The Boise Metro Chamber hosted Idaho’s top business leaders and elected officials in Sun Valley April 10 – 12 during its 29th annual Leadership Conference. The conference’s theme, “Leading for Growth: Solutions through Regional Partnerships,” served as a guide for presenters and participants through a full schedule of discussions on a range of forecasted regional challenges related to exponential growth. In all cases, strategic regional partnerships, which eliminate duplication of effort and increase the strength and effectiveness of mitigation efforts, were at the center of talks about solutions to these challenges.
Monday’s session kicked off with a Keynote Address from Idaho Governor Brad Little and included a look at challenges and opportunities created by the American Rescue Plan Act from city, county, and state perspectives during the general session. ARPA funds have created many opportunities for infrastructure improvements throughout the state. Although, according to Kelly Packer, the executive director of the Association of Idaho Cities, the funds will not be enough to fund all the needed projects at the municipal level. Packer recommended public/private partnerships, regional partnerships, and utilization of alternative grant programs to help bridge the gap.
Likewise, Ada County Commissioner Kendra Kenyon spoke on a variety of challenges including housing, transportation, broadband and declining aquifer levels.
“It’s going to take public partnerships, it’s going to take creativity, and its going to take coordinated action,” said Kenyon.
Idaho’s water infrastructure and water management took center stage again during the lunch session during presentations led by Tim Farrell, principal engineer at Mountain Waterworks, and Lisa Grow, President and CEO of IDACORP Inc. And Idaho Power.
This was followed by a Mayor’s Panel, which provided an insider’s look at the differences and similarities in both challenges and potential solutions being implemented in four Idaho towns. The panel included Mayors Lauren McLean of Boise, Robert Simison of Meridian, Debbie Kling of Nampa, and Trevor Chadwick of Star.
Monday’s session closed with a candid impromptu presentation on the 2022 Idaho legislative session. House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate Pro Tem Chuck Winder joined forces to discuss work accomplished during the session, including record tax breaks and rebates, and a record funding increase for education in Idaho. The two also fielded questions from attendees.
The conference wrapped up Tuesday with panel discussions from developers, infrastructure experts, and education administrators, each exploring commonalities in goals, challenges, and potential regional solutions.
Bobbi-Jo Meuleman, deputy chief of staff and director of governmental affairs for Gov. Brad Little, summed up the importance of this approach early on during the conference.
“It is now time for these regional partnerships,” said Meuleman. “Working together will be key to success. It really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”