Idaho rising - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Idaho rising

Kootenai had fewest lost jobs, sees growth since Jan. 1

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Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 10:01 am, Fri Dec 10, 2010.

COEUR d'ALENE - Jobs Plus is riding out the recession.

And through its help, so is Kootenai County.

The economic development organization recruited five new companies to the county last year, President Steve Griffitts said Tuesday at the organization's annual luncheon.

Yet with the accompanying loss of two companies and layoffs throughout member businesses, he reported 5,071 jobs among Jobs Plus companies in 2009, which were 123 fewer than the year before - the first net loss in the organization's 23-year history.

"That's 123 families adversely affected, and my job is to positively affect 10,000," said Griffitts, speaking to more than 250 elected officials, business representatives and Jobs Plus members in a Coeur d'Alene Resort ballroom. "So I didn't do my job last year."

Griffitts pointed out that the county has still seen some silver lining, with 98 percent of jobs maintained among member companies in 2009, as well as roughly 170 new jobs created so far this year.

"We retained 98 percent of the workforce in one of the most difficult economic conditions in our nation," he said, adding that Kootenai County has seen the least job loss in the state of Idaho. "We had to figure out what needed to be done then partner to accomplish that."

The corporation has already recruited a few new companies to the county this year, he said.

"We're grateful that we continue to find success," he said.

Griffitts also spoke of his optimism that the area will continue to churn out an attractive workforce thanks to the KTEC (Kootenai Technical Education Campus) levy that, if approved in August, will finance a joint professional-technical high school on the Rathdrum Prairie. He added that companies will continue to relocate here because of the quality of life.

Companies recruited by Jobs Plus in Kootenai County have paid more than $45 million in real and personal property tax over the organization's 23 years, he said. He asked the audience if it was a good investment.

"Our budget is $300,000 a year," Griffitts said. "You do the math."

The event's keynote speaker, Gov. Butch Otter, lauded how Idaho is one of five states in the nation that balanced its budget without having to raise taxes.

The governor's office has tried to use that to bring in new businesses to Idaho, he said, by contacting companies in states like Oregon and Washington where taxes were bumped up.

"We wrote them a love letter," Otter said. "We let them know we're not going to raise taxes; we're going to live within your means."

What communities those companies end up migrating to, however, is up to entities like Jobs Plus, he said.

"They decide what kind of corporate opportunity they want in their community," Otter said. "I don't decide that. That's not my job."

He emphasized the role businesses play in the state government's plans to increase Idaho's GDP from $51 billion to $60 billion, particularly in revenue produced by the growth of companies already in the state.

But Otter cautioned businesses not to expect employment to shoot back up anytime soon.

"Be careful. Don't be fooled because production is going up and expect employment is going to follow," he said. "It's going to lag a little."

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  • sharetheplanet posted at 9:27 am on Mon, May 17, 2010.

    sharetheplanet Posts: 809

    Gunna have to agree with NIN on this one. North Idaho is full of employers that skirt the law ------ because they can.

    There was a resturant owner downtown that paid minimum wage PLUS tips and he was boycotted out of business. That is the NI way.

  • idaho native posted at 9:23 pm on Wed, May 12, 2010.

    idaho native Posts: 551

    the declaration states: """"That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it""""""""".


    BUTCH: i'd like to keep YOU and you"R" ILK......out of MY life!

  • northidahonative posted at 4:49 pm on Wed, May 12, 2010.

    northidahonative Posts: 1157

    dont like minimum wage/$8/hr paying jobs or companies? then start your own business and pay the employees $20/hr.>>>

    I already did that, my guys started at $15, the experienced at $20+.

    Idaho is 42nd in per capita income, luckily we have Mississippi and some other Red States or we'd be 50th, 42nd yet our Cost of Living is above the National Average.

    Jobs Plus has told companies that planned on paying $15 an hour that they wouldn't need to do so here, and if they did it would be unfair to the other employers. Remember all the hype in the Press about Buck Knives? Jobs paying $15+ an hour is what both the Press and Jobs Plus told everyone, what was the real wage after Buck tlaked to Jobs Plus? Minimum wage. Go back a few more years to when Harper Furniture was coming to Post Falls, same hype, same $15+ jobs, until they got here, then it was minimum wage and not enough hours a week to have to pay benefits to their employees.

    There is Price Fixing which is illegal, then there's Wage Fixing which is the Idaho way of doing business.

    RadRev mentioned Washington State, Seattle is rated as one of the best places for business in the U.S., waitresses in Washington make Washington minimum wage plus Tips, here in Idaho they make $3.39 plus tips and yet the menu items in "Chain" restaurants like the Outback for example are the same in both CDA and Spokane.......who's pocketing that extra $5+ an hour?

    The same goes for most other businesses, wages are low here but the prices are the same or often times higher in Idaho than just across the border in Spokane.

    GW Bush campaigned back in 00' on the Idea of Free Trade and "Leveling the Playing Field" with countries like China, Bush and his bosses in Big Business did well promoting that policy, wages in China grew, and wages in the U.S. dropped, along with the loss of millions of American Jobs which went to China as part of Big Business's "Leveling".

    More Jobs, More Pay, not in Idaho where businesses and groups like Jobs Plus conspire to keep wage low. The worst thing that has happened to Idahoans in the last Century was passing the Right to Work Bill, if you adjust for inflation the average Idaho wage is lower now than it was on the day that piece of cr*p"junk" Bill was signed into law. Back in the early 70's manufacturing jobs here were paying around $4 an hour, now 40 years later they pay $8 and "conservatives" call that growth.

  • RadRevD posted at 11:31 am on Wed, May 12, 2010.

    RadRevD Posts: 3333

    it's odd that Washington businesses survive and some thrive being forced to pay higher minimum wages. Even more ironic is the exodus of families from Idaho for cheaper housing in Spokane despite commuting expense.

    Idaho has bragged about having the lowest U/C & W/C taxes for some time. As companies are enticed to relocate, a tension surfaces whether additional perks are needed? Companies are abandoning California where only 35% of the population pays income taxes. The burden to support an entitled population falls upon business and their backs are being broken. Let's welcome them with open arms, lower cost of doing business, while expecting them to maintain employee compensations at 80% of their past average.

    There is a problem with that expectation: Permanent jobs that pay more will draw quality workforce away from our seasonal businesses that can afford only unlivable wages and no benefits. North Idaho deserves a change in strategy where employees engaged in supporting tourist needs have corollary assignments with the same employer during not peak times.

  • milburnschmidt posted at 8:41 am on Wed, May 12, 2010.

    milburnschmidt Posts: 1161

    Those eight dollar a hour jobs take back the usa derides are a stepping stone and a encouragement for those folks to do better. Perhaps that writer feels the unemployed would be better off staying on unemployment compensation indefinetly or living off Mom and Dad. If job growth continues some of those jobs will increase the wages some will not. At least those $8.00 a hour jobs will give some folks some money to spend which will help get us moving. Crummy paying jobs are the best incentive to improve yourself for those that are motivated. Others are satisfied to barely get by with a little help from family and govt handouts.Anything that keeps jobs here cant be to bad.

  • Twin Lakes Redneck posted at 8:35 am on Wed, May 12, 2010.

    Twin Lakes Redneck Posts: 103

    @ northidahonative and takebacktheUSA....

    dont like minimum wage/$8/hr paying jobs or companies? then start your own business and pay the employees $20/hr...

    this is America and you are free to do that...

  • northidahonative posted at 7:53 am on Wed, May 12, 2010.

    northidahonative Posts: 1157

    Is Jobs Plus still recruiting companies by telling them they only need to pay their workers minimum wage and no benefits instead of the wage they paid their employees before they moved here? After all, according to Jobs Plus, paying anything more would not be fair to the businesses which are already here.

    Why move your company to Mexico when you can accomplish the same labor savings by moving it to North Idaho?

  • Tim Herzog posted at 6:13 am on Wed, May 12, 2010.

    Tim Herzog Posts: 353


    I read your comments often and this morning you weighed in 3 or 4 times and have nothing good to say but CRITICISM. You need to get a life. Making negative comments and hiding behind an alias must make you feel like a real man...or maybe you a girlie man!

  • TakeBackTheUSA posted at 5:14 am on Wed, May 12, 2010.

    TakeBackTheUSA Posts: 765

    Ok, everybody, all together now. HOORAY for all the $8/hr jobs in Kootenai county ... YAYYYYYYYY !!!!

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