Pocatello hosted 20 of the area's local leaders at the Regional Mayors Meeting Friday. Some of the major points covered include funding from the state and federal level for a variety of issues within cities, collaboration for managed recharge of the region's aquifer, and collaborating on bringing in business to the whole region.
The mayors spent quite a bit of time focusing on making their voices heard in the Idaho Legislature.
"They're not going to listen as much to one city's concerns as they are to an entire region's concerns," said Rebecca Casper, mayor of Idaho Falls. "So anything I can do to strengthen the region just strengthens our chances to be effective."
Smaller cities like Shelley, St. Anthony and Driggs said they have a much harder time getting noticed for their needs compared to the larger cities, like Idaho Falls, Pocatello and Blackfoot.
"As communities we need to work together," said Hyrum Johnson, mayor of Driggs. "If we have different agendas and different ways of going about doing the same things, we have a lot of repetition there. We waste a lot of resources and energy."
The smaller cities are looking to the two largest cities, Idaho Falls and Pocatello, for help. Jo Ann Malec, mayor of Clayton, said because the city only has a population of nine people, they don't get enough money to properly maintain anything, from roads to local businesses - two of the three they have are closed.
"We need help networking and obtaining information regarding avenues to bring in money to the city," said Malec. "We just don't have any income generating avenues."
One of the points Casper wanted to focus on was the idea of managed recharge for aquifers.
"One of the lessons learned today with the all mayors here was how very important their collective voice will be when it comes to managed recharge," she said. "Water is needed for any kind of growth, and that includes city growth and economic growth."
The mayors also talked about the location businesses choose when moving into the region. Is a business locating to Idaho Falls a win for Pocatello, Challis or St. Anthony? They said a business finds it more appealing to move to an area with 300,000 people, compared to cities with 4,000, 25,000 or even 60,000.
The mayors discussed the growth near Twin Falls and that region, saying their plan is obviously working, while there are definitely improvements that need to be made to the strategic plan for the area, it was unclear how they wanted to go about that. One regional economic developer, or one for each county that deals with each potential new business.