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Why Are Global Companies Flocking to Southern Idaho?

A pro-business culture, a skilled workforce, great transportation and competitive incentives help Twin Falls and the Magic Valley excel.

By Heather Cherry on December 10, 2021

College of Southern Idaho
Doug Maughan

A pro-business culture, skilled workforce, competitive incentives, and easily accessible logistics and transportation are drawing investment and creating jobs in Twin Falls and Southern Idaho.

The region has attracted a wealth of globally known companies in recent years, building thriving industry sectors in agribusiness, dairy processing, chemicals, plastics and packaging, among others.

“In Southern Idaho, there is a willingness, a bend over backward attitude toward business coming,” says Larry Hall, executive director of economic development organization Jerome 20/20 Inc. “It’s about jobs, but it’s also about reasonable growth that can happen within a community because of a new company.”

As a result, Southern Idaho’s economy has grown tremendously. “Idaho is among one of the fastest-growing states population-wise and has one of the strongest economies in the nation,” says Doug Manning, director of economic development for the city of Burley in Cassia and Minidoka counties.

“Here in Southern Idaho, we are growing a lot – both businesses and individuals. The decision-makers here are pro-business, which helps make things move quickly. We do everything we can and as quickly as we can to remove barriers for the businesses that are a good fit for the community. For example, Chobani broke ground and was operating within 326 days.”

Connie Stopher | Southern Idaho Economic Development.

Decision-Makers Can Move Quickly

Doing business in Southern Idaho has many advantages, one of them being the ease of entry into the market, something driven in part by its pro-business decision-makers.

Hall notes that Jerome County’s strong mayor form of government, city council and county commissioners promote a pro-business environment and want to be easy to work with. “I don’t have to wait for a city council meeting to address a business’s concerns – I can usually get an answer almost immediately,” he says. “This is especially helpful if we need to influence a decision. This increases our chances of winning a big project very quickly.”

Not only is it easy to do business in Twin Falls and Southern Idaho, but it’s also economically advantageous. One example: An Idaho statute allows tax exemptions of certain business property.

“As a result, our local elected officials choose what they want to do based on jobs or capital expenditures,” Hall says. “We were able to bring in True West Beef and offer them significant tax reimbursement incentives.”

Jeff Adkins

Accessible Transportation

A strong business climate is only effective if logistics and transportation can support production. Southern Idaho offers Class I and short line rail service, and the region provides direct access to Interstates 84 and 86, and U.S. Highways 30 and 93.

The short-line carrier, Eastern Idaho Railroad, owned by Watco Corp., offers a 12-day turnaround to the East. “Because of where we are geographically, we can service everyone west of the Mississippi within 36 hours,” Manning says.

Magic Valley Regional Airport and the region’s municipal and general aviation facilities allow for air travel and shipment.

“It is a delight to fly out of Magic Valley Regional Airport – which isn’t always the case for smaller airports,” Stopher says. “There is never a line. I can get to the airport approximately 20 minutes before my flight takes off and still have time to enjoy a coffee. It is a nice perk to both businesses and residents. A lot of our businesses use the Magic Valley Regional Airport and connect to larger airports.”

Strong Workforce

The College of Southern Idaho (CSI), a two-year community college, is a key component of workforce development that drives business expansion in the region.

CSI works with companies and organizations to bring in new people, train current staff and tailor solutions for recruitment or different training programs, which can be at the school or on-site at the business.

CSI is intentional with how it creates training programs. “Leaders at the college have flown all over the world to meet with employers so they can customize programs to meet their specific needs,” Stopher says. “The CSI training facility has a lot of the same equipment as our food processors – the heating, venting, and air conditioning program has the same equipment that Chobani uses.”

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