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Eye On Boise

Wed., July 22, 2009, 8:27 a.m.

Gov. Otter: ‘More to hoo-rah than I thought’

Gov. Butch Otter has written another guest opinion touting Idaho businesses that are growing. "I planned on sharing just a few positive news items with you here," he wrote. "But as I looked around the state, I realized there was even more to hoo-rah than I thought." He highlights everything from stimulus-funded new jobs at the INL to Melaleuca's groundbreaking for a new manufacturing facility in Idaho Falls to a new Western States CAT facility in Hayden. Click below to read his full article, entitled, "Idaho business is on the move and growing." 


 By Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter

             Idaho’s economy is recovering. Businesses are growing. Jobs are being created.

            Yes, overall unemployment is up, sales receipts are down and we are keeping our budgets as tight as any responsible manager would.  But the bad news isn’t all the news. In fact, there are positive and promising signs in virtually every Idaho community.

            I planned on sharing just a few positive news items with you here. But as I looked around the state, I realized there was even more to hoo-rah than I thought.  I had a great response to my last column about positive news. So here are some more of the latest highlights.

            In eastern Idaho, more than 225 new jobs have been created at the Idaho National Laboratory by companies using federal stimulus money to cleanup decades-old buried waste. Not only that, but one of the companies also is able to retain more than 200 existing workers because of the project. The INL is important to Idaho’s economy far beyond its eastern Idaho home – including the $24 million in construction work that now is under way there.

            I love it when our own companies succeed and grow. Melaleuca in Idaho Falls just broke ground on a new $3.28 million manufacturing facility. About 120 new jobs are expected to be created there over the next few years.  And new construction work is having an immediate impact, helping contractors and their employees and subcontractors.

            Northern Idaho also is on the move. A new $10 million Western States CAT facility just opened in Hayden, and it’s good to see they also have plenty of room for expansion. BioLife Plasma Services just broke ground for a 15,000-square-foot center in Hayden and will hire 25 to 50 employees. And Unicep Packaging in Sandpoint has a new contract to provide packaging for the giant pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline. Unicep, an Idaho startup, has increased the number of its employees by 50 percent over the last couple of years and now employs 150 people.

            Boise’s Exergy Development is building 152 wind turbines for 14 wind parks in southern Idaho, creating more than 275 construction jobs and ultimately 22 permanent jobs. Last month I was there as Meridian launched a business area it calls The CORE, a health sciences and technology corridor that employs more than 3,000 Idahoans. The area is anchored by St. Luke’s and Blue Cross of Idaho, and that area is buzzing with construction work right now.

            Federal stimulus dollars are heading around the state to four different woody biomass projects – a total of $9.75 million going to Adams, Gem, Boise and Ada counties. That will help us keep dozens of jobs in those rural areas. And last month, Premier Technology broke ground for two new manufacturing buildings at its headquarters in Blackfoot, continuing its rapid growth. Premier has doubled its size in less than three years, now with more than 350 employees and hiring 30 more.  This month, I joined community leaders in breaking ground on the new High Country Business Park in Mackay, with Premier Technology as an anchor tenant.

            Finally, you should know that Idaho is fundamentally one of the healthiest states in the country. Because state law requires a balanced budget, we are in much better shape than many states these days. Idaho has the equivalent of the top AAA credit rating. This kind of governmental stability and fiscal responsibility is important to companies and our citizens. There will be no IOUs issued here.

            Yes, we still have our challenges. But we’re working every day to overcome them. In the meantime, I want you to know that good things are happening in your communities, all throughout Idaho.


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News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.