Kamas Valley Business Association aims to leave imprint on Summit County
Founders say businesses need a seat at the table amid a time of growth
June 2, 2017
For as long as Eileen Dunn has owned Done to Your Taste Catering in Kamas, entrepreneurs in the area have talked about forming an organization to advocate for the interests of businesses along the S.R. 32 corridor.
More than a decade later, that vision is finally becoming a reality. Dunn is among those who recently founded the Kamas Valley Business Association. The group, which has partnered with the Park City Chamber/Bureau, aims to provide business owners with a seat at the table as Summit County and municipalities confront important topics, such as affordable housing and transportation, amid the growth that is expected to sweep through the area in the coming decade.
According to 2014 projections from the Governor's Office of Management and Budget, Summit County's population is expected to swell to more than 71,000 by 2040 — and 107,000 by 2060 — from its current population of about 40,000. Officials anticipate much of that influx will come in the Kamas Valley, and Dunn said it's critical that businesses begin preparing for it now, whether they are pleased about the growth or not.
That's one reason, she said, entrepreneurs finally got serious about starting a business association.
"The growth is coming," said Dunn, the founding chair of the organization. "It's important for all of us to be aware of what's happening so that we can have our point of view included. In the county workings, Kamas and the East Side haven't really had a big voice, and we want to be at the table and we want to have a voice. We have hundreds and hundreds of businesses."
With about 40 members already, Dunn also sees the association as an opportunity for businesses to form valuable partnerships with one another. Additionally, the association will provide members with education about pressing issues affecting them — which are often different from the issues that matter to entrepreneurs in Park City — and encourage residents and visitors to shop local to ensure the area remains vibrant for business.
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"As a corridor, let's work together and help each other," she said, adding that the effort has drawn support from Summit County officials and the Utah Office of Tourism. "… It's going to be a really great platform, and we're all for the common good."
The founding of the Kamas Valley Business Association comes as the traditional boundaries between communities in Summit County seem to be fading. The Park City Area Board of Realtors, for instance, has begun referring to Summit County — and the Heber Valley — as one large community, where what happens in one area affects the rest of the region.
Given that, Alison Kuhlow, vice president of member services for the Chamber/Bureau, said in an email to The Park Record that it makes sense for the organization — which draws most of its membership from Park City and the Snyderville Basin — to help foster business partnerships in the Kamas Valley.
"The Chamber/Bureau's role in the community also includes a focus on strengthening the economic health of Summit County," she said. "With the Kamas Valley experiencing growth, the coordination of local business owners will ensure thoughtful discussion focused on the benefit of many rather than a select few. Businesses strengthen community and seeing them work together toward common goals is exciting."
Dunn said having the backing of the Chamber/Bureau, with broad resources, is crucial for a fledgling organization like the Kamas Valley Business Association. Businesses within the Kamas Valley that join the Chamber/Bureau will automatically be included in the association.
"It's basically a no-brainer to work with them because they have a huge brain trust there," Dunn said.
The Kamas Valley Business Association is scheduled to hold its next meeting June 9 at 9 a.m. at the Mirror Lake Diner in Kamas. Members, as well as businesses interested in joining the organization, are encouraged to attend.