Employment & Economy in Southwest Idaho
During the 1849 gold rush to California, only a handful of pioneers settled in Idaho and they were generally merchants who supplied the needs of the wagon trains, but in the early 1860s, the discovery of gold in Idaho as well resulted in a population boom. At that time, Elmore County’s population was concentrated in Rocky Bar and Atlanta. These early mining communities reflected a mixture of people from all walks of life. Some were petty thieves or restless unfortunates who rushed from strike to strike with visions of wealth in their eyes. Others were destitute Southerners who had lost everything in the Civil War who came to the gold fields in search of a new start.
Early farmers and ranchers arrived upon the heels of the miners, and small ranches and farms began to spring up around the waystations. Settlement was encouraged by the offer of up to 320 acres to each individual who could “prove up the land” by finding water and making certain required improvements to the property. The ranchers and farmers continually expanded operations to supply agricultural products to the booming mining communities, and Elmore County continues to have a large agricultural base today, including farming, ranching, dairies, timber and mining. In addition, the county is home to Mountain Home Air Force Base, a major employer.
Elmore County and the state of Idaho offer many resources to meet the needs of entrepreneurs and small business owners, including:
- Urban Renewal Agency
- Small Employer Growth Incentive
- Idaho Business Advantage
- Hire One Tax Credit
- Workforce Development Training Fund
- Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce
The median age in the county is about 30 years old, meaning the workforce skews younger. The median household income in Elmore County is $43,848, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Rail and Transit Access
Aside from the mining communities, the first permanent settlements in Elmore County began in 1883 when the Union Pacific Railroad built its main line across the county’s southern part. Railroad transport opened markets and stimulated agriculture, and Elmore County became one of the leading stock-raising counties of Idaho. Mountain Home, the county seat, was moved from its location on Rattlesnake Creek to its present location on the railroad line. Elmore County continues to be served by the main line of the Union Pacific Railroad, with sidings at Mountain Home, Glenns Ferry, Hammett and the Idaho Waste Site. The nearest commuter rail line is in Boise.
The main highways weaving through Elmore County are U.S. Route 30 and Interstate 84. I-84 traverses the southern part of the county from northwest to southeast, bypassing the incorporated towns of Mountain Home and Glenns Ferry. I-84 provides the main transportation route for the trucking industry in the northwestern section of the U.S. I-84 also provides good connections eastward to Salt Lake City and points beyond.
State highways 51, 67 and 20 converge in Mountain Home, providing a direct link to all of southwestern Idaho. Highway 67 is a four-lane, 10-mile road that provides access to Mountain Home Air Force Base. Denver, Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Las Vegas and California are all within a day’s drive.
Early settlers were attracted to Elmore County because of the promise of unlimited opportunities, and these opportunities still exist today, especially in recreation: skiing at scenic mountain resorts, hunting, fishing in rivers, streams and freshwater lakes, hiking, and mountain biking with hundreds of miles of trails to explore. These natural assets strengthen the local economy and improve residents’ quality of life.
Idaho’s southwest region has 10 state parks, one national forest and two national wildlife refuges with plenty of trails for hiking and biking in diverse terrain, as well as boating, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, rafting and fishing in the nearby rivers and reservoirs. Rafting is a huge business in Idaho.
Mountain Home Air Force Base
Economists indicate that more than a third of the economic input into Elmore County and nearly half the county’s population are directly influenced by Mountain Home Air Force Base. Because of this symbiotic relationship, any change in the base staffing or mission directly affects growth or decline in Elmore County, particularly in the city of Mountain Home. Mountain Home Air Force Base is also a large contributor to the economy of the county and is one of the single largest employers. Mountain Home Air Force Base is estimated to have an annual economic impact of $342 million, according to the 2015 Mountain Home Air Force Base Economic Impact Statement. For more information, visit www.mountainhome.af.mil.
At the national level such websites as www.monster.com, www.careerbuilder.com, www.jobs.com and www.indeed.com have extensive search capabilities as well as resume tips, forum support and professional networking options.
The National Military Spouse Network, a networking, mentoring and professional development organization, has a wealth of career information at its website, www.nationalmilitaryspousenetwork.org. The group aims to help military spouses build a meaningful, sustained career path and offers a library of articles that touch on topics from entrepreneurship, resume tips, self-promotion and more as well as a membership-only discussion forum. The organization also features companies that are military spouse-owned or military spouse-friendly on its Homefront Business Listings page.
Idaho Department of Labor
Mountain Home Office
1150 American Legion Blvd.
Mountain Home, ID 83647
The Idaho Department of Labor maintains an internet portal for job seekers looking for work and for employers needing workers. The website serves as a one-stop integrated employment and training service. Job hunters can get help in job preparation and exploring careers, labor market information, job fairs, networking opportunities and information about unemployment insurance, and search for locations by ZIP code.
State of Idaho
Employment opportunities with the State of Idaho are posted online. Search by category, department or location, then apply online.
Elmore County Courthouse — Human Resources Office
2261 E. Eighth N St.
Mountain Home, ID 83647
Elmore County is among the top 10 employers in the county. Jobs are posted online with benefits information, and applications are available for download along with submission instructions.
City of Boise
Boise City Hall – Human Resources Office
625 W. Idaho St.
Boise, ID 83701
From the main menu on the city’s website, click “Apply For” to connect with job opportunities and the city’s online application process.
City of Mountain Home
160 S. Third E
Mountain Home, ID 83647
From the main menu on city’s website, click “I Want To … ” to view job openings and download the city’s application for employment.
An employment agency can offer posts ranging from high-level administration to warehouse work. Many employers use agencies as their human resources department. Agencies advertise, interview, test and manage payroll. A temp-to-perm arrangement allows the employer and prospective employee to evaluate each other before committing to permanent employment.
Municipal and regional chambers of commerce include local employment agencies in their member lists, along with contact information. See Page 14 for a list of chambers of commerce in Elmore County.
Always keep your resume up-to-date and have several versions that target specific industries and highlight your skills that fit their job descriptions.
Compile several reference lists with a good variety of people and former business associates. Be sure to first ask each if you can use them as references.
Compose a comprehensive, catchy and succinct cover letter of no more than a page (this is no place to ramble). It will introduce you and your desire to work for the company. Have a knowledgeable friend check it for errors; misspelled words and bad grammar hint at carelessness and indifference. Know what the company does, and highlight skills, work experience and education that apply to the position. Be aware that many employers now accept only online applications so get comfortable with computers.
Maintain a positive, professional and broad-based presence on social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn; almost all employers search social media sites to vet job candidates, and your absence there will raise red flags. Also be aware that images and comments posted spur-of-the-moment can be searched out forever and come back to haunt you.
Be prepared for an interview at any time. When you submit your application, a supervisor may want to talk immediately, or the phone may ring with a call from a hiring director. Compose — and rehearse — your one-minute self-promotional speech on who you are, an achievement or two and your strengths. It’s not vanity to make a good first impression. If a supervisor wants to know why she should hire you, be ready.
Always follow up with thank-you letters and calls. Even today, a letter as well as the quick-response email will separate you from a surprising number of the other applicants — to your advantage — and keep your name fresh in the interviewer’s mind. Judicious calls display your continued interest. Writing out beforehand what you want to say helps. So does rehearsal.
Be aware that due to the usually huge numbers of applicants, most companies are able to follow up only with candidates in whom they are interested. Don’t take it personally if you’re not notified that you didn’t get the job.
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE CIVILIAN OPPORTUNITIES
Visit www.usajobs.gov to search for Department of Defense jobs at Mountain Home Air Force Base.
For information about service jobs, including openings in lodging, marina, recreation areas and more (nonappropriated fund positions), call the Mountain Home NAF Human Resources Office at 208-828-6059 or visit www.nafjobs.org.
For Base Exchange jobs, visit the AAFES career page at https://odin.aafes.com/employment/default.asp and search for Mountain Home. You will need to create a profile.
Idaho Small Business Development Center
The Idaho Small Business Development Center offers small business resources and workshops for those looking to start a business. Go to www.idahosbdc.org or visit the Idaho Small Business Development Center’s location in Boise at 2360 W. University Drive, Suite 2132. Call 208-426-3875 for more information.
In 2011, President Barack Obama ordered the creation of BusinessUSA, a one-stop platform for small businesses to get the services they need to make good hires and to grow. The service now offers more than 200 online classes, videos and chat transcripts, as well as information on how to start a business, obtain financing, look into exporting, expand, find opportunities, learn about health care changes, be aware of taxes and credits, get help with hires and ferret out regulations and green opportunities. BusinessUSA is especially interested in increasing ownership among veterans, women, the socially and economically disadvantaged, Native Americans and Alaska Natives.