Things have improved in Idaho since the depths of the Great Recession. But in spite of this, many indicators point to continued economic stress on Idaho families:
--Idaho average wages are worst in the United States
--More Idaho kids live in poverty than in years past
--More minimum wage jobs--Only Tennessee has a higher percentage than Idaho. We are ranked 50 of 51.
Good jobs and business growth depend on a number of factors. First in most people's mind is usually low taxes. But more important than low tax rate (especially if state revenue cannot meet other needs) is a stable, predictable tax structure so that employers can project with some clarity the future and allow them to build an effective business plan.
Equally important, especially for the 21st century economy, is the educated and skilled workforce. The rest of the world is developing the technology-savvy workers international markets require for successful products. Good public schools, community colleges and universities, affordable and with the capacity to meet workforce development needs, is essential. Better integration of the skill sets our education system produces with the needs of our businesses is important.
Attractive communities that make it a pleasure to keep your family in Idaho are also important. Often referred to as "quality of life", this includes recreation opportunities but also vibrant cities and towns. That means re-investing in the municipal infrastructure and services that families and businesses require. The telecommunications infrastructure and the system of roads and rails are other important factors for businesses. Who would look twice at a locating a business somewhere without good road access or robust cell and broadband service?
Finally, expanding business and making more jobs requires the availability of credit or equity financing, especially difficult for smaller businesses right now. We need support for start-ups and small /medium business financing programs. Economic development often is viewed as attracting a big employer to move in. Those "home runs" are rare. Most job growth comes from existing companies, and having the telecom and transportation, the workforce and attractive communities, as well as a transparent and stable tax system, will help us grow good jobs.