Written by Ashley Hull
By: Brent Tolman
Mini-Cassia Economic Development Commission
The statement "A rising tide floats all boats" has been attributed to a number of individuals. While we could debate the origin of this statement for hours on end, the statement is true. I heard a definition of economic development several years ago that has stayed with me since – Economic Development is about the business of increasing a community's standard of living.
As we have recruited a number of new businesses to the area and have worked with many more that haven't come, the Economic Development Commission has always considered quality as part of the equation – quality of the business, quality of workforce required and impact on our quality of life. There have been several opportunities that have not aligned with the cultural aspects of our community. And while they would have certainly created jobs, they were not the type of jobs we are trying to attract and create.
When the JR Simplot Company announced they would close the Heyburn facility, there was a lot of dismay and concern that we would feel its effect for many years to come. While there certainly have been some impacts on individuals in our community but I feel we weathered that storm fairly well and we will continue to weather the storms that come our way.
So what does all this mean to our area in today's economy?
Employment numbers released on March 12 shows that the Mini-Cassia area is weathering this downturn better than most areas of the state. I am often asked how we can be doing better when the unemployment rate is higher than it was a year ago. After all, the unemployment rate went from 4.5% in February 2009 to 6.8% in February 2010. While this is true, it is due to a higher number of individuals looking for work this year compared to last – 19,465 compared to 21,213. However, final numbers from February 2009 showed a total of 18,598 individuals employed compared to 19,768 in February 2010 – an increase of 1170.
Only ten counties in Idaho posted positive changes in the number of employed year over year. We were two of those counties with only one county posting higher growth. Of the ten statistical areas in Idaho the Burley MicSA has the lowest unemployment rate and largest positive growth in the number of employed individuals.Am I looking through rose-colored glasses or burying my head in the sand? No, but in this day of so much negativity, I felt that sharing a positive change might brighten someone's day.