The small business climate in Idaho's Wood River Valley, home to the communities of Ketchum and Sun Valley, took a major hit in 2014 and 2015 as two home-grown companies moved out of the valley.
Scott, a company manufacturing a range of outdoor recreational products, from high-end bikes to ski helmets, moved the bulk of their operations to Utah and Switzerland, draining considerable talent from the local economy and adding considerably to the stock of local real estate.
A year later, Smith Optics announced that they would be moving their operations center to Portland, OR, taking with them about 80 well-paid jobs.
While we have yet to see the next Scott or Smith emerge from the Ketchum small-business community, a number of small-to-midsize companies are thriving and growing in the Wood River Valley, among them SCOTTeVEST, Vyykn, and SQN Sport.
One of the few ski towns in the country with a full-fledged small business incubator, Ketchum is poised to become the ski-town innovation hub of the future. The KIC, or Ketchum Innovation Center is both a start-up engine and a co-working space, offering below-market office space, educational programming, networking opportunities, mentorship, and even a Shark-Tank style "BAM" night, matching small businesses with venture capital.
The KIC is helping to build the future of the Wood River Valley, one small business at a time, and in the process, helping to create jobs and careers for the population of the Valley. As the American workforce becomes more mobile, more workers chose to live in locations that offer outstanding quality of life. As those workers and entrepreneurs discover Sun Valley, the KIC will be an integral part of helping them jumpstart their next projects in central Idaho.