How does Idaho recover?
Pocatello is suffering from a regional depression that has not been witnessed in other parts of the state. Idaho as a state is seeing and has been witnessing a serious negative growth in both median household income, per capita income, and population growth.
The negative growth has been in effect since the 1990s. Some people in economic advisory positions in the region blame this decline on such things as the housing bust in 2007-2008, and others blame recent political changes. However looking at the economic history, this decline has been obvious since the mid-1990s.
In the mid-1990s, Idaho ranked #37 for median household income. As of recent census statistics, as of 2013 Idaho now ranks #49 (some references show Idaho at #48 to be fair). Pocatello shows a lot of negatve growth factors as well.
Comparing the median income of Pocatello to the state, Pocatello is at $38,746, and the state median income is $46,783.
Figures released by the Idaho Department of Labor show that the Pocatello metropolitan area was one of only five metro areas in the state to lose population between 2012 and 2013. Bannock County’s population dropped a half percent as more than 1,100 people moved elsewhere in the state or nation.
With Pocatello being the home of ISU, and some of the major industrial corporations of the state, it seems unlikely that Pocatello would be most efected by this decline. But from the numbers, historically over the past 20 years, Pocatello has been hit the hardest by this decline.
After getting involved in commercial real estate in Pocatello with my company Deep Creek Enterprises LLC, I learned from other real estate investors that some of the blame can go to the failed Hoku solar panel factor that went bust in the area, leaving a lot of debt to be settled by a bankruptcy court.
Yet other real estate brokers and investors that I have spoken to, shine let on the major decline that was taking place long before the economic bust in 2007, and long before any hopes that the Hoku factory was coming to the area. Going back to an article written by AAron Hutchins on April 26th 2013 on Blind Bat News (blindbatnews.com), AAron points out the clear history of decline starting quoting his article “The economic decline can be traced to Simplot moving its corporate HQ from Chubbuck to Boise in 1998-99, and the city of Pocatello and county of Bannock refusing to go along with Union Pacific’s plan to make Pocatello the Pacific Northwest depot for their rail operations.”
I think it goes even further, with people in real estate not adjustinh to market demands in these economic struggles. Some people are asking too much for commercial real-estate leases, stifling business startups, and leaving a lot of vacant commercial real estate all over the city. As well as social struggles as currently 5 states that border Idaho (plus Canada) having legalized in some fashion for the use of marijuana/cannabis, and Idaho sticking to old failed social policies, choking out the younger population and immigration to the state. There are a lot of factors that are holding Idaho down. But one thing is clear, the state and the region is not recovering like it’s neighbors are.
By Ryan Thompson
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