From strong roots comes the prospect of bountiful fruit. The first 30 years of Jobs Plus have laid the foundation for exciting economic development possibilities in Kootenai County this year. That was a theme during the Coeur d’Alene area economic development corporation’s annual meeting on Wednesday at The Coeur d’Alene Resort that honored the nonprofit’s 30-year history.
Gynii Gilliam, Jobs Plus president, said there are six “high probability” new business prospects led by the manufacturing sector that are an estimated six months to a year from making a final decision on landing in Kootenai County. Another announcement is imminent, she said.
“This is only a fraction of the job creation that is happening in our community,” Gilliam told about 365 people during the luncheon. “Hospitals, restaurants and retail continue to add personnel during this day of low unemployment rates.” Gilliam said in some cases, the owners of possible future companies here have already purchased homes.
Attracting business doesn’t happen overnight, Gilliam said. In keeping with the honoring history theme, she shared a story about recently speaking with a business owner who is leaning toward moving his company here.
“It turns out that Bob Potter (Jobs Plus’ first president) tried to recruit this company years ago, but it didn’t make the move because the business was at its peak,” she said. “Bob is no longer with us, but he’s still recruiting.
Eve Knudtsen, outgoing board chair, said “collective confidence” of recruiting, retaining and expanding business when Jobs Plus was formed still exists today as Kootenai County has moved from a natural-resource-based economy to a more diversified one of manufacturing, high tech, aerospace and other industries.
Katie Brodie, Jobs Plus’ first staff member, said the formation of Jobs Plus helped light a fire under the business community after the realization economic development wasn’t going to happen on its own.
“When we got a company to say yes on the dotted line, there was nobody happier than Bob Potter,” she said. The anticipation of announcements this year comes on the heels of Jobs Plus being involved in six expansions and six new businesses in 2016, including Orgill’s expansion to Post Falls. The world’s largest independent distributor of hardware products moved into the former Kimball Office building on Seltice Way and plans to employ more than 125 here.
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