IDAHO: Can-Do Culture for Economy

19 Apr, 2018

Thanks to low taxes, a balanced state budget and a commonsense regulatory environment, Idaho’s economy is strong.

The state has a can-do culture, which shows in the workforce of dedicated and highly skilled employees. Colleges and universities throughout Idaho collaborate with the private sector to customize programs that meet the needs of Idaho businesses.

The Idaho Department of Labor offers a variety of labor support services to businesses, including customized recruitment services, applicant pre-screening and worker training programs. Idaho TechHelp provides technical and professional assistance to help improve products and processes.

Idaho’s robust transportation system includes major rail line access to key U.S. seaports in Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington; one or two day shipping to every western state; and nonstop service to 20 major U.S. air hubs.

Idaho’s entrepreneurial culture has been called one of the best in the country. The state is in the top 10 for places to launch a new business, and the Kauffman Foundation has reported Idaho as having the fifth-highest entrepreneurial activity in the nation.

Idaho’s largest industry is the science and technology sector. It accounts for over 25 percent of the state’s revenue and more than 70 percent of the state’s exports. Idaho’s industrial economy is growing, with high-tech products leading the way.

Other important industries include food processing, lumber and wood products, machinery, chemical products, paper products, electronics manufacturing, silver and other mining, and tourism. The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) is the largest Department of Energy facility in the country by area.

Eastern Idaho

By Loyd McIntosh

The 14-county region served by the Eastern Idaho Economic Development Organization is a hidden gem within the Gem State, and quite possibly the nation as a whole. Blessed with amazing natural resources, Eastern Idaho is one of the most beautiful areas in the country, situated between the largest wilderness area in the lower 48 states and two national parks, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.

The region is also young. Very young. The area’s largest city, Idaho Falls, has a population of 26,000, 80 percent of which is under the age of 30, and that’s not including the additional thousands of students that attend Idaho State University and Brigham Young University Idaho each year.

“That’s just a honey pot of talent on the north end of our corridor,” says Jan Rogers, CEO of the Regional Economic Development for Eastern Idaho. “Obviously, they now have a new moniker, Millennial City USA.”

The combination of a young and educated workforce, to-die-for natural resources and a diverse business climate are making Eastern Idaho a powder keg ready to explode. One of the major players in the area is the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), a nuclear-research facility of the United States Department of Energy employing close to 4,000 people. In 2017 alone, the INL contributed close to $2 billion to Idaho’s gross domestic product.

While technology is an important sector in the area, Eastern Idaho’s economy is truly diversified, with such industries as cobalt mining, barley and malt processing for the beer industry, and, of course, tourism. Eastern Idaho is a special place to do business.

Southern Idaho

By Loyd McIntosh

The Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization was established in 2000 in order to promote the business interests and economic vitality of the Gem State’s southern region. Known for decades as the Magic Valley due to its tremendous growth as an agricultural region, today the economic and civic leaders are transitioning southern Idaho into a diverse economy building off its history in food production.

“We’re still focused on food, but all things in the supply chain,” says Connie Stopher, Executive Director of the Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization (SIEDO). “So whether it be packaging, logistics and transportation, the whole range of the supply chain support services are things that we’re focused on right now.”

Idaho is currently the fastest growing state in the nation, and many of the new residents are millennials with a passion for outdoor recreation. Southern Idaho is abundant in natural resources, which plays heavily into the region’s economy. The Magic Valley is home to the Snake River and to 19 waterfalls, which are major factors in the region’s tourism industry, particularly in the area’s largest city, Twin Falls.

“Tourism and outdoor recreation are a huge part of who we are,” says Stopher.

The proximity to outdoor recreation is leading to further economic activity. Recently, Jayco, Inc., a manufacturer of recreational vehicles, broke ground on a new 248,000-square-foot manufacturing facility that will provide 300 jobs, and Clif Bar & Company has expanded operations in the region as well.

“We have a lot of adventure, recreation and activities here that make that industry a good fit,” Stopher says.

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