TWIN FALLS — If you look around while driving through the city these days, you’ll probably pass a bare patch of dirt, the skeletal frame of a new building or a herd of pickups parked by a bustling construction site. It’s no secret that new businesses are breaking ground left and right in Twin Falls.
Growing cities aren’t a new sight for Nick Covey. He travels around the country as a superintendent with Yost Gallagher Construction, overseeing the construction of new buildings for Northwest Farm Credit Services.
“This place is booming,” Covey said while wearing a hard hat and standing in the shadow of what will soon be Northwest Farm Credit Services regional headquarters. “The subcontractors are all busy all the time.”
In terms of commercial construction, fiscal year 2019 — which ran from October 2018 to September 2019 — was the biggest year Twin Falls has ever had. The city issued 78 commercial construction permits in fiscal year 2019, up 32% from fiscal year 2018’s 59. Commercial construction this year is ahead of fiscal year 2019’s pace through January.
This year’s all-time high marks a sharp turnaround after the slow years following the Great Recession. For instance, in fiscal year 2011, the city issued just 18 commercial construction permits.
The value of new construction last year wasn’t as dramatic as the quantity. Fiscal year 2019’s 78 projects were valued at $33 million, down from the previous year’s $63 million, and far short of the previous high of $147 million back in 2008 when St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center was issued a permit for construction valued at $103 million.
The record high in commercial permits could be driven by the city’s population growth — Twin Falls also set a record for new housing construction in fiscal year 2019. As Twin Falls grows, the demand for goods and services grows as well.
“It’s certainly having a positive impact on the local economy,” Twin Falls Area Chamber of Commerce CEO and City Councilman Shawn Barigar said.
Barigar noted that the Chamber of Commerce has seen a significant boost in membership in the past year as more businesses set up shop here.
The Magic Valley’s population growth and low unemployment catch the attention of outside investors.
“Twin Falls has become a very attractive place for investment,” said Fran Florence, a real estate agent and developer with Westerra Real Estate Group.
Florence pointed out that investments in Twin Falls are relatively low risk right now. He added that the commercial construction the city’s seeing is more spread out than in the past, when Blue Lakes Boulevard and Pole Line Road saw a greater percentage of new business.
Barigar said he hopes to see more projects break ground this year.