Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone counties
- A consortium of Spokane health care providers is planning a $15 million, 40,000-square-foot primary-care clinic in the city’s University District to serve as a training ground for new physicians and other emerging medical professionals. Residents will begin training this year. The consortium includes Washington State University, Providence Health Care and the Empire Health Foundation. The consortium has secured $900,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration for six new medical residencies in Spokane. Annual funding is expected to ramp up over the next three years to $2.7 million for 18 new residencies.
- Red Lion Hotels Corp. continues to lose money, reporting a first-quarter net loss of $3.5 million compared with a loss of $3.1 million a year earlier.
- At least three sizable apartment complexes valued at $42 million are planned for the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas, which are expected to see more apartment projects in the coming year. Analysts see demand driven by the number of baby boomers moving into more multifamily situations and out of single-family homes.
Multifamily projects include:
o Commonwealth Agency, a Hayden-based nonprofit, wants to issue $12.5 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds to finance the 120-unit Summit Ridge Apartments. The 120-unit Pine Rock complex recently was awarded $10.8 million in low-income housing tax credits.
o Nonprofit Spokane Housing Ventures recently completed the $20 million Clare View project that included a 61-unit senior housing complex and renovation of the nearby 124-unit Clare House Apartments in Spokane.
o Whitewater Creek is developing two apartment complexes in the Riverstone mixed-use community in Coeur d’Alene. The $9.8 million, 114-unit Riverstone Place complex involves five three-story buildings. The other is the $3.2 million, 38-unit Riverstone West III complex.
o One of the largest ongoing apartment projects is Copper Landing in Airway Heights near the Kalispel Tribe’s Northern Quest Resort & Casino. The $23.2 million, 216-unit complex includes nine three-story buildings, most in various stages of construction.
o Mirabolante Apartments is a $14.8 million, 135-unit project in Spokane Valley.
o Carrington Place, an $11.2 million, 132-unit complex with 22 six-unit buildings, is in various stages of construction in the Landings residential development in northwest Coeur d’Alene.
o Highline West Apartments, a $6 million, 56-unit complex, is planned in the Kendall Yards mixed-use development northwest of downtown Spokane.
o Wandermere Glen, a $4.5 million, 48-unit project, is expected to be completed in July.
- The first Industrial Career Fair at St. Maries High School drew 405 students. The “Diggers and Dogs” event aimed to educate young adults about job opportunities in the community. It was hosted by the local Idaho Department of Labor office in partnership with the St. Maries Joint School District and local businesses. North Idaho College promoted its professional technical education programs including HVAC, automotive, carpentry, collision repair, machinist, millwright, welding, aerospace, hospitality, culinary and medical assistant. Lewis-Clark State College pushed its health care programs. Students gained hands-on exposure to many activities from logging equipment to utility electrical simulation. Participating groups included Danielson Logging, Benewah Community Hospital, Avista, the Police Officer Standards and Training Academy, the Toni and Guy Hair School, the Idaho Department of Lands, the Idaho Transportation Department, the city of St. Maries, Jack Buell Trucking, Valley Vista, St. Maries Fire District, Western States, Associated General Contractors, North Idaho Metal Works, Potlatch Corp. and all branches of the military.
- Northern Lights Inc. electrical co-op held its 79th annual membership meeting at the Sandpoint Events Center on May 3.
- Gov. Butch Otter visited Bonners Ferry for Capital for a Day on April 25, giving citizens a chance to talk with him and his staff about any state government concerns or programs. The questions ranged from education to septic waste.
- A six-session Forestry Shortcourse is being offering this summer to help forest landowners better understanding forests so they can better manage them to maintain lower forestry property tax rates and cost-share assistance for activities like thinning. The course will help enrich forest landowners’ understanding of forest ecology, silviculture, forest health and wildlife habitat while natural resource professionals will coach the group on developing forest management plans. The course is set for 9 a.m. to noon every Wednesday starting June 11 at the University of Idaho Extension office in Boundary County. There is space for 25. A $38 registration fee includes forest stewardship resource materials. To participate, preregister by June 4 at the Boundary County extension office. Participants are eligible for seven Idaho Pesticide Recertification credits. For $242, teachers can also sign up for two University of Idaho credits. The Forestry Shortcourse is an Idaho Forest Stewardship program cosponsored by the University of Idaho Extension, the Idaho Department of Lands and other agencies and organizations.
- The Idaho Department of Labor’s Kootenai office held its annual Spring Job Fair at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls. Fifty employers including Silverwood Theme Park and the Coeur d’Alene Resort were trying to fill more than 2,000 jobs. An estimated 1,000 job seekers turned out, and many were interviewed on the spot.
- The American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma has verified Kootenai Health as a Level III Trauma Center. Trauma verification is a voluntary process that helps providers evaluate and improve trauma care. Kootenai had to prove it has the resources to provide the entire spectrum of care to meet all of an injured patient’s needs. Reviewers evaluated every phase of patient care at Kootenai including how patients are handled before they reach the hospital and after they move on to rehabilitation.
- The AmeriTel Inn-Coeur d’Alene is changing franchises to La Quinta Inns and Suites. Among the dozen properties AmeriTel owns is the Hampton Inn and Suites Coeur d’Alene. A name change has increased business at other properties in the company’s portfolio. The company will reinvest in the property. It has 118 rooms and suites and 1,775 square feet of conference space. The hotel typically employs 20 to 25, but that staff could increase by 10 or more if business increases as planned.
- Silverwood Theme Park is expecting its ninth consecutive annual increase in attendance this year. Season-pass sales and group business are up over previous years – a good indicator for the season. The 2013 attendance totaled 679,000, an increase of 3.5 percent over 2013.
- An asphalt plant is being proposed in Kingston on 19 acres owned by Woods Crushing and Hauling in a natural resource zone. This is part of a $55 million joint project between the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Environmental Quality that focusses on re-paving roads throughout communities in Idaho including Shoshone County. The Shoshone County Planning and Zoning Commission will make the final decision in mid-May.
- The 10th anniversary of the Kellogg Leadman Triathlon on April 26 drew close to 200 participants from around the Northwest. The Leadman includes legs of skiing/snowboarding, mountain biking and running.
- Gauteraux & Co. in Wallace
- Joel Pearl Group, a boutique real estate brokerage, in Hayden
- Gaia’s Rock’n Crystals in Coeur d’Alene
- Paragon Brewing in Coeur d’Alene
- Bulwark Barber in Coeur d’Alene
- The Fork of Lakeside restaurant in Coeur d’Alene
- Professional Pet Care with a Pawsitive Touch in Post Falls
- Taylor’s Auto Mart in Coeur d’Alene
- The Coeur d’Alenes restaurant in Coeur d’Alene
- Rustic Pine Trading Post in Coeur d’Alene
- Well Read Moose bookstore at Riverstone in Coeur d’Alene
- Slick Rock Tanning & Spa in Coeur d’Alene
- Metanoia Hot Yoga in Coeur d’Alene
- Animal Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene
- Pedi & Polish in Coeur d’Alene
- Stylebar in Coeur d’Alene
- HomeStyles Lighting in Coeur d’Alene
- Cycle Metrix in Coeur d’Alene
- Scotty’s Auto Body & RV in Coeur d’Alene
- Uva Trattora restaurant in Coeur d’Alene
- Evergreen Softub in Coeur d’Alene
- The Hair Extension Shop in Coeur d’Alene
- Lake City Cakes in Hayden
- Downburst Brewing in Coeur d’Alene
- CdA Souvenir & Sundry in Coeur d’Alene
- Mattress Firm in Coeur d’Alene
- The four Sterling Savings Banks in northern Idaho are now among the 400 branches of Umpqua Bank
- Coldwater Creek in Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene, laying off over 440 employees
- The Papillion Paper Emporium in Coeur d’Alene
- Devin Galleries in Coeur d’Alene
Alivia.Metts@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 457-8789 ext. 3486
NORTH CENTRAL IDAHO
Clearwater, Idaho, Latah, Lewis and Nez Perce counties
- Fish counts in the Columbia River suggest a strong chinook salmon season for Idaho this year. Fishery experts forecast the sixth highest return in the last 20 years. Most of the Idaho-bound salmon are headed to the Clearwater River basin, the Hells Canyon reach of the Snake River and the Rapid River Hatchery in the Salmon River basin near Riggins. By the end of April, enough spring chinook passed over Bonneville Dam to support good fisheries in the Clearwater and Lower Salmon rivers. About 10,000 hatchery chinook salmon destined for the Clearwater basin already crossed Bonneville Dam by April 30. Last year, only 6,700 Clearwater River hatchery chinook crossed during the entire run, so this year certainly will provide more opportunities to catch fish. The size of the fish salmon and steelhead runs partly determine the number of visitors to the region. An Idaho Fish and Game study in 2001 showed anglers spent $46.2 million annually in Idaho for chinook fishing and another $35.4 million for steelhead fishing.
- The 145th Brigade Support Battalion of the National Guard based at the Lewiston armory showed local employers how its employees work on the weekend when they serve in the guard. The annual Operation Boss Lift, held May 3, allows employers to see what their workers do and learn about military specialties including communications, weapons and the medical corps. The event is sponsored by the volunteers with Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, which tries to increase awareness of the benefits of hiring soldiers.
Operation Boss, Lewiston, May 3, 2014. Photo courtesy of Sheila Kopczynski.
- About 100 aviation industry representatives attended the first one-day conference for Idaho’s growing aerospace manufacturing sector in Coeur d’Alene, organized by the Lewiston-based American Manufacturing Network. Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little opened the Idaho – Advancing Aviation Manufacturing Expo and Conference. Workshops included prospects for 3-D printers changing how they make products, how drones could create opportunities and how they could become more involved in federal contracting. Some experts predict the market for drones will be about $40 billion worldwide in five years.
- Several school districts and the road departments in Clearwater, Idaho and Latah counties will continue receiving payments from the U.S. Forest Service that have traditionally made up significant parts of their budget. The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, passed in 2000, was set to end last year. Payments have declined in recent years as the program was set to phase out. The reauthorized payments are running about 8 percent lower than last year. In October, Congress extended the payments for a year so Idaho will receive about $28 million for school districts, county road departments and resource advisory committees, which pay for forest-related infrastructure and services. Mountain View School District covering Grangeville, Elk City and Kooskia receives the largest allocation for Idaho’s school districts. In 2010, it received $1.6 million, which was 15 percent of its budget. Other districts that heavily rely on the federal payments include Cottonwood, where they provided about 10 percent of the budget; Orofino, 12 percent; and Kamiah, 8 percent. In 2010, the federal payments made up 73 percent of Idaho County’s budget for roads. The total allocation in Idaho County this year will be $7 million while Clearwater County will receive $1.1 million and Latah County about $195,000.
- The North Central Idaho Resource Advisory Committee approved $195,000 to fix the 80-year-old bridge that was declared structurally deficient and in danger of imminent failure three years ago. Officials on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest closed the bridge to vehicle and pedestrian traffic at that time, cutting off access to the popular campground and a trailhead at the mouth of Weitas Creek.
- The Sportsman Channel’s Extreme Outer Limits is airing a two-part series on Nightforce Optics, a maker of rifle scopes in Orofino. The first part premiered May 3 and the second on May 10. The series covers Bob Beck’s travel to Orofino to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the Nightforce plant to see what goes into making precision optics. The company, which employs about 100 people, is Clearwater County’s largest private-sector employer.
The U.S. Department of Interior presented its Environmental Achievement Award to Dworshak National Fish Hatchery in April, recognizing the innovative way it slashed its energy use by 30 million kilowatt hours per year. Built 40 years ago to mitigate steelhead lost on the North Fork of the Clearwater River to construction of Dworshak Dam, it later began producing spring chinook to mitigate fish killed at dams on the Lower Snake River. Each year, the hatchery releases 2.1 million steelhead smolts, 1.5 million spring chinook smolts and 300,000 coho smolts. The aging facility had a limited water supply that had to be heated or cooled at different times of the year. Changes over the last two years make more efficient use of the water and eliminate much of the heating and cooling. The energy savings achieved at the hatchery are enough to power about 3,000 homes. Run by a partnership of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nez Perce Tribe, the hatchery employs about 50.
Idaho and Lewis Counties
- Sts. Peter and Paul School in Grangeville received a $141,400 grant to upgrade its technology from the E. L. Wiegand Foundation. The Catholic school will replace its 50 computers and nine printers, add 24 handheld devices, increase its bandwidth and buy new software to help with standardized testing.
- Cottonwood resident Jack Wimer recently purchased the former Prairie Elementary School in Cottonwood. He plans to turn the building on Lewiston Street into retired housing.
- Fifth-graders from throughout Idaho and Lewis counties met at Greencreek Community Hall for the annual Farm and Forest Fair April 16. Groups discussing the role of forest products and agriculture in the area included Idaho Forest Group, Clearwater Forest, the Idaho Department of Lands, Nez Perce Tribe Biological Control, the Idaho-Lewis County Cattle Association, Idaho Farm Bureau-Dairy, Idaho Farm Bureau-Wheat, I-Max Theater and 4-H. The fair is sponsored by the North Central Idaho University of Idaho Extension.
- The Idaho State Board of Education at its April meeting approved hikes in tuition for the University of Idaho. Full-time tuition and fees for Idaho residents will increase 4 percent this fall, up $260 to $6,784 per year. The increase is much lower than the average 6.4 percent growth per year from 2005 to 2013. Nationwide, tuition and fees at public four-year colleges was up a yearly average 6.2 percent from 2005 to 2013. Tuition and fees for a full-time resident undergraduate in Moscow rose from $3,968 in the school year that began in the fall of 2005 to $6,524 in the current school year.
- The Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport’s activity is exceeding its capacity. While demand is increasing, the airport has not kept up with the times. It was not designed for the larger aircraft that want to use it. The taxiway and runway are too close together. The Federal Aviation Administration has given special permission to allow those larger aircraft on the condition that when large planes land all other airplanes must wait until after it has taxied and parked. The busier the airport gets, the more often things have to grind to a halt. To solve the problem, the airport plans a $66 million project to realign and extend the runway and move the terminal. The project currently is in the environmental assessment phase, which could be completed by October. Land acquisition and design are slated for 2015 with construction to be completed in 2018.
- The city of Moscow is gearing up for a busy construction season that includes improvement of streets, sidewalks and water lines. The largest project is the $3.49 million Moscow Community Playfields on Joseph Street that will be jointly paid for by the city and school district. It will create a new athletic area with three softball / youth baseball fields, one varsity baseball field, two regulation soccer fields, bleachers, restrooms, press box and parking for 240 vehicles. Construction began in May and should end in October. Starting June 9, the city will lay 550 feet of water main and 25 feet of sewer main to connect Park View Estates to existing infrastructure at Public Avenue. Grinding and repaving on three stretches of city streets will take place from July 7 to Aug. 15 for an estimated cost of $155,000. Improving curb ramps on sidewalks will run from early June to late August. McCall’s Classic Construction of Lewiston will handle a $92,000 project to improve access for the disabled while Curtis Concrete Construction Inc. of Pullman will take charge of a $41,000 project. The city also plans to spend $59,500 for sidewalk repair and construction through Knox Concrete of Lewiston.
- Three groups want to rebrand Moscow by crafting a unified message that captures the community’s essence and provides consistent messaging to target audiences. The University of Idaho, the city of Moscow and the local chamber of commerce are collaborating to develop a logo and motto that will attract students, faculty, potential residents, tourists and new businesses. Using a $30,000 Idaho Department of Commerce Tourism Grant and $10,000 each from the university and the city, they plan to hire a consultant in June to identify how the city should concentrate its tourism and economic development efforts and recommend groups to target for boosting university enrollment.
- Since a local historical group purchased the 108-year-old railroad depot in Potlatch in 2001, it has slowly made upgrades. In 2007, the depot underwent its first major renovation — a new foundation, siding and roof for the main building. Three years later, the Washington, Idaho and Montana Railway History Preservation Group renovated the first floor, and a couple of businesses moved in. Currently, the group is raising the $100,000 required to renovate the second floor later this year to provide office or studio space for six tenants. Potlatch Lumber Co. started building the Washington, Idaho and Montana Railway in 1905. The 49-mile track connected to the Milwaukee Road railway at Bovill and the Northern Pacific and Great Northern railway at Palouse.
- Washington State University broke ground on a $52.8 million clean technology laboratory on its Pullman campus in April. The College of Engineering and Architecture plans to name the 96,000-square-foot building the PACCAR Environmental Technology Building after a company that made a sizable donation to the school. PACCAR, based in Bellevue, Wash., is a Fortune 200 company that manufactures trucks under the Kenworth and Peterbilt names and provides financial, information technology and customer services. The university said the building will serve as “a hub for faculty from engineering, the sciences and allied fields to engage in cutting-edge interdisciplinary environmental technology research and education.” It also says the building will be the cornerstone of a new engineering district on its campus. Construction is scheduled for completion in October 2015.
- Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, the Pullman-based creator of energy protection equipment and systems, is developing a power-grid upgrade for Stanford University’s 8,100-acre campus near Palo Alto, Calif. The company is designing a centralized system for monitoring and controlling the campus power grid remotely from a central location rather than from a number of locations. It also will install equipment to protect electrical systems from undesired explosive electrical discharges and allow the school to operate its own microgrid separate from connected utilities. When the project is completed in June, it will provide onsite training and support for system operators. The Stanford project is the largest of the 100 university power-management projects Schweitzer has undertaken around the world. The company, which soon will celebrate its 30th anniversary, employs 883 Pullman residents, 481 Moscow, 195 Lewiston, 109 Clarkston and about 500 other people at its headquarters in Pullman and its plant in Lewiston.
- The Port of Whitman County began installing its own telecommunications network in 2001 after convincing the Washington Legislature to allow ports and public utility districts to install telecommunications infrastructure and sell it wholesale to Internet service providers and other telecommunications ventures. The port is an economic development authority that operates the seaport of Wilma near Clarkston, two smaller ports and a marina with a park on the Snake River farther east, a small airport and industrial park near Colfax and two business parks in Pullman. Over the past 10 years, it created a fiber-optic line that connects Moscow, Pullman, Colfax and St. John, 25 miles northwest of Colfax. Big companies like AT&T and CenturyLink appreciate leasing from the port because they can now share the same network instead of building their own, reducing their costs. Smaller players like First Step Internet of Moscow are not squeezed out of the market. The port does not compete with the private sector because it does not sell to end users. It boosts the economic vitality of the county by making it possible for fast Internet and for 4G speeds to be offered on cellphones. The port recently spent $14 million to add another fiber-optic line from Clarkston to Spokane. In addition to improving service, the new line provides redundancy so that when one line is out, the other can provide service.
Nez Perce and Asotin, Wash., Counties
- The main runway at the airport in Lewiston will get an upgrade this summer. Contractors will grind off the top layer of old asphalt, apply a new grooved surface and stabilize its shoulders. It has been 10 years since the last renovation on the 6,512-foot-by-150-foot runway built in the late 1960s. From July 14 – 28, the runway will be closed so contractors can work on it, and air traffic will be rerouted to the airport’s secondary runway. The airport and its business community will remain open during construction although airline service will be limited. Delta has announced it will cease all operations for two weeks. Alaska Airlines is expected to maintain most of its schedule.
- The Port of Wilma, directly across the Snake River from Clarkston, is a beehive of activity this spring with its largest tenant, the Bennett Lumber Mill, reopening after being shut down for five years, and the last phase of a $10 million construction project for another tenant, McGregor Co. McGregor sells seed, pesticides, fertilizer and farm equipment to farmers throughout southeastern Washington and north central Idaho. Construction began last year and included the addition of a 2,100-foot rail spur and a complex for processing and storing fertilizers. A 48,000-square-foot dry storage warehouse and a four-bay blending and loading facility should be ready by early summer. McGregor will hire four new workers. Across the region, it employs about 340. The upgrades will improve McGregor’s efficiency and make it more likely that farmers will find their preferred fertilizers when they need them. The rail spur connects to a short line rail with connections to the two largest railroads in the country, Union Pacific and Burlington Northern. The rail access is critical since about 90 percent of the product will arrive by rail, not barge.
- The Port of Clarkston recently completed installing fiber-optic cable serving the area along Port Drive and Port Way and connecting with the Port of Whitman’s Spokane-to-Clarkston cable. The port is negotiating with private businesses to provide services on the cable. Now, it is adding fiber-optic cable to the Turning Pointe Industrial Park that it is developing along Evans Road.
- Tuition and fees at Lewis-Clark State College will increase 2 percent across the board, following approval from Idaho State Board of Education. The increase will be $116 a year for a full-time Idaho resident to total $5,900. From the school year beginning in fall 2007 to the current school year, Lewis-Clark State College’s tuition and fees have risen 41 percent, a little less than Boise State University’s 43 percent, Idaho State University’s 44 percent and the University of Idaho’s 48 percent. About 4,400 students attend the Lewiston school, which employs more than 500 with a payroll of $20 million excluding work-study students.
- A new definition of “rural area” in the 2014 farm bill has made Lewiston residents with low or moderate incomes eligible for low-interest and subsidized housing loans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Under the definition in the 1949 Housing Act, only people in cities with populations under 25,000 were eligible. The farm bill boosted that number to 35,000. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated Lewiston’s population at 32,051 in 2012, so the city became an eligible rural lending area for USDA’s Rural Development housing programs on May 6.
o Ernie’s Steakhouse restaurant and bar in the former Timber Creek Grill Buffet building in Lewiston
o JJ Building Supplies, a retail store employing nine in the Lewiston Orchards
Kathryn.Tacke@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 799-5000 ext. 3984
Ada, Adams, Boise, Canyon, Elmore, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, Valley & Washington counties
- Declara, a Palo Alto, Calif. software company, plans to double its software development staff in Boise from 10 to 20. The company just finished raising $16 million in a Series A investment.
- Inland Crane acquired Crane West in April. The new company will have around 40 employees.
- Grace Assisted Living is expanding into Garden City. The 78,000-square-foot complex will have room for 90 residents. The company has 16 facilities in the Northwest.
- United Airlines will start nonstop service between Houston and Boise later this year. SkyWest Airlines will operate the flight.
- Bishop Kelly High School is building new classrooms and tennis courts and expanding the library for the fall term. The Catholic high school has seen increasing enrollments over the past few years.
- U.S. Geothermal plans to buy Ram Power Corp.’s California geothermal operation for $6.4 million. The company has also acquired leases on 368 acres near Vale, Ore.
- Banner Bank is trying to acquire Boise-based Idaho Banking Co. Idaho Bancorp, the parent company of Idaho Banking Co. filed for relief from creditors under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy laws as part of the sales agreement. Banner’s $2.6 million offer is not firm, and other banks will have a chance to bid on the company as part of the bankruptcy process.
- Boise-based WinCo Foods opened a new distribution center in Phoenix in May. The 900,000-square-foot facility will ship to the company’s 19 stores in Arizona, southern Nevada and California.
- Crane Creek Country Club is planning a $3.5 million renovation project. The members-only facility plans to renovate the front nine holes to meet U.S. Golf Association specification and build more tennis courts among other improvements.
- The Ada County courthouse is starting a renovation project. The $463,000 project will add between 5,000 and 6,000 square-feet of space to accommodate additional judges and support staff. The project should be complete this fall.
- The Outdoor Exchange in Boise has doubled its space. The outdoor gear consignment store began renovation last December.
- Juniper, a restaurant serving American cuisine, plans a June opening in the former Cazba space in downtown Boise.
- The Caldwell City Council has approved a preliminary plat for the La Bella Vida subdivision. The 260-acre up-scale subdivision on the Boise River near Midland Boulevard is slated to break ground in September.
- The College of Western Idaho has suspended new enrollments in its culinary arts program until a new building can be found. The program is the last to still be held on Boise State University’s campus. The last group of students is scheduled to graduate in December 2015.
- PreFunk Beer Bar plans a second location in Nampa this summer.
- Gem Forest Products, a subsidiary of biofuel company Greenfuels Energy of Birmingham, Ala., has purchased the former Emerald Forest Products mill in Emmett. The company plans to reopen the mill this summer with around 50 workers.
- Mountain Home Air Force Base is being considered to host an A-29 training mission for the Afghan air force. Two other bases, Shaw in South Carolina and Moody in Georgia, are also being considered for the mission.
- Family Dollar plans to build a store in New Meadows this year.
o On the Fly Rotisserie Deli in Boise
o Idaho Youth Ranch Thrift Store in Nampa
o Le Peep, a breakfast chain restaurant, in Meridian
o Corner Bakery in Meridian
o St. Luke’s Fruitland Medical Plaza
o Family Dollar in Marsing
Andrew.Townsend@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 332-3570, ext. 3455
SOUTH CENTRAL IDAHO
Blaine, Camas, Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka and Twin Falls counties
- The Ketchum Innovation Center, the area’s first incubator, has attracted several small business service companies since opening in February including engineering services, an advertising/Web developer firm that also produces magazines and books, and a video production company. The tenants pay a flat monthly fee for space in Ketchum’s light industrial park and are provided mentoring and advice when needed.
- Sun Valley Resort reported an 11 percent decline in the number of skiers and snowboarders at Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain this past season. Skier count dropped from 386,000 to 348,000. By comparison, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort saw a 12 percent increase. Jackson is bigger than the communities in Blaine County, has more air service skiing options, and other winter activities are available in nearby national parks. Jackson Hole had 527 inches of snowfall and Grand Targhee 480 inches this past season – much more than Sun Valley. Jackson Hole was also rated the top ski resort in the nation by Ski magazine last fall, increasing its cachet.
- The U.S. Geological Survey has installed four of six planned precipitation gauges in the Wood River Valley area. The gauges have been strategically placed to warn of flooding danger in the area hit hardest by last year’s Beaver Creek fire. The last two gauges will be installed once snowpack is melted in the higher elevation.
- Rocky Mountain Hardware, which has plants in Shoshone and Hailey, has earned industry recognition for the third year in a row. Its barn door track was named best of the year in the hardware category by Interior Design magazine.
Twin Falls County
- Twin Falls continues to increase hotel space with a Marriott Fairfield Inn and Suites. This follows openings of the former Westin Inn as a boutique hotel renamed the Blue Lakes Inn. Local businessman Jim Paxton is the owner.
- Filer’s Everton Mattress Factory has been sold after operating as a family business for 80 years. The company builds and ships more than 45,000 mattresses and box springs annually with just 26 employees. No changes are anticipated with the sale.
- Next fall, the Refugee Center will expand and remodel its building. It will add approximately 1,378 square feet and remodel an existing 1,000 square feet for about $300,000. The College of Southern Idaho is the financial agent for the Refugee Center and leased the building for eight years before purchasing it last July. The program began in 1980. It serves between 400 to 450 people a year with nine full-time and several part-time employees. The center typically resettles a third of the refugees in the state, according to director Ron Black.
- The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is beginning a statewide survey to estimate fish consumption to ensure human health is protected through quality water. The telephone survey is being conducted from April 2014 to April 2015, randomly selecting residents to see how much fish they eat and from which sources. Anglers will be directed toward an Internet survey to strengthen the quality of the data. Water issues surrounding aquaculture are critical to south central Idaho since both Gooding and Twin Falls counties have major hatchery and fish farming operations
- Chobani will continue expanding to handle new products and new markets with the help of $750 million from private equity firm TPG Capital. The deal could allow TPG to secure as much as 35 percent of the company, much of that prospect tied to Chobani possibly going public in 2015. Chobani founder Hambdi Ulukaya would remain chairman of the board and retain majority control in that event.
- The Idaho Department of Labor hosted three job fairs at its Twin Falls office for Cactus Pete’s Jackpot casino and the new Culver’s fast food restaurant. The businesses wanted to fill about 100 jobs.
- Jerome High School is expanding its agriculture education program to meet a growing need. This fall the program will expand the number of courses from 11 to 19, adding upper-level animal science and food science among other offerings. Classes will be expanded from 24 with two teachers to 36 with three teachers. About 40 percent of the students have taken agriculture classes in the past. That should increase to about 60 percent. Students will also earn dual college credits from the College of Southern Idaho because of the addition of the science courses. The program provides pathways to careers in agricultural mechanics, plant science, animal science and food science and offers hands-on learning for students to develop skills applicable in real life. The program is also piloting a dairy product manufacturing course with the curriculum developed in partnership with Jerome Cheese and South Dakota State University.
Minidoka – Cassia Counties
- Stoker Milk Co. of Burley, acquired a year ago by Boise Milk Co., is expanding into Twin Falls. Boise Milk owner Andrew Stolworthy updated the bottling line and is developing the business with deliveries in both glass and plastic bottles. Demand is driven by convenience in some cases while other customers believe the milk tastes fresher delivered within 36 hours of milking. The company now delivers milk to about 2,300 people throughout southwestern Idaho and 130 in Minidoka and Cassia counties. The milk is hormone free from a dairy in Wendell.
- Frulact Co. of Portugal will set up a temporary research and development laboratory in Rupert while its new plant is being built. Frulact is building its first United States fruit processing plant in Idaho.
o Wings Charter Middle School in Twin Falls because of high operating costs and declining enrollment.
o MaRozie, a young women’s apparel store in Twin Falls, after five years in business.
Jan.Roeser@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 735-2500 ext. 3639
SOUTHEASTERN and EASTERN IDAHO
Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Bonneville, Butte, Caribou, Clark, Custer, Franklin, Fremont, Jefferson, Lemhi, Madison, Oneida, & Teton counties
- Pocatello will be home to a new semi-professional baseball team this summer. The Gate City Grays held an open tryout in May and will play its first game June 6.
- May 5 marked the official opening of the new Holiday Inn Express and Suites, filling a demand for more upscale accommodations for business travelers. The 80-room hotel employs 20 and features two large conference rooms and suites with full-sized appliances and other comforts.
- Economic development and public officials recently broke ground for a new 200-employee jerky factory in Shelley. The new plant will open in about 11 months. Mayor Stacy Pascoe and other city officials are eager to bring Golden Valley Natural to the area, which won out over other locations in Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming. It’s the largest employer for Shelley since the 1950s, according to the mayor. Shelley is a community where most business payrolls number in the dozens or fewer. The Golden Valley plant reflects collaboration among the Bingham Economic Development Corp., Bingham County, the city of Shelley and the Idaho departments of Labor and Commerce.
- Malad and Oneida County will be celebrating their sesquicentennial in June – 150 years since Henry Pack, a native of upstate New York, moved with his family to the area and became a leader of organizing the city and county. From June 27-29 the city will hold its annual Welsh Festival celebrating all things Welsh including music, food, games and folklore. The festival has drawn visitors from as far away as the United Kingdom.
- The Eastern Idaho Technical College Foundation distributed more than $180,000 in scholarship money on April 30 at the annual EITC Scholarship Ceremony. The foundation awarded 171 scholarships ranging from $250 to $2,500.
- Brigham Young University-Idaho plans to make research a priority. Senior Paul Powell was one of 60 students nationwide to present undergraduate research In Washington, D.C., to policy makers. The university has taken a series of steps recently to expand its undergraduate research opportunities such as establishing the College of Faculty Development and Mentored Research to better promote mentored student research projects such as Powell’s. The school has also have encouraged faculty to adopt a slightly reduced teaching load to allow for more professional development time, which can include mentored research. So far, about half the faculty have done so.
- Will Jenson, who had serve four years as regional economist for the Idaho Department of Labor in eastern Idaho, is the new director of business research for the Entrepreneurial Center in Rexburg. Jenson will oversee more than 100 research projects the center undertakes annually. The Entrepreneurial Center is a nonprofit group specializing in short- and long-term economic research for businesses and municipal entities in 16 eastern Idaho counties. It maintains strong ties with Brigham Young University-Idaho and Idaho State University by providing internships and work experience to many senior-level business students.
Dan.Cravens@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 236-6710 ext. 3713