Around Idaho: Economic Activity in January 2018

Information provided in this article is from professional sources, news releases, weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.

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

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

Kootenai County

  • CDA 2030 has contracted with a Chicago-based consulting firm to conduct a market analysis and feasibility study for a potential performing arts and events center in Coeur d’Alene. The study is being jointly funded by CDA 2030 and the city’s urban renewal agency, Ignite CDA. CDA 2030 is a community-based project created to develop a vision for a bright future for greater Coeur d’Alene. Source: Spokane Journal of Business
  • Coeur d’Alene’s urban renewal agency, Ignite CDA, has proposed creating a new redevelopment district. The proposal specifies a new district of 54 acres in west Coeur d’Alene along the Spokane River. Source: Spokane Journal of Business
  • Construction has begun on a new 47-unit apartment complex in Coeur d’Alene. The rentals, located across the street from the city library, will be marketed to middle- and upper-income tenants. Source: Spokane Journal of Business
  • Construction is underway on a new two story commercial building in Coeur d’Alene’s Riverstone development. The Coeur d’Alene-based Orthopedic Physical Therapy Institute will occupy the ground floor while the second floor remains available for a future tenant. Source: Spokane Journal of Business

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

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

Region

  • Washington State’s hourly minimum wage rose from $11 to $11.50 Jan. 1. It is slated to rise to $12 in 2019 and $13.50 in 2020. Washington has the highest minimum wage of all the states. Twelve states now have minimum wages above $10. Idaho’s minimum wage remains the same as the federal minimum wage of $7.25. That minimum last rose in July 2009. Source: Washington State Department of Labor & Industries
  • Lewis-Clark State College started the Northwest Intermountain Metal Manufacturing (NIMM) program Jan. 2. Clearwater Economic Development Association (CEDA), which spearheaded the efforts to improve preparation for manufacturing jobs, recruited 90 high schools from throughout north central Idaho and southeast Washington to participate in the  2½  year program. With funding from the National Science Foundation, the program is designed to meet the needs of regional manufacturers that fabricate metal including equipment, jet boat and ammunition makers and machine shops. Students will receive training and earn an industry-recognized certificate in mechanical computer-aided design and drafting or in machining and electronics. Students will do much of the work on a Web-based program and will attend courses in Lewiston in the summer. They also will have the opportunity to work at a local manufacturer during their last year in the program. The Northwest Business Development Association awarded CEDA $20,000 to distribute to all students who finish the NIMM program in August 2018. Sources: Lewis-Clark State College, Idaho County Free Press

Idaho and Lewis Counties

  • Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest officials are studying nearly 90 streams and rivers in the 4-million-acre forest to determine if they are suitable for protection under the 1968 Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Idaho and Clearwater county commissions and the Clearwater Basin Collaborative urged the agency to undertake the suitability analysis so those rivers determined unsuitable will not have so many restrictions on logging, road building and other activities.  Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Idaho County Commission rejected plans to build a landfill in Adams County with four other counties based on the cost. Idaho, Adams, Clearwater, Lewis and Valley counties signed an agreement in 2016 to develop a $1.3 million landfill near Council. Idaho and Lewis counties will continue to haul solid waste to a dump near Missoula, Montana. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • Riggins is enjoying an economic renaissance. Riggins White Water Market moved into its new larger grocery store in late December. The Riggins Taphouse, R&R/Rant and Rave Brewery, opened in January on Main Street. Annie’s Gifts, Grub and Gatherings and the Gouge Eye Grill also opened there in January. Source: Idaho County Free Press

Latah County

  • The City of Potlatch was awarded $80,000 from the newly created Idaho CDBG (Community Development Block Grants) Parks fund to install a splash pad in its Scenic 6 Park. Construction will begin this spring, and the pad will open this summer. Source: CEDA in Motion
  • A$10 million donation from the Idaho Central Credit Union will help finance construction of a new basketball arena at the University of Idaho. The 4,200-seat venue to be built immediately north of the Kibbie Dome will be named after the credit union, which made the largest donation in the school’s history. The credit union has 33 branches north of Riggins. The arena north of the Kibbie Dome is tentatively slated for completion by the start of the 2021-22 season. Opsis Architecture is designing the timber-based building, and Hoffman Construction Company of Portland will be the major contractor. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • The Moscow Food Co-op celebrated the grand opening of a grocery store and coffee bar on the University of Idaho campus in January. The 44-year-old coop, which has grown to be one of the large employers in downtown Moscow, also is developing plans to build a larger store in Pullman. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • COAST, a public transportation service for elderly citizens and those with disabilities, had a banner year in 2017, officials say. In 2017, COAST drivers in north central Idaho and southeast Washington made more than 22,100 trips covering 470,000 miles, up from 15,000 and 322,000 the year before. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Nez Perce and Asotin, Washington, Counties

  • Clearwater Paper, the largest private-sector employer in north central Idaho, announced in January that it plans to permanently eliminate up to 100 union jobs in May. It currently employs 1,400 people. The cuts will affect the tissue division, and mostly will occur through attrition or by leaving openings unfilled. Clearwater Paper’s net earnings in the first nine months of 2017 totaled $16.4 million compared with $40.2 million for the same months the year before. Those losses occurred before its largest customer – the national grocery store chain Kroger – began using a mix of suppliers instead of buying all of its store-brand paper products from Clearwater Paper. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • A developer based in Yakima plans to build an 80-room Best Western hotel with a 100-seat restaurant and residential housing units on Bridge Street in Clarkston, Washington. It started the permitting process in January. The Yakima-based developer purchased the Best Western RiverTree Inn on Bridge Street in 2014. It will remain in operation, but no longer be a Best Western after the new hotel opens. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Asotin, Washington, the county seat in the county of the same name, has cut services to its 1,300 residents. After a proposed levy lift failed in the November election, the city of 1,300 was forced to eliminate two police positions and reduce budgets for the fire department, parks and roads. Despite the cuts, the city is moving forward with plans to restore the marina, because it believes it will foster economic development. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  •  The owners of Boggan’s Oasis now plan to rebuild the restaurant along the Grande Ronde River and Washington State Route 129. The popular stopping place for rafting, fishing, hunting and motorcycle enthusiasts burned down in November. Heuett General Contracting in Clarkston began demolishing the restaurant’s skeleton in January. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Clarkston High School will not get a major remodel in the near future. Only 51 percent of voters in November approved a $60.5 million construction bond aimed at rebuilding much of the school and making improvements at other schools. School bonds in Washington require a 60 percent supermajority to pass. This was the third time in the past seven years that voters rejected proposals to improve the high school. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport saw a record number of boardings in 2017 — 72,848, up from 69,693 in 2016 and 58,725 in 2013. Those numbers do not include several thousand who took advantage of the casino flights and athletic charters. Both Delta and Alaska airlines reported increases. Daily flights are available to Seattle, Boise and Salt Lake City with connections anywhere in the world. Source: Lewiston Tribune

Openings

  • Once Around Again, a gift store and consignment shop, opened on Main Street in Grangeville this winter.
  • Hardware Brewing Co., a pub in a renovated hardware store, opened in Kendrick in December.
  • For the first time in its 44 years of operation, the Moscow Food Co-op is expanding.
  • Palouse Juice — a vegetarian, organic café — opened in December in downtown Moscow.
  • The Box Drop mattress chain opened a store near Walmart and Costco in Clarkston in January.

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

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

Ada County

  • Two towers to be built in downtown Boise at Fifth and Broad streets will be linked by a sky bridge. The nine-story south tower will include ground floor retail and parking, five levels of parking – including two that will span Broad Street – and three stories of office space. The 11-story north tower will feature four two-story “live work” units, one floor of office space, two levels of parking connected to the sky bridge and five stories of condominiums – four per floor. A landscaped outdoor plaza will span the two structures at the sixth floor. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • A vacant lot on Park Boulevard in Boise near the Falcon Building will be developed for families and seniors. The development will include a restaurant on the Boise River, 70 senior-living apartments, 67 family apartments and a parking garage on the bottom. The four-story building will be a team effort of the Gardner Company and the Harry W. Morrison Foundation. Source: BoiseDev
  • Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area has raised $6 million that will be added to its anticipated $14 million in increased revenue over the next 10 years. The $20 million will fund the 10-year master plan. The plan includes increased snowmaking, replacing a ski lift and remodeling lodges. The recreation area spent $4.6 million to help develop a year-around playground. This includes the Glade Runner mountain coaster, trampolines and bungee jumping, summer tubing, gold panning, a 1-acre lawn and three new “magic carpet” conveyor lifts. A 12,000-square-foot-patio with heated pavers and fires pits has been added. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area has experienced weather-related struggles this winter. For the first time since 1976-77 season, the ski resort closed temporarily for four days in January because of lack of snow. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Micron and Intel are ending their 12-year partnership to make flash memory, but they will continue to cooperate on manufacturing a special type of flash memory they call 3D XPoint. The 3D XPoint is manufactured at Micron’s plant in Lehi, Utah. The separation is not expected to affect employment in Boise, where Micron does most of its flash research and development. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Ten Mile Crossing is the Treasure Valley’s first taste of what has become commonplace in the metropolitan U. S. – multi-story office buildings far from the downtown core. Ten Mile Crossing and neighboring Ten Mile Creek are a collaboration between local developers Brighton Corp. and Gardner Company on the first large mixed-use development to the Interstate 84 and Ten Mile Road interchange. Benefits administrator AmeriBen became the first tenant at the Ten Mile Crossing in August in their two-story building. Paylocity and Horrocks Engineering will occupy space in a five-story building that will be completed in June. At neighboring Ten Mile Creek, 45 acres have been added to the 100-acre retail and residential companion to the office-oriented Ten Mile Crossing. Ground will be broken on a 240-unit apartment complex in January or February on a pair of “120-plexes” — four-story structures. Construction is underway on a Primary Health Medical Group clinic, and three retail buildings will be completed by the end of 2018. Ten Mile Crossing likely will not include homes, but a hotel is in the plans. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • The state of Idaho purchased the Hewlett-Packard campus on Chinden Boulevard in December for $110 million. The purchase includes eight buildings with 1.5 million square feet of space and nearly 200 acres that includes 54 acres of parking lots. The state plans to move agencies into some of the buildings gradually over the next several years. HP Inc. will stay in five of them for now, and its sister business, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, will keep at least one. They are now tenants, as is Sykes Enterprises, which runs a call center in one building. HP will continue leasing the space indefinitely. The state sold bonds to pay for the purchase amount, and $29 million was authorized by the Legislature for improvements. The bonds are scheduled to be paid off in just under 30 years. The Tax Commission will be the first agency to move in starting in the fall. The Tax Commission has paid out $40.8 million in rent for years at the Washington Group Plaza. This will be a savings to the state. Owning the campus will give the state great flexibility according to Bob Geddes, director of the Idaho Department of Administration. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Idaho native Robert Comstock moved his upscale fashion store from The Village at Meridian to downtown Boise. The move contrasts with the trend of stores moving out of downtown Boise to The Village. The new store opened Jan. 19 and features both men’s and women’s fashions. Robert Comstock started as a fashion designer of leather jackets in 1976 and has sold them at high-end stores across the country. Some of the jackets are limited editions with tags denoting how many were produced. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • The Taco Bell owned by franchisee ES-O-EN will tear down its current building on Overland Road in Boise and rebuild in the same location. The building has had several tenants and remodels over the years. The exterior will be updated, the drive-through lanes and parking features retained and landscaping and other features will see a facelift. SOURCE: BoiseDev

Adams County

  • A 2016 tentative agreement to construct a regional landfill in Adams County for joint use by Adams, Clearwater, Idaho, Lewis and Valley counties was scrapped when Idaho County pulled out of the agreement in December. The additional costs to be shared among the remaining four counties made the arrangement too costly. Valley County currently hauls up to 90 tons of trash per week to the Goodrich landfill in Adams County. When it exceeds that maximum, it must haul trash to a landfill near Mountain Home. In 2016, Valley County spent $750,000 to ship 12,500 tons of trash to Mountain Home. Source: McCall Star-News

Canyon County

  • Creekside Apartments on Iowa Avenue in Nampa is nearing completion, and the units have been leased. The 20 fourplexes have two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments and one eight-plex with one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartments. Still under construction are six of the fourplexes and the eight-plex with a completion date during 2018. Source: Idaho Press Tribune
  • Residents of Nampa can now apply for a U.S. passport at the city clerk’s office at Nampa City Hall. Prior to this residents could only apply for passports at the Canyon County Recorder’s Office in Caldwell. Source: Idaho Press Tribune
  • The Idaho Urologic Institute broke ground in January for a new clinic on Hunt Avenue in Nampa. The new clinic will house three urologists and replaces the existing clinic that has been open for 10 years. The new facility, a partner with Saint Alphonsus, will be located closer to the new Saint Alphonsus hospital. The clinic expects to see about 60 patients per day and will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Source: Idaho Press Tribune
  • The Nampa Gateway Center, a large retail complex off Garrity Boulevard and Interstate 84, has been sold to RCG Ventures LLC, a real estate investment group based in Atlanta, Georgia. The center has 442,706 square feet of commercial space. Its largest tenants include WinCo Foods, JC Penney, Edwards Stadium 12, Crunch Fitness and CircusTrix Idaho. The new owners are considering adding a medical and office component as well as restaurants and retail. The center is east of Saint Alphonsus’ new hospital and medical complex. Currently, half of the suites are empty according the RCG’s website. RCG Ventures focuses on shopping centers with a “potential for long-term ownership.” This is the first investment for RCG in Idaho. Source: Idaho Press Tribune
  • Boise Food Express began providing service to Nampa in mid-January. The restaurant home delivery company offers an app customers download, enter their ZIP code and see menus from 15 participating restaurants. Customers place an order and the food is delivered shortly thereafter. Boise Food Express is part of the national company Five Star Food Express. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • St. Luke’s and Saint Alphonsus partnered to fund a pilot program that would provide a free shuttle service from neighborhoods in north Nampa to WinCo. The shuttle service begins Feb. 3 and will run three months. The shuttle will follow a continuous route through north Nampa from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, dropping residents off at the WinCo on Garrity Boulevard near the Nampa Gateway Center, then picking them up to take them back home. If the pilot program is successful, the shuttle program could be expanded to twice a week. The need for the grocery shuttle was highlighted in research from the Invest Health Initiative last year, which found 33 percent of north Nampa residents live more than a half-mile away from a grocery store and many lack transportation to get to them. It is hoped that the shuttle can continue through the rest of 2018 and beyond, but that will be determined by the response of the community. Source; Idaho Press Tribune
  • Valley Regional Transit is proposing to build a new transit hub in south Nampa off 12th Avenue Road. The hub is one of the proposed changes in a transportation improvement plan to meet the area’s future growth and transportation needs. The plan has been developed by Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho. The new hub would be located near two new Nampa routes that began in mid-January. It would also be more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly intended for high amounts of foot traffic rather than vehicles. A location for the hub should be selected by March. Source: Idaho Press Tribune
  • Several road projects are planned for Nampa in the coming months. Nampa-Caldwell Boulevard to 12th Avenue and 11th Avenue from the Boulevard to Grant Street on Garrity will be reconstructed at a cost of about $4.7 million. The first Karcher Road exit, 33B, will be shut down and the second exit, which loops around onto West Karcher Road, will be widened at a cost between $3 million and $4 million. The 11th Avenue North and Industrial Road intersection will be restored at a cost of $2.5 million. A restoration project on Second and Third streets south between 12th Avenue South and 16th Avenue South in downtown Nampa will cost under $2 million. The fifth project is a roundabout at Robinson and Victory roads, set to begin in the spring and last four to six months, at a cost of $1 million. Source: Idaho Press Tribune
  • The Bird Stop will reopen in February after closing in May for renovations. The coffee shop-turned-restaurant will brew its own beer, serve more food and bring in more music. The Bird Stop is located in a building that was home to Caldwell Bank and Trust and remodeled in 1928 by a Boise architectural firm — the same firm that designed the Idaho State Capitol. While there will be major changes, old items will remain including a chandelier from Puerto Rico, the original ceiling and a mirror from the old Saratoga Hotel. Source: Idaho Press Tribune
  • Darigold was granted a tax break by Canyon County Commissioners for the expansion of its Caldwell facility. The tax break will support the addition of a second butter churn, which is almost complete. It will also allow expansion for the packaging lines and increase production at the plant. Darigold produces nonfat dry milk, skim milk powder, sweet cream buttermilk powder and bulk and consumer packaged butter and cream. Source: Idaho Press Tribune
  • After a 2017 survey found that 40 percent of the students at the College of Western Idaho experienced some amount of food insecurity, officials expanded the desk cubicle that had originally served as a food pantry to four food pantries across campus, with a fifth location on the way. The food donations to initially fill the pantries were made by students, faculty and staff, with a large donation from a local church. The college is exploring a partnership with the Idaho Foodbank and hopes to become a food bank site in a couple of months. CWI also plans to start collecting clothes for students in need. Source: Idaho Press Tribune
  • Caldwell City Council approved a new 157-house subdivision on 40 acres off U.S. Highway 20-26. Voyage Crossing North, to be built by Hayden Homes, was granted medium-density zoning with houses on lots averaging 6,700 square feet. Construction will begin this summer and could take three to five years to complete. Source: Idaho Press Tribune
  • Mercy Creek Associates, LLC received approval from the Nampa Development Corporation to begin an urban renewal project on the site of the old Mercy Hospital. The developer intends to build affordable senior housing at an estimated cost of $9.3 million. The new housing complex is scheduled to open in the summer of 2019. The building will have 60 units, which will house roughly 70 people. The rent will average between 20 and 50 percent of the market rate. The old hospital had been vacant for several years and was demolished in 2016 after a fire. Source: Idaho Press Tribune
  • The Cruzen-Murray Library opened for student use on Jan. 31 at the College of Idaho. All three floors of the library total 58,620 square feet — just slightly bigger than a football field — and will house 200,000 books. The library also includes a café, two multimedia classrooms and stronger Wi-Fi service. The plaza level of the library will be open 24/7 for students. Source: Idaho Press Tribune

Elmore County

  • St. Luke’s Elmore Medical Center in Mountain Home opened a new emergency department four times larger than the previous one. Construction on the new emergency department began in July 2016. The new 7,610-square-foot facility has 10 exams rooms and is designed to handle 14,000 patients a year. St. Luke’s Elmore has started using Emergency Medicine of Idaho to staff the emergency department. Source: Idaho Business Review

Gem County

  • Woodgrain Millwork has invested millions of dollars in the Emmett Woodgrain mill it purchased two years ago. Expansion and remodeling of the mill includes new buildings, high-tech equipment and the purchase of additional property. Larger logs production was set for the end of January, the smaller log line in February, and the planer will be in production in March. The usable land now totals more than 50 acres. Used dry kilns were added as well as a new building for the state-of-the-art planer with an automatic sorting system. It is a high-tech mill where the jobs require  knowledge-based workers rather than labor-based workers. Source: Messenger Index

Owyhee County

  • Waterview Estates, a development along the Bruneau Highway just outside of Marsing, has four new homes under construction. When the development is completed there will be 21 high-end homes, each on just over a one-acre lot. The four-bedroom houses will measure 2,000 to 2,800 square feet and will sell for $350,000 to $430,000. Source: Idaho Business Review

Valley County

  • Despite low snowpack in December and January, Valley County hosted near-record numbers of skiers, snowmobilers and other winter visitors. The Brundage Mountain and Tamarack resorts enjoyed a good start to the ski season, including the key week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Brundage near McCall had all of its 1,920 acres open in early January, while most ski areas across the West did not. Brundage’s snowmobiling tours and new horse-drawn sleigh rides also did brisk business. The Activity Barn, the snow tubing hill south of McCall owned by Brundage Mountain, handled near-record volumes during Christmas week. Relatively scant snow didn’t prevent snowmobile business in Valley County from booming in December and early January. Hotels also had a strong start to the winter season. Source: McCall Star-News
  • A report by graduate students at Boise State University’s Master of Public Administration program says short-term rentals in McCall are critical to local tourism but also create problems. In a presentation to the McCall City Council, the students said McCall and surrounding areas have an estimated 453 short-term rentals, up from 301 in 2010. Their growth results in additional spending at local businesses, but also increases nuisances such as noise, parking and trash. The proliferation of short-term rentals has caused a decrease in long-term rentals and a reduction of affordable housing for seasonal and permanent residents, according to the Boise State report. Source: McCall Star-News
  • A bicycle trail connecting McCall, Donnelly and Cascade is one step closer to reality thanks to a grant to help determine its feasibility. Valley County Pathways has been working to develop bike trails in the area over decommissioned rail lines, but had been stymied because private property owners had been using the land and didn’t provide recreation access. International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) is helping to determine if the project is workable by identifying other biking corridors. The proposed trail won’t be limited to mountain bikers, but the whole vision is to include pedestrian pathways. The IMBA will  identify routes and drainage patterns, then spend a few weeks to produce the actual study. Once approval from the county, construction could get started in 2019 or even this summer. Source: Idaho Business Review

Openings

  • Sodalicious, a soda bar and bakery chain, opened Dec. 9 in Nampa.
  • LongHorn Steakhouse, a popular chain with a ranch-style Western theme, opened its first Idaho location Jan. 23 in Boise on Franklin Road.
  • Calle 75 Street Tacos opened a restaurant in downtown Boise Jan. 26 in addition to its food truck business and other permanent location at The Village in Meridian.
  • The Joint Chiropractic will open a second facility in the NorthPointe Center on State Street in Boise.

Closings

  • Crooked Fence Brewing Co. in Eagle has been sold. The new owners will open a taproom in Garden City in the spring.
  • Slanted Rock Brewing Co. in Meridian closed Jan. 27.
  • Corner Bakery Café at the Village in Meridian closed in January.
  • Cost Plus World Market location in Nampa at the Treasure Valley Marketplace closed Jan. 20.
  • Marie Callender’s Restaurant closed Jan. 26 after more than 30 years in Boise.
  • Casa Valdez, makers of corn, wheat and flour tortillas, closed Jan. 22 after 41 years of operation, affecting 60 employees.
  • The Golden Dragon, a Caldwell Chinese buffet restaurant, closed Jan. 7.

Janell.Hyer@labor.idaho.gov, senior economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 332-3570 ext. 2330

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

Twin Falls County

  • SkyWest Airlines announced an additional daily flight Monday through Saturday leaving Twin Falls at 3:05 p.m. arriving in Salt Lake City at 4:05 p.m.. The potential is for an additional 50 passengers to make 5 p.m. connections. The percentage of seats filled for all flights averages 75 percent to 80 percent while the early flight leaving at 6:30 a.m. typically is 98 percent occupied. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • North Canyon Medical Center has announced plans to build a clinic in Buhl. The state-of-the-art clinic will be built on 17 acres offering medical services, lab and imaging services, and visiting specialty providers for orthopedics and general surgery. Plans are to be open for business by the end of 2018. This follows on the heels of a St. Luke’s clinic expansion in Buhl. Source: Times News
  • Idaho Power has opted not to expand its energy transmission from Shoshone Falls. The power company currently generates 12 megawatts of electricity at the plant and had planned to add 50 megawatts of capacity. It has dropped that figure down to 3.2 megawatts because the agreement is to escalate flows over the falls during the summer, leaving too little water for power generation. The Snake River has experienced reduced flows in past years. Another issue is that high flow times for the area do not coincide with the high-energy usage of irrigation and air-conditioning demands. Source:  Associated Press
  • Twin Falls County is planning to build a new jail or expand its existing facility due to overcrowding. There are 224 beds and the goal is to have 400 beds, according to staff. A citizen’s committee will be the first step in exploring options. Source:  Times-News
  • The Idaho Department of Labor held a hiring event that attracted almost 50 employers and about 330 job seekers Jan. 17.  Source:  Idaho Department of Labor

Mini-Cassia MicroSA

  • McCain Foods this year negotiated two-year contracts with potato growers directly, requiring them to enter into a non-disclosure agreement. In the past, it has negotiated contracts through Southern Idaho Potato Cooperative (SIPCO), a producer association. Some growers fear the move will result in over-production. Source: Capital Press
  • McCain Foods will hire 180 new workers as it invests $200 million into new equipment and greater production. An estimated 45 percent of potatoes grown in Idaho end up as French fries, according to a SIPCO board member. Source: Capital Press
  • Pomerelle Mountain Resort opened just before Christmas with only limited access due to reduced snowfall and high winds sweeping the hills of drier snow. Source: Times-News

Gooding County

  • Idaho Department of Transportation is rebuilding four bridges over the South Gooding Main Canal on US 26. The project’s cost is $24.1 million. Wadsworth Brothers Construction of Draper, Utah, and Wilson and Company with locations in eight states – none in Idaho – won the contract to design and build 21 bridges in Gooding and eastern Idaho. Source: Times-News

Blaine County

  • The Blaine County School District will take a two-year supplemental levy to its voters in March. The levy would raise $2.99 million annually with a corresponding dollar cut in the collection of the existing $5.98 million plant facilities levy to keep the price tag as low as possible. The district faces a $1 million to $1.2 million shortfall in its $53.6 million budget, driven by high staff salaries intentionally set to adjust for the high cost of living. Source: Idaho Mountain Express

Expansion

  • Commercial Creamery in Jerome announced plans to expand its plant.

Closings

  • Sears in Twin Falls announced its permanent closing. The auto center will close at the end of February and the retail store will close at the beginning of April, according to the company.
  • Old Navy in the Canyon Rim East was set to close in January.

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

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

Bannock County

  • The updated design of the proposed Interstate 15 Northgate interchange to be built just outside of Pocatello and Chubbuck was presented at a public meeting Jan. 25. Comments were accepted through Feb. 4. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • The Pocatello City Council has given the go ahead to move forward with the Centennial Park phase of the Portneuf River Vision project. With this approval, the city will start raising funds for the project and hope to have that phase completed in five years. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • The city of Chubbuck confirmed the location of the new Bingham Healthcare Medical Campus will be on Knudsen Boulevard. Ground will be broken on the medical campus in late spring or early summer this year. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • The city of Chubbuck has announced plans to build a community recreation center. The project would be publicly funded, most likely by a bond. The city is currently surveying citizens to find out what they would like to see from the center. A location for the project is to be determined. Source: KPVI
  • The year-end numbers of passenger departures and arrivals for 2017 at the Pocatello Regional Airport totaled 78,270, up 16 percent from 2016. The number of passengers taking to the skies in December also soared upward. December saw 6,756 travelers use the airport, 12 percent more than in December 2016. Source: KPVI

Bingham County

  • The Snake River School Board will try again to win voter approval for renewal of a 10-year, $750,000 per year plant facilities levy. The levy request is identical to one that failed to win approval last November. Source: KIDK
  • The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality awarded a $37,500 wastewater planning grant to the Snake River School District, which will fund half the sewer project. The Snake River School district will provide the rest of the funding. Source: Morning News
  • More than a dozen local companies were represented at the annual Eastern Idaho Ag Expo and Potato Conference at the Idaho State University Jan. 16-18. Source: Morning News
  • Firth School district voters will see a two-year supplemental levy on the ballot March 13 after trustees approved the move. The levy, totaling $300,000 each year for two years, would be used for maintenance in the district. Source: Morning News

Caribou County

  • Itafos announced the closing – final agreement – of the previously announced acquisition of the Conda Phosphate Operations from Agrium Inc. The Conda Phosphate Operations, located in Conda, Idaho, produces approximately 540,000 metric tons per year of mono-ammonium phosphate, super and merchant grade phosphoric acid, and specialty products that serves the North American fertilizer market. Source: Caribou County Sun.

Oneida County

  • Creative Mines in Malad City will be opening an operation in Toole, Utah, and hiring approximately 70 people. The expansion into Utah was reportedly in part due to the lack of workforce in Malad. Source: The Idaho Enterprise
  • Malad City’s petition to pursue financing to improve the city’s wastewater treatment plant was approved. The approximate cost of this upgrade is $14.1 million. Source: The Idaho Enterprise

Openings

  • Dollar Tree in Blackfoot.
  • Happy Whole You Wellness Center in Pocatello.
  • Tres Hermanos restaurant in Chubbuck.
  • Ketchum Burrito in Pocatello.

Closings

  • The Shelley Pioneer newspaper in Shelley.
  • Reeling Trout restaurant in Blackfoot.
  • Pappy’s ice cream shop in Blackfoot.

Esther.Eke@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 236-6710 ext. 4331

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

Idaho National Laboratory

  • Idaho National Laboratory (INL) contributed $1.94 billion to the Idaho’s gross domestic product during the previous fiscal year. The INL operations accounted for 12,027 jobs across Idaho, a 6.7 percent increase over fiscal year 2016. The lab spent $139 million with Idaho businesses. INL contracts a variety of services, including construction and research work, as well as consumables, such as office supplies, information technology equipment and fuel. Source: Post Register
  • The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has concluded that application of NuScale Power’s novel safety design approach eliminates the need for class 1E power for its small modular reactor. The NRC has limited its approval to only NuScale Power’s design. NRC’s conclusion is a key step in the review process of NuScale’s Power Module Design Certification Application. Source: NuScale Power Newsroom

Madison County

  • A new well and water tank are in the works for Sugar City. During the last election in November, a $3.7 million bond was passed to pay for an upgrade to the city’s water system. Source: Rexburg Standard Journal

Openings

  • The Singing Waffle in Rexburg.
  • Encore Shoes in Idaho Falls.
  • Maverik in Rigby.
  • Citrus Pear Dinners in Ammon.
  • Citrus Pear Dinners in Rexburg.
  • Planet Fitness in Idaho Falls.

Hope.Morrow@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 525-7268 ext. 4340

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