INL and Boise State partner to help Butte County

Idaho National Laboratory and Boise State University have partnered to bolster the Butte County economy.

INL contractor Battelle Energy Alliance awards thousands of dollars in technology-based economic development grants annually throughout Idaho. This year the Alliance awarded $17,500 to help BSU’s Idaho Policy Institute implement three projects in Butte County. The grant was one of the Alliance’s largest awards of 2017, an INL news release said.

The projects are geared to give Butte County residents more of the skills and tools they need to prosper, the release said.

The first project is for BSU staff to teach entrepreneurial skills to local business owners and residents.

Monica Hampton, Butte County’s economic development director, said the training won’t be a one-time event.

“They’ll train me, and then I can continue that education,” she said in the release.

The second project is for BSU to provide a technical staff, consisting of a faculty member and a student assistant, to build a website for the county to direct visitors to the area’s many attractions and events.

The goal, Hampton said, is not only to offer potential visitors a place to begin, but also to use this space to market existing businesses and encourage startups.

“We are trying to bring more tourists here,” Hampton said in the release. “But as a region, we do need to make sure we continue to do a good job working together.”

The final project is to showcase the county’s pride in its history, and proximity to the nation’s lead nuclear research and development laboratory, the release said. University facilitators will work with community members to determine how best to achieve that goal, whether it’s through a public art project, signage or some other effort.

“That’s what I really like about this project,” Amy Lientz, INL’s director of partnerships, engagement and technology deployment, said in the release. “It promotes economic development, entrepreneurship and innovation in a way that fits the people in Butte County and will continue to serve them for many years.”

As for Butte County and the 2,622 people who call it home, results will be measured in how they wield their new tools.

“This is a place where results matter,” Hampton said in the release, “and we plan to make the most of this opportunity.”