Smart Growth for Jackson Hole

Mixed-use development, currently defined, imagines businesses and customers as embracing that concept by building unspecified commercial, lodging and residential spaces. The premise is that Jackson residents will be able to walk to work.

What work? What quality of jobs are we planning for?

What professional jobs are being created that will provide the level of income necessary to live in these spaces?

If we don’t plan to build opportunities for sufficient wage earning, we’re just doing more of the same: constructing amenities to be supported by service-level jobs. All work is valuable, but these jobs, by themselves, won’t sustain us.

Here in Teton County over the past five years, some free market housing values have almost doubled. But that rate of return will not continue.

Potential property buyers need significant wealth, excellent credit, 500 ounces of gold, and an upper tier level job waiting for them.

We don’t have enough of those jobs. Wages are too low and there is no housing. Last Friday evening driving home from Tetonia, I easily passed 150 cars driving to Idaho; very few cars were headed towards Jackson.

Eben Fodor, a ‘green’ urban planner, implores all communities to ask themselves these questions when planning growth:

1. Of the jobs that will be created by new growth, what kind of jobs will they be?
2. Who will get these jobs?
3. What salaries and benefits will be paid?
4. Are the benefits to the community greater than the cost?
5. Will these businesses be stable and make long-term contributions to the community?
6. What will be the full cost to the community? ( Fodor lists subsidies, infrastructure, services, environmental and social costs.)
7. What are the risks if the business should not succeed or relocate?

We are determining whether to offer enriching livelihoods and long-term community health and wealth. If we don’t make specific choices we rob future generations and ourselves.

In planning a community, we ideally pick development and growth ‘stocks’ to provide steady return over an extended period. Making informed, broad-based choices determines the value of our community, the education and resumes of our citizens, the breadth of our economic base. In choosing qualitative growth we must explore ways to add education, arts, technology and science-based businesses and build infrastructures to support entrepreneurs. Let’s research the incorporation of facilities for humanities, health and public policy training.

Tammy Christel
Jackson, Wyoming 83001


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