Our City's Strategic Plan has six focus areas - responsible growth, transportation and infrastructure, business and economic vitality, public health and safety, a vibrant and sustainable community, and government excellence. Continuing with my commitment to keep the community informed of our progress, this blog is focused on business and economic vitality which is defined in our plan as follows:
Meridian will revitalize its downtown and grow its targeted commercial areas to ensure a balanced economic base that support family wage jobs creation. We will retain and recruit businesses and services that support our targeted industries and community needs.
Business and economic vitality are unique as the City creates the environment for others to succeed. With that in mind, below are several key goals that we are actively working on to move the city forward in this focus area.
Retain and recruit businesses in professional service, technology, light manufacturing and health care industries to provide a balanced economic base.
Retaining and helping our local businesses is our first priority. I regularly conduct business visits twice a month with businesses to get a firsthand understanding of their operations, challenges, and opportunities with companies in these four sectors. We talk about their existing needs as well as their goals, and what we can do to assist them. These conversations often lead to discussions with the Idaho Department of Commerce or Idaho Department of Labor as we connect them with resources for training and growing their business. They also will help lay the groundwork with our Community Development Department for future building expansions or renovations. Together, these steps connect people to make the process work.
As we look at recruiting new business, we have partnered with the Boise Valley Economic Partnership and Idaho Department of Commerce to focus our retention and expansion efforts in these four key industry sectors. By working with these organizations, Meridian can capitalize on the strengths and opportunities present in these sectors, such as access to skilled workers, existence of strong industry clusters, and our favorable business climate.
Support business development that increases the number of family wage jobs to allow employees to live and work in Meridian.
We are also working closely with the Chamber to keep the local business community informed on the latest developments and industry trends. We are currently working with the Chamber to develop a Talent Pipeline Management program to help local businesses identify and address workforce recruitment and retention opportunities. As part of this effort, I provide a newsletter update, every other month which includes development news, industry trends, and other information of interest to local businesses. These updates are shared with the Chamber's members and the broader business community through various channels, such as the Chamber’s Newsletter, social media, and email lists.
Our Economic Development team tracks commercial real estate data and job metrics to better understand growth within sectors. By tracking commercial real estate data, the team is able to identify trends in the local market, such as changes in vacancy rates, rental rates, and new developments. This data, some of which can be found on our City website, helps the City understand the supply and demand dynamics in different sectors, which can inform targeted economic development strategies.
In addition, by tracking job metrics, such as the number of new jobs created, the average wage, and the industry mix, the team can monitor the health of the local economy and ensure that growth is occurring in a balanced and sustainable way. This information allows the City to adjust its economic development strategies and priorities as needed, to support the continued success and diversification of the local business community. The economic development team's tracking of commercial real estate data and job metrics demonstrates the City’s commitment to data-driven decision making and strategic planning for the benefit of the Meridian community.
Utilize urban renewal areas and specific area plans to promote business investment in targeted areas to meet community needs.
In order to help target investment in Meridian, since 2020 we have utilized Urban Renewal Districts in the City. We have created three new districts - two in our downtown area, and one along Overland Road - which will allow our business community to spur investment and make infrastructure improvements. These districts have attracted attention from local and regional developers as we look to bring jobs closer to where people live.
Our Public Works department has been working in our downtown urban renewal area to support efforts to secure a 4.2-million-dollar grant to fund a portion of the Nine Mile Floodplain mitigation. This effort will be essential to ensure that our downtown is sufficiently manage flooding concerns so economic development can take place in our downtown and not be stifled by the existing floodplain.
Thank you for taking the time to read about our business and economic vitality efforts as we work alongside our partners. To learn more about our Strategic Plan, please visit www.meridiancity.org/strategicplan, and I look forward to continuing to update you on our plan in upcoming blog posts.