Idaho Economic Developers Want Employer Incentive Fund

State lawmakers need to create a $5- to $10-million fund that could be used to entice high-paying employers to the state by rewarding them with incentive packages, Idaho economic developers said.

The Boise Valley Economic Partnership, the business-recruitment arm of the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, is talking with the Idaho Department of Commerce and economic developers around the state to push lawmakers in the 2012 legislative session to create such a fund.

Clark Krause of the Boise Valley Economic Partnership tells the Idaho Statesman that the fund would increase the state’s attractiveness to potential employers.

The state doesn’t have to go overboard in handing out incentives, but could benefit from “thoughtful, well-rounded incentives that at least let us be competitive,” Krause said.

Idaho does have an incentive program in the Workforce Development Training fund, which since 1996 has paid out $37 million to train 26,000 workers.

Economic developers say Idaho has a well-educated workforce, good electric power rates and a good lifestyle, but sometimes loses out in the final decision made by potential employers because of a lack of incentives.

Still, in difficult economic times creating a fund for employer incentives could be difficult.

“I just don’t know that we are going to have the funds this year to actually do it,” said Rep. Darrell Bolz, R-Caldwell, vice chairman of the Legislature’s budget committee. “The issues I hear a lot of people talking about are primarily dealing with public schools, education and possibly replenishing some of the rainy-day accounts.”