The Sandpoint area economy has traditionally been based on the timber industry. Forest products presently account for over 20 percent of the Bonner County payroll. Production is now above pre-recession levels of the early 80s.
Tourism is the other important industry in the area. Each summer sees an influx of visitors who come to enjoy the fishing and boating on Lake Pend Oreille, to hike and mountain bike in the surrounding mountains, and golf at local golf resorts.
Schweitzer Mountain Resort has developed into a true year-round destination with the addition of a high-speed quad and six-pack chair, lights for night skiing and a new hotel. Schweitzer has become a regional destination that draws an average of 220,000 skier visits per season. In summertime, it blossoms into a summer resort with hiking, horseback riding, chairlift rides, paintball, disc golf and much more.
Perhaps the most important development for the long-term health of the Sandpoint area economy has been the location of a variety of manufacturers in the area, employing more than 1,900 people. Many are employed at companies including Unicep, Thorne Research, Encoder, Litehouse, Lead-Lok, Coldwater Creek, Quest Aircraft, Cygnus and others. While unemployment in Bonner County still runs above national averages and per capita income remains substantially lower, the local economy has dramatically improved and the future looks bright.
A year-2007 sign of economic growth in Sandpoint is the building of the new Panhandle State Bank corporate headquarters – the three-story, 90,000 square foot Sandpoint Financial and Technical Center.