In Meridian we work hard to diversify our business community to better withstand the economic highs and lows. We are focused on enhancing our business friendly climate that will be nurtured through one unified focus with Planning, Building and Development Services under our Community Development umbrella. Our economic excellence team and I have visited with hundreds of business owners to help identifying industry and service sectors that would be beneficial to our community and to our businesses bottom-line. Working together we can bring strong business growth, which in turn brings strong job growth. Our focus on value added jobs will be delivered through strategic Business Enterprise Corridors. We want to replicate the success seen in The CORE, by bringing together complimentary type businesses in other areas of our city. We will roll out plans for The Fields District and Public Safety District; and promote the Ten Mile region and Downtown to targeted businesses.
In 2015 according to the Department of Labor there were more than 1,000 jobs created in Meridian. These were not low paying jobs as our average individual income also increased by 3.5%. Having family wage jobs are the reason why our Economic Excellence efforts have focused on The CORE, our health science and technology corridor. In addition the Village at Meridian opened 17 new businesses in 2015, totaling over 98K square feet of retail and office.
Business growth has brought weekly ribbon cuttings across the community. We are excited that IdaPine bought the
old Plum Creek facility off Meridian Road. They are new to the area bringing a $16M investment
and advanced technology that will be used as a showcase throughout the US. And we’ve
welcomed URS, now known as AECOM; they are ‘new to Meridian’ but have been a respected
company in Boise for decades.
We are equally excited about the businesses here in Meridian, that have expanded - one of
these, Scentsy. Scentsy moved into its $88M headquarters in 2013. The 73-acre property is
currently undergoing another $10M expansion to accommodate the distribution of their
recently added skin care products.
We appreciate these expanding companies – and, we celebrate their continued success! With
this business growth it’s hard not to feel optimistic about our future.
2016 looks to continue the excitement of ‘placemaking’ and business attraction. A grant
received last year by the Ada County Realtors introduced us to 'lighter, quicker, cheaper' ideas
for our downtown. One idea, led by downtown advocate businessman Marty Schindler, is to
focus on a one block area of Idaho Avenue to extend the sidewalks into the street. Creating a
place where people can interact and experience Idaho Avenue. This project has an intended launch of May, 2016.
Idaho Avenue has yet another exciting improvement. Josh Evarts purchased the historic
Meridian Exchange Bank, later known as Elite Cleaners. He is restoring this 110-year-old
building into an art gallery experience, naming it ‘The Vault’. This will offer boutique event
space and an area to grow Meridian’s fine arts culture. Josh owns another historic landmark,
the Heritage Building on Main & Idaho Ave.; which opened PreFunk this last year – adding a
new vibe in our downtown.
Our Health Science and Technology corridor – The Core – with the opening of the Idaho State
University AP Lab and BioSkills Learning Center, is an economic magnet bringing jobs and
research to this corridor. A hospitality grant - received by the Chamber in partnership with the
City – will promote the lab targeting out-of-the-area physicians to use this facility to develop
Lastly, the Ten Mile region is prime for employment opportunities. The city commissioned Phil
Kushlan last year to evaluate this area specifically for an Economic Development Urban
Renewal District. This is one of the few tools available to cities to create family-wage jobs and
attract employers using state incentive programs and will serve as local match. Qualifying
projects would have specific criteria and short timelines – with a ‘get it done and retire the
district’. There are several exciting projects awaiting this tool. We are serious about bringing
family wage jobs closer to where people live.
Important to Meridian's success is the solid partnership with the education institutions in Meridian, primarily the West Ada School District and Idaho State University who opened the doors to ISU-Meridian, the Treasure Valley campus in the Fall of 2009. The ISU President s Southwestern Idaho Advisory Council on Health Science Education and Economic Excellence is focused on specific business and research opportunities. This Council of business and educational leaders is helping prepare ISU to expand health science education opportunities and support the efforts of The CORE. With the opening of an Anatomy and Physiology Labratory at ISU Meridian and a new Bioskills Learning Center, these efforts are advancing the education, research, and training opportunities for students and businesses here in Idaho.
With rigorous academics such as the International Baccalaureate program to challenge students to push their talents and interests and Professional Technical Centers that offers elective classes in pre-engineering, architecture, and construction, today s students are being prepared for tomorrow s challenges.
In addition, we continue to see expansions and new higher education opportunities in Meridian. In 2010 the University of Phoenix and in 2011 Broadview University both built new campuses in Meridian.