feel they are being slighted by the proposal. Another part of the problem is a perceived stigmatization associated with words like “deed-restricted housing.” He gave an example of a resident in McCall who had voiced complaints about those who would live in such housing. “They don’t want ‘those people’ living here,” Mentzer said. What that resident was not aware of was that one of “those people” in the audience was a law school graduate paying off student loans and not yet in a highsalary job. According to Mentzer, one of missions of the YIMBY group is to encourage developers to have discussions early and often with neighbors where they are looking to build. It’s important for developers to do their due diligence, he said. And NIMBYs—“not in my backyard-ers”—aren’t always in the wrong. “There are bad projects on occasion,” Mentzer said. “This is not a wholesale support” of anything, he said—projects are only supported after they’ve been vetted and deemed appropriate for the neighborhood and community members. At the time of his interview with the Idaho Mountain Express, Menzter said he was not yet deeply informed on current development proposals in the Wood River Valley, but the YIMBY approach could be a useful tool to those fighting for affordable housing for a sustainable workforce.

SVEDx Talk speakers In addition to Andrew Mentzer, Jenni L. Riley will also give a SVEDx presentation. Riley is director of business development with Hazlett Wealth Management in Ketchum and on the boards of directors for The Chamber of Hailey & the Wood River Valley and for Sun Valley Economic Development, as well as a founding board member and associate editor for Giving Guide of the Wood River Valley. She will present “The Nonprofit Impact—More Than Just Charitable,” giving insight into the economic contributions of nonprofit organizations. Both Mentzer and Riley will present on Monday, Oct. 28, during the eighth annual Sun Valley Economic Development Summit.

or decades, Blaine County has relied on a two-pronged approach to attract workers to its central-Idaho sanctuary. There are the mountains, right out your back door. And the money, which topped what you could find in the rest of the state.   Until recently. Blaine County’s average wage fell below the rest of the Idaho in 2018, dimming half of the regions time-tested draw, and threatening to cinch a tight labor market even tighter.   At least the mountains are still here.   But, with better jobs touting higher pay in cheaper markets, how long will those classifieds pitching a “mountain paradise” hold sway? And, with stone-broke workers scrounging for longer hours in multiple jobs to make ends meet, how long will our so-called “quality of place” keep locals local?   “If the status quo continues, we’ll see more local businesses either closing entirely, or severely restricting their hours of operation because they do not have the workforce to perform entry-level jobs that are critical to operations,” Blaine County Housing Authority Executive Director Nathan Harvill said when the news broke in May. “With a shortage of workforce would come a change in the lifestyle to which many in Blaine County have become accustomed.” Despite a booming economy and shriveling unemployment, the inflation-adjusted mean wage for employees in Blaine County fell to its lowest point since 2005 last year, per figures compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, the rest of the state leapt ahead, surpassing Blaine County pay by nearly $1,000—$41,678 versus $40,742.   (That just mean’s Idaho’s improving—not thriving; its median earnings still rate in the bottom five states nationwide, with the eighth highest percentage of workers at or below minimum wage.) Here, area median income figures for 2019 released by the department of Housing and Urban Development “Most people aren’t are buoyed by the addition of nongoing to get paid wage earnings—investments, rental properties, etc. Things, in other more to work here. words, the working class is less likely Used to be that way... to realize. While those remain higher than the state, they’re in decline, Now, you’re looking at too. In 2018, Blaine County stood the same amount, or at $76,100, compared to $67,200 worse.” statewide. But, adjusting for inflation using the Western Region ConDavid Patrie sumer Price Index, that number is Sun Valley Economic Development falling sharply, and the rest of Idaho is catching up. Ten years ago, Blaine County’s area median income stood at $90,500 in 2019 dollars—16 percent higher than it is now. Back then, the state was $25,000 below it, at $65,500.  “Most people aren’t going to get paid more to work here,” said David Patrie, outreach director for Sun Valley Economic Development. “Used to be that way. But, with the economic success in southern Idaho, that’s not the case anymore. Now, you’re looking at the same amount, or worse.” SVED’s numbers are slightly more positive, showing per-capita wage growth of slightly less than 1 percent per year since the end of the Great Recession. Numbers differ, but they illustrate the same point, Patrie said: It’s not enough. That’s because the cost of living isn’t fazed. Housing prices are charging forward. Across the county, the median price of a two-bedroom ran $1,700 a month in April, according to advertisements in the Idaho Mountain Express aggregated by the Blaine County Housing Authority. Per HUD standards, a household shouldn’t pay more than 30 percent of its income towards rent. Based on those guidelines, a family would need to make $68,000 to afford something at that price. In 2013, when the BCHA started recording classified data, the equivalent unit cost $925, adjusted for inflation—about 45 percent less. That’s affordable on $37,000 per year, a price your average worker could have easily covered.   Other metrics tell a similar story. Prices compete with some of the country’s richest markets, while pay sits almost 22 percent below the national average. With roughly half of local jobs in the traditionally lower-paying service sector, workers are hard-pressed to break out—or, break even. Slightly more than one in four local jobs are in the leisure and hospitality sector, while another 23.4 percent are in the food service and See WAGES, next page ä

REPORTED WAGES IN BLAINE COUNTY Total wages have risen since the end of the Great Recession, but so has Blaine County’s population. But per capita, the increase has been sluggish: less than 1 percent per year, adjusting for inflation. Unadjusted

$550.0

2018 Dollars

$530.0 $510.0 $490.0

$505 $492

$481

$472

$470.0

$430.0 $410.0

$423

$390.0

$412

$478

$474 $472

$447

$450.0

$440

$440

‘12

‘13

$518

$509

$525 $525

$508

$479 $459

$402

$370.0 $350.0

‘09

‘10

‘11

‘14

‘15

‘16

‘17

‘18

Source: Idaho Department of Labor


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ECONOMIC ALMANAC ä WAGES accommodation industry, according to federal figures. The first group made an average of $23,270 in 2018, about $900 less than a decade earlier, adjusting for inflation; the second averaged $22,490, about $300 less. Spread over a full year, that translates to $11.18 and $10.81 per hour, respectively. It’s not minimum wage in Idaho—that’d be $7.25, the federal floor. But it’s not a living wage, either. A living wage is the amount someone has to make to support themselves and their dependents. So, it fluctuates based on your responsibilities. There, different groups come up with different estimates. They vary, sometimes wildly. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology says that a single person can get by on $12.37 an hour, $25,730 per year. A two-parent, two-child household? Both parents need to earn $16.49 per hour—a household total of $55,913. The Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit, pro-labor think tank, generates its own cost of living figures via a competing model. Its outlook is much starker. A single person can expect to spend $42,696 annually in Blaine County. A family of four faces $90,398, and that’s budgeting $1,016 per month in housing—a below-market deal. Lincoln, Twin Falls and Jerome counties all sit between $72,000 and $73,000. Money saved; money earned.

LIVING WAGE CALCULATION FOR BLAINE COUNTY The living wage shown is the hourly rate that an individual must earn to support their family, if they are the sole provider and are working full-time (2080 hours per year). All values are per adult in a family unless otherwise noted. The state minimum is the same for all individuals, regardless of how many dependents they may have. The poverty rate is typically quoted as gross annual income. We have converted it to an hourly wage for sake of comparison.

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“The challenge is, in our tourist economy, everything is priced for tourists from San Fran and Seattle, but working folks here aren’t making the wages that people do in those major metropolitan areas,” said Brooke Pace McKenna, director of operations at The Hunger Coalition, a Bellevuebased food pantry and community center. “Their wages can’t compete with the cost of living.” So, there’s the catch: half of Blaine County’s workforce depends on money from outside of the area—but, the money those jobs depend on pushes prices out of reach. The cost of living means classic metrics often miss the point. Take poverty, based on the federal definition. The percentage of people in poverty is falling valley-wide—down to 8.5 percent in 2018 from 11.5 percent the year prior, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In Hailey, though, it’s double that—17 percent. What counts as poverty? The Department of Health and Human Services puts it at $12,490 annually for an individual, or $25,750 for a family of four. What’s that tell you in a county where the cost of food is 1.5 times higher than the national average, according to the Hunger Coalition? Not much. The United Way, the venerable and wide-ranging nonprofit, uses a different metric to describe families over the poverty line, but fighting to make ends meet. It calls them “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed” households—ALICE for short. ALICE households, added to those in outright poverty, equals the portion of the population struggling to meet basic needs. It calculates a “survival budget.” In Blaine County, it’s $22,728 for a single adult, jumping to $62,376 for a family of four. Thirty-eight percent of the population fell into that category during 2016, the most recent numbers available. In 2010, despite the recession, only 27 percent were included. Econ 101 suggests a tight labor market might correct that. The numbers in this story are trailing at least a year—maybe we’ll see a boost in 2020, when new statistics start trickling out. When Patrie talks to employers, some tell him that they’re raising pay to attract new talent. Others, though, say they can’t—and without staff to cover time, they’re cutting hours or closing some days. That’s especially true now, in the pit of slack season. There, a more balanced economy could provide employers with a cushion. “I sense they don’t pay more because we have too seasonal an economy—and one at risk such as from fires in the heart of summer tourism and snowfall changes in winter,” said Aimee Christensen, executive director of the Sun Valley Institute, an organization that aims to advance economic, ecological and social resilience. “They have to plan for the lean times, even more than in areas that are more diversified.” Patrie agrees. “I’m sure seasonality factors in,” he said. “During the summer, it looks like people are making a ton of money. Right now, they’re bleeding it. We’re not unique, when it comes to a resort area. Maybe we’re a little more expensive. Maybe our wages are a little lower. But as far as a living wage goes, we’re struggling to hit targets. “A well-balanced life means not meaning having to choose between transportation and healthcare and nutrition and housing. If people don’t have to make those choices—that’s pretty close to a living wage. It’s not a question of if we can get there. It’s a question of how do we do it. Because, we need to do it.”

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ECONOMIC ALMANAC ä GAPS Continued from Page 11

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But they add up. Nearly a quarter of households earning less than $50,000 don’t have “If we want health insurance, according to Sun Valley Ecoto keep what nomic Development. Those people are a bad scan away from bankruptcy. One more rent we have—a hike may be one too many. In September, Dohse saw 102 new clients. beautiful place, They were all seeking food assistance, but 28 with a real soul, said housing was the biggest problem they and not just faced. Thirty-six said medical bills. “It takes a lot for people to walk through become skiour doors,” Dohse said. “I really think they Disneyland— come one or two times before accepting help. It’s not about putting a few vegetables on your we need to pay table. It’s about being able to sleep well at night, and being able to wake up the next day attention to all and do it all over again.” of our people.” The Hunger Coalition is just one group David Patrie working to fight the stigma clouding those Outreach Director, struggling to make ends meet in Blaine County. Sun Valley Economic Development Changing that attitude could go a long way, in a lot of different areas. That’s not the millionaires’ fault, according to Director of Operations Brooke Pace McKenna. But, in order to make big changes, the entire county needs to pull on the same rope, in the same direction. “We’re not blaming those with resources or tourists for creating the issues we see here in Blaine County,” McKenna said. “However, if someone finds themselves trying to block a community-led solution to the root causes of those issues in order to protect their own self-interests, then they have to take some responsibility for perpetuating them. We’re never going to see change until we can agree that not everyone is experiencing the same wealth, health and opportunities to succeed.” Blaine County will always be a tourist economy. We’re not getting a Chobani, like Twin Falls. The labor, the land, the political and personal will—it’s just not there, Greenberg said. But Blaine County doesn’t need a Chobani to be a more inclusive economy, according to Patrie. First, it needs to agree on a more inclusive mindset—and soon. “I’m afraid we’re losing our community, and becoming a place that’s only for the rich, instead of a place where people can work and live,” he said. “There’s an element of elitism around here. A lot of our issues come from people not wanting anything to change, ever. But what is NIMBYism? It’s an attitude—a fear of the unknown. I don’t know those people, so they don’t belong in my neighborhood. “If we can change that, we’re making progress.”

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