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Twin Falls, Gooding, Jerome, ID, and Regional Economic Outlook for 2005
Twin Falls Economic Report done by me; Twin Falls, ID has potential for additional car washes, Detail Centers and mobile washing units. Twin Falls has enough water in their reservoirs to make it through the Summer for farmers and agriculture industries. Mike BuRec said recently that even if this winter has a snow pack of 20 feet we will not be back to normal levels. American Falls is at only 14% capacity. Palisades is at 12% and Jackson Lake is at 65%, but remember fires take water too. Water in the rivers and reservoirs is important for many reasons, and realize that 2/3 of all fresh trout worldwide come from Magic Valley South Central Idaho and Snake River. The Shoshone Falls are 212 feet high,
higher than Niagara Falls and has often been called the Niagara Falls of the West. If water situations get too bad and not adequate snow pack in 03-04. We had heard of talk from David McAlindin of the City of Twin Falls Economic Development Dept.
that he felt comfortable that the water situation is safe and supply good for businesses. They are working hard to help diversify the industries and recruit non-agriculture, cleaner industries. The region grows all kinds of important food items. Sugar Beets, Potatoes, Dairy, Alphalfa, Sheep, Beef, Hay, Grain, Wine, Beans, Wheat, barley, Sweet Corn, Grass Seed, Oats. They need the water. The supply is said to be better than was predicted or feared and that there is more than enough for summer, but this leaves little to spare in case of a mild winter.
The water supply contains arsenic, from natural erosion and also from previous chip manufacturing, Barium, Chromium, Fluoride and Nitrate from excessive fertilizer run off. These are at present levels not in violation, but the NPDES permitting is going into harsher BMPs and enforcement and has caused a few companies, which do food processing to be unable to get permits, costing future jobs; Glandia Foods, Inc. in Gooding.
The local Senators are working on Ethanol to help out and that initiative could be great for ID. McDonalds has been hit by economy and adverse PR from that Bull shit law suit in Canada about people getting fat from eating at Mickey Ds. Recently McDonalds has also called for lessening of Antibiotics, steroids and other growth hormones, which is a little bit of an issue for farmers, since right now with the Beef, Mad Cow, moratorium in Canada some of those cattle come from ID as well as the milk and ID is a huge Dairy State in the Southern area. Learn about the importance of the Dairy industry in the US and in Southern ID;
Also hurt by the economy and fewer people going out to eat at QSRs, Restaurants are Kraft Foods, McCain Foods (125 people laid off), J.R. Simplot, which closed the Heyburn potato plant and laid off another 50 people at another processing plant. These companies collectively laying off a total of 600 people in the region. Also blamed are the war in Iraq and lessened travel. Paper is a big water user also and Boise Cascade has had other issues with economic issues. Dairy is up about 6-10% over the last year why? Could it be the increase in Starbucks (6000 plus locations) and the crème and milk in the Frappachinos using milk? Yes some is. Also of worry is the NM Case law regarding the minnows and Rio Grande and Heron reservoir, such an issue with low water levels in Idaho would be the same as the Sarbain Oxley issues in the Corporate World, it would be catastrophic for agriculture in South Central Idaho. But all in all things have been good and have had a net gain even with the bad news. Dell has hired 700 people in nine months in Twin Falls. Also hiring have been Home Depot. We talked to a fiber optic multi-plex line installer who could not seem to get a job in his profession and therefore Home Depot gave him a lower level job at $12.00 per hour.
A waste of brain capacity no doubt but certainly enough to live with the cost of living in Twin Falls which is low due to power and water prices really inexpensive. Twin Falls, Jerome and Gooding had substantial growth in housing. One thing that may hurt the area is the move to try to get seniors out of their cars. Elderly are super worried about losing their drivers licensing, it can be a traumatic experience rivaling a lost loved one, meaning their freedom is gone, some would rather just die, it is that serious as I have discussed with many seasoned seniors. They will not be moving into the Gooding Golf Course areas if this persists. But the area is growing. A few of the outskirt cities are not fairing as well. Burley had a recent "Crazy Days" and Regatta Jet Boat Races, which is a good tourist draw to help locals, non-profits and retailers. All in all we saw a lot of good stuff; ISU-Idaho State University is putting in a 50K dollar nursing facility. Which will employ many people. Solo Cup employed an additional 68 people after earlier in the year laying off 100 people. West Farm added 27 people. Davisco hired 10 workers on Monday. Hamilton Manufacturing is hiring 30 additional workers, but they may have a power problem if prices increase?
Teton Wireless is setting up Satellite to WiFi high speed Internet Networks with points throughout the area to help increase the clean industry companies to the area. Kodiak Northwest has got a new snow-removal innovation. And we found many interesting as heck micro market niche manufacturers such as; Golf Swing Aids, Spider Cultivator, Beet Pulp Cattle feed, Plastic Calf Cottages, Yo-yos (seriously, that's where they make em'), Dome Awnings for homes, Fish Pumps, Basque Smoked Chorizo Sausage (and it is good too), Foam Boxes for Fish, Baler Twine, etc. So there are some strong niches that are helping the area. The Sea Food industry has had a bit of discounting due to the slowing in restaurants, but the Sushi is not any fresher lately. This has hurt the Fresh Trout industry, trout are in nearly all rivers and lakes in ID as well as those, which process the fish in the area. The Local Chamber of Commerce in Twin Falls had done a tremendous job in their recent Hot August Night non-profit fair, where they auctioned a Jeep off, as they profiled local businesses. The Chamber cares about local small businesses. Alamlgated Sugar is buying more 129,000 pound trucks. S and G Produce is Building Warehouses and expanding, over 10% of all the worlds sugar comes from Southern ID. Sugar Beets grow extremely well in ID, better than most anywhere. Gooding also gets in on the non-profit community efforts with events such as the huge "Spuds Festivals." Wendell and Jerome has had much growth along I-84 than the towns like Buhl, Filer, Castleford, Hagerman.
One issue hurting the region is the Beef import Taxes by the Japanese and things might get tough and they are worried about Mad Cow if it comes to the US. We Japan to knock that off right now and possibly increase tariffs on something they sell us. Meanwhile lots of debate on the WTO issues of genetically modified crops. Super Corn is a good deal for the world. These issues with genetically modified foods and possibly modifying wild weeds into killer weeds is not a good debate since we are talking about corn, not mountain grown Sun Flowers, Pumpkins, Squash, Blue Berries, Cranberry which is grown near native vegetations. We are not talking about rice. They are already growing it all over the world anyway. And we have already modified crops of all types by cross breeding, same thing just slower in number of generations. Hell we modify people the same way by our own "Melting Pot." Mixing Asian, Hispanic and Middle Easterners in Los Angeles? What's the difference, Arthur C Clark predicts in his book "3001" we will all be looking quite Asian, which is probably correct seeing as this is how things are going with 3.5 Billion Chinese? The EU and 15 nations are developing criteria and it will probably be where people or consumers have a choice and we will see what they buy? Guaranteed genetically modified will win, people like full fresh looking vegetables and fruit. These issues are putting things in Southern ID at a wait and see point and causing issues with capitalization.
Even so Twin Falls area has had a net gain in jobs, which are non-agriculture. 3750 people went back to work and 3440 lost their jobs in 2003 net gain of 210. It is a slow go, but things are picking up. The increase is mostly due to growth and construction, most of which is box stores in the Twin Falls and the new home construction in Jerome and Gooding. In Pocatello the steel plant laid off 40 people and we are seeing this throughout the North West; Steel Plant Closes in OR.
We are noticing some good downtown renovation on Main street in Twin Falls. On the "Messer Block" they won an award for dedication to Historic preservation. As you know we are excited to see downtown areas revitalize and bring people back to the community and a place to talk and the attitude of hometown meetings seems to be done in conversations with locals and therefore more power to the people and more reasonable and less linear decision making like in the suburbs.
There is a bit of a drug problem there which ranges from 18-40 and has to do with Crystal Meth. But they seem to have a handle on it with a new drug court program to get people o break the addictions, which seems to be working and gets people back to work. Fairly good success rate and better than prisons which is also a big employer outside of Boise area. 86% of the people in that program where between 21-40 and were there for substance abuses with Meth. Others include Weed, LSD, Heroin, Mushrooms, Cocaine, Ecstasy and three time drunk drivers. One person interviewed by the local newspaper said he had a construction job and was back on the right track. Downtown Twin Falls is a bummer to navigate if you are new to the area because if you are looking for a location on Second and Second Street, it could be one of seven corners? Ouch. Even the older locals laughed when the city council wanted to therefore change all the names after the founding fathers of the town and current city leadership? Typical. Either way it is a tough deal, luckily the diagonal streets are not in abundance. Twin Falls has 64,000 population, Jerome 18,400, Gooding 14,000. .
Many cities such as Burley, Burl and others in the area have a zero or negative growth rate. Twin Falls 1.9%, Jerome 1%, Gooding hard to say, guessing 1.6%. The jobs in the area seem to be Retail, services, Farm and Ag and then Professional in that order. White people make up 89%, and the population is just slightly older than in Nampa or Boise and more similar to Lewiston and Pocatello; 45-65 age groups make up 20.9% of population. We also found Carl's Pressure Washing Supplies in Idaho Falls a superb vendor for assistance and a Landa Steam Cleaner Dealer also.
As far as tourism the Falls are worth seeing and draw in some 530,000 visitors to stay for the day and spend money each year. The major employers we found were The Sugar company with 425 people and growing (literally), Circle A Construction 325, Clear Springs foods 430, Dell 700, Independent Meat 216, Glandia Foods 430, Jerome Cheese 150, Lamb Weston 850, Magic Valley Medical Center 1115, Seastrom Manufacturing 170, Seneca Foods 200, Spears 275, Solo Cup 115. All in all the area has the employment base to drive a strong middle class as this economy continues its climb to a rebounding and strong pounding recovery.
"Lance Winslow" - If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; www.WorldThinkTank.net/wttbbs
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