Community Profile

FY 2021

Nestled in the northern panhandle of Idaho, Sandpoint’s history and access to natural resources and railroad transportation have shaped the city’s character and development over the last century.


Sandpoint is known for its thriving logging and natural resources economy of the 19th and 20th centuries. Many downtown buildings, homes, and residential neighborhoods built during Sandpoint’s early days still exist, some of which are included in the National Register of Historic Places. Sandpoint’s Downtown Historic District was recently expanded from the original 1984 one-block design. The district expansion added seven acres and thirty-two buildings to the Historic District, bringing the total to 10.6 acres and 47 buildings.


Location

Sandpoint is the largest city in and the County Seat of Bonner County. Situated on the bank of Lake Pend Oreille, the City of Sandpoint is 63 miles south of the Canadian border, 46.3 miles from Coeur d’Alene, and 72 miles from Spokane.


Lifestyle & Recreation

Sandpoint is surrounded by Lake Pend Oreille to the southeast and the Selkirk, Cabinet, and Bitterroot mountain ranges. Sandpoint is on the International Selkirk Loop and two National Scenic Byways. The 43-mile long Lake Pend Oreille is the largest lake in Idaho and the fifth deepest lake in the United States. Sandpoint is the largest city along Lake Pend Oreille, attracting a significant number of tourists and seasonal residents. Mountains northwest of Sandpoint provide opportunities for outdoor recreation including hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and more. Schweitzer Mountain Resort is Idaho’s largest ski resort and attracts tourists for winter recreation from across the nation. The natural features and recreation surrounding Sandpoint attract over 10,000 visitors a year.


Population

The estimated population and average annual growth rates are based on the ACS 2019 population estimate and utilize the ACS vacancy data, ACS average persons per household data, Sandpoint building permit and planned housing unit development data. The projected average annual growth rate between 2015 and 2025 is estimated to be 3.4%. The population of Bonner County is 44,727.


As the overall population is growing, so is the percentage of the population that is 65 and over, from 16.7% in 2010 to 19.4% in 2018. At the same time, the percentage of the population that is under 18 is decreasing, from 23.3% in 2010 to 20.7% in 2018. The median age has increased from 35.4 in 2010 to 42.2 in 2018.


The migration of residents from other states to Sandpoint (8.1%) exceeds that of the county (5.1%) and state (4.1%). The rate of growth of the population has also exceeded that of the county and state. Sandpoint's population grew by 5.1% in 2017 and 3.6% in 2018, compared to 3.0% and 2.5%, respectively for the county, and 2.1% for both years for the state.

Local Economy

Sandpoint is part of a larger economic region including Bonner, Boundary and Kootenai counties, and northeastern Washington. Actions that occur and affect the larger region affect Sandpoint. This is likely to continue into the future as the communities in northern Idaho become increasingly interdependent.


Tourism is a prime component of Sandpoint’s economy. Each year, visitors travel to Sandpoint to enjoy the lake, shop, ski at the Schweitzer Mountain Resort, or take part in a variety of other recreational activities and events. While timber production in the area has seen a decline, it is still a major employer for the region. Sandpoint has stayed economically resilient by bringing other industries such as manufacturing, aerospace technology, tech, and more healthcare opportunities to the area.


There are a number of partner organizations and incentives and financing tools that help support Sandpoint’s economic development. Included among Sandpoint’s partner agencies are the Sandpoint Urban Renewal Agency, Bonner County Economic Development Corporation, Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce, Idaho Department of Commerce, Panhandle Area Council (PAC), and the Idaho Department of Labor. These organizations provide resources, educational and workforce training programs, and incentives and financing tools.

Small Businesses

There is a strong spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship in Sandpoint, with a number of successful, locally started companies including Kodiak Aircraft Co., Tamarak Aerospace, Biomedical Innovations, Kochava Mobile Analytics, and Litehouse Foods. At 18.2% (2017), the percent of the population that is self employed exceeds the county (16.6%), the state (12.0%), and the U.S. (9.6%). Sandpoint has a number of attributes that make it a favorable location for businesses, including its infrastructure, education and health care providers, and access to recreational opportunities.


Sandpoint ranked 5th in the state and 140th nationally (2015) in a report on cities with the most business openings published by LendEDU. Each city under 500,000 in population was ranked according to its net number of business openings (business openings minus business closings during the same time period).