By KEVIN TREVELLYAN
Eastern Idaho offers flowing rivers and vast wilderness — world-class fishing and plenty of space to see the stars from beside a tent.
Jan Rogers, CEO of REDI, has a background in marketing communications and advertising. She lived in Dallas before moving to the Magic Valley in 1999 to market the region. “I’m trained to find the brand; it’s what I’ve done my entire life,” Rogers said.
There are two universities in eastern Idaho, in Pocatello and Rexburg, fewer than 80 miles from each other, with a major national research laboratory situated between.
And while many eastern Idahoans want to keep those gems a secret, the woman in charge of marketing the region is looking for more exposure.
“We haven’t done a good job of telling the story, as a state, of all the wonders we have here. We should be the ‘it’ state,” said Jan Rogers, CEO of REDI. “Part of our problem, from a marketing perspective, is that there’s no focused message on ‘What is eastern Idaho?’ You have to market what differentiates you from everyone else in the world.”
REDI, Regional Economic Development for Eastern Idaho, is a public/private partnership set up to strengthen regional economies. Established last April, the organization is trying to market the attributes that make the region unique in an effort to attract new businesses and the burgeoning millennial workforce.
“The biggest issue, a national issue for any economic development effort at all, is talent,” Rogers said. “If you can demonstrate that you have the talent, and you can fill that pipeline as it develops, and you’re a place where this new talent wants to come and be, then you’re ahead of the game. Businesses will follow.”
REDI represents Bingham and Bonneville counties, and coordinates with 12 other counties. It’s a conduit between businesses searching nationally for a place to expand, and the local cities and counties trying to court them.
“The real economic competition is national and global, and competing effectively on those scales requires regional collaboration,” said Dana Briggs, economic development director for the city of Idaho Falls. “And regional success translates into improved local employment opportunities, tax base and amenities for our city and residents.”
A team approach
Rogers headed SIEDO, southern Idaho’s economic development firm, for 14 years before moving east for her new position. During that time, a plethora of businesses from different economic sectors set up operations in the Magic Valley.
“People ask me what my greatest success was in southern Idaho — Dell, Chobani, Clif Bar — none of the above,” Rogers said. “The greatest success was being able to pull the region together so they worked as a team. Focused, with a focused message, an endgame in mind, and egos set aside.”
REDI developed out of Grow Idaho Falls and the Bingham Economic Development Corporation. The new organization’s broad geographic focus is designed to foster unity within the region, as Rogers did in southern Idaho.
The importance of regional unity is echoed by Chris St Jeor, regional economist for the Idaho Department of Labor.
“In regional economic development, they say a rising tide raises all ships,” St Jeor said. “If you have a specific region with five different agencies competing for the same project against each other, they’re putting that many resources into it, and getting the same face time with the business. If they’re able to collaborate, they can leverage power as a whole.”
The original intent was to also include Pocatello and Bannock County in the effort, but those overtures were rebuffed by the Bannock Development Corp. board of directors and the mayors from Chubbuck and Pocatello as well as all three members of the Bannock County Commission citing “different interests and different markets.”
Appealing to a younger crowd
One of REDI’s biggest challenges is marketing eastern Idaho to millennials, the largest percentage of the world’s workforce, said St Jeor.
REDI is preparing to hire an independent research firm this fall to conduct focus groups on millennials in the region in an effort to figure out what attracts them to an area, and keeps them there. Doing so is critical in a region with an aging workforce.
“Personally, I’m afraid that if we brought in any sizable new piece of business at this point that our existing businesses would be throwing bricks at us because of the extra pressure it would put on the talent,” Rogers said.
The Idaho National Laboratory, for example, is feeling the strain of retiring baby boomers. As eastern Idaho’s largest employer, roughly 30 percent of its staff is 50 or older, said INL Director of Partnerships Amy Lientz.
“The other challenge is that we’re growing at the same time, so we have to pay attention to our aging workforce — the areas in which they’re departing — while at the same time making sure we’re looking at the areas in which we’re developing,” Lientz said. “And we’ve found we have similar needs to other industries in eastern Idaho; we all have this challenge.”
Drawing on past success
Drawing a stronger millennial workforce will draw businesses, Rogers said.
From there, regions can observe a domino effect once employers start to initiate operations, St Jeor said.
Rogers cites that as a big factor in southern Idaho’s recent success attracting businesses.
“We wouldn’t have even gotten a look from Clif Bar if we didn’t have Chobani,” Rogers said. “Once you get that momentum going, then you have to leverage it. And it’s addictive. When you win you just want to keep winning; you get on a streak and it’s very powerful.”
Southern Idaho was able to leverage its identity as a diverse agricultural region, with crops, sheep, cattle, fish and honey production, to draw food-related corporations to the area.
REDI is attempting to do the same in eastern Idaho, with a shifted focus to the region’s own strengths.
“We’re going to helpfully drive more opportunity to the region, whether you come to live here or do business,” Rogers said. “My hope is the region will come together. It didn’t happen overnight in southern Idaho. But I don’t have 14 years to put in eastern Idaho, so we’re going to have to ramp it up. And I think we can. I hope we can.”
Reporter Kevin Trevellyan can be reached at 542-6762.
By LUKE RAMSETH, from the Post Register
NuScale’s Corvallis, Ore. headquarters includes a replica of what the company’s nuclear reactor power plant control room would look like. Courtesy NuScale
The long process of building a small modular nuclear reactor in the desert west of Idaho Falls has begun.
The U.S. Department of Energy announced Thursday that it granted a site use permit for the reactor to Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, or UAMPS. The permit allows the Salt Lake City-based energy cooperative to find an ideal location for the reactor on the DOE’s 890-square-mile desert site.
“It’s important, but it’s still a preliminary step,” UAMPS spokesman LaVarr Webb said of the agreement. “It’s one of many steps that will need to be taken.”
UAMPS and the company designing the first-of-its-kind reactor, NuScale Power, have hinted at moving forward in Idaho for more than a year. But the Thursday site agreement offers the first concrete evidence that the so-called “Carbon Free Power Project” ultimately will be built here.
A cross-section rendering of the proposed NuScale nuclear power plant shows how separate power modules, on the right, would sit in a pool of water below ground. Courtesy NuScale
Local officials welcomed Thursday’s news. Such a plant would provide carbon-free “baseload” power to the local grid, said Idaho Falls Power General Manager Jackie Flowers. The utility is one of 45 community-owned utilities operating under the UAMPS umbrella.
The permit, signed by DOE and UAMPS officials, lays out a framework for identifying the best location for the nuclear plant. UAMPS has already identified “four or five” ideal land parcels, but “haven’t zeroed in on one particular spot,” Webb said.
With input from DOE and Idaho National Laboratory, UAMPS will narrow it down to one location in the next four to six weeks, he said. DOE will need to sign off on the final location, and could nix it if the site is deemed “incompatible” with the goals of DOE and INL, according to the permit.
A cross-section rendering shows an individual power module inside the proposed NuScale nuclear power plant. The NuScale design would fit as many as 12 of the modules, which could be installed based on energy demand. A mock-up of one of NuScale’s power modules sits outside the Oregon company’s Corvallis offices. Courtesy NuScale. Courtesy NuScale
Assuming a site is agreed upon, a battery of environmental studies and other tests will need to be conducted to ensure the location will work. Eventually the site will require approval by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
“This (DOE) site is very well characterized, because there have been so many nuclear plants out there,” said Mike McGough, NuScale’s chief commercial officer.
As UAMPS works on finding an ideal location for the project, McGough and NuScale continue to work toward licensing their reactor design with the NRC, a process he said remains on track. The company hopes to submit the 12,000-page design document to the agency by the end of the year.
The Oregon-based company’s first-of-its-kind modular design would allow most of the plant’s components to be built at a factory and shipped to the site by rail or truck.
The design generates less power but is thought to be safer and more flexible than traditional large water reactors.
Each individual reactor or “power module” would produce 50 megawatts of energy. Additional modules could be added to a plant site as energy demand increases; as many as 12 modules could be paired together in one plant. The reactors would be installed below ground in a steel-lined concrete pool.
“Small modular reactors are an important new step toward safe, reliable, carbon-free technology,” Lynn Orr, DOE’s undersecretary for science and technology, said in a statement. The agency has pushed for the small reactors’ development for several years, including giving tens of millions of dollars in funding to the NuScale project.
A mock-up of one of NuScale’s power modules sits outside the Oregon company’s Corvallis offices. Courtesy NuScale
Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper has been another vocal proponent of bringing the small modular nuclear reactor to eastern Idaho.
“The approval of the site use agreement represents a very big opportunity for Idaho to maintain its position of leadership as relates to advancing nuclear energy,” she said in a statement. She said such a project had the potential to “impact the state, region, nation, environment and even international markets.”
UAMPS settled on the Idaho desert site as the best place for the nuclear plant after also examining several locations in Utah and eastern Washington, Webb said.
He said UAMPS would begin an outreach process with eastern Idaho stakeholders in the coming months, to further explain the project.
The Idaho Falls-based organization Partnership for Science and Technology will be watching the project closely going forward, said Richard Holman, the president of its board of directors. He promised his organization would ask tough, technical questions about small modular reactors, and help to explain the technology in a straightforward way to the public.
The partnership is a nonprofit, public-interest organization advocating for the advancement of science, energy and technology issues.
“We understand the technology, and we know the questions to ask, and we know how to put that in front of the public in a way that’s understandable,” Holman said.
Officials with UAMPS and NuScale said that if all goes to plan, the plant could be up and running by early 2024. But there are many technical, regulatory and financial hurdles still to go, they warned.
Still, McGough and Webb said the site agreement was a significant first step.
“It potentially could be the first (small modular reactor) project in the entire world, so it’s kind of a big deal,” Webb said.
“This is a very big day for us,” McGough said.
Luke Ramseth can be reached at 542-6763. Twitter: @lramseth
Posted: February 16, 2016 5:50 p.m. From the Post Register
By KEVIN TREVELLYAN
Stephanie Cook of the Idaho National Laboratory presents a research donation to Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper during a news conference announcing the city’s community college citizen study panel. Kevin Trevellyan /firstname.lastname@example.org
Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper announced Tuesday who will serve on the city’s community college citizen study panel.
The panel was created to gauge Bonneville County’s need for a community college, what steps would be needed to convert Eastern Idaho Technical College into a community college and how much the project would cost.
“This topic is not one that can be boiled down to a soundbite,” Casper said during a news conference. “It’s a conversation that needs to happen with a lot of meaningful inputs. This is why we, the leaders of all of our respective communities from business, government and education, have decided that the best way to approach this was to involve a panel of Bonneville County residents.”
The panel of 11, as follows, is formatted to represent different interests within the community by including student, parent, employer, activist and legislative perspectives, among others.
• Nicole Christensen, parent and advocate of education innovation.
• Doug Crabtree, CEO, Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.
• Marisa Hoover, senior class president, Hillcrest High School.
• Amy Lientz, Idaho National Laboratory.
• Dave Lent, Idaho Falls School District 91 Trustee.
• Stephanie Mickelsen, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation.
• Sheila Olsen, community activist.
• Park Price, Bank of Idaho.
• Oscar Rojas, media consultant, KIFI.
• Ann Rydalch, former legislator, energy advocate, Bonneville County Heritage Association.
• Ken Taylor, certified public accountant, small business owner.
“We did not pick people in favor of this, we picked people that are in favor of our community,” Casper said. “I’m confident that will translate to some good strong recommendations that are made with integrity, not with an eye toward trying to hedge a bet for one outcome or the other.”
The panel will gather and review data from February to late May, and then will present a preliminary status report May 19 before releasing a final report July 30.
The research will be funded in part by $25,000 and $20,000 donations from the REDI Foundation and Idaho National Laboratory, respectively.
Sometime after the panel’s report is released, 1,000 signatures will need to be gathered before the proposal can make it to ballot.
Casper doesn’t expect the community college conversion to make ballot until after next fall.
In contrast to EITC’s current course offerings, a community college would place a greater emphasis on transfer degrees. Practically, that would mean more general education and remedial courses, intended to better prepare students for four-year universities.
“A community college education is a linchpin education; it’s a connecting kind of education,” Casper said. “It can be meaningful for individuals in our community, and you cannot transform a community and make it a better place unless you do it one person at a time.”
Reporter Kevin Trevellyan can be reached at 542-6762.
From the Idaho State Journal
By Stephanie Cook
I’d like to talk to you today about Melanie. She’s a junior at Marsh Valley High School. Or Century High School. Or Bear Lake. Or Snake River.
You see, though Melanie doesn’t actually exist, she is representative of thousands of students attending high schools in Southeast Idaho and throughout the state.
Times are tough, especially in small towns, and Melanie won’t be able to afford college without taking on a mountain of debt. Melanie doesn’t have four or five years to find her way. She needs to acquire skills quickly, attain on the job-training and find a permanent position — preferably one that pays a living wage and provides health insurance and retirement benefits.
Melanie needs our help. And the truth is that Idaho, its businesses and economy, needs Melanie. That’s why I’m so pleased the Idaho National Laboratory and a coalition of businesses, educators, local governments and economic development agencies in southeast Idaho have teamed up to make sure students such as Melanie have the information they need to create a bright future for themselves.
The creation of “Your Future in Technology” (Your FIT) was led by Bannock Development Corporation, Great Rift, 4 CASI Economic Development and Old Town Pocatello to inform students and their parents about the abundance of opportunity in technology-related fields.
We’re talking about jobs in welding, computerized machinery, instrumentation and controls technology, maintenance mechanics, nuclear operations, and informational, electrical and drone technology requiring only a two-year technical degree or certification.
The median hourly wage on these jobs ranges from $15.42 to $46.75 — annual salaries that begin at $32,064 and top out at $97,250.
Sound too good to be true? It’s not. Let me use INL to describe both need and opportunity.
Thirty percent of INL’s workforce is at least 50 years of age and approaching retirement. That “silver tsunami,” in combination with growing business volume, led to the lab hiring more than 500 new employees in 2015; INL can be expected to bring at least that many new employees in 2016.
These aren’t just the positions you normally associate with the lab— the folks in the white lab coats with advanced degrees from MIT in their pockets, or nuclear scientists and mechanical engineers. INL also needs skilled technicians who run our equipment and talented mechanics that maintain it and make repairs when breakdowns occur.
That’s one reason INL contributed a $22,410 grant to help develop Your FIT, donated seven tablets to be raffled and will participate in seven technical career fairs in participating counties to help get the word out about great jobs available to those with a two-year degree or certification.
Another reason INL is so enthusiastic about this project is the novel and creative approach taken by the local collaboration known as Your FIT.
These educators, industry leaders, economic development specialists and government officials understand the opportunities available to students in the region and are to be commended for pursuing an Idaho solution to one of our most pressing challenges.
We know that by 2018 — in two short years — 61 percent of jobs in Idaho will require a technical certificate or advanced degree and that only a third of our citizens will be qualified to fill them.
We know the Idaho Department of Labor projects a “workforce gap” of 91,400 by 2022. So it’s never been more important to feed the talent pipeline, to draw a straight line between education and employment.
That’s why former Idaho Department of Commerce Director Jeff Sayer urged lawmakers to focus on economic development and job training.
That’s why Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter created a budget that includes millions of dollars for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, career counseling and a tuition lock to get more students into higher education and keep them there.
That’s why INL is thrilled to be part of the Your FIT coalition. Yes, some of the students influenced by this effort will someday fill needed positions at the lab. Many, however, will not. They’ll return to their hometowns and work in technically related jobs, contribute to their communities, perhaps start a business, and raise their families.
And that’s something to celebrate because when Inkom prospers, we all prosper. When Moreland flourishes, we all flourish. When Pocatello thrives, we all thrive.
We’re all in this together. Together we will help businesses meet their workforce needs and offer students such as Melanie information they can use to create a bright future.
Stephanie Cook is the program manager for economic and workforce development at Idaho National Laboratory.
By The associated press
Dec 9, 2015 from the Idaho State Journal
BOISE (AP) — U.S. Department of Energy officials and an energy cooperative with members in eight states are negotiating a plan that could lead to the construction of small commercial nuclear reactors at an eastern Idaho federal nuclear site.
Officials with Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems said the 890-square-mile site containing the Idaho National Laboratory is their preferred choice for what are called small modular reactors.
“There is a lot of space, and the early indication is that there is water and there is good (power line) transmission,” said LaVarr Webb, company spokesman. “The local leaders seem to be supportive, and the (Department of Energy) also seems to be supportive.”
Webb said he expected the company and the federal agency in the next several months to sign a site-use permit, which he described as not a final decision, but a good-faith agreement to move ahead with locating the nuclear reactors at INL.
The company said if it decides to move forward with the small nuclear plants, they likely wouldn’t be operational before 2023.
The Energy Department on Wednesday confirmed that the area is being considered but offered no details. The agency contracts with Battelle Energy Alliance to run the Idaho National Laboratory.
“We’d certainly love to be the host” of the small modular reactors, said Todd Allen, the lab’s deputy director of science and technology. “If we can support small modular reactors, we’d be glad to do that.”
Oregon-based NuScale Power would build the reactors that can individually produce 50 megawatts. Additional reactors could be built as power demands grow, with up to 12 reactors producing 600 megawatts.
“A small modular reactor is not dissimilar to the small nuclear reactors that have been operating in our nuclear submarines for over 40 years,” NuScale Chief Commercial Officer Mike McGough said.
He said the small reactors are designed to be safer than conventional nuclear plants by being able to shut down without human involvement in the event of a disaster.
“The plant shuts itself down and cools itself off with no operator action and with no water and no source of electricity,” he said.
He said the company is in the process of completing an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the reactors. He described the application as a 12,000-page book that will undergo a 40-month review. If everything advances, work on the modules could begin before 2020.
The small reactors are less expensive, McGough said, than conventional nuclear reactors. The cost for 12 small modular reactors is about $3 billion, he noted, compared to about $15 billion for a conventional plant. Part of the cost savings comes from building the modular reactors at a factory and then trucking them to a location, he said.
Cost is a big concern for Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, said Webb, noting that the group is relatively small compared to larger power suppliers in the region. The city of Idaho Falls, just east of the Idaho National Laboratory, is one of its 45 members in eight Western states.
Because of the modular reactor design, he said the company could initially buy just a few of the reactors and then add more as power demand increases in future years. He said the company owns portions of several large coal plants with life cycles that end in 2025.
The company “is looking at, if all goes well and this goes forward, looking at replacing that coal electricity with the emission free, clean nuclear generated electricity,” Webb said.
Jan Rogers, the longtime executive director of the Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization, has accepted the position of CEO with the Regional Economic Development Corporation for East Idaho (REDI) effective Sept. 14.
Rogers’ move to eastern Idaho was first announced in a Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization news release.
Rogers has been with the Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization for 14 years and was instrumental in the success of the Twin Falls-based organization, which brought several smaller economic development agencies together in the Magic Valley.
The result of the combined efforts has been called the “Magic Valley Miracle” because its successes included landing food manufacturing giants such as Chobani and Clif Bar.
“Jan Rogers has been an outstanding executive director for the past 14 years, taking our region’s economic success to new heights,” said Mike Schutz, chairman of the organization’s executive board, in a news release. “We recognize the need for continued economic development leadership in southern Idaho and have already begun the process of launching an aggressive search for this position.”
REDI, an alliance between Bingham County and Bonneville County economic development organizations, is modeled in part on the Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization’s structure. It will seek to attract industry to the region.
“We are thrilled to have Jan Rogers join REDI as CEO,” said Park Price, president of REDI and chairman of Bank of Idaho, in a REDI news release. “She has an outstanding reputation in economic development and will provide exactly what REDI is looking for in regards to growing our region’s economy. We are confident she will be tremendously successful in promoting Eastern Idaho to businesses looking to expand or relocate.”
By LUKE RAMSETH
Two months after launching, eastern Idaho’s new-look economic development agency is taking shape.
The Regional Economic Development Corporation of Eastern Idaho, known as REDI, is the result of a merger of economic development agencies in Bonneville and Bingham counties. The new agency was announced in early April.
Last week, an executive board of directors was elected. This week, a search began in earnest for a permanent executive director. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of dollars in donations have poured in from several eastern Idaho businesses, interim executive director Darlene Gerry said Wednesday. It also has a website, redi4idaho.org.
“We’ve had a really warm reception,” Gerry said. “The private industry has stepped up.”
Informal talks between the two economic development groups, Bingham Economic Development Corp. and Grow Idaho Falls, began nearly two years ago. The original plan was to also include Bannock Development Corp. in the new entity.
But late last year Bannock County Commission members, along with the mayors of Pocatello and Chubbuck, rejected the merger idea, citing different interests and a unique market.
Bonneville and Bingham officials went ahead with the plan anyway. They pointed to recent economic success in the Magic Valley as a good reason to collaborate on economic development. A regional approach there brought in food manufacturers such as Chobani and Clif Bar.
Gerry said she hopes Bannock will join REDI eventually. Already it has some Bannock representatives on its boards, and the agency will keep the economic interests of other, smaller eastern Idaho counties in mind, too, she said.
“We’re going to market the entire region,” Gerry said.
REDI has a 23-member advisory board. Ten members are from Bonneville, 10 from Bingham, with two from Bannock County and one from Jefferson County.
The advisory board last week elected a seven-member executive board of directors.
The board president is Park Price, CEO, president and director of Bank of Idaho, and a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Salt Lake City branch. The vice president is R. Scott Reese, emergency management director at the Bingham County Sheriff’s Office.
Board members from Bingham County are Layne VanOrden, a partner in VanOrden, Lund & Cannon PLLC, and Dan Cravens, Southeast Idaho regional economist at the Idaho Department of Labor.
From Bonneville County are Teri TeNgaio, Teton District manager for Intermountain Gas Co. in Idaho Falls, and Kevin Koplin, a partner in Cooper Norman. The at-large director is Dan Ordyna, CEO of Portneuf Medical Center.
A separate five-member search committee, which includes Gerry, this week began narrowing a list of possible candidates for the REDI executive director job.
Gerry, who teaches part time at Idaho State University, said she is not interested in the job long-term.
After the search team narrows the candidates, REDI’s executive board will make the final call on a permanent leader later this summer, she said.
The agency partly will be funded with public money, contributed from both counties and several local cities. The rest of its roughly $450,000 annual budget comes from businesses.
Idaho Central Credit Union committed $20,000 each of the next three years. Melaleuca, Portneuf Medical Center and Mountain View Hospital each gave $15,000. Developer Ball Ventures also put in $5,000.
The agency, along with Bengal Solutions, an ISU-based consulting team, is in the early stages of gathering data and compiling a comprehensive economic report on the region.
It will identify the strongest industries and educational assets in the region. It also will try to identify all other possible attractions for a company moving here. Gerry said such a report will help develop branding and marketing materials for eastern Idaho, and target industries most likely to move here.
“It’s not just luring new businesses into the area,” Gerry said. “(The report is) going to assist us in working with businesses we have here, in helping them succeed and expand and stay in this area.”
Luke Ramseth can be reached at 542-6763. Twitter: @lramseth
By Kendra Evensen email@example.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.
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.
Posted: April 6, 2015 2:01 p.m. in the Post Register
By AUBREY WIEBER
SHELLEY — Two eastern Idaho counties have adopted a regional approach to economic development, and officials hope the rest of the region will soon join.
Bonneville County’s Grow Idaho Falls Inc. and Bingham Economic Development Corporation held a press conference Monday to announce a merger between the two, abandoning a lone-wolf approach of bringing in business in favor of a regional effort. Regional Economic Development Corporation of Eastern Idaho is aimed at expanding economic development throughout the region.
So far it’s a two-county operation, but all of eastern Idaho has been invited to join.
“We are looking to partner and work with all of the surrounding areas,” said Darlene Gerry, interim executive director.
A national search is under way for an executive director. Once hired, the director and board will hire staff and build a website.
Ann Riedesel, the former president of Grow Idaho Falls, has been working on the project since the beginning. She said the merger will change how businesses are recruited.
“If somebody needs a highly educated technical workforce, we’ve got it,” Riedesel said. “If somebody needs an industrial site with rail access, we’ve got it.”
A regional approach leads to smarter pitches by counties, while making it easier for businesses looking to relocate or expand, Riedesel said.
“It gives (site selectors) access to more information with fewer points of contact. It makes their job easier.”
Park Price, president of Bank of Idaho and board member of the Federal Reserve’s Salt Lake City branch, will help shape the regional effort.
One of Price’s duties will be lobbying other counties to join the ranks. Originally, the plan included Bannock County, but after an Oct. 29 meeting between city mayors from all three counties, Bannock dropped out.
Price said he is optimistic that Bannock County will eventually join.
“They wanted to see if what we were saying would really occur,” Price said. “So we are going to prove to them that this works.”
Price, former owner of the Park Price Motor Company in Pocatello, said selling cars up and down the valley taught him the power a regional effort can hold.
“There has always been silos (between eastern Idaho communities),” Price said. “Everybody felt they had distinct interests that were separate from everybody else, but in fact, they are not.”
The location of the press conference — Golden Valley Natural Foods, an under construction meat snack plant in Shelley — serves as an example of the type of work Regional Economic Development Corporation of Eastern Idaho hopes to do. While Golden Valley was a singular effort of Bingham Economic Development Corporation, the idea for similar projects will be easier to recruit with a regional approach. Golden Valley will bring an estimated total of 500 jobs to the area once completed.
Shelley Councilman Jeff Kelley said Bingham Economic Development Corporation was instrumental in bringing Golden Valley to eastern Idaho, being “a liaison between the city and company.”
Idaho Department of Labor Director Kenneth Edmunds said recruiting a business, such as Golden Valley, is an example of what can be achieved by strong economic development organizations, and that eastern Idaho is a “sleeping giant,” ripe for substantial economic growth.
Mark Young, member of the Idaho Economic Advisory Council, said Regional Economic Development Corporation of Eastern Idaho is only as powerful as the counties involved.
“The advantage will be as they become larger,” Young said. “The long term benefits are the most key, with (Idaho State University) and (Brigham Young University — Idaho) as the bookends and the Idaho National Laboratory and (Eastern Idaho Technical College) as some of the crown jewels right in the middle of the district.”
Park Price has been one of the key players in creating Regional Economic Development Corporation for Eastern Idaho. The group is comprised of Grow Idaho Falls Inc. and Bingham Economic Development Corporation and was formed to promote business in the region. Monte LaOrange / firstname.lastname@example.org
Local business leaders and politicians gathered at Golden Valley Natural Foods in Shelley on Monday morning for the announcement of the Regional Economic Development Corporation for Eastern Idaho. The new entity is a combination of Grow Idaho Falls Inc. and Bingham Economic Development Corporation. The goal is to promote economic development within the region. Monte LaOrange / email@example.com