Jun
18
2015

Regional economic development group moving forward

By Kendra Evensen kevensen@journalnet.com

Jun 18, 2015 from the Idaho State Journal

Regional Economic Development Corporation for Eastern Idaho, also known as REDI, held a meeting this week to elect members of the executive board of directors and talk about plans for the future. Pictured are R. Scott Reese, left, Darlene Gerry, Stephanie Cook and Park Price.

Regional Economic Development Corporation for Eastern Idaho, also known as REDI, held a meeting this week to elect members of the executive board of directors and talk about plans for the future. Pictured are R. Scott Reese, left, Darlene Gerry, Stephanie Cook and Park Price.

A newly-formed regional economic development organization now has an executive board of directors in place following a Tuesday election, and is already receiving financial donations and preparing for the future.

The Regional Economic Development Corporation for Eastern Idaho, also known as REDI, formed when Bingham Economic Development Corp. and Grow Idaho Falls, Inc., decided to join forces earlier this year.

“I am really excited about … the future of REDI,” said interim executive director Darlene Gerry, adding that Eastern Idaho communities are stronger and have more to offer when they work together. “The concept is starting to really resonate with people and it’s really gaining momentum.”

REDI’s advisory board, which is comprised of 23 voting members, elected seven people to serve on the executive board of directors during a meeting at Blackfoot City Hall on Tuesday, Gerry said.

Park Price, chief executive officer, president and director of Bank of Idaho, will serve as the board’s president, Gerry said. R. Scott Reese, the emergency management director for Bingham County, will serve as the vice president, secretary and treasurer.

Others elected include: T. Layne VanOrden, a certified public accountant and the owner and managing partner of VanOrden, Lund, and Cannon, PLLC, in Blackfoot; Dan Cravens, a regional economist for the Idaho Department of Labor; Teri TeNgaio, the Teton District manager for Intermountain Gas Company in Idaho Falls; Kevin Koplin, a partner at Cooper Norman in Idaho Falls; and Dan Ordyna, chief executive officer for Portneuf Medical Center.

Gerry said there is equal representation of Bonneville and Bingham counties on both the advisory and executive boards. There are also at-large members, who can be from any location.

REDI is also working to hire a permanent executive director, Gerry said, adding that a search committee will be meeting with candidates later this month. Community members will be able to meet the finalists as early as July.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Gerry said they discussed several large donations that REDI is receiving to aid in its work. Idaho Central Credit Union is donating $20,000 each year for three years, and Portneuf Medical Center, Melaleuca, and Mountain View Hospital are each giving $15,000. In addition, Ball Ventures is donating $5,000 and offering other assistance.

Although some of the donations have come from the Bannock County area, John Regetz, executive director of Bannock Development Corp., said he would expect businesses that have a presence in other communities to support economic development in those areas, too.

Bannock Development Corp. opted not to merge with REDI after the Pocatello and Chubbuck mayors and Bannock County commissioners opposed the merger, but Regetz said he still supports regional collaboration and cooperation.

“We’re happy to help wherever we can,” he said.

Still, Regetz said his organization will also continue to represent Bannock County in some exciting projects, like SME Steel Contractor’s decision to reopen its Pocatello plant, and Great Western Malting’s, Western States’s and Allstate Insurance’s expansions.

Gerry also believes there are some exciting things ahead for REDI.

Bengal Solutions, a consulting team comprised of M.B.A. students from Idaho State University’s College of Business, is doing some research and survey work for REDI.

The team will talk to community members and businesses about the region’s capabilities, attractions and resources, including educational offerings, Gerry said. They’ll also look at the types of industries that are already in the area and gather information about what draws businesses here and what issues may need to be addressed.

Gerry said REDI will use that information to help develop a marketing plan for the region as it looks to attract new businesses and help existing ones grow.

“(It will be) such a powerful tool for us — that data,” she said.