Southern Idaho Economy Keeps Growing in the Right Direction
Region continues to lure investment in business expansions, relocations
A strategic location, capable workforce and competitive costs and incentives have made Southern Idaho an ideal place for relocating and expanding businesses. The economy is diverse, including strong representation across sectors ranging from agriculture and food production to advanced manufacturing and logistics.
The Right Address
“There are many reasons Southern Idaho has seen significant business growth. One of those is the regional partnership that creates a streamlined and predictable process. Southern Idaho is really competitive on land prices and utility costs, and there are several incentives available at the state, county, and local levesl to help businesses land and be successful in Southern Idaho,” says Connie Stopher, executive director of Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization. “We also have a robust and vibrant agricultural sector that spans not only the growers, producers and R&D, but all the way to the College of Southern Idaho that educates and trains the highly-skilled workforce that employers are looking for.”
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Stopher points to Magic Valley Quality Milk and Idaho Milk Products as examples of the how the region's business climate enables growth. The companies recently invested $30 million and $26 million respectively in factory expansions in Jerome. Likewise, Twin Falls-based KapStone Paper expanded its manufacturing facility to the tune of $30 million. Jayco, a builder or recreational vehicles expanded its production facility and added 300 new jobs. And a $200 million expansion by McCain Foods, one of the country’s leading suppliers of french fries, led to the logistics company NewCold relocating to Burley.
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“[McCain Foods] wanted to have an expansional logistics services, using the most state-of-the-art technology because they felt they were investing in one of the most modern facilities in the world, and they wanted to facilitate that with the best in class logistics solution as well,” says NewCold U.S. Country Manager Jonas Swarttouw. “They talked with multiple companies including us and eventually McCain decided that we were in the best position to support their business.”
Open for Business
Swarttouw says the decision to locate to Southern Idaho was made easier by the region’s business-friendly environment.
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“One other element of why doing businesses in Southern Idaho is so great is that from the first moment I stepped foot in Burley, I felt extremely welcomed, and you can appreciate when you are going to invest over $90 million that you have to get answers to a lot of questions,” Swarttouw says. “The community in Burley itself, in Cassia County, I call them ‘Team Idaho.’ They were extremely supportive of our project. They were able to take away a lot of the question marks. I think that collaboration and embrace of new investments, new solutions and new technologies is something which sets this region apart.”
Ready for Work
Doug Manning, economic development director for the City of Burley, says prime location is also a plus.
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“We're located halfway between Seattle and Denver. And, if you go in the opposite direction, San Diego to Saskatchewan. Any company choosing to expand or relocate here could serve all of their western markets west of the Mississippi within 24 to 36 hours,” Manning says.
Another element of the region’s appeal is a highly skilled and available workforce, he adds.
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“For one thing, the workforce here is used to manufacturing shift work; they've done that for years in some of the various processing plants, and the same holds true with new business,” he says. “And the College of Southern Idaho is able to keep up with demand for new skills. They will even develop a curriculum specifically for a new business to train their workforce.”