Business activity picked up in Hailey in 2013, bringing 64 new jobs to the city, primarily in the food and service industries. Last year was the first year the city tracked the number of new jobs.
The Hailey Community Development Department is working to add diversity to the local job market, by attracting high-tech, manufacturing and education businesses.
Since the housing and real estate crash in 2008, city leaders have expressed interest in developing a local economy that is not based primarily on construction and tourism.
According to a report presented by Community Development Director Micah Austin to the Hailey City Council on Monday, 19 new businesses opened in Hailey last year while 15 closed. In 2012, 28 businesses opened, but 37 closed, leaving a net loss of nine.
The city’s net increase of four businesses last year was accompanied by 46 full-time jobs and 18 part-time jobs.
“We have reached some stability in our business environment,” Austin told the City Council. “But we have some work to do in diversifying our economy.”
Most businesses come to town without any help from the Community Development Department. Austin provides real estate, zoning and demographic information to many larger businesses interested in moving to Hailey. These talks become “economic development projects,” he said. There were 14 last year.
Austin touted the success of three economic development projects in 2013. They are Papa Murphy’s pizza store, which opened recently on Main Street, the Valley Co-op, (which opened in Bellevue) and The Cottages eldercare facility, which is set to break ground in north Hailey.
“Three out of 14 is pretty good in the economic development world,” Austin said.
Austin said he also worked with Shopko retail store, an ammunition manufacturer and an assembly company, but none set up shop in the valley.
Austin said several companies continue to be in talks with the city about possibly moving to Hailey. They include a whiskey distillery, a business that makes and sells skateboards, and a medical supply company.
Austin said he would most like to attract higher education, light manufacturing and high-tech, location-neutral businesses to the valley.
“Location-neutral companies could locate anywhere in the world, but chose to come to the valley because of the quality of life here,” he said.
The Community Development Department is in continued discussions with Boise State University about the possibility of bringing an academic office or campus to the city, and with White-Leasure Development Co. about possible commercial development at the Blaine Manor site, which is on county-owned land.
In other Hailey news:
l Don Keirn and Martha Burke were sworn in for four year terms on the City Council.
l Hailey received a $20,000 grant from the Seagraves Foundation to be used for improvements at Hop Porter Park. The Hailey Police Department also applied to the foundation for a $4,500 grant for ballistic vests.
l Terry Clark and Darin Sales were reappointed to the Hailey Parks and Lands Board. The city is seeking one more Parks and Lands Board member.
l Jeff Beacham was reappointed to the Tree Committee.
l The city is selling 79 surplus water meter vaults to Bellevue for $314 each.