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Economic Development Success
Posting Date: 03/19/2012

Michael McGreer

A days drive north of Mesquite is the southern Idaho city of Twin Falls. In the 1960's it had a population equal to that of Mesquite today. Now, Twin Falls has a population in excess of 40,000.

In the past 20-years Twin Falls leaders have moved the city from a small agrarian community to the state's 7th largest city thus becoming the fastest growing city in South-Central Idaho. Businesses are the mainstay.

In the middle 1960's leaders established the College of Southern Idaho(CSI) which today has an enrollment of approximately 7,000 students with an additional 3,000 in non-credit courses. Several Idaho universities, including Boise State University, Idaho State University, and the University of Idaho, offer classes on the CSI campus. The CSI men's basketball team has won three NJCAA Division I Championships.

Recently, Twin Falls officials, their Urban Renewal Agency (URA), the state and other investors put up a $25.1 million package of incentives, to lure Greek yogurt manufacture Chobani to locate southeast of the city. In part this was done because of the prominence of dairy farming in the region.

The agreement required Chobani's parent company, Agro-Fama, to put at least $128 million into the new plant

The package required the city and the URA

to spend $4.4 million to expand its city water system, which will both handle Chobani’s needs and further area growth.

In order to reduce costs to them, the city obtained a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant. The city previously had received a similar grant to help pay for electrical infrastructure for the Chobani plant.

The city and URA will recover its investment through increased property tax revenues from construction jobs and the creation of about 400 new jobs annually.

Another Twin Falls area development are four MW wind parks, by Exergy Development. Another 19 are planned for Idaho's Lincoln and Bingham counties.

This activity is expected to create 650 additional Idaho jobs during two years of construction and an additional 120 ongoing jobs each year for the next 25 years of the project, most of them in rural communities in need of ongoing economic development.

The wind project will provide nearly $2.8 million in additional tax revenue to the state of Idaho during the two-year construction phase, and an additional $120 million in revenue over a 25-year period.

Then there is the China Mountain Wind project in Twin Falls and Elko (Nev.) counties. This project will develop approximately 425 megawatts (MW) of wind energy, enough to power more than 100,000 homes.

The Twin Falls example is just one of many where political leadership understands how economic development projects are developed and implemented.

 

Commentary
  • Posted Date: 03/19/2012
    The important parts of this article are: creates 400 jobs annually, creates 650 jobs plus 120 ongoing jobs and how Twim Falls political leaders "understand how economic development projects are developed." Emphasis on "economic development."
    By: Vic M
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  • Posted Date: 03/19/2012
    Mr. McGreer hit the nail on the head. Spending millions of tax dollars should create job and hopefully lots of income. Our council want to spend the money on something with no jobs and that loses money. Does anyone see a problem with that?
    By: Larry
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  • Posted Date: 03/19/2012
    The key word in Mike's column is grants. Why is the City of Mesquite considering going it alone to pay for the proposed tent? All the figures that I have seen from City staff contains how much the City will have to come up with to meet the estimated cost. I looked back at Desert Falls to see how that project was going to be funded. One of the funding sources was to be Adidas. If there are no grants and no other funding sources, that should tell the City staff that this is not considered a viable project. Thank you, Mike.
    By: judy
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  • Posted Date: 03/19/2012
    We are all wasting time with this stupid idea because no one, no one has laid out what this thing will cost to operate and maintain. And of course, how much of a loss it will take.
    By: Abe
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  • Posted Date: 03/20/2012
    Block Grants do not work in the long run. Look at the Poster Child for block grants, Detroit.
    By: Bob Charles
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