Mayor: Nampa is a ‘community of potential’

photo of debbie kling
Nampa Mayor Debbie Kling didn’t drop any bombshells at her State of the City address. Photo by Sharon Fisher.

Amid a skirl of bagpipes, Nampa Mayor Debbie Kling, now in her second year in office, said, “I am happy to report that the state of the city is strong and moving forward in the right direction.”

The annual speech didn’t feature any bombshells, such as the hoped-for announcement of an Amazon distribution center, which Kling referred to by the code name Project Bronco. The project is slated to be a $180 million investment that will bring 2,000 new, full-time jobs to Nampa, she said. Recently, an unspecified delay was announced, so the timing is unclear.

On the infrastructure side, Nampa is working on an airport management plan, and is considering forming an auditorium district, like Boise’s, Kling said. The city projects a 10 percent increase in building permits this year, and recently sharply increased impact fees.

“Growth needs to fund growth,” Kling said.

The city received $12 million in grants for public works projects over the next five years, and has $20 million in projects underway, Kling said.

Unlike Ada County cities such as Boise and Meridian, Nampa manages its own 800 miles of roads, making it “Idaho’s largest full-service city,” Kling said.

By population, the city is now third in size in the state, having been recently leapfrogged by Meridian.

Like many other Treasure Valley cities, Nampa is updating its comprehensive plan. With the population in the region projected to double by 2040, residents are concerned about retaining the character of the community, Kling said.

Kling also promoted several Nampa companies, including The Pacific Companies, which produces modular housing using robotics and automation. The company employs 360 people and is developing a 410,000-square-foot building to construct 2,000 housing units a year, Kling said.

Other companies spotlighted included U.S. Night Vision, a laser scope manufacturer that is moving to Nampa from Roseville, California; House of Design, a robotics integration company; and Cordova Outdoors, a cooler manufacturer.

In addition to the mysterious Project Bronco, Nampa is home to “Project Widget” — recently revealed as NxEdge, which currently manufactures semiconductor machinery in Boise — and the still unannounced “Project Vault,” Kling said.

That said, four out of five of the companies in Nampa are small businesses with 20 or fewer employees, Kling said. “We want to maintain our existing businesses,” she added.

The city is also working on its downtown after a major street rebuild this past year, which was tough on a lot of businesses.

“Downtown redevelopment is imperative,” Kling said, noting that the Nampa Downtown Association now has all its positions filled. The city is working on a new strategic plan for the downtown, using the Main Street model, she said.

Several downtown projects are underway, with three recently opened restaurants, the redevelopment of the former library into offices and development of a “town plaza” in a half block that used to hold a fast-food restaurant, Kling said.

“Nampa is a ‘community of potential,’” Kling said.

Caldwell, a smaller neighboring city with some similar features, has brought a burst of redevelopment efforts since the construction of Indian Creek Plaza, Kling said.

Nampa is also working on two affordable housing projects, Mercy Creek and Colorado Gardens. Colorado Gardens, a $6 million project that recently opened, consists of 50 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments with rent starting at $650. Mercy Creek, still under construction, is a $9 million project located on the site of the former Mercy Hospital.

The city is also working with the Boise Rescue Mission to develop a “recovery lodge” to help people in transition.

Nampa won’t sell Idaho Center land

Nampa City Council voted on Jan. 16 not to sell surplus property near the Idaho Center. So a manufacturing facility hoping to locate there will need to find a different site.

photo of Beth Ineck
Beth Ineck

“We had been approached by a couple of companies about siting a manufacturing facility in the area,” said Beth Ineck, Nampa’s economic development director. The parcel, which was first 17 acres and then reduced by a lot-line adjustment to 16.26 acres, was further reduced to 10 acres after it was ascertained that events at the horse park outside Idaho Center often used the parcel even when it wasn’t officially part of the event, she said. To begin the process, the parcel was declared surplus in November, and a public hearing was held on January 16 was to determine whether the city would sell 10 acres, 16.26 acres, or nothing.

Now that the council has voted not to sell the property, the unnamed company – which was new to Nampa and could have brought the area at least 40 food processing jobs – is “back to square one,” Ineck said. Another company that approached the city about the property had put its project on hold internally, she said.

Newly elected Nampa mayor Debbie Kling, formerly the Nampa Chamber of Commerce’s CEO, said she wants to revitalize an Idaho Center citizens’ advisory committee that went dormant when the center switched management companies, Ineck said. “One thing that came out very clearly is that the city needs to generate resources for capital improvements” to the 20-year-old facility, she said.