An Outdoor Paradise
Rushing rivers, immense forests and rich farmland on rolling prairies shape the region’s economic and cultural identity. The Snake River carries barges from Lewiston, Idaho’s only seaport, to the Columbia River and then the Pacific Ocean. Rivers and forests provide fabulous fishing, hunting, rafting, hiking and other recreational opportunities. Increasingly people visit the region to enjoy those opportunities.
Some of the largest manufacturers make ammunition, jet boats, kayaks, bow-hunting equipment and other outdoor gear. Forests traditionally have provided thousands of logging, sawmill, Forest Service and paper product jobs. Economic forces have reduced these high-paying jobs, offsetting most of the gains in other sectors.
Higher education provides many jobs. The region’s largest employer is the University of Idaho with a payroll of 4,400 in Moscow while Lewis-Clark State College employs 700 people in Lewiston. Technology transfer from the university has created about 360 jobs in the last 10 years and is expected to create many more in the future.
The recession that began in 2007 took its toll in north central Idaho but not as deeply as elsewhere. The region was partly insulated by the stability of higher education, Clearwater Paper in Lewiston, agriculture and federal and state government. Offsetting job losses was growth in health care and at ammunition maker ATK in Lewiston and its suppliers.
Regional population grew 5 percent from 100,533 in 2000 to 105,358 in 2010 while the state grew 21 percent and the nation grew 10 percent.