From Idaho Investment Guide 2017

Tied to the Land


From Simplot to Albertsons, Idaho’s economic future is linked with its rich past.


The more you get to know Idaho, the more you appreciate the connection between its historical heritage and its economic fortunes of today and the future.

If there is one thread that ties together this fabric of economic connectivity, it is the fiber of the land itself. The roots of Idaho’s economic strength run deep, but most of them are still anchored firmly to the natural resources of timber, agriculture, water and the mountains.

Even the newer tech-centered hot spots of Boise and Nampa owe much of their prosperity to the fact that their highly educated workers choose to live there to be close to nature.

Legacy industries like J.R. Simplot and Albertsons continue to invest heavily into Idaho’s workforce and the state’s future. Simplot’s JUMP facility in Boise and Albertsons Companies’ headquarters expansion in Boise exemplify this tradition.

Simplot, one of the largest privately held food and agribusiness companies in the nation, dates back to 1929 when then 20-year-old J.R. Simplot founded the company near the small farming community of Declo in south central Idaho.

Now headquartered in Boise, Simplot recently undertook its biggest investment ever in Idaho with the creation of a new 55-acre park, new corporate headquarters and a unique learning, events and gathering venue called Jack’s Urban Meeting Place — or JUMP.

Mayor Dave Bieter says that JUMP is Simplot’s huge vote of confidence in downtown Boise. “I just can’t say enough about how hard they worked to bring it forward,” Bieter said in a recent article in the Idaho Statesman. “Transformation – that’s the only word I can think of.”

The mission of JUMP is described as “creating an environment for inspiring human potential.”

Simplot notes on its corporate website that “we created JUMP as a place for everyone to discover new possibilities and explore their potential. This takes gumption, a combination of vision and courage. JUMP is an invitation to look at things in new ways, including ourselves, and to try things for the first time … When we JUMP, we expand our lives, enrich our communities, and push the human story forward.”

Idaho Born and Bred

Albertsons, founded by Joe Albertson in 1939 in Boise, today ranks as the second largest supermarket chain in the US with over 2,300 stores. In late September 2016, the company announced that it would relocate pharmacy support and add other corporate office positions to its Boise headquarters, resulting in 300 jobs and $38 million in tax revenue for the state.

An Idaho entrepreneurial success story, Albertsons opened its first store at the corner of 16th and State Streets in downtown Boise 77 years ago. The firm is growing today thanks in part to the Idaho Economic Advisory Council approving a Tax Reimbursement Incentive (TRI) award of 30 percent for 15 years.

“This is the type of expansion that the TRI was designed for, and I couldn’t be happier that it is being used by an Idaho company with a rich history in our great state — a company that gave me one of my first jobs as a stock boy at the original Albertsons location,” Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter said. “Albertsons has always been a pillar of our local economy. Now, after a difficult decade of ownership, this is proof that Albertsons is back home and thriving. The State of Idaho is thrilled that we could leverage TRI to help them expand their operations in Boise.”

“We are very proud of our Idaho history. We know that Idaho is a great place for our executive headquarters — our team. The Gem State has been a great place to base our growing business, and Albertsons Companies is proud to employ more than 5,000 Idahoans.” — Wayne Denningham, COO of Albertsons

Wayne Denningham, COO of Albertsons, says that “we are very proud of our Idaho history. We know that Idaho is a great place for our executive headquarters — our team. The Gem State has been a great place to base our growing business, and Albertsons Companies is proud to employ more than 5,000 Idahoans.”

Denningham adds that “Idaho is a fantastic place for companies to put their dollars. We’ve recruited top talent from many colleges and universities throughout the state as we’ve grown through the years, many of whom made Albertsons their career and eventually retired from here. As we looked to develop the team at each of our corporate office locations, we were proud that our growth over the last few years would result in bringing new jobs to Idaho.”

The COO notes that Albertsons’ culture mimics the state’s. “The entrepreneurial spirit of Idahoans and people from the Northwest complements the local focus we have in operating our stores, and that same spirit is reflected in the state’s business-friendly approach,” he says. “The State of Idaho makes a point of being business-friendly, which is reflected in the Idaho Economic Advisory Council’s approval for Albertsons to receive a TRI award.”

Helping Farmers Do Their Jobs

Rec-Tech and Ag-Tech, which both owe their existence to Idaho’s abundant and fertile native land, are two other legacy industries that continue to grow as well. In the ag-tech sector, Priefert Manufacturing announced in October that it would expand its farm, ranch and rodeo equipment manufacturing operation to Boise.

Based in Mount Pleasant, Texas, the family-owned company also operates a 1,700-acre working ranch in Texas. The company said that Idaho’s rich history of farming, ranching and cattle production was a big draw. The firm said it would begin operations in Boise with a 20,000-sq.-ft. industrial facility that it plans to use for warehousing and distribution.

Meanwhile, Orgill Inc., based in Memphis, Tennessee, said it would place a 500,000-sq.-ft. distribution center in Post Falls, Idaho. The world’s largest independent hardware distributor, Orgill said the plant will enable the firm to serve customers in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Alberta and British Columbia.

“There were many positive things that led us to select Post Falls as the home for our newest distribution center, including the excellent workforce in the area, the assistance and cooperation of local officials, and the quality of the facility itself,” said Ron Beal, Orgill’s chairman, president and CEO. “We look forward to being a good corporate citizen of Post Falls, Kootenai County and the State of Idaho.”

Orgill expects the facility to be fully operational by March 31, 2017. Upon completion, the plant is expected to employ more than 100 Idahoans.

Downtown Boise at sunset
Photo by Heather Overman

Ron Starner
Executive Vice President of Conway, Inc.

Ron Starner

Ron Starner is Executive Vice President of Conway Data, Inc. He has been with Conway Data for 22 years and serves as a writer and editor for both Site Selection and the company's Custom Content publishing division. His Twitter handle is @RonStarner.


From its striking natural beauty to its sparkling business environment, the Gem State's unique facets lead to growth and opportunity.

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