Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has been pushing his “Project 60” – designed to raise Idaho’s gross domestic product from its $51.7 billion a year level when Otter took office in 2007 to at least $60 billion – for the past five years. Now, he says, that goal has been met and surpassed. “This last year, third quarter, we hit Project 60, a little bit ahead of where I thought we would be, but I’m very happy – we’re not going back,” Otter said today. Now, he said, he’s announcing “the next step,” a plan he dubbed “Accelerate Idaho.”
Instead of a numerical goal, Otter said the new push will be to “elevate the state’s foundation for growth,” from enhancing education to reducing regulation to addressing infrastructure. Otter said the success of this new venture will be measured both in GDP growth and in improving Idaho’s wages, which now rank near the bottom in the nation. Otter said he’d like to see “our individual income grow to at least on par with the national average,” and said, “I think it has to do with what’s our unemployment rate going to be then and what’s the average wage in the state of Idaho.”
State Commerce Director Jeff Sayer said “K-through-career” education is key to the plan. When he talks with businesses, he said, “The single biggest limiting factor in their ability to grow is they need skilled talent.” What’s needed, he said, is “creating those talent pipelines that Idaho industries need, and the essence of that ... comes down to linking our higher education institutions with our industry needs in fixing that gap. … That is the single most important thing we need to do to move our economy forward, is fixing that gap. And the encouraging part in all of this is this is already happening. We have examples all around the state of universities and community colleges who have figured this out,” establishing education programs that address specific local industry needs.
Sayer said the idea of “Accelerate Idaho” is to speed up the pace of improvements already in the works; he also announced new “tools” the state will provide for businesses looking to expand or move to the state, including a “Governor’s Rapid Response Team” and a new web platform for site selectors. Click below for Otter’s full announcement.
“Almost five years ago, we established a specific benchmark for creating jobs and growing the state’s economy, and I’m thrilled that we’ve achieved that goal despite weathering some of the toughest economic times in memory,” the governor said. “Accelerate Idaho is our strategy for ensuring that Idaho is the right place for employers to expand or relocate. The goal is more career opportunities for Idahoans.”
C.L. “Butch” Otter
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 1, 2014
GOVERNOR OTTER ANNOUNCES ACCELERATE IDAHO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE
(BOISE) – Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter officially launched his “Accelerate Idaho” initiative today, announcing how the State will engage local communities and private industry in helping to make Idaho a national and global leader in economic growth and prosperity.
Accelerate Idaho is the next step for Idaho’s economy on the heels of achieving the goal of Project 60. Established in 2009 – in the midst of the Great Recession – Project 60 was aimed at growing Idaho’s gross domestic product from $51.5 billion a year when Governor Otter took office in 2007 to at least $60 billion. As of the fourth quarter of 2013, Idaho’s total economic activity achieved the $60 billion-a-year pace and is forecasted to reach $62 billion in 2014.
“Almost five years ago, we established a specific benchmark for creating jobs and growing the state’s economy, and I’m thrilled that we’ve achieved that goal despite weathering some of the toughest economic times in memory,” Governor Otter said. “Across the nation, people are looking to Idaho as a state that’s focused on meeting the needs of business. Accelerate Idaho is our strategy for ensuring that Idaho is the right place for employers looking to expand or relocate. The goal is more career opportunities for Idahoans.”
Accelerate Idaho is a three-point strategy focused on elevating the state’s foundation for growth by:
· Advancing Individuals – engineering talent pipelines, cultivating K-though-Career, and expanding high quality jobs;
· Elevating Industry – energizing existing industries, empowering business opportunities, and invigorating innovation and research; and
· Strengthening Communities – inspiring community vitality, developing infrastructure solutions, galvanizing regional collaboration.
Under the leadership of Idaho Department of Commerce Director Jeffery Sayer and other State agency partners, each Accelerate Idaho strategy is complemented by series of specific tactics designed to propel each area forward simultaneously.
Accelerate Idaho also includes several new tools, including the Governor’s Rapid Response Team that is a “one-stop shop” representing nine State agencies that are often directly involved in business expansion projects. One of Idaho’s greatest assets is its ability to remove red tape and “move at the speed of business,” and the Rapid Response Team is intended to accelerate customer service through a formalized partnership that responds to business needs quickly and efficiently.
Another important tool that is part of Accelerate Idaho is “bluebird,” a new application designed for site selectors, commercial realtors, and economic development professionals that facilitates streamlined sharing of information about Idaho’s incentives, grants, business cost comparisons, and more. With bluebird, businesses, entrepreneurs and investors can access a secure Web platform containing a library of economic development materials to aid in site selection decisions.
For additional details about Accelerate Idaho, visit: http://accelerate.idaho.gov/.