Today in New West news: Jackson Hole tops “most economically unequal area in America” list, BYU-Idaho students design exhibit for Teton Geotourism Center, Utah Business’ 2016 Outstanding Directors Awards, and an update on Sports Authority.
According to Teton Gravity Research, citing the latest report from the Economic Policy Institute on income inequality across the United States, Jackson, WY is the single most “economically unequal” metropolitan area in the U.S., with the top one percent of earners taking home 68.3 percent of the city’s wealth. Further, while the average one percenter takes home 25 times what the bottom 99 percent does, in Jackson, the top one percent earn approximately 213 times more income than the bottom 99 percent.
Comparatively, in second place Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk (in Connecticut), top earners take home 73.1 times more than their bottom 99 percent. From Teton Gravity Research:
While wealth has never been shy about relocating to Jackson Hole–its natural wonders, and lack of personal or corporate income tax, has attracted American wealth as far back as the Rockefellers–the influx of money has been particularly acute in the past few years.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s well-earned place at the top of best-of lists from Ski Magazine and Forbes has no doubt piqued the interest of the ski-obsessed niche of America’s upper class, fueling a corresponding growth in real estate buys in Teton Village, the area at the base of the resort.
Meanwhile, a tight housing supply with next to no opportunities for new inventory and, perhaps even more of an issue, the extremely high cost of buying and building a home in the area, means that that single stalwart of financial independence–home ownership–is out of reach for the majority of the town’s middle class.
A quick search on Zillow finds just a few condos available–all under 700 square feet–for under $300,000. While the median home price is America today sits at $187,000, the average home price in the town of Jackson itself has swollen to around $1.2 million.
The only other New West city who made the top ten (Glenwood Springs, Colorado) came in at number 9, with the top 1 percent earning 30 percent.
Over in Idaho, according to the BYU-I Scroll, students at the Brigham Young University–Idaho campus have designed a new exhibit for the Teton Geotourism Center in Driggs, centered on travel in Yellowstone National Park. The exhibit commemorates, in part, the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, but it also explores changes in Yellowstone independent of the NPS—specifically, changes in transportation and technology. From the Scroll:
“The public relations office at BYU-I has a relationship with the Teton Geotourism center,” said Shawn Randall, the art faculty member whose students designed the exhibit. “They have been trying to do some outreach and they developed a small exhibit that was recently taken down and replaced by this new exhibit.”
Randall said the TCG center asked BYU-I to create an exhibit, so they contacted Brett Sampson, the University Public Relations director, who then reached out to the faculty in the art department.
“I felt like it was a great fit for our class and fit our curriculum needs, which could be taught to the students and give them an opportunity to create something for real world,” Randall said. “We decided to change literally three weeks into the semester.”
Randall said they changed their last project for the class and took on that project to create this exhibit. He said it was a six-week project and that is all the time the students had. He said he exchanged the final project for the class with this exhibit project.
“In that time they had to do the research themselves, gather the information, create the actual exhibit and also figure out the narrative and the text for everything,” Randal said. “They were responsible for everything from the writing to the images.”
Over in Utah, Utah Business recently hosted a function in Salt Lake City honoring four of state’s “outstanding directors” in various businesses. According to Utah Business’ Sam Urie, “these executives are, of course, instrumental in their own companies, but their influence extends to the boards and organization they serve.” From Utah Business:
Recognized this year was Fraser Bullock, who has been part of the tech explosion and has been a champion of the Olympic games in 2002 and beyond; Dale Gunther, who has been instrumental in the shaping of today’s financial industry in Utah County and has tirelessly protected community banking; Alan Hall, who has taken the spoils of successful entrepreneurship and used them to give back to the community he loves; and Dr. Vivian Lee, whose expertise as head of the University of Utah health system and medical school is rivaled only by her skill and patient understanding in the financial industry.
Finally, over in Colorado, we’ve been following the fall of Sports Authority since they declared bankruptcy in early March. The once dominant sporting goods chain has seen their fortunes flag markedly, between the demonstrated lack of interest from competitors such as Dick’s Sporting Good to acquire old Sports Authority locations, and uncertainty regarding naming rights to the Denver Broncos stadium in Mile High. According to the Denver Post, however, there might be some good news for the sporting company: the U.S. Bankrupt Court gave Sports Authority until September 28 to file a Chapter 11 plan for creditors, a nearly three-and-a-half month extension. The previous deadline was June 30. From the Post:
“Once the adjourned main auction is held and the liquidation of the debtors’ remaining retail inventory and other assets is complete, the debtors will be able to better determine what proceeds are available for distribution to their creditors and to formulate a Chapter 11 plan,” officials for the Englewood-based Sports Authority said in the motion requesting the extension.