Economic & Lifestyle Overview
The Silver Valley lies in the heart of Shoshone County. The majority of the 12,542 people in this county live in Silver Valley, a 40-mile valley floor carved by the South Fork of the Coeur d'Alene River and surrounded by the steep Bitterroot mountains. The cost of living is 22.5% lower than the US National Average and the median home cost is $127,900 according to Best Places. These economic indicators can equate to lowered expenses and increased bottom-line profits.
The economy of Shoshone County employs about 4,500 people. The majority of residents work in these industries:
- Trade, Utilities, Transportation (27.9%)
- Education and Healthcare (20.3%)
- Tourism and Hospitality (15.4%)
- Mining (9.4%)
- Government (7.7%)
In 2017 the US census bureau declared Idaho as the fastest-growing state in the nation. As many have discovered there are many reasons to move here. Some people are drawn in by our vast wilderness. Others might be looking for a lower cost of living or a change in lifestyle. Idaho's business-friendly approach to government attracts business owners looking to move. There is a state constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget here. Pair that with Idaho's streamlined approach to business operation regulations and it's clear there are many perks to doing business here. The recently signed Licensing Freedom Act and the Zero-Based Regulation Process are examples of how Idaho strives to be a citizen-friendly business environment.
Despite the recent significant growth in Idaho, we are still a rural state with an outstanding quality of life. There's a healthy balance of business and play because of the easy access to outdoor recreation. Shoshone County is a spacious 2,636 square miles of mountainous terrain. Almost all that land is classified as “forest uplands” while less than 1% is “urban or developed.” We are minimally urban, and we cherish the lifestyle that comes with that development level. You will too. You can truly live your daydream without breaking the bank. The Silver Valley is Idaho’s hidden gem. Outdoor opportunities are unlimited and range from mountain biking, riding ATV’s on miles of public roads and trails, skiing at one of two ski resorts located within 25 miles of each other, partaking in world-class fishing and hunting, to simply enjoying the peace and quiet of the thousands of acres of public lands out our backdoor.
We also have convenient access to the interstate throughout the entire Silver Valley so it’s easy to get away if you get the travel bug. There are railroad stations and an international airport an hour away in nearby Spokane. Thanks to the deep forests engulfing the Silver Valley, many people don’t get the urge to leave. There are so many ways to indulge in your wanderlust right here. Miles and miles of historic bike trails, never-ending forest roads, and plenty of hiking trails ensure that you’ll never see all the Silver Valley has to offer. There is simply too much for one lifetime. Imagine how your employees can enjoy our world-class recreational opportunities and small-town atmosphere all while being conveniently located to metropolitan amenities.
Business Outlook & Competitive Advantages
Although we are one of the more rural counties in North Idaho, our unique location gives us strategic business advantages. The Silver Valley surrounds 40 miles of Interstate 90 (I-90), an east-west transcontinental freeway and the longest interstate in the US. This interstate connects Seattle to Boston and provides a transportation benefit to any business established here. Even during severe winter weather, the interstate is the top priority road to clear. You’ll always have a lead when it comes to organizing logistics like importing or exporting supplies.
Another major benefit of I-90 is the regional hubs along it. There are many hubs between Boston and Seattle that businesses can utilize, but with Spokane about an hour to the west and Missoula 2 hours to the east, these neighbors are low-hanging-fruit when it comes to building your business’s supply chain. The Silver Valley is a short commute away from additional technology centers, transportation options, growing populations, higher education pathways, and business investment. This proximity makes Shoshone county a stellar option for business headquarters or a satellite office and gives staff the Silver Valley lifestyle perk.
The Silver Valley is also located in the Coeur d’Alene River Basin, one of the largest mining districts in the world. Past mining practices led to the area being designated a Superfund Site in 1983. From then on federal, state, and local government entities collaborated to clean over 7,000 properties. The area is now home to one of the largest vegetation and ecological restoration projects in US history. In 2018 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) named the Bunker Hill Superfund Site as one of the top redevelopment sites in the nation. The clean-up is a monumental success. Since 2013 our communities have seen more than $150 million in infrastructure improvements, and much of these funds were administered by the EPA for the remediation.
To ensure the integrity of the remedy is maintained an Institutional Controls Program (ICP) was established. The ICP is now a model nationally and internationally. The ICP provides support and resources to area communities, residents, and developers. They offer free sampling, contaminant disposal, development and construction guidance, and education materials. The ICP and our local communities have identified several ways to leverage our Superfund designation to benefit the community and aid in development.
The people of the Silver Valley are unlike any other community. Residents here are hard-working and resilient yet caring and kind. The people that chose to stay here through the remediation process are determined, strong-willed, and do not give up. They feel a sense of ownership and pride concerning our rich history, and they are excited to see Silver Valley sustainably thrive again. They make fantastic employees. Their loyalty to our area is the same loyalty that is foundational to ideal teams. The mindset “work hard, play hard” is instilled in many resident’s lifestyles. The people leading initiatives, running businesses, or fostering community improvements are the same ones you’ll bump into when exploring our vast wilderness.
The major transportation, regional, environmental, and human capital benefits are not the only benefits to doing business in Shoshone county, but they are our most notable. Implementing industry best practices like optimizing your business for eCommerce will also aid in business success. Use these competitive advantages strategically, and you can find a way to edge out competition and positively impact the bottom line. Whether you’re coming to the Silver Valley for recreation, upgraded infrastructure, or affordable cost of living, the Silver Valley Economic Development Corporation is here to answer your questions and guide your business development.
History & Unique Facts
The Silver Valley is one of the most famous silver-mining regions in the world with over 1.2 billion ounces mined since 1884. Gold, copper, lead, zinc, and rare crystal are all found in our underground. Some of the Silver used in the Apollo mission was home to Silver Valley.
The older generations watched the astounding correction of the land we adore so much sprout before their eyes. They saw the hand-planted forests grow, the animals return, and the air clear. Our bleak environmental past is becoming a memory, and it will always remain a lesson the entire nation and even other countries have learned from. As you’ll see, our hillsides are restored with green, lush, rich plant life. Health is all around us.
The Great Fire of 1910 devasted the Silver Valley, but it became a learning opportunity for the entire country. It was the largest fire in US history. After nearly 3 million acres burned and killed 87 people, the United States Forest Service’s budget doubled. Many modern-day fire prevention tools and measures were developed after this fire ripped through North Idaho and Western Montana, most notably the Pulaski tool. Credited to Ed Pulaski, an assistant ranger with the United States Forest Service. He was famous for taking action to save the lives of 45 firefighters during the fire.
Shoshone County was established in January 1861. At that time, it was much larger than the present State of Idaho. The historical boundaries comprised of all the country north of the Snake River between the Columbia River and the Rocky Mountains, and north to the Canadian border. The county was named for the Native American Shoshone tribe. The original county seat was in Pierce, in 1885 the county seat was moved to Murray, in 1890 to Osburn, and finally to its present home in Wallace in 1893.