Jul
14
2016

REDI looks to build economy

Lesile Mielke
Morning News

BLACKFOOT — Jan Rogers, CEO of Regional Economic Development for Eastern Idaho (REDI) and Scott Reese, a REDI board member from Bingham County, reported to the Bingham County Commissioners on Tuesday. Two weeks ago, Rogers and 22 other representatives from Idaho attended the Select USA Summit put on by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce in Washington, D.C. “There were 1,700 companies there from 70 countries,” she said. “Each of these companies has been vetted by our consulates and embassies and want to invest in the United States.” Idaho was one of five top sponsors of this event. The others were Texas, New York, Georgia and Ohio. “Being one of the top sponsors brought interest,” Rogers said. “We pitched the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education available in Eastern Idaho. Within 70-80 miles, there are two universities and four labs, including one national lab. The two universities are Idaho State University and BYU-Idaho. About 30,000 students are on campus each semester. “That’s called a cluster,” she said. “From Select USA, we have six leads focusing on innovation. That includes two site visits in July, both on the same day.” “We didn’t forget agriculture. Eastern Idaho doesn’t have a lot of variety of Ag products but what we are big in, we are giant in.” Three posters were displayed at the Idaho exhibit. The posters stated: “Bud, Barley and Back;” “Backed, Bottled and Fried;” and “Energy, Nuclear, Cyber, Security, Space and Beyond— just another day at the office.” “Idaho is not just number one in malt barley; we are also number one in malting barley,” Rogers said. “One billion beers are produced each month in Idaho.” Other examples cited included Teton Valley Potato Vodka that is produced in Driggs. It has received international awards. Idaho is known for potatoes and Wada Farms has added a biologic potato bag that is made from 25 percent potato. “REDI is building opportunity for now and the future,” Rogers said. Asked how Eastern Idaho and, specifically, Bingham County, could help expand economic opportunities, Rogers replied, “Business is not coming in here without figuring out talent. To develop talent, we need to increase the pool of people, retain who we have and develop the pipeline—people with skills businesses need.” Rogers has been appointed to the United States Investment Advisory Council (IAC) established by the Commerce Department in April 2016. As one of 19 private and public sector leaders from across the nation, Rogers will advise U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker on the development and implementation of strategies and programs to attract and retain foreign direct investment in the United States.