Kamas Valley Business Association reminds owners to remember roots
March 31, 2018
More than 100 business owners gathered at Kamas City Hall on Wednesday afternoon. A white board stood in front of the room with the words "Our valley is unique. We are not Park City."
Those words were repeated throughout the event, which was the first annual meeting of the Kamas Valley Business Association. As the valley's population and economy expand, maintaining the heritage and lifestyle of the region has become a concern for residents and business owners.
Amber Nelson is treasurer of the South Summit Trails Foundation and has been involved in the Kamas Valley Business Association almost since the association's inception. She said that it is important to her and to the foundation that public spaces are taken into account as more development comes to the area.
"As we grow, building trails into the community is something we are definitely hoping for," she said.
A group of local business owners created the association to ensure that they have representation in city and county decisions, said Eileen Dunn, founding chair. The association's values, which were presented at the meeting, are to promote, connect, preserve and nurture what is in the valley.
She said that the meeting had a clear message that she hoped people walked away with: "Honor our heritage and plan for our growth."
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NaVee Vernon, Summit County's historian, spoke about the history of the land during the meeting, and encouraged business owners to incorporate the region's heritage in their businesses.
"It's not something that should be pushed down or pushed aside, it's something that should be embraced and built upon," said Byron Ames, mayor of Francis and founding member of the association. He led the meeting.
He also talked about how Park City is unique with its mining history and emphasis on skiing. The Kamas Valley should highlight its differences.
Natasha Pearce, an escrow officer for Coalition Title Agency in Park City, grew up in Oakley and lives there with her husband, who owns a local business. She said that she, like many others, knows that growth is coming, but she hopes it comes gradually, particularly for businesses, so that the region does not lose its local flair.
"I've been lucky to live here, so I don't want to see it change too much. But also, change happens," she said.
Tal Adair, vice chair of the association and a former member of the Summit County Council, said that some growth is necessary if families want to continue to live in the area. He said a lot of kids move out of the region after graduation because there are few jobs. With more job opportunities, more individuals can stay in the valley and help the economy remain strong.
"So often times (people) go down the hill when we could keep them here," he said.
A group of youth from South Summit Middle School came to the meeting to talk about the need for jobs for teens, as well as a place to go to hang out and do activities. They suggested that someone open a bowling alley or a teen fun center with a movie theater.
Business owners old and new seemed to have the same opinion that the Kamas Valley is special, and they worry what more development would bring. They nodded in agreement at some of the final words of Ames, and are hopeful that the association will represent his sentiment through its work.
"It's an amazing, amazing place," he said. "And we've got to make sure that as we're pushing business, we don't lose that heritage of the history, and the importance of that history, in the valley."