Around the District: Eastern Idaho


As a community-engaged bank, the SF Fed seeks out real-time information on economic conditions by engaging with and learning from businesses, community organizations, and local leaders. These conversations are one of the many inputs into the decisions and policymaking at the Federal Reserve as we pursue our mission.

In this post, Laura Choi, the SF Fed’s Executive Vice President for Public Engagement, provides a snapshot of recent trip that she and other community engagement specialists from the Bank took to Eastern Idaho.

Idaho is one of the most rural states in the nation, and rural economic sectors such as agriculture play a significant role in the state’s overall economy. Given the important role played by Idaho’s rural regions, I appreciated the recent opportunity I had to spend a week in Eastern Idaho learning about rural communities and how local residents and businesses are experiencing the economy. I’m appreciative of the many people who warmly welcomed us to the area and shared their stories. The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes welcomed us to their land and shared valuable insights about the many economic development efforts underway, including enterprise and energy development, and bison reintroduction. We also heard how barriers to access to capital and other financial resources create challenges for addressing vital needs, such as housing development for tribal members.

Laura Choi, Shoshone Bannock Reservation at Fort Hall, Idaho.

Next, we participated in the Idaho Rural Success Summit, which took place at the Fort Hall Reservation. This convening brought together community and economic development professionals from across the state to learn about available resources and innovative models that could advance their own work in rural communities. The summit covered a range of issues including education and workforce, broadband access, and small business development, all of which are critical for ensuring economic growth is inclusive of rural communities.

Chad Marchand, Laura Choi, Blossom Johnston, Skip Oppenheimer, Adam Healy, Leilani Barnett.

We ended the trip with a visit to Idaho Falls, where we met with local business leaders from multiple industries to have a roundtable discussion on current economic conditions in the region. The discussion touched on trends in consumer demand, labor supply and workforce development, and the adoption of GenAI.

A very special part of the trip was the chance to connect with our Idaho-based current and former Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Directors and advisory council members Skip Oppenheimer, Park Price, and Blossom Pua Johnston. Thank you to my colleagues Leilani Barnett, Chad Marchand, and Adam Healy for making this such an amazing trip!

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the management of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco or of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

About the Author
Laura Choi is executive vice president of Public Engagement at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, where she provides overall strategic direction and leadership for the Community Development, Government and Civic Relations, and Regional Business Engagement teams. Learn more about Laura Choi