|Region dubbed Magic |
Valley (Wikipedia map)
"But above all else, city leaders, business owners and residents say, it’s a practical place, where the old small-town values of hardball competition shape political life," Johnson writes. "If an idea gets in the way of economic growth, it should be discarded." Fueled by rich volcanic soil that is perfect for growing crops from potatoes to alfalfa, that in turn fed the dairy cows that grew up in what became known as the Magic Valley, Twin Falls has benefited from Clif and Chobani—which pay $15 an hour, twice the state minimum wage of $7.25. That has forced other companies to raise wages and benefits.
"But the success of Twin Falls poses risks for other rural towns," Johnson writes. "In its heady growth spurt, Twin Falls is sucking the oxygen from some smaller, struggling communities farther out in the country as retailers and restaurants cluster in the center. Rows of closed downtown stores in nearby places like Buhl stand in sharp contrast to Main Avenue in Twin Falls, where businesses like the Twin Falls Sandwich Co. are packed with hungry customers. Idaho’s rural population as a whole fell by more than 5 percent from 2000 to 2015, according to an analysis by Headwaters Economics."
In nearby Gooding, a town of about 3,500 people 45 minutes from Twin Falls, a King’s discount store, which has been in business "around the West since 1915, announced in February that it would close, unable to compete," Johnson writes. Store manager Janice Jacobson told Johnson, “Seems like everything is moving to Boise or Twin Falls.”