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Tourism and Technology Projects Strengthen Economic Connections

Community takes new approaches to tourism, technology and economic development.

By Teree Caruthers on August 23, 2016

Downtown Idaho Falls, ID
Idaho Falls / Courtesy of downtown Idaho Falls

From an airport rebranding project to a citywide fiber optic network in Ammon, regional business and government leaders in the Idaho Falls region are investing in projects that forge connections within the community, enhancing quality of life and strengthening the economy. 

Idaho Falls Wayfinding Initiative

The Idaho Falls Parks and Recreation department developed a master wayfinding signage program as part of an economic development effort to attract tourism within the community and region. 

“As the regional center for health care, shopping, technology and entertainment, Idaho Falls’ master wayfinding signage program will help bring awareness of the region’s major attractions through universal design standards that are reflective of the city’s brand identity,” says Greg Weitzel, director, Idaho Falls Parks & Recreation.

Weitzel says the system will help promote tourism by guiding visitors from the interstates and highways to downtown and other major commercial and non-commercial centers, such as parks, museums, libraries, the zoo and the aquatic center.

“The overall purpose of the master wayfinding signage program includes promoting tourism, emphasizing Idaho Falls as a unique destination, highlighting the city’s key attractions, reinforcing our community identity, enhancing the visitor’s experience, reducing driver and pedestrian frustration and improving traffic flow and roadway safety,” Weitzel says.

A regional approach to economic development will also help put Idaho Falls on the proverbial map for new business. The city joined forces with several other public and private entities from 14 counties to form the Regional Economic Development for Eastern Idaho, or REDI. The organization promotes the region’s business assets and quality-of-life amenities and market Eastern Idaho as an attractive place for relocating companies and talent.

Idaho Falls Regional Airport Rebrands

A rebranding campaign by the Idaho Falls Regional Airport is helping promote the city as a tourist destination and economic center. The airport recently dropped the IFRA acronym from its marketing materials and replaced it with the brand and corresponding website “iflyIDA.”

“The research conducted showed that if the airport name needed to be abbreviated, the airport would be better served by educating the public to relate the airport’s official aviation code, IDA, with the name. The newly developed logo replaced the term IFRA with IDA while keeping the solid airport name intact,” says Craig Davis, airport director. “This positioning allows passengers to think about the term IDA when on online booking sites and in the mindset to book tickets.”

Davis says the value of commercial air service to the community should not be underestimated. In 2015, the airport served more than 291,000 passengers, providing air service to nearly every country in the world. Based on a 2010 State of Idaho Airport System Plan and Economic Impact Study, the Idaho Falls Regional Airport employs 1,269 people and contributes more than $100 million to the city’s economy.

“Airports enable the efficient movement of people and goods across vast distances, strengthening ties between communities, regions and countries and encouraging economic growth. These infrastructure assets are such an integral part of life that it is easy to overlook their immense value,” Davis says.

High-Speed Network in Ammon

While IDA is hoping to spur economic development by forging connections in the sky, the City of Ammon is working to attract relocating businesses and families by expanding its connections in cyberspace. The city’s Fiber Optic Department operates a high-speed fiber optic infrastructure that meets the networking needs of the city government. The high-speed network is also available to service providers, businesses and residents, which makes the city even more attractive for business and enhances the quality of life for residents. 

“People are already making home-buying choices based on the property’s broadband availability and costs.  The vast majority of us have moved beyond seeing the internet as a luxury,” says Bruce Patterson, director of the City of Ammon Fiber Optic Department. 

Patterson says the fiber optic network gives the city leverage not only in terms of economic development but also innovation.

“Put simply, our philosophy is that if information is the next economy, then we want to make sure that there is an on/off ramp in Ammon,” Patterson says. “We believe that pursuing these goals will result not only in competitive broadband prices and speeds for our residents and businesses, but as a consequence of our engaging ourselves in the development of the future networks and services, we will attract the innovators of tomorrow, which is equally important to us.”

As the regional center for health care, shopping, technology and entertainment, Idaho Falls’ master way-finding signage program will help bring awareness of the region’s major attractions.

Greg Weitzel
Director, Idaho Falls Parks & Rec.
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