Idaho Commerce & Labor Connections – January 2006

In This Issue :

* Symposium Will Look at Idaho’s Economy

* Idaho’s Unemployment Rate Hits a Record Low

* Commerce & Labor Outlines Legislative Agenda

* Governor Proposes Initiative to Improve State Parks

* Idaho is Nation’s Third Fastest-Growing State

* Cabela’s Announces Plans for New Idaho Store

* Mountain Home Receives $500,0000 Grant

* Roger B. Madsen: Building on Idaho’s Economic Success

* State, Regional Leaders to Meet on Rural Idaho’s Future

* State Advisory Councils to Meet

* Film Day at the Legislature

Idaho ‘s Future :

" Today’s changing work force demands employees with strong math and science skills. Approving standards to increase required math and science classes will go a long way toward ensuring a strong economic future for Idaho’s next generation."
— Roger B. Madsen, Idaho Commerce & Labor Director

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The Month’s Top Stories

Symposium will Look at Idaho’s Economy
Understanding the critical connection between the economy, employment and education will be the focus of the 2006 Idaho Economic Symposium in Boise on Tuesday, Jan. 31. The event, sponsored by Idaho Commerce & Labor with assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor, will be held at the Boise Centre on the Grove from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The symposium will include presentations from U.S. Department of Labor Deputy Assistant Secretary Mason Bishop and Ed Barlow, one of the nation’s leading futurists. Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne has also been invited to speak. R egistration is $45 per person, which includes lunch. Call 208-332-3570 ext. 3133 or visit to sign up.

Idaho’s Unemployment Rate Hits a Record Low Idaho’s unemployment rate for December and for 2005 are now at record lows. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December was 3.4 percent and the average annual unemployment rate for 2005 was 3.9 percent. The 2005 rate was the first time ever the state’s unemployment rate had dropped below 4 percent. The total number of people working in December reached a record high for a sixth straight month at 712,700. The number of unemployed workers dropped to 24,700, the lowest since July 1979. The job gains came even as the civilian labor force decreased 600 to 737,400.

Commerce & Labor Outlines Legislative Agenda
Expansion of Gov. Dirk Kempthorne’s Rural Idaho Initiative, extension of the state’s work force training incentive, additional funding for international trade efforts and increased support for the state’s campaign to secure more high-technology companies are the top priorities for Idaho Commerce & Labor during this winter’s legislative session. "Governor Kempthorne and the Legislature have invested in rural infrastructure, worker training and science and technology," Commerce & Labor Director Roger B. Madsen said. "We have made significant progress in expanding our economy, but the competition for new and expanding businesses is only intensifying and Idaho must keep up if we want our economy to stay ahead."

Governor Proposes Initiative to Improve State Parks
Governor Dirk Kempthorne is proposing to spend nearly $34.2 million for improvements at six state parks and for construction of a new Idaho state park. If approved by the Legislature, the "Experience Idaho" initiative would make improvements at Heyburn, Harriman, Ponderosa, Eagle Island, Billingsly Creek and Castle Rocks. A new park would also be built somewhere in eastern Idaho. "Any investment in our state parks is an investment that will pay big dividends," Kempthorne said in his State-of-the-State speech. "And it’s not just money we’re talking about – it’s memories, memories that will last for generations."

Idaho is Nation’s Third Fastest-Growing State
Idaho was the nation’s third fastest-growing state between 2004 and 2005, according to new U.S. Census Bureau population estimates released in late December. From July 1, 2004 to July 1, 2005, Idaho added 33,956 new residents – a 2.4 percent increase. Nevada grabbed the No. 1 spot with a 3.5 percent increase in population. Arizona was the second fastest-growing state. Florida and Utah were ranked fourth and fifth followed by Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, Delaware and Oregon. In the last year the United States population rose by 0.9 percent – 2.8 million people – to 296.4 million.

Cabela’s Announces Plans for New Idaho Store
Cabela’s Inc., one of the country’s largest outdoor gear companies, announced last month that it will open a new store in Boise. The 132,000-square-foot store is expected to bring 200 new jobs to the area. Idaho Commerce & Labor Director Roger B. Madsen said the company will make a significant impact on the area economy because Cabela’s stores traditionally draw additional businesses to the area and company officials are committed to purchasing from Idaho-based firms whenever possible. "Cabela’s ranks number one among its competitors for offering the best compensation and benefits to its full- and part-time employees," said Madsen. "More than 40 percent of the people they plan to hire will be full-time and management-level positions, and the payroll and benefits paid out are expected to reach $4.9 million during the store’s first year of operation."

Mountain Home Receives $500,000 Grant
Mountain Home has received a $500,000 Rural Community Block Grant to improve infrastructure for the proposed Marathon Cheese plant that is expected to create several hundred new jobs in the community. The $500,000 grant will be combined with other funding sources including nearly $800,000 in matching funds from Mountain Home to extend water, sewer and electric service to the Marathon Cheese site. City leaders expect the plant to encourage more industrial park development near the city’s municipal airport. The new $27 million plant will create 250 jobs initially with the potential of more than 500 jobs at full operation.

From Roger B. Madsen: Building on Idaho’s Economic Success
This year has been the best year yet in Idaho’s economic growth. Hundreds of new jobs have been created through the expansion of existing companies and the opening of new ones. The Governor, the legislators and our business owners and workers are doing a fantastic job in leading the way. Idaho exports are on track to exceed $3 billion for only the second time in Idaho history. Idaho’s unemployment rate is among the lowest in the nation and near the lowest level since current records have been kept. Idaho has many advantages – favorable business operating costs, an extremely high quality of life, a safe environment and a comparatively low cost of living. If you know of a company that wishes to relocate or expand, contact Wendi Secrist, 208-334-2650 ext. 2134, [email protected] .

State, Regional Leaders to Meet on Rural Idaho’s Future
Local government, business and civic leaders will meet with state officials over the next two months to lay out their visions and map a course for rural Idaho. A series of Rural Development Partner forums during February and March will give economic and community development professionals an opportunity to talk with other local and regional leaders as well as state officials about their priorities, accomplishments, challenges and the growth strategies that really work in rural Idaho. "Rural communities are beginning to see the benefits of Idaho’s robust economy," said Commerce & Labor Director Roger B. Madsen. "These forums offer a chance to expand on the ways our economic strength can be spread to every corner of the state." For a schedule of meetings visit

Calendar of Events

January 30: Advisory Council Meetings, Boise
The Economic Advisory Council, the Idaho Travel Council, Workforce Development Council, Science & Technology Advisory Council and the Idaho Rural Partnership will hold a joint meeting from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Boise Centre on The Grove.

February 14: Film Day at the Idaho Legislature, Boise
The Idaho Film Task Force is hosting a "Film Day" for the Idaho Legislature. The event will be held in the capitol and feature information about Idaho’s film industry. Numerous monitors will be set up airing Idaho productions. Dawn Wells, who serves on the task force, is expected to portray her character Mary Ann from "Gilligan’s Island" and will be available for photos and autographs. The goal of the event is to raise the awareness of Idaho’s film industry and to promote proposed incentives to bring more television and film production to the state.
Call or e-mail Ken Dey, editor, with questions or comments: 208-332-3570 ext. 3650 or ken.dey

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