Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Discussion Examines How Main Street Businesses Survive and Thrive
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Courtney Hamilton pedaled Clif Bars around the valley after the energy bar company opened a bakery in Twin Falls.
 
Monday, September 16, 2019
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

What is driving investment in Twin Falls? And how is Tieton—a city of 1,191 in Washington’s Yakima County—pulling itself out of economic depression following the decline of its fruit warehouses?

A thought-provoking panel discussion of how Main Street businesses are reigniting in rural western America despite the boon in online shopping will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, at The Center in Ketchum.

The free discussion is part of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts’ new BIG IDEA project “Marketplaces: From Open Air to Online.”

Twin Falls, which lies 70 miles south of the Sun Valley area, has been experiencing rapid growth in recent years, thanks to the establishment of major industries like Chobani and Clif Bar.

Tieton, which boasted just under 2,000 people during the 2010 census, is trying to revive itself with a project called “Mighty Tieton,” which has received the financial backing of a Seattle lawyer and the founding president of the art publishing house Marquand Books.

An incubator for artisan businesses, it has attracted a dozen businesses in the past 10 years, many of which share space, marketing platforms, labor and shipping.

The businesses include a mosaic studio, an artisan paper shop, Tieton Cider Works and an artist studio  created by an artist, composer and inventor who experiments with combinations of music and mechanics to create installations that are part musical performance, part kinetic sculpture and part theater design.

Jim Keating, executive director of the Blaine County Recreation District, will serve as moderator of the panel, which will explore how Main Street marketplaces in two different communities can survive and thrive in the current economic environment.

The panelists are Ed Marquand, who founded the Mighty Tieton project, and Shawn Barigar, an artist, Twin Falls Mayor and president/CEO of the Twin Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. Also, Tyler Davis-Jeffers, a Ketchum-based private investor.

“With the current shift in how we buy and sell goods, it is heartening to see communities focus on revitalizing their Main Streets,” said Katelyn Foley, director of education and humanities at The Center. “Twin Falls, Idaho, and Tieton, Wash., are interesting case studies for consideration, hopefully inspiring us all to think about how we support our local businesses.”

Although the discussion is free, donations are welcome. Those who wish may reserve seating at www.sunvalleycenter.org.

 

 

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