Around Idaho: July Economic Activity

Information provided in this article has been gathered from various sources throughout the state, including professional sources, news releases, weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.

Northern Idaho
North Central Idaho
Southwestern Idaho
South Central Idaho
Southeastern Idaho
Eastern Idaho

NORTHERN IDAHO – Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone counties

Kootenai County

  • North Idaho College opened its new Aerospace Center of Excellence on June 30. The center will offer training in aerospace component fabrication and testing for workers wishing to join northern Idaho’s growing aerospace manufacturing industry.
  • A dangerous fire season has overworked firefighting services. The Panhandle National Forest Service has already exceeded its average annual fire retardant use and is currently averaging six forest fires per day. Several fires have encroached on recreational areas and lakefronts, impeding are tourism.
  • Tourism in Hayden was hampered by a health advisory concerning a toxic algae bloom on Hayden Lake. People were advised by the Panhandle Health District not to swim in the lake until the problem is resolved.
  • The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an injunction that would shut down poker rooms in the Coeur d’Alene Casino. The Coeur d’Alene tribe is fighting the injunction, arguing that poker is not an illegal form of gambling because it is a contest of skill.
  • The Coeur d’Alene City Council voted to vacate a lot for the construction of a new hotel tower for the Coeur d’Alene Resort. The hotel tower will provide an additional 200 rooms, which are designed to help attract larger business conferences.

Bonner County

  • Retired Air Force Major Jim Kaiser has taken a newly created role as the director of the Priest River and Sandpoint airports. The hire is part of a plan to extend the existing taxiway and rebuild runways, among other enhancements.
  • Drought conditions have forced Washington State officials to reduce the water flow to Priest Lake. Officials say they are unlikely to be able to maintain water levels at the usual height for summer recreation which will affect tourism.

Boundary County

  • The Selkirk-Pend Orielle Transit bus system – SPOT – is reporting an uptick in ridership midway through July, increasing the likelihood of a grant renewal for the 2016 grant year. SPOT is currently the only public transit system in Boundary County. If the grant is not renewed, Boundary would become the only Idaho county without a public transit system.

Shoshone County

  • A rock burst in the Galena mine caused a small earthquake in Wallace. Rock bursts occur when large rock sheets settle from changing pressures. The city of Wallace escaped with only minor damage from the earthquake.

Benewah County

  • The Benewah County Restoration Partnership is moving forward with a $140 million budget to begin restoration plans for the Coeur d’Alene basin. The objective is to restore river areas to boost recreational tourism.

Sam.Wolkenhauer@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 457-8789 ext 4451

NORTH CENTRAL IDAHO  – Clearwater, Idaho, Latah, Lewis and Nez Perce counties

Region

  •  Warm, dry spring weather, followed by two weeks of scorching heat in late June and early July, moved harvest up about four weeks in much of north central Idaho. A couple days of rainfall followed when the heat moderated. Some crops, especially garbanzos and peas, were saved by the rain, but for some wheat on the verge of harvest it caused sprout damage. The net result is lower yields and poorer quality than normal.
  •  The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture designated all 10 north central Idaho counties as natural disaster areas on July 15 because of the drought, making landowners potentially eligible for emergency loans and other assistance from the Farm Services Agency for crop or livestock loss. Farmers have eight months from the time of designation to apply for emergency loans. Clearwater, Latah, Benewah, Bonner and Kootenai counties were named primary natural disaster areas, while Idaho, Lewis, Nez Perce, Boundary and Shoshone counties were designated contiguous disaster counties. On July 14, the Clearwater County commissioners made an emergency declaration after farmers in the Fraser area reported losing as much as two-thirds of their wheat and hay crops to the persistent hot, dry weather.
  •  Ranchers will have higher feeding costs for their cattle because pasture and rangeland grasses dried up earlier than normal, reducing both the quantity and quality of forage available for grazing. Cattle producers will have to start using protein supplements and may have to feed hay earlier than normal. Hay yields also were lower than normal, so prices are relatively high.

 Clearwater County

  •  Elk River, a city of 120,  raised $20,000 to help construct an emergency services facility, which will include a firehouse with four bays, a training room, kitchen and restrooms. The city plans to donate the property and provide water and sewer services, and will continue to raise funds until it qualifies for an Idaho Department of Commerce grant.

Idaho and Lewis Counties

  •  The Idaho County Airport in Grangeville has postponed its $8 million runway reconstruction project. Originally slated to begin in July and end by November, it now will occur in 2016. Federal funding, which will pay for 90 percent of the project, did not arrive in time for a July start. A delayed summer start would have meant pouring asphalt in November or December, which is too cold.
  • Demolition of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management office in Cottonwood began in early July to make way for a new office complex, which should open next summer. The demolition and construction is expected to cost about $1.7 million and last about one year. More than 40 people work for the BLM in Cottonwood.
  • The Grangeville City Council denied Syringa Hospital permission to build a helipad for air transport of patients. The city’s planning and zoning commission held three public hearings and reviewed numerous written comments before determining that safety issues, traffic problems and the effect on neighbors and property values from a helipad outweighed the benefits. Hospital officials estimated a helipad would cut at least 20 minutes from the time it now takes to prepare and transfer a patient from the hospital to the Idaho County Airport.
  • A federal judge ordered on July 10 that work on the Selway Salvage timber sale be delayed while a lawsuit filed by Idaho Rivers United goes forward. The central issue is whether Forest Road 652 is open for hauling timber. It crosses private land to reach the state endowment land to be logged following last fall’s Johnson Bar forest fire. Idaho Forest Group bought the Idaho Department of Lands timber sale June 19 for its Grangeville mill. The timber sale, which would remove 6.8 million board feet of timber, would raise about $2 million for Idaho public schools.
  • The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests partnered with the Nez Perce Tribe and Forest Youth Conservation Corps in July to capture and transfer tadpoles from a former mine site to a millpond near Musselshell Work Center. A Forest Service restoration project in Lolo Creek revealed artificial ponds created from the mine’s dredging activity where toads and frogs have been breeding since the 1970s. Over 3,600 Western Toad and Columbia Spotted Frog tadpoles were successfully transferred to a nearby pond. With toad species across the West in decline, keeping existing populations alive can help the species and also prevent regulations being imposed under the Threatened and Endangered Species Act. The Youth Conservation Corps brings high school students together with Forest Service biologists and other specialists, teaching them about career opportunities in environmental sciences.
  • The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests celebrated the 75th anniversary of the first smokejumpers last month. On July 12, 1940, Rufus Robinson and Earl Cooley made the first ever jump to a fire on Marten Creek in the Nez Perce National Forest. Today, smokejumpers are a vital tool in fighting wildland fires. Smokejumpers, who parachute into remote areas to combat fires, are employed in large numbers by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. They often are sent early to prevent a small fire from growing. Since the Forest Service established a smokejumper base at Grangeville in 1951, the base has made more than 9,000 fire jumps.
  •  A fire on June 26 destroyed the South Fork Café on Main Street in Stites, a city of 210 residents.

Latah County

  • The city of Moscow recently authorized a long-term financing plan to pay its $2.5 million share of matching funds needed to realign the runway at the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport, according to the Moscow-Pullman Daily News. The project, estimated to cost estimated $89 million to $119 million, has been authorized to apply for $30 million from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program. The project includes land acquisition, moving a wetlands that otherwise would be destroyed, realignment of the runway, relocating a power line and removing a hill east of the airport. The changes will make it easier to serve larger aircraft. The improvements to the airport are expected to enhance economic development by making the airport more attractive to emerging businesses, such as technology firms, that depend on airports for access to customers all over the globe. Construction should begin next spring and end in 2018.
  • A Moscow manufacturer closed in March after 33 years in business. Chip and Maria Geffre closed the business they started in their garage. Mr. Cabinet specialized in European cabinetry, and employed more than 20 people until the housing market collapsed in 2007.
  • The University of Idaho’s College Assistance Migrant Program recently learned it will receive federal funding for another five years. For 21 years, the program has provided services to 560 students from migrant or seasonal farm work backgrounds. The CAMP program assists its students financially through the first year of classes and continues its support throughout the reminder of students’ college careers through academic assistance and counseling.

Nez Perce and Asotin Counties

  •  McCann Limited Partnership and some other partners will soon break ground on a 69-room Hampton Inn on Nez Perce Drive in Lewiston. A&A Construction and Development of Spokane is the general contractor for the hotel, which could open by June 2016. Initially, only the first three floors of the four-floor hotel will be used. When demand rises, the fourth floor will be completed, adding 31 guest rooms. When it opens, the hotel will hire about 25 people.
  • After a $400,000 upgrade earlier this year, the Lewis-Clark Terminal in north Lewiston can handle more wheat. It added a fourth loading pit and expanded storage. The new pit can handle 17 to 18 trucks per hour, compared with the 13 per hour at the other three. That will help keep up with the faster pace at which today’s combines harvest crops. The new storage space holds 1.4 million bushels of wheat, bringing the terminal’s capacity 8.15 million bushels. With old elevators being closed in rural areas, the additional capacity is needed.
  • Clearwater Paper, whose largest plant employs 1,370 people in Lewiston, is one of the companies funding a nationwide $20 million advertising campaign highlighting the role of paper in Americans’ lives. The paper industry hopes to stem declines in U.S. demand for paper and paperboard, the thicker material used for cereal boxes and other packaging. Since 2000, annual consumption of paper has dropped by 108 pounds per person, and annual consumption of packaging material has dropped by 56 pounds per person.
  • When CHS Primeland opens a new storage center and retail outlet at the Port of Wilma next spring, the 12-acre site will allow the coop to receive dry fertilizer by rail or truck and liquid fertilizer by rail, barge or truck. Currently, CHS Primeland has limited capabilities to handle fertilizer transported by train and no way to accept liquid fertilizer that’s barged. The resulting reduction in transportation costs should result in savings for farmers. A 55,000-square-foot building will store up to 24,000 tons of dry fertilizer, while 15 tanks will hold hold up to 2 million gallons of liquid fertilizer. CHS Primeland expects to add four employees to its existing staff of about 150 in north central Idaho and southeast Washington.
  • A dialysis center recently opened in Lewiston. The American Renal Associates center can serve about 130 patients at 22 stations. It will make up for the closure of Tri-State’s Lewiston dialysis center, which served about 70 people, and handle expected growth. About 20 people work at the center.

 Closure

  • Moscow’s RadioShack, employing seven.

 Kathryn.Tacke@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 799-5000 ext. 3984

SOUTHWESTERN IDAHO – Ada, Adams, Boise, Canyon, Elmore, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, Valley & Washington counties

Boise Metro Area

  • State-owned Chinese company Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd. has offered $23 billion, or about $21 per share to buy Micron Technology, Inc. Analysts say the acquisition is unlikely, given several factors including an offer that undervalues Micron. Micron’s stock was up 11.3 percent following the offer. (Source: Idaho Statesman)
  • Owner and commercial brokerage Hawkins & Cannariato is renovating the shopping center across from St. Luke’s in downtown Boise. St. Luke’s leased some space in the old center with hopes to create temporary relocation space as the hospital underwent renovations and construction. In fall 2014, St. Luke’s changed its mind and terminated the lease. The shopping center will see new life when Café Zupas, a Sandy, Utah, based soup-salad-and-sandwich chain moves in, providing an anchor for the center. (Source: Idaho Business Review)
  • Silverback Learning Solutions, a Boise company that creates software that handles student data for school districts, has raised $2.4 million to continue growing. The company was started by Jim Lewis, a former superintendent of the Blaine County School District. The software, called Mileposts, is used in 125 school districts in 20 states. Silverback has recently signed a contract with the El Paso Independent School District, the 10th largest district in Texas. (Source: Idaho Business Review)
  • The 9th and Idaho building in downtown Boise was purchased by H&S Financial Corp from CLM & DFM Broadway, LLC, both based in Ketchum, for an undisclosed amount. The assessed value of the property is $12.164 million. The primary tenants at the 92,160-square-foot building are Clearwater Analytics, Merrill Lynch, Jones Gledhill Fuhrman and Cisco Systems. Clearwater Analytics will move to the City Center Plaza when it opens in fall 2016. (Source: Idaho Business Review)
  • Meal Ticket, a Boise technology company that provides analytics and marketing support to food service distributors, has reported raising $674,623 in equity. Company CEO Wink Jones said that money will fund growth and execution of its services. (Source: Idaho Business Review)
  • The Boise Hawks baseball team’s new ownership group, Agon Sports and Entertainment, hopes to build a new stadium as part of a mixed-use development that would include hotels, restaurants, conference centers, office space and residential housing. The group would try to attract enough private development revenue to convince local governments to chip in. (Source: the Idaho Statesman)
  • The Boise Hotel will be replaced by a Wyndham Garden Hotel at the Boise Airport. (Source: Idaho Business Review)
  • Albertsons Companies Inc., the second-largest U.S. supermarket chain, has filed for an initial public offering. The company expects to raise $100 million. (Source: Idaho Statesman)
  • The Boise Airport has added two nonstop flights. Alaska Airlines will offer a daily round-trip service to Reno beginning Nov. 5 and Southwest will begin offering a Monday-Friday route to Sacramento starting Jan. 6. (Source: Idaho Statesman)
  • An undisclosed company, codenamed “Project Burbank,” has received a Tax Reimbursement Incentive package from the Idaho Department of Commerce. The company has not committed to Idaho, but would receive the incentive if they did commit to the project. Project Burbank would hire 500 new employees with an average annual wage of $43,900, about $2,000 a year more than the Boise metro average. (Source: Idaho Business Review)
  • Another hotel project for downtown Boise has been announced. PEG Development of Provo, Utah is planning to build a 150-160-bed Hyatt Place Hotel on the corner of 10th and Bannock streets. This will be the fourth hotel project announced for downtown since March. Construction on the hotel should start before the end of the year. (Source: Idaho Business Review)
  • Saint Alphonsus is moving its Nampa hospital from 12th Avenue, two miles south of downtown Nampa, to the Garrity interchange on I-84. (Source: Idaho Business Review)
  • The College of Western Idaho is adding 32.5 acres to its Nampa Campus. CWI has no immediate plans to develop the property, which is on the northern end of the campus and extends to Cherry Lane, but it will be part of the college master plan to support growth through 2040. (Source: Idaho Business Review)
  • The Ford Idaho Center will have a new operator starting in the fall. The Nampa City Council voted unanimously to award a contract to Philadelphia-based Spectra to take over operations of the arena and outdoor amphitheater on Oct. 1. (Source: Idaho Business Review)
  • Valley Wide Cooperative and Valley Co-ops, agricultural cooperatives with retail, energy and agronomy divisions, have merged. The merger will become effective Sept. 1. (Source: Idaho Press-Tribune)
  • Commercial vacancy rates in many markets in the Treasure Valley have reached pre-recession levels, even as more than 5 million square feet of office, retail and industrial space has come online since 2010. (Source: Idaho Business Review)
  • The developer of The Inn at 500 Capitol, a boutique hotel proposed for the corner of Myrtle Street and Capitol Boulevard, is hoping to get $468,000 in Capital City Development Corp. funds for improvements in or near the public right of way, including streetscape improvements and utility line relocations. CCDC is expected to approve the proposal in August. (Source: Idaho Business Review)
  • Construction has begun on a new Terry Reilly Health Clinic as part of a larger development called Hope Plaza. In addition to the 6,700 square-foot clinic, the plaza will include a shelter, day care and youth center for victims of domestic violence. (Source: Boise Weekly)
  • Demolition of an existing building on Ninth and River streets has begun in preparation of construction work on a six story condo project called The Afton. The developer, Michael Hormaechea, expects to start construction in September or October. (Source: Idaho Business Review)
  • Maverik, a gas station and convenience store chain, is planning to build two LEED-certified gas station/stores in Boise. LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes green building strategies and practices. With the construction of the stores as well as other expansions, Maverik plans to add 50 employees in Boise over the next five years. (Source: Idaho Business Review)
  • Telic, a Boise-based footwear company, is moving its production facility to Caldwell from Buford, Georgia. The company will partner with High Country Plastics, who currently manufactures livestock and agricultural products, to manufacture its footwear. Telic currently employs 15 people and plans to add 10 more by early 2016. High Country Plastics employs 27 people and will add more as the number of orders for Telic shoes continues to grow. (Source: Idaho Statesman)

Boise County

  • A fundraiser for Idaho City businesses that burned down in a fire in June raised about $15,000 to help the business owners. The money will be split evenly among the owners. (Source: Idaho Business Review)

Payette County

  • The Internet Truckstop Group, based in New Plymouth, is raising the minimum wage it pays its employees to $15 per hour. Almost half of the company’s 250 full- and part-time employees will see pay increases as a result. Employees currently earning $15 an hour will see their pay increase to $20 an hour after they are with the company for two years. (Source: Idaho Statesman)

Openings

  • Park-It Market, a do-it-yourself car sales parking lot, on State Street near Collister Drive.
  • Sykes, a call center that will occupy the former Maximus space on the Hewlett-Packard campus. The company will hire 300 employees by the end of 2015 and will grow to more than 1,500 jobs in the future.

Closings

  • Barbara Barbara, a boutique clothing store in Downtown Boise.

  Ethan.Mansfield@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 332-3570 ext. 3455

SOUTH CENTRAL IDAHO – Blaine, Camas, Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka and Twin Falls counties

Regional

  • The U.S. Department of Commerce has designated the four-county area of Twin Falls, Jerome, Minidoka and Cassia counties an Investment in Manufacturing Community Partnership. The program stresses mutually beneficial partnerships and participation between the community’s industry, governmental leaders both local and state, and its economic development professionals.
  • Jan Rogers has stepped down from the Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization as executive director to take on similar regional economic development duties in the eastern part of the state promoting Idaho Falls and Blackfoot.

Blaine County

  • Bellevue will oversee its own police force, no longer relying on oversight from the Hailey Police. This mutually beneficial arrangement allows Hailey to drop below an employment ceiling for health insurance premium affordability. Hailey has been training the Bellevue Marshall and officers since 2011 under contract toward the goal of independence.
  • The 33rd annual Allen Conference was held at the Sun Valley Resort. Topics were diverse including driverless cars, colonizing Mars, eradicating polio and malaria, branding in the fashion industry, policing in America and ISIS. (Source: Deadline Hollywood, Hollywood Chamber of Commerce)
  • May local option tax receipts were up significantly compared to the previous year, except in the retail category which fell almost 7 percent. Collections for the regular LOT were up almost 13 percent to $98.623 while the January 2014 implementation of a 1 percent LOT allotted toward supporting commercial air flights was up 11 percent to $89,528. (Source: Mountain Express)
  • SmartAsset’s survey deemed Blaine County the seventh lowest tax burden among Idaho’s 44 counties. Property taxes were the driver with a city rate of .808 in 2014 and .692 percent in the rural areas of the county. The survey did not include the local options taxes – food, entertainment, lodging taxes. The rates are low because the aggregate value is the highest in the state. Blaine County ranks 39th in gas taxes.
  • The U.S. Olympic Committee approved Sun Valley as a training site for alpine skiing, freestyle skiing, freestyle skiing and snowboarding. This follows three years that Sun Valley has served as a Nordic Olympic and Paralympic training site. It is rare to have more than two sports served by one site. Training will begin this summer and requires 45 days a season dedicated to a group of 75 athletes, coaches and support staff to train. (Source: Idaho Mountain Express)

Minidoka County

  • The Wilson Theatre in Rupert also known as the Renaissance Arts Center held its open house celebrating the completion of 15 years of renovation and upgrade. The historic theater is restored to its 1920’s style and is an icon of the community located on the Town Square. (Source: Times-News)

Twin Falls County

  • Murtaugh has approved a chicken operation that will provide Hy-Line with fertilized eggs shipped direct to its incubation facility in Burley. Those hens when hatched in Burley will be distributed to laying operations. The facility in Murtaugh will be cage-free with up to 40,000 chickens and roosters roaming the second floor of the barn.  (Source: Times-News)
  • The Twin Falls School District has rectified its compensation policy for classified employees, pushing up the range and providing a retention bonus paid out after 10 years with the district. This impacts about 450 hourly employees that work in non-supervisory jobs.
  • Long-time Twin Falls resident and operator Dan Willie of Oasis Stop ‘N Go, Canyon Crest Dining & Event Center and the Kickback Rewards Systems has entered into an agreement with Twin Stop convenience store operators and Jackson Oil Company to purchase the nine Twin Stops in the region. This transaction will ratchet up total employment for Oasis Stop ‘N Go entities to over 450 workers in south central Idaho.  (Source: Times-News)
  • Monsanto held its grand opening for the new Wheat Technology Center in Filer. According to Kristin Schneider, lead scientist for Monsanto, ‘this facility will be the core R&D facility for the company nationally’, with 17 full-time employees and 20 seasonal workers. The scientists and plant breeders will be centralized in the site that Monsanto gained in its acquisition of Seminis Seed Company in 2005. Two new greenhouses have been erected for studies.

 Under Construction

  • GNC, Panda Express, Dominoes have committed to leases at a partially constructed strip mall in Burley.
  • Westmark Credit Union, a state chartered institution, broke ground in Twin Falls, its first branch in south central Idaho. Administrative offices are located in Idaho Falls with over 50,000 members. Its opening is anticipated for early 2016.

Openings

  • Taco Bell opened in Burley at the former Bonanza Bowling location.
  •  Bed, Bath and Beyond, Ulta and Petco all opened its doors to shoppers at Canyon West strip mall in July. This followed the opening of Dick’s Sporting Goods in March. (Source: Times News)
  • Rock Creek Amphitheater is open to music concerts in Old Town Twin Falls.
  • Ketchum Burrito opened its doors in Twin Falls, its fourth location with the other three restaurants in Ketchum, Hailey and McCall.

Jan.Roeser@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 735-2500 ext. 3639

SOUTHEASTERN IDAHO – Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Caribou, Franklin,  Oneida  & Power counties

Bannock County

  • “Project Pipe,” a planned industrial facility near the Pocatello Regional Airport that would have brought 80 new jobs to the area, has been halted by the company behind the project, according to the Idaho State Journal. Pocatello officials said the project had been stymied by delays, some of which were related to FAA regulations that essentially killed progress on the project.
  • Grace Lutheran Church in, which already operates a grade school, broke ground on a new high school July 4.It is expected to open in August 2016 with an enrollment of at least 200 students.

Caribou County

  • Caribou County resident and State Sen. John Tippets has been appointed by Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter as the new director of the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. Tippets, who resigned from the Idaho Senate to take the position, is also a former state representative and previously worked for Agrium in Soda Springs. Otter chose Soda Springs rancher Mark Harris to fill Tippets’ seat.

Oneida County

  • Despite temperatures of well over 100 degrees Malad’s Annual Welsh Festival on June 26-27 drew thousands of visitors to the community.

Dan.Cravens@labor.idaho.gov,
regional economist (208) 236-6710 ext. 3713

EASTERN IDAHO – Bonneville, Butte, Clark, Custer, Fremont, Jefferson, Lemhi, Madison & Teton Counties

Bonneville County

  • Eastern Idaho Technical College will begin offering an 11-month radiation safety technology program starting Aug. 24. The Idaho National Laboratory is funding the program for the first year to get it up and running.
  • The city of Ammon is moving into its third year of a five-year plan to install water meters citywide. According to a report in the Post Register, the city has already installed about 2,000 residential meters. Total cost of the project is expected to be around $1.7 million.
  • Bonneville County Commissioners recently voted to consolidate the county’s emergency medical service, which includes the Swan Valley EMS, under the city of Idaho Falls. The consolidation will transfer approximately $300,000 per year that now goes to the Swan Valley EMS program to the Idaho Falls Fire Department. The change will take effect Oct. 1.
  • Idaho Falls will host the second annual Intermountain Energy Summit Aug. 18 – 19 at the Shilo Inn Hotel. According to the city’s media release, “Conference speakers will focus on the Intermountain region’s role in developing a focused and well-coordinated public-private approach to the energy-water issues that can promote economic growth and lead to new breakthrough technologies in water and energy resiliency.”

Butte County

  • Candice Larsen announced she will step down as the Lost River Valley economic development official in mid-August. The position is largely funded by the Idaho Department of Commerce. A search for Larsen’s replacement will commence later this month.

Clark County

  • After successfully stopping the closure of the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station, the station recently gained another small victory. The U.S. House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee included the Sheep Station on its 2016 fiscal budget. The Sheep Station will now wait for a vote of approval from the House and Senate before the funding becomes official. The Sheep Station accounts for roughly 5 percent of the jobs in Clark County.

Custer County

  • A bill designed to protect the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains in and around Custer County will be voted on in the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee. The bill would designate more than 275,000 acres as a national monument.
  • Work is underway to construct a new athletic complex at the Challis-Mackay High School. The project includes an all-season track, little league-sized baseball fields and a new high school baseball field.

Fremont County

  • Construction has finally been completed on a critical bridge crossing Warm River near Ashton. The replacement has been in the works for the past four years and was funded through multiple grants. The bridge was originally constructed in 1930 and is a key crossing for winter recreation.

Jefferson County

  • Rigby recently held a Small Business Development Summit for local community members interested in either starting or expanding their business. Speakers were brought in from around the region to talk about the role small businesses play in rural communities and to discuss some of the resources available for local business owners and entrepreneurs. The summit was the latest addition to the Rigby Community Review that was held early last year.

Lemhi County

  • Northwest Farm Credit Services recently awarded South Lemhi School District in Leadore a Rural Community Grant of $2,000, as reported by the Recorder Herald. The grant will be used to help modernize the school library and update the sound system in the gym.

Madison County

  • BYU-Idaho graduated a record number of 1,891 students in July, 200 more than its previous record in 2013. Students received bachelor’s or associate degrees concluding the school’s spring semester. The university runs a full three semester track system each year and has become the state’s largest university since changing from two-year Ricks College to BYU-Idaho in 2001.

 Christopher.StJeor@labor.idaho.gov,
regional economist (208) 557-2500 ext. 3077

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