The Rexburg Advantage
Rapid, sustained population growth defines Rexburg's future. Designated by the United States Census Bureau as a Micropolitan Statistical Area, Rexburg's double digit growth (over 62%) over the last decade has been fueled primarily by the expansion of Brigham Young University-Idaho. As mentioned previously, BYU-Idaho's three track semester system continues to bring more students to Rexburg. Currently 15,000 full-time students attend the university each semester; within five years this number is projected to be over 20,000 a semester. Accounting for student spouses and off-track students that continue to work in Rexburg while not enrolled in classes, the actual student population will approach 25,000 each semester. These student numbers are augmented by faculty and staff hired at the university. As the university expands, so will the population and number of local businesses-not only in Rexburg but in the surrounding communities as well. Within 20 years, local officials project the city population will exceed 50,000 (Rexburg Department of Finance).
The population of the 6-county target region can be expected to grow as well. While nearby communities will reflect Rexburg's growth more immediately, other factors such as the steady increase in the tourist population will also drive up the target region's market size; though, the greatest growth will occur in the Rexburg proper.
The Rexburg Advantage
Rexburg offers an advantageous situation for potential employers: low start-up costs, competitive wages, low crime, an educated and talented workforce, and city leaders eager to accommodate smart business growth. The city additionally boasts some of the lowest property taxes in the state. With over one billion dollars invested into Rexburg since 2006 by private and public entities, Rexburg is a sound investment.
A Resilient City
Rexburg's labor pool exceeds expectations. Despite the 2008 recession, Madison County maintained one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. In 2010 the labor pool officially contained 16,271 workers, of which 15,334 were employed; 937 were unemployed or 5.8% of the potential workforce. This number is well below state and national averages of 9.6% and 9.1%, respectively (BLS, June 2011). Rexburg has weathered the recent economic crisis better than most cities as these employment figures show.
Not included in Rexburg's labor pool are students who attend BYU-Idaho. A city survey from 2010 suggests that a majority are looking to supplement their income with full or part-time work. Currently, students account for nearly 50% of the total population and are prime candidates for entry level positions as they pursue education. Within this demographic alone, nearly 5,000 students are fluent in a second language (with 40 different languages spoken). These students represent a heretofore-untapped resource for new businesses, yet their numbers serve to keep the labor market competitive and relatively cost effective. BYU-Idaho's three-track semester system also mitigates the loss of trained employees between academic periods.
June of 2011 saw the opening of Rexburg Rapids, a family-friendly water park. In its opening season, June 24th to September 5th, total park attendance exceeded 60,000 individuals. An informal survey of customers paying with credit cards revealed that 20,935 patrons came from zip codes outside of Rexburg. As a percentage of credit card receipts this means that over 30% of park patrons came from outside of Rexburg.