By the Idaho Department of Commerce
Idaho’s economy is accelerating. Over the past year, the state’s economy has exploded with the announcement of several companies, both new and existing, choosing to expand in the state. Additionally, Idaho has made it a priority to deliver more opportunities than ever for existing Idaho companies, and those new to our state, to thrive. The state’s incentive programs – especially the new Tax Reimbursement Incentive – have allowed the state to generate significant momentum by investing in Idaho’s existing and emerging industries, public-private partnerships, and community development.
In the past year, Idaho received national and international attention while continuing to land in the top 10 of several key rankings for business friendliness, economic strength, and job growth:
- 6th in the nation for 2015 Best Economic Outlook (American Legislative Exchange Council)
- 5th highest GDP growth rate in the nation (US Bureau of Economic Analysis)
- 1st in the nation for highest personal income growth in 2013 (US Bureau of Economic Analysis)
- 2nd “Overall Most Friendly State for Business” (Governing magazine)
- 6th “State with the Fastest Job Growth” (Kiplinger)
But what sets Idaho apart is its ability to “run at the speed of business.” Time is money, and the state knows businesses need to move quickly to compete effectively. Take a look at the ways Idaho has been tirelessly working to grow the state’s economy.
Launched by Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter on May 1, 2014, Accelerate Idaho is the state’s commitment to being a national and global leader for economic growth and prosperity. This means that, more than ever, the state is harnessing Idaho’s resources and talent to create unmatched opportunity for the citizens, communities, and industries. The initiative is based on three key priorities: advancing individuals, elevating industry, and strengthening communities.
Idaho’s future generations depend on the ability to advance educational opportunities and earning potential for all Idaho citizens. That includes creating a world-class workforce that can lead Idaho into the new global economy by:
- Engineering talent pipelines, pools of highly-qualified people who can step into Idaho’s key industries;
- Cultivating “K through career,” a continuum of learning opportunities that expand skill sets for all Idahoans; and
- Expanding high-quality jobs by attracting industries that provide a livable wage and improving education outcomes to support these industries.
Idaho businesses are already key contributors to national and global economies. By further supporting the state's industries, creating consistent business environments, and embracing innovation, the state is working to elevate Idaho’s economy even more specifically focusing on:
- Energizing existing industries by reducing costs and advancing technological capabilities;
- Empowering business opportunities through limited regulation, customized digital business tools, and rapid response to companies interested in doing business in Idaho; and
- Invigorating innovation and research by investing in our universities, Idaho National Laboratory, and other industry pioneers.
Strong and resilient communities are the backbone of Idaho's heritage. The state is inspiring even more positive changes by offering community trainings, anticipating infrastructure needs, and rallying neighbors for regional collaboration by:
- Inspiring community vitality by setting communities up to become “destinations” for commerce;
- Advancing infrastructure by providing grants and exploring long-term funding sources for physical and technical infrastructure; and
- Galvanizing regional collaboration by rallying state and local leaders to work together to benefit the entire state.
The Idaho Tax Reimbursement Incentive (TRI), which went into effect July 1, 2014, has proven to be a game changer in the state’s efforts to encourage business growth and expansion. The TRI provides up to a 30 percent refundable tax credit for up to 15 years on all payroll, sales, and income taxes for companies that hire at least 50 new employees above the average county wage (20 new employees in a rural community). Idaho has experienced enormous success with this new incentive and continues to see significant interest from existing companies wishing to expand and new companies looking at our great state.
Since July 1, 2014, there have been 12 projects approved for TRI – including well known companies like SkyWest Airlines, and Amy’s Kitchen – resulting in the following economic impact:
- Total Jobs: 2,294
- Capital Investment: $336 million
- Total Wages: $869 million
- New State Revenue: $127 million
Idaho’s AgriTech Industry
Recently, Idaho has recognized an opportunity to grow an emerging, joint-venture industry in the state. AgriTech, or agricultural technology, is not a new concept. Idaho’s agriculture industry has continuously remained on the cutting-edge of new technologies in order to keep up with the growing demand to feed the world. The state has identified an opportunity to position the growing technology sector closely with the established agriculture industry to create a new industry that focuses on growing both exponentially.
AgriTech focuses not on the application of technology by the agriculture industry, but more on the development of the technology by Idaho companies. Idaho is working to create partnerships between the two industries that is beneficial for both, creating the right kind of jobs that are high-paying and secure.
As the state works with businesses to establish this sector, they have identified three ways that we can foster growth. Beginning with marketing and branding, the state will establish Idaho as the leader in the AgriTech industry. Moving into project development, which will work to recruit and connect businesses with each other with the creation of a venture center. And finally, Idaho is continuing to build our STEM education in K-12 and higher education by supporting these programs.
Autonomous Systems Center of Excellence
On April 22, 2015, the Idaho Department of Commerce, in partnership with the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and the Center for Advance Energy Studies (CAES), a consortia representing Boise State University (BSU), Idaho State University (ISU), University of Idaho (UI), and University of Wyoming (UW), announced the establishment of the Idaho Autonomous Systems Center of Excellence. The Center of Excellence will be based in Idaho Falls, ID at the CAES facility on the INL campus.
Idaho began formulating plans for a Center of Excellence in 2013. In response to a national call for proposals for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) test sites issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), collaborators including CAES, INL, BSU, ISU, UI, Idaho Commerce and partners in private industry like ADAVSO, Empire Airlines and Blair Farms, established a statewide working group to respond to the proposal request.
Although Idaho was not awarded an FAA UAS Test Site designation, the result of the proposal process identified key capabilities and unique offerings held collectively by the collaborators throughout the state that would allow Idaho to capitalize on the emerging funding, research and commercial market opportunity for autonomous and unmanned systems.
Leading Idaho businesses like Micron Technology, the J.R. Simplot Company, and Idaho Power are welcoming the COE and are recognizing that the advancement of Idaho’s interests in the autonomous and unmanned system industry supports the tremendous opportunities this technology application can deliver to their respective industry sectors.
The Idaho Autonomous Systems Center of Excellence will begin operations in May 2015. The COE will provide a range of products and service opportunities for developers, researchers, and users in need of access to test ranges, facilities, and most importantly, the equipment and personnel to acquire, analyze and visualize large complex data sets. Core product and service offerings will center on data collection, analysis, visualization, performance testing, system validation, education, and training.
Idaho: A Thriving Business Environment
As you can see, Idaho takes business very seriously. Not only are Idaho's grant and incentive programs attracting more companies than ever before, but the high quality of life and endless recreation opportunities means once you arrive, you will never want to leave.
To learn more about Idaho’s business opportunities, visit http://commerce.idaho.gov.
Visit http://www.expansionsolutionsmagazine.com/idaho_ed for local economic development office directory listings.