Similar to Truckee/North Lake Tahoe, the town of Bend, Ore. draws in visitors and new residents because of its scenic beauty and year-round outdoor recreation. But 20 years ago Bend’s identity looked a little different. According to a study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency titled How Small Towns and Cities Can Use Local Assets to Rebuild their Economies: Lessons from Successful Places, Bend’s population was at 79,118 people in 2013, a more than 50 percent increase from 2000 census data that marked the city’s population at 52,030.
So, how did this mountain town make a 180-degree turn to keep its locals and improve economic prosperity? The answer lies in the plan’s four guiding principles:
• Create a downtown center by giving high priority to the river and downtown core projects.
• Give high priority to human scale and quality of life.
• Increase downtown’s role as a center for government and business activity.
• Maintain and develop cultural, historic, and entertainment resources.
While a bit smaller as far as population goes, our region has similar interests in trying to use the resources we already have — cough, our ridiculously beautiful landscape and driven citizens, cough — to keep the locals here and to keep the tourists coming back.
In this, the July Moonshine Ink, we take a look at how three organizations are doing their part to stimulate the economy while keeping things local. We explore how Truckee Tahoe Airport is making unique capital improvements to our town that span outside the realm their name suggests with New Course for Airport District (here); we explain how our region can employ revenue generators beyond the outdoor recreation industry with To Have and To Spend (here); and we see how local artists are working together to bring art and entertainment resources to Truckee with Art Truckee (here) and The Lake Tahoe Dance Festival (here).
It is no accident that we all choose to live here; it is no accident that certain areas have been developed for public use — I’m looking at you, epic terrain of Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows. But it is important to remember that, while we’re here now, this beautiful terrain was here well before us, and it is our job as community members to protect something beautiful that cannot speak for itself, Two Developments Tip the Scales (here).