March Economic Activity

Idaho department of labor county developments

Here is a roundup of economic news compiled by the Idaho Department of Labor in March:

Northern Idaho

  • Bonner General Hospital’s new medical office will be linked to a planned parking garage by an aerial bridge. The expansion includes a 47,000-square-foot, three-story building that will allow the hospital to add new specialists to its staff.
  • Perimeter Security Group of Dalton Gardens tripled its sales volume during the last two years and grew from 10 to 50 employees with the acquisition of the Coeur d’Alene operations of Northwest Fence Co.
  • Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp. is acquiring all the issued and outstanding common shares of Orko Silver Corp, a British Columbia-based company. The transaction is expected to close in April at a total value of 350 million Canadian dollars. The deal comes on the heels of the company reporting strong operating cash flow of $338.7 million and record gold production in 2012.

  • Production has resumed at Hecla’s Lucky Friday mine, and the company announced it is acquiring all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Aurizon, a British Columbia-based company, for 796 million Canadian dollars. The company reports 2012 revenue of $321.1 million and a gross profit of $143.5 million.

North Central Idaho

  • The Nez Perce Tribe recently purchased 61 acres south of the Clearwater River near the Spalding Bridge along U.S. Highway 95. The tribe is still assessing the land’s potential and plans to hire a consultant to assist in that effort. The tribe, which employs about 1,000 people, wants to diversify. Most of its jobs are professional, technical, retail or customer service. Leaders are looking for more living wage jobs for workers without college degrees. Last year, the tribe started a construction company.
  • Potlatch No. 1 Federal Credit Union is building a $4.5 million, 36,500-square-foot office next to its Warner Avenue branch in Lewiston. The mortgage lending staff will move there from leased space in August. The credit union employs 123 people in the valley and another 51 in Culdesac, Grangeville, Hayden, Moscow, Orofino, Ponderay, Post Falls, Pullman and St. Maries.
  • A new National Park Service report estimates that the 286,259 visitors to the Nez Perce National Historical Park spent $10.6 million in the communities surrounding the park in 2011. This spending supported 161 jobs in the local area. The park is nontraditional – a collection of 38 sites in four states focusing on the history and culture of the Nez Perce Tribe.

Southwest Idaho

  • Owners of Boise’s First to File have sold the company to an international intellectual-property management firm. CPA Global purchased the firm to add paperless intellectual-property management to its portfolio. The sale could mean more software jobs in Boise, but no announcements have been made.
  • Boise-based US Ecology had a record year last year. Revenue was up $169 million – 9 percent above 2011 – with net income up 40 percent  to $25.7 million. US Ecology employs about 400 people in its seven locations throughout the U.S. and Canada.
  • St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center opened a new emergency room in Nampa as part of its expansion.  The 8,000-square-foot facility has 11 examination rooms and two trauma rooms. A maternity center and heart care center will also be added as part of the expansion. In total, the project will result in 85 new positions.
  • Emerald Forest Products has shut down, idling 50 workers. The mill opened in 2010 but was soon closed due to problems with the fire suppression system. The mill reopened last year. The owner of the company said there are two groups interested in purchasing it.

South Central Idaho

  • Hailey’s local option tax revenues have risen for the third straight year, increasing 14.2 percent to $337,000. This follows 2009’s 17 percent decline. Tax receipts from restaurant and alcoholic beverage sales have returned to prerecession levels.
  • High Desert Milk, maker of milk powders and sweet cream since 2001, expanded as it moved into butter production. The company added 50,000 square feet to its co-op milk plant along with high-tech equipment such as robotic palletizing and automated churning and packaging. The new line created 20 jobs.
  • Potato production and yields were up, pushing prices down this year for growers without contracts. Some fresh pack operations ended up selling some potatoes as feed for dairy and feedlots. Based on $8-abushel corn prices, the value of potatoes for animal feed is roughly $3.20 per hundredweight, according to a study by University of Idaho Extension economist Joe Guenthner. 

Southeastern Idaho

  • Pocatello’s new Winco Store replaces the smaller store the company has been operating. The expanded operation will add about 90 new employees.
  • The Horse Station in Franklin is moving closer to reality. The developers, Strategy 5 LLC, announced in late February that Sahara Inc. of Bountiful, Utah, has been selected as the general contractor for the project. The planned Horse Station will include equine training, boarding and veterinary facilities along with retail shops, a hotel and a restaurant.
  • Last month the Malad City Council was presented with a master plan for the proposed expansion of the city park. The master plan developed by Jackson Land Design of Pocatello includes four baseball diamonds, two soccer fields, volleyball courts and two playgrounds. The city park is an important community feature, hosting annual festivals and events that attract visitors from across the western United States.

Eastern Idaho

  • Teton County and the city of Victor have both cut jobs recently, including a county planner position and a city utility and billing clerk. The city cited the need to be more “fiscally responsible” with its budget. Victor is also considering cuts in the planning and zoning office and its Geographic Information System operation.
  • Battelle Energy Alliance, the lead contractor for the Idaho National Laboratory, laid off 101 workers in March. The layoffs are part of the planned reduction of up to 450 workers this fiscal year. Early in February 114 employees participated in a voluntary layoff, and another 60 positions were eliminated through attrition. In a company memo, Mark Holubar, human resources and diversity director, stated that between voluntary separations, attrition and layoffs, the workforce has been reduced about 7 percent. More workforces restructuring at INL is expected this year.

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