BOISE, Idaho (AP) — ... part of America's 21st century social dynamic.
Neither government nor business alone can provide all the ingredients necessary for progress. We must leverage our limited resources toward realizing unlimited opportunities together. That's the idea behind IGEM - the Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission, which you created last year. You will hear much more about its work as the IGEM Council reports to the germane House and Senate committees.
But I can tell you that never before have our three research universities worked together more collaboratively or been more committed to finding common ground and mutual benefit with our business leaders. Together with the Idaho National Laboratory and the Center for Advanced Energy Studies - and given time and our sustained support - they will nurture a rising tide of economic activity that will lift all our boats.
Meanwhile, Commerce Director Jeff Sayer, Labor Director Roger Madsen and the State Board of Education, our universities and our community colleges are preparing our workforce, encouraging our employers and putting the right policies and programs in place for a more prosperous Idaho.
At North Idaho College, new President Joe Dunlap is using a $3 million federal grant to create an aerospace center in Coeur d'Alene to meet the workforce demands of a growing industry in the Panhandle. It's a watershed event for the region. Such employers as Empire Aerospace, Tamarack Aerospace and Quest Aircraft are building a critical mass of manufacturing, service and support operations. Growing a highly skilled northern Idaho workforce will help advance that process.
At the College of Western Idaho, President Bert Glandon is working with the Idaho Technology Council on developing an industry certified software developer program to help address a chronic shortage of qualified workers for the growing technology sector here in the Treasure Valley. CWI also recently opened an impressive Professional Technical Education center in Nampa to help meet rapidly expanding employer and student needs.
And at the College of Southern Idaho, new and growing businesses like Chobani and Glanbia have President Jerry Beck working to accommodate the workforce needs of the Magic Valley's rapidly expanding value-added industry by building an $8.5 million Applied Technology and Innovation Center.
I would be remiss today if I failed to extend my gratitude to the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation for its continued generous financial support of Idaho education. It most recently granted $5 million to the University of Idaho and Northwest Nazarene University to establish technology learning and innovation centers for teachers.
That's a godsend for our efforts to improve and expand technology in Idaho classrooms, and I'm confident it will result in development of more educators like Katie Pemberton of Canfield Middle School in Coeur d'Alene. Many of you know that Katie is our 2013 Idaho Teacher of the Year, and she's earned that recognition in part by making technology a cornerstone of her math classes at Canfield.
Such responsive, forward-looking people and programs are helping lift our statewide economic activity to almost $58 billion a year. That's up from about $51.5 billion just a few years ago. And that puts achievement of my Project 60 economic development goal well within reach, and soon.
But $60 billion a year isn't a finish line; it's only a benchmark. Let me tell you just how committed many of our Idaho entrepreneurs are to seeing that milestone in the rearview mirror.
Doug Sayer of Premier Technology in Blackfoot recently made a simple but profound change in the way he does business - shifting to Idaho suppliers for a greater share of everything he buys for his company's operations. And he did it without sacrificing quality or profitability.
Now he's challenging other Idaho business leaders to join him in that endeavor. Doug is working with the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry and other organizations to spread the word, and I've agreed to help by issuing a challenge of my own to Idaho businesses: Make it a priority to invest here at home. Join Premier Technology and others in devoting a greater percentage of your supply-chain purchases to Idaho vendors.