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.