In my recent Facebook survey, the number one issue in Bannock County was Economic Development. As you can see from the GDP chart below, we are in the top 10 counties in Idaho. But we have room to grow.
Economic Development covers a couple of different areas. First and foremost is helping existing businesses grow and expand their workforce. I am committed to helping our local businesses succeed and grow. As a Commissioner, the best way I can do that is through supporting organizations like Bannock Development, reducing regulations, and using tools the State provides.
The second area is recruiting new businesses to the area. I am also committed to finding businesses and industries that are a good fit for our area. That means finding companies that have similar values and appreciate what we have to offer.
For a long time, our County has seemingly resisted growth. But, the results of my issues survey would seem to indicate the County is ready to grow. We have a lot of great assets in the community that will help us grow. The Wellness Complex, Idaho State University, Lava Hot Springs are just a few of the things that make our community great.
A great tool to compare Bannock County to other counties is Gross Domestic Product or GDP. GDP is the value of goods and services produced within a county. As you can tell, by the chart below, we are in the top 10 GDP economies in the State.
We also compare favorably with other counties of similar size in the United States.
But the chart below is the one that concerns me. Our GDP growth is well below the national level and the level of similar-sized counties. One of the areas of concern is the County’s reliance on Government and Government Enterprises. We have to find ways to become more business-friendly and help the private sector grow. I want to find solutions to that problem.
One of the big issues we face is infrastructure. To prepare for growth we need to begin the discussion now about putting the necessary plans in place to support the growth. New sewer systems, gas lines, water, and roads are all things to consider in our planning. That will take all of our communities working together to make things work. We need leadership vision and the ability to bring people together.
We have a great place to live. Our lifestyle is second to none and our opportunities are incredible. I look forward to working toward preserving our quality of life, while helping grow our economy. A growing economy presents new opportunities to keep our children and grandchildren here, rather than have the move away looking for work.
We can do it.