OK, Mr. or Mrs. Businessperson. Imagine hanging out your shingle a quarter of a century ago with an initial budget of $300,000.
You work hard and begin to see the fruits of your labor, and in Year 2, your budget is again $300,000.
Year 3? Yep: $300,000.
And 25 years after you opened, after you’ve sold millions of dollars in products and fattened the corporate coffers, your budget is still $300,000.
Since Dennis Wheeler, Tom Richards and Duane Hagadone launched Jobs Plus, Inc., in 1987, directors of the economic development agency have stuck adamantly to the most fiscally responsible model imaginable. Forget for a moment the many millions of payroll dollars generated by the 5,445 jobs from 93 companies Jobs Plus has brought to North Idaho over that 25-year span; think instead about the $54 million in property taxes those companies paid in 2011 alone. Put another way, the roughly $300,000 Jobs Plus spent last year brought in $54 million in property taxes, a tidy 1,608 percent return on investment.
Those tax dollars gird the region’s infrastructure. The more corporate tax dollars flow into the pots of cities, highway districts, the county and others, the less pressure there is on residential property taxpayers.
That’s why Jobs Plus’s braintrust has always felt comfortable asking for public participation in the funding process, said Steve Griffitts, the agency’s president since 2003. But unlike many other public-private economic development models around the country, Jobs Plus doesn’t rely primarily on tax dollars for its funding.
“We’re happy and grateful for it, but we aren’t wholly dependent on it,” he said. Griffitts estimated that nationwide, most public-private economic development entities receive 70 percent public tax dollars and 30 percent funds from private donations. With Jobs Plus, 75 percent of its funding comes from the private sector — a staggering ratio made possible in part because of strong corporate support and the founders’ vision to never rely too heavily on tax dollars, which can diminish at the switch of an economy’s momentum.
Since its inception, Jobs Plus has benefitted most from these private-sector supporters:
Avista Utilities, $425,000
Jacklin Land & Investments, $368,000
Hagadone Corporation, $345,500
Kootenai Health (Kootenai Medical Center), $246,000
The Spokesman-Review, $160,000
Idaho Forest Industries, $158,000
Interstate Concrete/Central Pre-Mix, $126,500
Coeur d’Alene Mines, $105,000
For comparison, North Idaho Business Journal examined public records to see how the largest local taxing entities have supported Jobs Plus over the years. Here’s what we found.
1987, $100,000 spread over four years
Filed Under: Featured
About the Author: