Rexburg has become the latest city to sign on with an economic development organization focused on regional growth.
City officials announced Monday that they are joining forces with Regional Economic Development for Eastern Idaho (REDI), which works with Bonneville and Bingham counties as well as the cities of Idaho Falls, Ammon, Ucon, Blackfoot and Shelley.
Rexburg Mayor Jerry Merrill said they already have a good economic development team and chamber of commerce, but they think adding REDI to the mix will help them to accomplish even more. That’s why they’ve committed to give $10,000 to the organization.
“It’s a good investment to expand our reach,” Merrill said.
Park Price, who chairs REDI’s Executive Board of Directors, says Rexburg has a lot of potential for growth and a great workforce, including many Brigham Young University-Idaho students who have the second-language skills companies are looking for.
Price said he’s excited to have Rexburg join REDI, which will formally give the city a say in future plans.
“(This is an) outstanding move for both Rexburg and REDI,” Price said.
These days, companies are looking for one place where they can go to learn about the area, available incentives and workforce development opportunities, Price said. REDI is trying to provide that for East Idaho.
And it appears to be working.
Last year, REDI followed up on 20 leads, 18 of which came directly to REDI, Price said.
As a region, Eastern Idaho has a lot to offer, including access to numerous educational facilities. These include Idaho State University, Brigham Young University-Idaho, Eastern Idaho Technical College, University Place and the Center for Advanced Energy Studies.
And Price says the broad group of communities working with REDI helps the organization to provide some great locations for interested businesses.
Merrill says Rexburg has been singled out in the past for its safe environment and high graduation and go-on rates. In addition, he noted that companies have been impressed by the quality of applicants in the area.
Rexburg is also close to outdoors hotspots like the St. Anthony Sand Dunes and Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks.
“We’re right in the middle of paradise for outdoor enthusiasts,” Merrill said.
The community has also proven that it can draw customers who live a couple hours away. Merrill said people come from as far as Montana and Wyoming to shop at the new Wal-Mart in town.
Price says REDI has identified an innovation corridor that runs from Rexburg on the north to Pocatello on the south.
Bannock County, Chubbuck and Pocatello have not signed on with the organization. But John Regetz, executive director of the Bannock Development Corporation, said they still do some collaborating.
Price said they hope to one day bring everyone together in the effort.
He believes Eastern Idaho has a lot to offer to businesses.
“We just need to get the word out and that’s what we’re doing,” Price said.