University of Idaho Extension, Valley County U-Idaho Extension Image Map

The following is a summary of the October 19 workshop hosted by the City of Cascade.

The workshop’s objective was to draft a regional identity based on the region’s strengths as compiled in the September workshop. An identity statement would, ideally, express what (as a region) we are best at; the most unique in; special; what we can most leverage into economic drivers. The draft statements listed below are subject to further discussions at the next workshop on November 15. The time of the workshop will be from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm, and hosted by the City of Donnelly – stay tuned for the exact location.

Regional Identity Statements

Four individual teams crafted the following draft statements
  1. Valley County: a Healthy, Connected Mountain Lake Community
    • Healthy: both in healthcare & healthy lifestyle
    • Connected to the world & nearby metro via infrastructure
  2. The Idaho Rockies – World class
    • 3,000,000 acres of world class outdoors
    • world class back-country entrepreneurship
    • world class back-country flying
    • world class back-country experience
    • world class in its numerous mountain lakes
  3. Valley County: epicenter of geographic diversity, offering Idaho’s greatest variety of affordable outdoor recreation and beauty.
  4. Valley County: All of (your)(Idaho’s) outdoor recreation in one affordable place

Discussions and “aha moments”

  • The most prominent discussion revolved around the idea that we do (or should) not consider ourselves a tourism based community, but a recreation based community. The difference is essential in that recreation signifies the intrinsic reasons for residents to live in the area. In that perspective natural assets are not simply an attraction to lure tourists, but represent the quality-of-life that made people choose to live in the region. This quality-of-life attribute should then be the principal economic driver.
  • That same recreation element also emphasizes another attribute of the community: there is always something happening in Valley County. And for a visitor to enjoy it ”we” do not necessarily provide the required equipment, be it kayak, mountain bike, or snowmobile (or at least not like “real tourist communities” do).
  • Considerable time was also spent on discussing how a recreation-based economy already leads to industry/entrepreneurial activity that is synergistic with that identity and lifestyle, and what factors could help to promote that:
    • Innovation, service and manufacturing in: whitewater supplies and equipment; fishing supplies, back-country flying equipment and supplies (gliders, tailored kitfox like planes); ski equipment; innovative ski tours etc
    • being a great place for entrepreneurs that want to live in a place with Quality of Life, but are fairly independent from express ways and large infrastructure and supply-structures (examples: remote control mnfr Tekin in McCall, Sourdoughs international in Round Valley)
  • Also:
    • How can geothermal energy and a cold climate not go together? Biomass came up briefly as well.
    • Tailored and specialized building skills and collaborations: insulation (Energy Seal, Inc), appropriate regional code (like the Valley Code snow-load requirements)
  • Hwy 55 can be perceived either as a liability: in limiting connectivity to the metro area; or as an asset: in being a pre-cursor to its scenery (but a halfway rest stop might be a worthwhile supplemental asset…)
  • The natural beauty so evident to a local is not necessarily that evident to an outsider; Valley County as a name does not necessarily call up the image of mountains; non-Idahoans generally  think of any place in Idaho as agricultural (famous potatoes). The group discussed terms as Glacier Valley; Idaho Rockies – be it in communicating with aspiring residents/ businesses or visitors.
  • Two assets that came up that were not mentioned in the September session on asset identification: Smoke Jumper’s Base; The Ice-Hockey Center.
  • Assets that have been mentioned “in passing”, but have not been further explored: forestry land, productive ranch/agriculture land.


 October 26, 2011