Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone counties
- Idaho Forest Group, operator of five mills in northern Idaho, is expanding into cross-laminated timber – a super-strong engineered wood called CLT. The expansion is a partnership with the Johann Offner Group, a global manufacturing company headquartered in Wolfsberg, Austria. Idaho Forest Group will be the first in the United States to sell CLT, which is layers of lumber oriented at right angles to one another and glued together to form rigid panels with exceptional strength and stability. Together, the two family-owned companies will market and distribute CLT building systems in the U.S. as soon as this year. Idaho Forest Group will initially import CLT with an eye toward manufacturing it within three years.
- North Idaho College trustees accepted the college administration’s proposal to fill a budget shortfall of $352,000 for fiscal year 2015 by raising tuition $2 per credit hour for Kootenai County students and $6 per credit hour for out-of-district students. Local students taking 12 credits will now pay $1,511 per semester, a 1.6 percent increase.
- New Jersey Mining Co. of Coeur d’Alene, which owns the New Jersey Mill in Kellogg, bought 13 patented mining claims covering 220 acres near Elk City from Vancouver, B.C.-based Premium Exploration Inc., for $425,000. PennStarter, a newly formed division of Coeur d’Alene-based stock brokerage Pennaluna & Co., had raised more than $1 million for New Jersey Mining through its online equity funding portal launched last November so people could invest mainly in startup companies. New Jersey Mining was one of three companies that PennStarter initially included on the website. PennStarter specializes in the mining and natural resources industry.
- Avista Corp. sponsors the Spokane Valley Tech’s Entrepreneurship Program in Washington – a collaboration with the Central Valley, East Valley, Freeman and West Valley school districts. The program offers students technical skills and experience in growing industries with a focus on career and college readiness. The Entrepreneurship Program began during the 2013-14 school year. Avista started the Centers for Entrepreneurship Network in 2007 with $100,000 in seed money. The funds will be used by Spokane Community College to develop a program to help students prepare for and launch a business. It was so successful the curriculum was licensed and Avista has started other centers at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene, Rogue Community College in Medford, Ore., and Walla Walla Community College in Clarkston.
- Avista Corp. will sell subsidiary Ecova for $335 million to Cofely USA, a subsidiary of GDF SUEZ, a French multinational electric utility company. The deal closes in July. Ecova provides management services for energy use.
- Core-Mark International Inc. is expanding its Spokane Valley distribution center with a $5 million, 50,000-square-foot addition. Core-Mark is a San Francisco-based general merchandise distributor of food, beverages and sundries to 29,000 retailers including convenience, drug, grocery and specialty stores. Construction is expected to start in July and end in November.
- Canada-based design company Stantec has acquired USKH Inc., an Anchorage-based architectural and engineering firm with a Spokane office staffed by 22 including eight engineers and four architects. USKH, with a total payroll of 130, has four offices in Alaska, two in Washington state and one in Billings, Montana. Stantec has 13,000 employees in more than 200 locations in North America, including 6,000 employees in 140 offices in the United States.
- Circling Raven Golf Club in Worley has garnered the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for a second straight year. The award honors hospitality entities that consistently receive outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel website. Establishments qualifying for the distinction are selected based on overall rating, volume of reviews over the previous year and popularity on the site.
- Bonner General Hospital has renamed itself Bonner General Health to reflect the hospital’s comprehensive role in local health care from preventative care to emergency services to education.
- West Bonner County School District’s $3 million one-year supplemental levy passed.
- Solar Roadways of Sagle surpassed its fundraising goal. The northern Idaho start-up transforms roads, sidewalks and parking lots into solar surfaces. Scott and Julie Brusaw raised more than $1.4 million from more than 33,000 contributors to move the couple’s product toward manufacturing. With a $750,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration, the Brusaws built a small parking pad next to their workshop using 108 of the panels. The pad remained free of snow and ice through the winter. The city of Sandpoint has applied for a federal grant to use the technology in a test project downtown, and the Brusaws hope to build a small manufacturing plant in Sandpoint within the year.
- Center Partners has been acquired by Qualfon Inc., a global provider of call center and business process outsourcing services. Qualfon operates in the Philippines, Guyana, Mexico, China and the United States, employing 10,000 people and serving an international base of clients. Center Partners has offices in Coeur d’Alene, Hayden, Post Falls and Liberty Lake as well as southern Idaho and Colorado. In April, Center Partners announced it was adding more than 400 jobs in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene.
- BC Engineers Inc., a Hayden structural engineering company, has purchased the assets of Northwest Roof Consultants Inc. of Coeur d’Alene and created a roof consulting division. BC Engineers is licensed in Idaho, Washington, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, California, Nevada and Michigan.
- Federal officials plan to spend $38 million in northern Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene River Basin this summer cleaning up toxic pollution left from a century of mining. Up to 125 residential and commercial properties will be cleaned up and more than 17 miles of paved roads in eight upper basin communities will be repaired or replaced. Work will also include water treatment projects and the construction of multiple mine-waste repositories. Most of the work this year is being financed with settlements made by Asarco and Hecla Mining Co.
- Handy Pros Construction in Sandpoint
- Lake City Cakes in Dalton Gardens
- Sweet Pickins, a home decor, gifts and crafts store, in Hayden
- Subway in Coeur d’Alene
- Hayden Corner Store in Hayden
- Good Samaritan Thrift in Coeur d’Alene
- Mattress Firm in Coeur d’Alene
- Coeur d’Alene Souvenir and Sundry in Coeur d’Alene
- Theodore’s Restaurant in Coeur d’Alene in the Roosevelt Bed & Breakfast
Alivia.Metts@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 457-8789 ext. 3486
NORTH CENTRAL IDAHO
Clearwater, Idaho, Latah, Lewis and Nez Perce counties
- The Clearwater Economic Development Association was awarded an $80,000 U. S. Department of Agriculture grant to learn about workforce needs and business development assistance required by the “metal supercluster” – ammunition and firearms makers, jet boat builders and equipment manufacturers and local machine shops. Raymond Dixon at the University of Idaho’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction is conducting six workshops to analyze the training needed for key occupations in the metal supercluster. He will develop curriculum that Lewis-Clark State College and local school districts can use to teach the required skills. In early April, local manufacturing companies identified the five most critical jobs – machinists, fabricators, electronic technicians, machine technicians and quality assurance personnel. The economic development association is meeting with local manufacturers and resource providers to assess how well current business development services align with business needs. Once the survey is compiled, the association will work with resource providers to develop a strategy for improving services.
Nez Perce Tribe
- The Nez Perce Tribe recently completed expansion of its Qem’es (Camas) Express convenience store near Winchester on U.S. Highway 95. The expansion also included making it a public rest area, one of three partnerships between the Idaho Transportation Department and others to improve services for drivers. The new rest area is roughly halfway between the rest area six miles south of Riggins and the one near the border of Latah and Benewah counties. The tribe, which also operates a convenience store next to its casino near Lewiston, plans other convenience stores in the next few years.
- The Nez Perce Tribe received a $200,000 grant to study bighorn sheep in the Salmon River canyon east of Riggins for two more years. The study, which began five years ago, prompted federal land management agencies to change domestic sheep grazing allotments to protect wild bighorns from disease carried by domestic sheep. The Payette National Forest reduced domestic sheep grazing by 70 percent, and a draft plan from the Bureau of Land Management proposes to close three of its four domestic sheep grazing allotments in the Riggins area.
- The Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded almost $200,000 to the Nez Perce Tribe for Brownfields work on a former mill site on U.S. Highway 12 a mile east of Orofino. Brownfields are sites where redevelopment is complicated by the presence of a hazardous substance – in this case creosote, lead and other pollutants. The tribe will use the grant to clean up and redevelop the 39-acre property. The Richardson Sawmill operated in the area from 1943 until 1982. Over the years, the land also contained a wood treatment plant, an asphalt batch plant, fireworks stands and a trap shooting range. It also contains an underground fuel storage tank. The tribe plans to eventually use the site – the last flat, buildable site along the river – for one of its enterprises – most likely a recreational area with a convenience store and tackle shop, cabin rentals and a boat ramp. Another possibility is a waste-to-energy plant.
- The Rex Theatre has a new lease on life since the city of Orofino received a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant to install equipment to run the new digital prints. In the last year, film distribution companies stopped sending out film reels and now send all films digitally. The 98-year-old theater was preparing to close because the equipment was too expensive. Now the downtown landmark will remain open, allowing residents to see films locally. Loren Whitten-Kaboth, director of the Clearwater County Economic Development Council, was responsible for finding the solution. The theater’s owner will provide half the money needed to purchase the new equipment while the grant will cover the rest.
- In their last few weeks at the National Guard’s Idaho Youth Challenge Academy in Pierce, cadets practiced interviewing with local employers and learned other vital life skills. Cadets also volunteer for community projects, such as helping the Pierce Gem Team pick up litter during its May community cleanup. After the first class of 78 students graduated June 21 they entered a 12-month post-residential program in their hometowns where they will work with a mentor to reach their goals. The Youth Challenge Academy is free for Idaho residents. Applications for the second session, which beings in July, are being accepted online at www.idyouthchallenge.com.
- Junior high students in Orofino attended a health career fair in May where a variety of health care professionals including doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, optometrists and laboratory technicians discussed their jobs. The students also visited 12 medical facilities. Seventh-graders continued to explore careers on the Idaho Career Information System website, creating informational posters about different specialties.
Idaho and Lewis Counties
- The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests celebrated the opening of a new supervisor’s office in Kamiah May 14. Over the past eight years, the Forest Service’s budget has declined 25 percent, dictating consolidation of the two forests and eventual closures of the old headquarters in Orofino and Grangeville. By combining forests, the agency eliminated 81 staff positions. “At one time we had nearly 600 employees between the two forests,” Supervisor Rick Brazell said. “Now we are down to 325 permanent employees and around 200 seasonals, which means we have put more focus on doing the things that are crucial for the 23 towns and communities that surround our forest.” Currently, 48 employees work in Kamiah. That number will grow to 73 as the Orofino and Grangeville headquarters close when their leases run out.
- Idaho County voters approved all levy and bond proposals in the May primary election. Voters again gave the nod to a one-year $2.7 million supplemental levy for the Mountain View School District in Grangeville. Salmon River Joint School District 243 in Riggins received approval for a $545,000 levy. Patrons of the Cottonwood School District approved a $350,000 maintenance-of-operations levy that was nearly 10 percent lower than last year’s. Voters in Stites approved a $750,000 sewer revenue bond to fix infiltration problems caused by deteriorating lines and leaky manhole covers. White Bird residents favored a $2.5 million sewer revenue bond to improve their wastewater system.
- New Jersey Mining Co. in Coeur d’Alene bought 13 patented mining claims on 220 acres near Elk City from Canadian Premium Exploration Inc. in May. New Jersey Mining refers to the claims as the Eastern Star Project. It includes the site of the Shearer/Bennett lumber mill that operated from 1958 until it was dismantled in 2006. The company said the site is well-suited for mining infrastructure and has industrial water rights and highway access. Modern exploration in the district by other companies focused on near-surface bulk tonnage potential while smaller-scale, high-grade gold deposits largely have been ignored, New Jersey Mining said in a press release. The area lies within trucking distance of the company’s mill in Kellogg. According to the press release, the Eastern Star Project fits the company’s near-term objectives of evaluating high-grade systems for production potential and its longer-term vision of “possibly building a new mill capable of servicing an emerging mining district as local operations are developed.” Elk City residents are eager to see what happens after losing more than 100 jobs when the Bennett mill closed. Elk City was established in 1861 when gold was discovered. By 1863, nearly a million dollars in gold had been washed from its stream beds, and up to 10,000 people lived in Elk City, but the boom soon went bust. Although mining never played a major role again, over the next century the district supported more than 20 mines including the Eastern Star as well as placer dredging operations.
- Cloninger’s Hells Canyon Marketplace, the largest grocery store in Riggins, recently underwent a major facelift and interior renovations. It also found a new distributor as it deals with a familiar problem. Riggins – 153 miles northwest of Boise and 213 miles southeast of Spokane – “is at the far end of distribution and shipping districts,” the company said in a statement. “Businesses to the north don’t want to drive that last leg to Riggins and the same with businesses to the south. Cloninger’s found a distributor willing to come to Riggins that offers up to three times the amount of products.”
- Construction began in June on the new Woodside satellite fire station near Winchester after the new Craigmont fire station was completed. Schacher Construction of Grangeville, the main contractor for the Craigmont station, won the contract for the $130,000 satellite fire station. Both stations are partially funded by a $350,000 Idaho Community Development Block Grant. The city of Craigmont and the Winchester Rural Fire District worked together on the project. The larger station in Craigmont will be the training center, storage facility and house city and some rural trucks and emergency medical services. The Woodside satellite station will house trucks and have a water source.
- The CHS Primeland grain elevator in Grangeville recently completed a large remodel that will allow it to serve customers more quickly. Haskins Co. of Spokane, the contractor, installed a new 21-foot diameter metal composite grain distributor with approximately 20 trunks that will allow the facility to handle product nearly six times faster – about 20,000 bushels an hour instead of 3,500. Products handled by the Grangeville elevator include soft white wheat, dark northern spring wheat, hard red wheat, malt barley, feed barley, canola and oats. A division of the Fortune 100 company, CHS Cooperatives, CHS Primeland is owned and managed by its members, handling services from agronomy to grain, fertilizer and chemicals. The cooperative employs over 200 at its 19 facilities located from Grangeville to Spokane. Although the Primeland cooperative has been part of CHS Inc. since 1995, it just added the CHS to its name this year.
- Gritman Medical Center in Moscow broke ground in May on a new community clinic in Potlatch that will replace the much smaller space it occupied for the past 20 years. Sprenger Construction of Moscow is building the clinic with three exam rooms, a procedure room, ample parking and improved access for those with disabilities. The clinic, representing the hospital’s $750,000 investment in the community of 800, should open in November.
- The University of Idaho plans to start a $19.5 million renovation of the College of Education building in July. Built in 1968, the structure contains asbestos in the walls and ceilings, and it is expensive to maintain. It also does not accommodate today’s multifaceted methods of teaching and learning. After renovation, it will contain seminar rooms equipped with technology for distance learning and furniture designed to create collaborative spaces for students to work in groups. Until construction is finished in August 2016, the college’s 60 employees will work in five different locations on campus.
- University of Idaho undergraduate students will receive opportunities to conduct real-world research under a $1.2 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The five-year grant is designed to attract more students to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics and track them to see if they go into those disciplines. A select number of university freshmen and sophomore students will be part of a new curriculum where they will research water quality effects on organisms and the environment. The university also is conducting a five-year study into attracting more students into the four so-called STEM fields under a $1 million grant from the Micron Foundation.
- Voters in the Bovill and Deary areas renewed for another year a $740,000 supplemental levy for the Whitepine Joint School District. The levy will amount to $4.18 per $1,000 of assessed value.
- The Troy School District also received voter approval for its one-year $995,000 supplemental levy, which was $11,000 lower than last year’s. The levy will help cover salaries for faculty and staff throughout the district, provide $25,000 toward a new school bus for the upcoming school year and pay for some safety improvements at the schools.
Nez Perce and Asotin, Wash., Counties
- Seekins Precision celebrated the grand opening of its new factory near the Lewiston airport in May. The business began 10 years ago in a garage, and then moved to the Port of Lewiston’s business incubator four years later. The company and its 25 employees has now outgrown the incubator. In the beginning, Seekins made scope rings but now produces AR-15 rifles and a full line of assault rifle parts. Its new 25,000-square-foot building represents a $4 million investment into the community.
- Construction is underway in the Port of Clarkston’s business district. Walgreens is building a store and Sleep Country U.S.A. will open in late August. The parking lot between Basalt Cellars winery and River Port Brewing Co. was recently paved.
- Lewis-Clark State College and Lewiston hosted the NAIA World Series for the 23rd time this May. Ten of the best college baseball teams throughout the U.S. play in the weeklong, double-elimination tournament for National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics title. The World Series first came to Lewiston in 1984, left in 1991 and returned in 2000. About 1,700 volunteers work as ticket sellers, food preparers, ushers and parking attendants. To keep the series, the college made several major improvements to Harris Field. The athletic director also hopes to see the playing field resurfaced, a new video board and the aging grandstand behind home plate replaced over the next couple of years. The estimated cost of the projects is around $1.1 million.
- The Disability Action Center moved into its new location in downtown Lewiston this spring. The Center’s new office is twice as large as its old office, providing more space for workshops. The center was established in 1993 in Moscow as a nonprofit advocating for accessibility for people with disabilities and working to help them live independently. It employs about 100 people at the three offices.
- Horizon Air flights will not be interrupted this summer when one of two runways at the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport is resurfaced. Since the runway will be shorter from July 14 through 28, Horizon will have lower weight limits. The Bombardier Q400 turboprops that Horizon Air uses have 76 seats. During the runway closure, departing flights will carry a maximum of 66 passengers and arriving aircraft will be capped at 70 passengers. The other commercial passenger airline serving Lewiston, SkyWest Airlines, has suspended its flights during the construction because its aircraft needs the longer runway. Other types of airport traffic – cargo, corporate, medical, agricultural, recreational and military – should experience little change. Crews will resurface the 6,512-foot-long, 150-foot-wide runway, which was last updated 10 years ago. The airport’s other runway is 5,000 feet long and 100 feet wide, but 355 feet of it will be closed when the longer runway is offline because of its proximity to the work.
- After voters rejected a $499,000 supplemental levy on May 20, the Lapwai School District increased its cost-cutting efforts. While most school districts in north central Idaho run supplemental levies every year, this was the first levy proposed by the Lapwai district since 2009. Federal aid to offset the impact of a large tax-exempt property base is about one-third of the district’s operating budget. Sequestration has reduced that aid by $145,000 since the 2009-2010 school year. Before the election, the district decided to move its offices from a building owned by the Nez Perce Tribe to a smaller space at Lapwai High School. That’s expected to save about $11,000 a year in water, sewer, garbage service, electricity and insurance.
- Lonnie’s Corner Deli, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner on Main Street in White Bird.
- Snap Fitness, a gym next to Radio Shack on 21st Street in Lewiston.
Kathryn.Tacke@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 799-5000 ext. 3984
Ada, Adams, Boise, Canyon, Elmore, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, Valley & Washington counties
- Boise State University plans to build a $12 million Alumni and Friends Center. The 43,000-square-foot building will replace the existing center. Construction is slated to begin this summer and be completed in fall of 2015.
- Albertsons LLC will pay Boise State University $12.5 million to rename Bronco Stadium as Albertson Stadium. The money will be paid over 15 years.
- The merger between Bank of the Cascades and Home Federal was completed in May. A total of six branches were closed due to their proximity to other branches.
- United Heritage Insurance plans a 20,000-square-foot building next to its Meridian headquarters. The $4 million building will take about a year to complete and include several energy efficient upgrades including a solar array on the roof. Only half of the building will be occupied by the company. The other half will be available for lease.
- Boise Fry Co. is moving to the former Café de Paris restaurant space in downtown Boise and plans to open in late summer. Guru Doughnuts is also moving to the same building and is leasing the kitchen from the Boise Fry Co.
- Gardner Co. plans to break ground on its City Center Plaza project in July. The $70 million project will include retail, office and a convention center as well an underground transportation hub.
- Mountain West Bank broke ground on a new branch in Meridian. The 11,500-square-foot branch will employ around 50 and open in early 2015.
- Hewlett-Packard plans to cut its workforce by another several thousand by October. This is in addition to the reductions the company made over the last couple of years. No word if the Boise facility will be affected.
- Walmart is hiring up to 95 for its new Neighborhood Market in Nampa. Workers have already started preparing for the grand opening this summer.
- Bruneau Grand View Joint School District officials are taking steps to consolidate all three of their schools into the Rimrock Junior/Senior High school facility. Some staff and all district funding for the athletic program will be cut. A $1.2 million supplemental levy failed to pass for a second time.
- Seacoast Commerce Bank in Boise
- Lush, a cosmetics retailer, in Meridian
- Olivin, an olive oil and vinegar tasting room, in Boise
- Olive and Vyne, an olive oil and vinegar tasting room, in Eagle
- Wasabi, a sushi restaurant, in Boise
- Shayna Ariel Photography in Mountain Home
- Sugarbums, an intimate apparel store, in Boise
- Kindness, a restaurant, in Boise
- The Counter, a restaurant, in Meridian
- Juniper Kitchen and Cocktails in Boise
- Le Peep, a breakfast and lunch restaurant, in Meridian
- Leaf Teahouse in Boise
- Microsoft specialty store in Boise
- Lane Structural Engineering in Boise
- Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center’s Neuroscience Institute to include memory and stroke clinics.
SOUTH CENTRAL IDAHO
Blaine, Camas, Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka and Twin Falls counties
- Sugar beet growers have asked the U.S. Department of Commerce to investigate potential sugar dumping by Mexico. The allegations stem from increased imports from Mexico during a time in 2006 when sugar prices dropped by 50 percent. Mexico’s share of the sugar market doubled in 2013 from 9 percent while the U.S. Department of Agriculture spent $278 million in 2013 on sugar subsidiaries to mitigate the impact of low prices on producers. U.S. sugar growers claim they will lose a billion dollars in 2014. The U.S. International Trade Commission has preliminarily agreed with the charges, and the Department of Commerce will likely issue a ruling in 2015. Sugar beet production continues to fall across the nation as producers shift to more profitable crops.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Grants to 117 schools across Idaho. This is an initiative to introduce fruits and vegetables as snacks that students normally would not try and will likely include many Idaho products. There were 20 schools in south central Idaho that will receive on average $21,000 in grant funding from a statewide total of nearly $532,000.
- The first cutting of hay occurred in south central Idaho with mixed results due to rain. The weather has been excellent for the most part with planting ahead of schedule for corn and beans. Temperatures have ranged from up to six degrees higher than the normal so concern for hay and alfalfa quality as the summer progresses is high especially considering prices for quality hay at as much as $250 a ton. The continued drought in California will see heightened competition for the commodity.
- The Life Church Wood River broke ground May 31 for its 8,600-square-foot church in Hailey. The church has changed names since 1979 when it was founded but held the ground since 1997. It will be the first new church in Hailey in 25 years.
- A $10.5 million two-year road levy failed in Blaine County by 109 votes. Forty-eight percent of voters favored it. The county commissioners expect to resubmit the request. They are also considering raising vehicle registration fees in the county to subsidize roadwork, tying it more directly to users.
- Iconoclast Bookstore has raised over $69,000 in donations to keep its doors open. The continued poor economy in the destination tourist resort area of Ketchum threatens boutique, niche retail businesses that are part of the draw for many return visitors and second homeowners. “I’ve had donations from people as far away as France, England and South Africa,” owner Sarah Hedrick said. Fundraising included a concert by Carol King, who signed books in the store on many occasions.
- The Community School board has approved construction of a new Creative Arts and Middle School. It has pledges of $6 million, and the remaining $1.5 million will be raised through a capital campaign. The 20,500-square-foot two-story building will include a lunchroom, music and arts classrooms, a production studio, a maker’s laboratory and a test kitchen. Work will begin this summer after the current middle school is razed. Completion is scheduled for May 2015.
- The city of Sun Valley will replace the wall around the iconic Sinclair Station on Trail Creek Road near the resort. All Seasons Landscaping will replace the pathway wall for $220,000 before Labor Day.
- The Ketchum City Council voted unanimously to prohibit non-domestic and exotic animals from performing in circuses in the city. Students from Sage School presented their case for the ban to the city councils in the Wood River Valley, but Ketchum was the only one to act.
- Wendell School District voters renewed a $155,000 two-year supplemental levy. There will be no change to tax bills. The district is still addressing facility issues after a $3.1 million bond failed earlier this year.
- Hub City High School graduated its first class this spring. There were 11 graduates in the Wendell School District’s alternative high school, which was started last fall in the former fire station. The school was created after numerous students moved to Hagerman’s alternative high school and possibly other surrounding school districts, highlighting the need for an alternative school.
- The Minidoka War Relocation Center, also referred to as the Hunt Camp, is undergoing renovation of its entry guard tower. Boise State University’s Construction Management Program students are doing the work, and the Friends of Minidoka also received a $280,000 matching grant from the National Park Service. At its peak, the Hunt Camp was the seventh largest city in Idaho with a population of over 13,000 Japanese Americans. Morrison Knudsen of Boise was awarded the $3.5 million contract to build the camp in 1942. Cole Architects and Axiom Engineering are handling the project, which should be completed this summer. The National Park Service is currently planning and designing a Visitor’s Center that could open by 2017.
- The Valley School District renewed a $300,000 two-year levy that will support the 600-student district that includes Hazelton and much of rural Jerome County. The supplemental levy will support programs and teaching positions.
- The Canyons Park Authority Board, a group of recreationists, is seeking a $258,000 Recreational Trails Program grant and a $515,400 Recreational Road and Bridge Fund grant to create a park on the north rim of the Snake River Canyon at the Perrine Bridge into Twin Falls. The board has formally asked the Jerome County Commission to contribute to the match required to obtain the grants. The board hopes to raise $150,000 from donors throughout the Magic Valley.
- Standlee Hay has set up a distribution center for its feed products in Hagerstown, Md., to serve customers in eastern, mid-western, mid-Atlantic and northeastern states. The company will hire 20, and the hay product will arrive by rail at the distribution center and then be distributed by truck.
- Idaho Milk Products will pay $170,000 in fines to the Environmental Protection Agency for releasing water with too-high acidity rates into the local wastewater. Local officials acknowledged there was no damage to the plant or its infrastructure from the release. In April 2012, the company paid $52,000 in fines to the EPA for the same kind of violation, guaranteeing then to hire an internal monitor.
- Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott in Twin Falls with 92 rooms and 125-person conference room. The property is managed by Pennbridge Lodging Corp. of Utah.
- Chobani will reduce its workforce in Twin Falls by an unknown number. The layoffs will impact temporary workers hired to package yogurt until custom designed equipment is installed. Other Chobani employees affected by the layoff will receive an eight-week severance packages, according to the company.
- The Orpheum Theatre, the Motor Vu Drive-In and the Twin Cinema 12 in Twin Falls after 50 years in operation as owner Larry Roper retires.
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
- Last month, the Idaho State University awarded a bid to Mickelson Construction out of Blackfoot to remove the iconic “I” on Red Hill. Work on the hillside is expected to be complete by the end of the summer. Portions of Red Hill and the trails below were closed last fall after erosion to the hillside raised safety concerns. After several months of studies, the university decided to remove the “I” for safety reasons. A committee is exploring several options for replacing the landmark and is actively seeking ideas from current students and alumni.
- Officials with C-A-L Ranch Stores are planning to move their longtime Pocatello store to the Pine Ridge Mall in Chubbuck later this year. The store will reopen in the former Macy’s location in September.
- State and local leaders gathered at the Idaho Central Credit Union in Chubbuck to discuss the future of economic development in southeastern Idaho. The event, cosponsored by the Idaho National Laboratory, the credit union and Portnuef Medical Center, considered creation of a regional economic development organization.
Bear Lake County
- A study conducted by a team of Idaho State University graduate students found that a proposed new mine near Paris would be an economic boon to the area. The mine would generate over 350 new jobs and millions of dollars in payroll in other economic sectors including education, hospitality, retail, health care and government.
- Melalecua recently hosted a mortgage burning party for 24 employees and independent contractors compensated by the company. The party is an annual tradition, and over the past few years 167 people associated with the Idaho Falls-based company have burned their mortgages.
- Within a year Ammon will be the home for a new Cabela’s store. In the meantime, the cities of Ammon and Idaho Falls are cooperating on a $3.5 million expansion and widening of Hitt Road to handle the increase in traffic expected with the retailer’s opening.
- To reduce the risk of summer wildfires, the Bureau of Land Management has been conducting planned burns on about 40 acres. Officials hope the burns rejuvenate quaking aspen stands and encourage new growth of mountain shrubs while reducing the amount of fuel for fire, enhancing the safety and property protection around Soda Springs.
- Rigby is the latest Idaho city to undergo a community review. The goal is to help the city create a community development strategy through expert advice on economic and community development. The community review involves two teams – one of local leaders and the other of experts in development and planning in areas like the arts, education, recreation, economics, business, zoning and financial services. The Idaho Community Review program is a collaborative project of the Idaho Rural Partnership, the Association of Idaho Cities, the Idaho Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Rural Development, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, the University of Idaho, the Idaho Department of Labor and a host of other federal, state, local and private organizations. For more information, see http://irp.idaho.gov/home/community_review/
- After becoming a four-year school in 2001, enrollment at Brigham Young University-Idaho grew annually until a year ago. The spring term in 2013 broke that trend. According to school officials, enrollment declined to 12,931 from 14,007, a drop of 7.7 percent. The school cited the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ recent decision to lower the minimum age for missionary service as the reason. Traditionally, many Mormon young adults choose to serve volunteer missions for the church, and the lowered age requirement has served to increase the number of those missionaries.
- Magnida Magnolia Nitrogen Idaho moved one step closer to building a $1.5 billion fertilizer plant in Power County in May when the Department of Environmental Quality issued an air permit for the proposed plant. Magnida Chief Executive Ric Sorbo said the agency received just four comments on its application, raising concern about possible odor and dust emissions. When complete, the plant will create an estimated 165 jobs. Sorbo said the estimated economic boost to Power County and southeastern Idaho could be close to $1 billion.
- The city of Victor is seeking a Federal Lands Access Program grant. The $1.5 million grant would fund a bike path connecting the community to the Wyoming boarder. If the grant is awarded, Victor will need to contribute $100,000 to the project.
Dan.Cravens@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 236-6710 ext. 3713