Around Idaho: Economic Activity in December 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
Eastern Idaho


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

Bonner County

  • The YMCA of the Inland Northwest acquired Sandpoint West Athletic Club, with the intent of turning the health club into a new YMCA branch. Source: Spokane Journal of Business

Kootenai County

  • The city of Coeur d’Alene moved forward with a proposal to create an urban renewal district around the Kootenai Health hospital campus. The city council expressed concern about the cramped hospital corridor and noted that without efforts to consolidate properties around Kootenai Health and creating space to allow the hospital to grow, the hospital could be forced to move. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • The Idaho Transportation Department will fund a one-year study on traffic management in Kootenai County, which will examine the viability of a regional traffic management center. The Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization will manage the study. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • The Post Falls Planning and Zoning Commission approved a special use permit for the construction of a UPS distribution facility next to single-family homes in east Post Falls. The commission approved the permit after neighbors voiced their concerns about the potential noise and traffic that the distribution center would generate. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press


  • Terre Coffee and Bakery in Coeur d’Alene, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 457-8789 ext. 4451

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


  • The early closure of the steelhead season was prevented after an alliance of river businesses, environmental groups and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game forged an agreement to stave off the closure and keep most of the state’s rivers open to steelhead fishing. The steelhead season normally lasts into April and is the region’s prime draw for tourists in the winter months, but in November, the Idaho Fish and Game commission announced it would close the season Dec. 7 in response to potential lawsuits from environmental groups. The communities of Riggins, Orofino and Lewiston host many of those tourists. Based on spending and trips data from an Idaho Department of Fish and Game study in 2011, and adjusting for inflation and expressing in today’s dollars, average spending per trip by steelhead and salmon anglers in the Clearwater Region is an estimated $344.35, and about 300,000 trips are made per year. Source: Lewiston Tribune; Idaho County Free Press

Clearwater County

  • Bountiful Grains, Craig Mountain Railroad and Clearwater County are working together on resurrecting the 73-mile rail line from Lewiston to Jaype, north of Pierce. The county landed a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant of $3.24 million earlier this year. Coupled with $3.4 million from the railroad company, the group will replace three bridges, five public crossings and 46,000 railroad ties along the rail route, as well as the replace or rebuild 73 miles of rail, abandoned after the 2000 closure of Potlatch’s Jaype Mill. The restoration will keep logging trucks off county roads and allow efficient delivery of logs to the Idaho Forest Group mill in Lewiston. Rail access may also prove helpful when attracting new manufacturing operations to the county. Source: Clearwater Tribune
  • Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy, the National Guard school in Pierce for teens across Idaho who need a boost to finish high school, graduated its second class of 2018 in December. The class initially enrolled 150 and graduated 129 students. Since its opening in 2014, the 22-week boot-camp program has graduated 1,103 cadets. About 50 people work at the school. Source: Lewiston Tribune

Idaho and Lewis Counties

  • The Idaho State Historical Society recently recognized the Bodine Farm near Grangeville as a Century Farm. The family farm, established 128 years ago, has raised wheat, barley, canola, flax, lentils and peas over the years. The recognition is made for farms owned and operated in Idaho by the same family for at least 100 years. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • Ida-Lew Economic Development Council sponsored an information session on broadband issues Dec. 5 at Cottonwood Community Hall. About 40 residents of Idaho and Lewis counties attended, expressing the importance of faster Internet speeds, better communications links between Riggins and White Bird, and the need for redundancy. The group looked at possible solutions to some of the area’s most important telecommunications needs. Source: Idaho County Free Press

Latah County

  • Affordable housing remains a concern in Moscow. The year 2018 was the third in a row an undersupply of homes were available in the Moscow resulting in steeply appreciating prices. In addition there are not many homes available to rent, making it difficult for professionals to move into the area. In mid-November 2018, of the 32 homes for sale in Moscow, 28 of them were single-family houses that ranged from $178,000 to a little more than $350,000. Traditionally, there has been plenty of affordable housing in the communities outside Moscow, but even that has shrunk. In November, there were two active listings in Troy, one in Deary, six in Potlatch, three in Genesee, one in Kendrick and zero in Juliaetta and Viola. By mid-November 33 single-family units were constructed in Moscow — seven below the average. Zero two-family units and 96 multi-family units were built — 25 above the average. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • After years of public comment and litigation, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) is moving forward with plans to expand U.S. Highway 95 to two lanes in each direction from Thorncreek Road to Moscow. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of ITD and the Federal Highway Administration in December on the latest appeal of the highway’s expansion. The expansion would make all of U.S. Highway 95 between Moscow and Lewiston two lanes in each direction. ITD plans to submit a permit application regarding wetland mitigation to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As soon as it receives the permit, the project can put out to bid for construction. If the project goes to bid this summer, the project could be completed by the fall of 2021. The expansion would make all of U.S. Highway 95 between Moscow and Lewiston two lanes in each direction, increasing capacity and improving safety. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News; Lewiston Tribune
  • The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality awarded a $30,000 wastewater planning grant to Juliaetta in December. The Department of Agriculture Rural Development is funding the  remaining $30,000 needed. The project will evaluate the current wastewater system and identify any needed improvements. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The University of Idaho is spending about $285,000 to cut energy consumption while keeping the campus cool during the summer months. Cranes recently moved a water chilling unit from the steam plant to a site near the University of Idaho golf course. It’s now on one of the highest points on campus, allowing gravity to do some of the work formerly done by pumping the water uphill to many of the 62 buildings it cools. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News

 Nez Perce and Asotin Counties

  •  An entertainment center proposed for North Lewiston would create 140 positions, including 55 full-time jobs with medical insurance. Dr. Bret Christensen, an orthodontist, is proposing to open the business in two years on 10 acres he plans to lease from the Port of Lewiston. Christensen estimates the 51,000-square-foot center would spend $1 million a year locally on food as well as other goods and services. He estimates the center will draw more than 1,000 people a weekend from as far away as Dayton, a Washington town 71 miles from Lewiston. It would provide a venue for 50 birthday parties a week with a restaurant overlooking the river, an arcade, other games, go-karts and laser tag. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Passengers are filling seats on SkyWest flights between Lewiston and Salt Lake City, prompting the airline to maintain the same level of service this winter. A midday arrival and departure that typically is reduced to four days in January and February will remain at seven days a week in January and is likely to follow that schedule in February. SkyWest’s planes on Lewiston routes typically are 87 percent full, compared with an industry average of 75 percent. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The Port of Clarkston in Washington has set aside $435,000 in its 2019 budget to extend its fiber-optic communications network six miles to Asotin. Fiber-optic infrastructure has been a priority for the port for a number of years. Its lines reach all the schools in the Clarkston School District, Tri-State Memorial Hospital, Walla Walla Community College and the Port of Clarkston’s Turning Pointe business park west of Evans Road. It connects with similar systems constructed by the Port of Lewiston and Port of Whitman in their jurisdictions. The ports lease network space at a set rate to large employers and companies that provide internet, cellular telephone and other telecommunications products. The approach is aimed at creating a level playing field for telecommunications companies of all sizes to encourage competition and keep prices reasonable for the service they sell. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Idaho Forest Group has asked Nez Perce County for a 75 percent, five-year property tax exemption on the $20 million value of a new large-log line for its Lewiston sawmill. The new line would handle logs as large as 40 inches in diameter, feature cutting-edge technology and replace a line built in the 1920s. Increased efficiency is expected to make the line become profitable. The Lewiston mill is Idaho Forest Group’s largest, producing 330 million board feet of lumber each year. It currently employs 187 people. After the new log line is added, it will require half as many people on the log line, but it plans to add another shift and may hire scanning and optimization technicians and maintenance personnel, keeping employment around its current 187. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • A $250,000 grant from the Sunderland Foundation will help Lewis-Clark State College build its $20 million Career and Technical Education Center in the Lewiston Orchards. The state of Idaho has pledged $10 million toward the project. Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories donated $2 million, and company founder Ed Schweitzer and his wife Beatriz Schweitzer added another $1 million. The 75,000-square-foot facility will house most of the college’s technical and industrial programs. Construction is set to begin next year and finish in time for the fall 2020 semester. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The city of Asotin, Washington, will receive $927,000 from the state’s Transportation Improvement Board to rebuild Second Street between Harding and Washington streets. Engineering for the project will be completed in 2019, and construction is slated to begin in 2020. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The Port of Lewiston has contracted with a local landscaper to plant trees along Col. Wright Way in Harry Wall Industrial Park. Utilities, such as electrical, irrigation and fiber-optic lines, will also be extended along the roadway. Planning for new signage at the entrances at two of the port’s industrial business parks is currently underway, as well. Source: Port of Lewiston News
  •  The Lewiston School District will implement a new approach to a dwindling supply of substitute teachers. When a substitute teacher cannot be found for a class, teachers will now be able to volunteer to fill in at the building they work in during their daily preparation period, a time teachers normally use to prepare for their classes, meet with students or grade assignments. They will be paid to use their preparation time outside of the typical workday. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Many employers are having difficulty finding and keeping workers, and with Washington state’s minimum hourly wage increase from $11.50 in 2018 to $12 Jan.1, many Idaho employers are raising wages. Lewiston School District’s board approved an increase of about $2 per hour for crossing guards. The pay range will now span from $9.74 to $12.56 per hour. The current pay range begins at $7.71 and ends at $9.93. The change will take effect in January. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  •  Nez Perce County will use a $15.75 million federal grant to replace Cherrylane Bridge. The estimated total project cost is $20.8 million. Contributions from the county, the state’s Local Highway Technical Assistance Council and the Nez Perce Tribe will make up the difference. The single-lane span built in 1919 is rated structurally deficient with a rating of 30 out of 100. Severe weight restrictions prevent use by vehicles like loaded dump trucks and cement trucks from accessing the area for frequent residential building projects. Also prohibited are grain trucks and loaded tankers serving the Nez Perce Tribe’s fish hatchery across the river from U.S. Highway 95. The new 800-foot-long bridge will be constructed of concrete and have two lanes. Construction could begin in 2020. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The Rollaway, a roller-skating rink on Lewiston’s Idaho Street that closed last year, is being razed so CHAS Health, a Spokane nonprofit, can build a new home for its Lewis & Clark Health Center. The clinic, which treats all patients regardless of their ability to pay, currently operates on Sixth Street and needs more room to expand. The new site will allow the treatment of more patients by providing more exam rooms, a larger on-site pharmacy and increased space for its behavioral health services. Source: Lewiston Tribune, 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

  • The Children’s Museum of Idaho opened Dec. 2 in Meridian in a former family restaurant. The decor features giant murals of trains, planes and farms, a giant pirate ship and a cave with local plants and rocks. Some of the 23 exhibits include a rocket with facts about space and a “dino” pit complete with life-size dinosaurs, a collaborative work area where kids can learn to use tools such as 3D printers. Source: Idaho Press
  • Guidant Financial, a small business lender based in Bellevue, Washington, opened an 11,000-square-foot office in Boise’s Pinnacle Square complex. Staff includes about six from its Seattle base and 15-20 local employees. The company plans to hire up to 100 employees over the next few years. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • The Discovery Center of Idaho plans to add 18,000 to 20,000 square feet of space to include a two-story expansion with an upgraded outdoor space. The expansion will take up to five years to complete. Source: BoiseDev
  • AmeriBen, a third-party administrator of employer-sponsored health benefits, is shifting its management model to employee-owned. There are approximately 700 employees at its new building in Ten Mile Crossing and 150 staff in offices across the country. AmeriBen chose the employee stock ownership plan to “further our culture, remain independent and allow our AmeriBen family members to worry less about retirement,” according to T. Andrew Fujimoto, CEO. Source: Meridian Press
  • Idaho’s state Board of Correction voted in mid-December to extend its $46 million-plus a year contract with Corizon Health for inmate health care for another two years. The board will begin the process to take the contract out to bid at the end of the two-year extension. Sources: Idaho Press
  • Flagpole Farm, a Meridian-based manufacturer of titan telescoping flagpoles, acquired Flagpole Country in Paynesville, Minnesota. The two companies each share in the ownership of the patent for the titan telescoping flagpole. Each company owned a 25-state territory. The acquisition provides a strategic opportunity for the company to grow to be the nation’s largest supplier of telescoping residential flagpoles. Flagpole Farm also manufactures titan solar lights and offers a large assortment of U.S. flags. The company employs 12 staff members in Meridian with multiple salespeople located through the nation. Source: Meridian Press
  • Hawkins Companies pulled a building permit to build a restaurant for MOD Pizza in downtown Boise. MOD Pizza has a location in Coeur d’Alene and Lewiston with a new store planned for Pocatello. The franchise started in Seattle in 2008 and now has more than 400 stores, both franchised and corporate. Source: BoiseDev
  • Star hosted Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s 108th and final Capital for a Day in December. The governor started the practice of hosting the events in smaller locales, bringing his executive leaders to respond to questions. Topics included infrastructure maintenance and investment needs, school construction funding, veteran resources and school security. Source: Idaho Press
  • Salt Lake City-based Big-D Construction acquired Boise-based McAlvain Construction in December. McAlvain Companies headquarters will remain in Boise where it has served the Treasure Valley and its neighboring states for nearly 40 years. McAlvain reported about 150 employees compared with Big-D’s staffers at more than 1,000 and revenues in excess of $1 billion. McAlvain is known for general contracting with projects including the JUMP building in downtown Boise, the Limelight hotel in Ketchum, the Grove Hotel in Boise, the Idaho Water Center and parking garage in Boise, Roaring Springs and Boise Edward’s Spectrum along with big box retailers and auto dealerships throughout southern Idaho and the Pacific Northwest. Source: Idaho Business Review and McAlvain Companies Inc. website
  • The Boise School District requested a permit to rebuild Mountain View Elementary School’s main building, its physical education and music classrooms at its existing campus. The estimated cost is $8.9 million and plans are for construction to occur while classes are ongoing. Source: Idaho Statesman and Boise School District website
  • Luke’s Health System reported a reorganization that will result in fewer site administrators. St. Luke’s has operations in numerous cities and towns throughout southwestern and south central Idaho along with some facilities in eastern Oregon. The nonprofit emphasized it is reorganizing to cut bureaucracy and more wisely use staffers’ time. The institution believes there will be some layoffs, but many individuals will find different positions. A value-based model to achieve better health outcomes is the goal. Source: Times News

Canyon County

  • Mesa Tacos and Tequila opened in Nampa in December in a space formerly occupied by Twice Sold Tales bookstore. Mesa Tacos and Tequila will serve an array of appetizers and “fancy tacos” with unique flavors. The new restaurant will share the first floor with 2C Brewing Co. that is being developed by Alvin Mullins with plans to open in March. Labyrinth Escape Games, an escape room has been leased the second floor. Owners Andrew and Shayna Randall hope to draw even more businesses to downtown Nampa. The couple opened the first Dutch Bros Coffee in 2007, opening four more since. Sources: Idaho Press & Idaho Statesman
  • U.S. Sen. Jim Risch in November named Caxton Printers as Idaho’s Small Business of the Year. Caxton Printers is one of Caldwell’s oldest businesses, founded in 1895. The business prints and publishes books all across the region and has a full-service printing business. Idaho named Caxton Printers the official Idaho State Textbook Depository in 1927. The business remains the state’s distribution center for textbooks, technology and education supplies for Idaho’s public schools. Source: Idaho Press
  • Nampa-based Cordova Coolers was named the official cooler of the National Rifle Association. The company was founded in 2014 in Walla Walla, Washington, and moved its headquarters to Nampa in 2016. Cordova is building a new 10,400-square-foot warehouse behind its headquarters. Cordova gives 10 percent of the profits of every cooler they sell to the NRA. Some of the coolers they sell feature the NRA logo, as well. Sources: Idaho Press
  • Metro Community Services, a Caldwell nonprofit, has consolidated its various programs from three different locations to a new facility at the Sky Ranch Business Park. Metro provides assistance to elderly, disabled and financially limited people through a variety of programs. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • The new Nampa Squad 51 response vehicle will allow more efficiency when deploying crews to medical calls in the city. More than 70 percent of the Nampa fire service calls are of a medical nature. The vehicle staff includes have a paramedic and fire captain. The role of the crew and the vehicle is to be the first to arrive at medical calls. Squad 51 will respond to calls within the limits of Fire Station No. 1 but can assist surrounding areas if necessary. The use of Squad 51 will help keep fire engines assigned to their districts and enable them to reduce their response times to emergencies. Source: Idaho Press
  • Peaceful Belly Farm has expanded with the opening of Vine and Branch Ranch, a joint venture with Snake River Winery and Stack Rock Cidery. The new cider and wine tasting room will bring more options to the robust wine industry in the area. Josie and Clay Erskine, owners of Peaceful Belly, say their desire to supply locally produced goods with their ideal wine making environment at Peaceful Belly made the decision to create Vine and Branch, their “agrarian-focused business,” an easy one. The owner and winemaker at Snake River Winery, Scott DeSeelhorst, said the idea to join with Peaceful Belly Farms and Stack Rock Cidery was a natural fit. The new tasting room is open daily and will host a variety of events. Source: Idaho Press
  • The Whittenberger Foundation, a Caldwell-based charitable grant-making foundation, awarded more than $290,000 to 62 nonprofit organizations. The foundation has a long history of distributing grants to organizations whose primary missions are to enrich the lives of Treasure Valley children and youth. Some of the most significant donations went to the United Way of Treasure Valley: $20,000 to support the Caldwell P16 program; $20,000 to the Wilder Public Library District to support the second phase of the library’s renovations; and $40,000 to The College of Idaho to fund the Whittenberger Scholars program for 2018-2019 school year. Source: Idaho Press
  • Nampa City Council and Nampa Planning and Zoning have recommended the capital improvement plan be updated, which would triple impact fees for new single-family residential development and boost commercial impact fees. The recommended impact fees are:
    • $5,459 per single-family dwelling unit, up from $1,806.
    • $4,266 for a multifamily dwelling unit, up from $1,662.
    • $7.34 per square foot for a retail development, up from $3.69.
    • $4.73 per square foot for an office development, up from $.60.
    • $2.01 per square foot for an industrial development, up from $.21.
      The new impact fees would support updated infrastructure for additional police staff, two new fire stations, 70 acres of added parkland and $40 million work of streets improvements over the next 10 years. The new fees are more in line with those in Boise and Meridian. It is recommended that the date the new fees take effect be extended from 30 to 120 days so that developers have time to adjust their plans. Source: Idaho Press
  • The Shoe that Grows organization is growing. The company, now known as Because International, is a nonprofit that distributes expandable shoes to children in developing counties. The organization recently acquired a building in downtown Nampa, the former location of the Yesteryear Shoppe, and plans to locate offices for itself and for-profit companies. Because will just use 4,000 square feet, split between offices for its 12 employees and warehouse for its shoes. Because will sublet parts of the space for other businesses. Part of the space will be an innovation lab, Pursuit, which will provide office space and mentorship for entrepreneurs creating social-good products. Because recently launched a new product — a bed-net tent for children. It has distributed 700 so far. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Technology manufacturer NxEdge is expanding to Nampa in 2019. NxEdge is an electronics utility company with four locations in California and Boise. It manufactures semiconductor machinery, and the Boise location builds and delivers custom machinery and other technology. The new Nampa location will create 64 jobs with an average salary of $48,484 by 2020, and 97 new jobs by 2024. Source: Idaho Press
  • Amalgamated Sugar Co. signed a joint venture agreement with Vienna-based fruit, starch and sugar enterprise, The Agrana Group, to build a betaine crystallization plant at its facility in Tulln, Austria. Work on the $40 million project will begin in 2019 and take about one year to complete. Betaine is a by-product of sugar beets extracted in the sugar production process. The vitamin-rich substance is used as a feed constituent to help animals naturally retain proper water and salt concentrations. It’s also used in food supplements, sports drinks and cosmetic products. Amalgamated has been extracting liquid betaine from sugar beet molasses since 1994 at its Nampa and Twin Falls plants. The company produces crystalline betaine in Nampa. The joint venture will allow Amalgamated to expand into different markets, the feed market and possibly the cosmetics market. Source: Capital Press

Gem County

  • The Gem County Fire-Emergency Medical Services recently received four new Life Pack 15s and four new Lucas devices that will now be part of the standard equipment of the county’s emergency vehicles. The equipment was funded with an Assistance to Firefighter Grants program and matching funds from the county’s budget for equipment. The Lucas devices are automatic chest compression machines used during CPR procedures. The Life Pack 15s is the updated technology for monitoring the patient’s vitals. Source: Messenger Index

Owyhee County

  • After a long wait, Murphy lost the distinction as Idaho’s only county seat without a post office when the new Murphy Post Office opened its doors on Dec. 13. The new modular post office is located in the same spot as the former building. The old post office closed in February 2017 because of a partial building collapse triggered by snow accumulation. Residents will no longer have to travel to Melba to mail packages. Source: The Owyhee Avalanche

Valley County

  • Tamarack Resort Holdings took over ownership of Tamarack Resort near Donnelly in November with a fresh vision for a property that opened in 2004. After the financial collapse in 2007, the resort suffered from severe financial problems and many projects were not completed. The Village Plaza — a planned large collection of condominiums, restaurants, lodging and retail shops — was only started. The new owner plans to complete three partially finished condominium buildings with a total of 62 units and an unfinished retail area before the start of the 2019 ski season. It also plans to enhance its all-season appeal. Source: McCall Star-News; Idaho Statesman; Idaho Business Review;
  • More than 90 percent of high school students in Valley and Adams counties plan to move away after graduation, according to a survey commissioned by the West Central Mountains Economic Development Council. One reason could be there are few jobs in the area matching the career goals of the students, the survey found. “This trend…suggests that the area’s current and future workforce may be threatened by an outmigration of young labor and talent,” a report on the survey said. The survey, analyzed by Boise State University’s Idaho Policy Institute, sought to identify the relationship between students’ career desires and employers’ needs. Results showed that more than 60 percent of local entry-level and skilled or technical jobs need employees with customer service skills, which tied for last among skills students are interested in pursuing. Employers also indicated a high demand for those with restaurant, housekeeping and cashier skills, all of which were the least popular among students of the eight skills surveyed. Businesses in the region are experiencing growth, and wages are higher than average, according to the report. Apprenticeship partnerships with organizations like the College of Western Idaho and the Idaho Department of Labor could help businesses attract and retain employees as well as give students incentives to stay local, the report said. Source: McCall Star News
  • The West Central Mountains Economic Development Council and Cascade Chamber of Commerce are developing adventure-cycling routes that use Cascade as a hub. The goal is to create four routes of 60 to 180 miles each, starting at Kelly’s Whitewater Park, a safe place to leave cars for a few days. The trails — employing a blend of rural two-lane roads, dirt roads, gravel Forest Service roads and some single tracks — are expected to increase tourism. The economic development council recently hired world-renowned adventure cyclist Jay Petervary, based in Victor, Idaho, to fine-tune the routes. A fifth route that connects Cascade to the Weiser River Trail is under consideration. Source: Idaho Press
  • Winter tourism is in full swing in the McCall area. Both ski resorts opened in early December. This year’s opening at Brundage Mountain — located in Adams County but generally accessed from Valley County — was the earliest in eight years. In addition to exceptional skiing and snowboarding, Brundage also offers guided snowcat trips on 18,000 acres of backcountry terrain, guided snowmobile excursions and snowmobile rentals. Tamarack was hosting good-sized crowds at the beginning of the season and hopes to exceed last year’s 85,000 visitors. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • The McCall Area Planning and Zoning Commission in November approved plans for a Treasure Valley Transit hub in a downtown McCall building. The Nampa-based transit company plans to spend around $400,000 to remodel a former dentist office on Park Street to serve as a home base for Mountain Community Transit, which operates the free Red Line around the city and the Green Line, which charges riders between McCall and Cascade. The system also provides bus service to Brundage Mountain Resort in the winter. Mountain Community Transit, partly subsidized by the city of McCall and Valley County, has operated in McCall since 2002, has a current annual ridership of around 40,000 and employs 11 people. Source: McCall Star News
  • The city of McCall decided not to sign a community agreement with Midas Gold until a draft environmental impact statement is released later this summer. The mine convened an advisory council of local governments about its pursuit of Forest Service permission to restart the old Stibnite mine near Yellow Pine, 40 miles east of McCall. Cascade, Council, Donnelly, New Meadows, Yellow Pine and Riggins, along with Idaho and Adams counties, have all signed the agreement. The local governments provide advice to the company as it works to open the mill. Participating on the council makes the entities eligible for donations from The Stibnite Foundation – Midas Gold pledges to give millions of dollars in stocks and cash over the life of the project. Each council member is required to submit formal comments to the Payette National Forest about the proposed project. The national forest is currently reviewing the application by Midas Gold for the mine with an initial study expected released for public comment in May. Midas Gold estimates its payroll would be $34 million per year during the three-year construction period and $42 million per year during mining and processing, which is expected to last at least 12 years. More than 500 people are expected to work at the open-pit mine and processing facility, producing a projected 4.5 million ounces of gold and several tons of antimony, a substance used to make flame retardant materials, paints, ceramic enamels, glass and pottery. The Stibnite Mine closed about 20 years ago. Yellow Pine has a winter population between 20 and 25, while its summer population can grow above 150 on weekends. Source: Idaho County Free Press; McCall Star News; Idaho Press; Idaho Statesman

Washington County

  • Weiser Memorial Hospital unveiled its new CT scanner, one of the fastest in the Treasure Valley. The imaging room previously housed an 8-year-old used machine. It has taken the hospital seven years to get the new scanner. The hospital foundation and community fundraising made the purchase possible. The new machine will allow physicians to get detailed imaging and better diagnostic information to confer with specialists and potential for treating patients locally. Source: Weiser Signal American
  • The Weiser Memorial Hospital received a $275,000 grant to help cover the cost of replacing outdated and sometimes leaky pipes. Work began in mid-December with the most urgent repairs – replace all major pipes, main truck lines and valves, which are 60 years old. Phase 2 is less time sensitive, and the board did not take action on that portion. The grants were from Ashgrove Charitable Fund and Sunderland Foundation. The hospital will pay the rest, about $500,000. Source: Weiser Signal American


  • Bear Island Brewing moved from a two-car garage to a taproom in the former Fire Station 6 in Boise. The original doors used for the fire engines were bricked over but have been replaced with windows to showcase the brewing tanks and other equipment. The taproom will offer 11 Bear Island beers and a rotating selection of local wines and ciders.
  • Indigo Wellness opened in Nampa featuring a yoga studio, massage, aromatherapy and a juice bar. The new business is located on in a space previously occupied by Infinite Heroes Games, which has moved to a new location.
  • Crumbi Cookies, a cookie bakery with late night delivery, opened in Meridian in December. It is open until midnight Monday through Saturday. Delivery will only be available to residents in the Meridian area.
  • PaintMania, a painting studio located in Nampa behind Messenger Pizza, is now open. The studio can schedule private parties for up to 10 painters, assist walk-in customers and lessons for anyone who has a desire to paint.
  • CAci Wood-Fired Sicilian Grill (pronounced kaw-chee) opened in Eagle, a melding of Greek, Mediterranean and Italian cuisines. Source: BoiseDev
  • Idaho Capital Asian Market opened in northwestern Boise at the Idaho Asian Plaza. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Mandalay Asian Market opened in western Boise offering foods from southeastern Asia and Myanmar. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Joe Momma’s moved from Eagle to Meridian into a building recently vacated by Famous Dave’s Barbeque. The seating capacity moves from 87 to 276 and brings outdoor patio opportunities. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Cottonwood Behavioral Hospital opened in Meridian with 72 beds and hiring 40 to 50 registered nurses once it is at full capacity. It is among six other psychiatric hospitals located across the nation beneath the Haven Behavioral Healthcare umbrella. Source: Idaho Press
  • Potter Wines opened a tasting room in Garden City. Source: Idaho Statesman


  • Boise’s East End iconic Roosevelt Market closed Dec. 15. It is unclear what’s next for the property. The market has been a community and neighborhood hub since it first opened in 1900.
  • Hair Art Gallery in Meridian is closing because the owners are selling the building and moving to Washington.
  • Shige’s Japanese Cuisine has been serving Boiseans sushi since August 1992 closed its doors on Jan. 4.
  • Dirty Little Roddy’s (DLR), a country themed downtown nightclub in Boise, closed for remodeling following a roof collapse earlier in the fall. DLR is downstairs from its sister operation, China Blue, which was immediately impacted by roof renovations. March 2019 is the earliest for China Blue to reopen after significant remodeling. It is possible that DLR will reopen later in January 2019. Source: Idaho Statesman, 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

Ski Reports

  • Snowfall did not allow for an early out-of-the-gate segue into the season. However, all area ski hills were open for the Christmas holidays including Magic Mountain, Pomerelle, Soldier Mountain, Rotorun and Sun Valley’s Baldy and Dollar Mountains. Source: Times-News

Twin Falls County

  • Chobani Foundation awarded $100,000 in Community Impact Fund grants to several area organizations for projects that will drive economic activity in the community. This is the first distribution from the fund, which is a competitive process similar to other companies in the area such as Glanbia and St. Luke’s Foundation. The grants include:
    • Magic Valley Rehabilitative Services – $20,000 as seed money to develop a coffee shop training facility for adults with mental and physical challenges within County West Building. The coffee and snack shop will eventually be self-sustaining to the point of supporting the supplies, lease and expenses including salaries of trainers and trainees.
    • Junior Achievement of Idaho – $21,500 will be used to expand services into schools with programs that prepare students for post-graduation life such as work readiness and entrepreneurship.
    • College of Southern Idaho’s Workforce Training Center – $28,500 to develop a School to Registered Apprenticeship Program serving Jerome, Gooding and Lincoln counties. The seed money will support the initial 24 student apprentices.
    • Jannus Inc. – $30,000 for the nonprofit organization’s economic opportunity program that helps underserved and vulnerable people realize financial health. The organization has been active in the Treasure Valley. The grant will allow Jannus to expand in the Magic Valley and assist 50 clients.
  • Subaru of Twin Falls will build a new dealership in Twin Falls in the northwest quadrant of the city. Owner Paul Wareing estimates hiring 30-40 employees by next fall when its new 20,000-square-foot building is completed. Source: Times-News
  • Chobani announced its new line of products for kids named Gimmies, which include a range of products from milkshakes to a kid-friendly flip called Crunch, and products packaged in tubes and pouches. The global R&D team in Twin Falls developed the kids’ products. Source: Times-News
  • The Twin Falls Chamber of Commerce and the south-central chapter of the Idaho Hispanic Chamber of Commerce are joining forces to strengthen support for the growing local Hispanic community, according to Ivan Castillo, the Idaho Hispanic Chamber of Commerce state board chairman. Source: Times-News
  • The Twin Falls School District is taking a renewal of its supplemental levy to the voters in March, asking for more money, a move recommended by a 20-member citizens’ advisory group. The decision to go forward was made knowing property values are rising which increases the total collected by a levy.  It currently has a two-year $4.25 million annual supplemental levy and the district is upping the request to $5 million annually, to be distributed among three needs: school security, curriculum needs and an increase to the general fund balance. Source: Times-News
  • Olive Garden plans to open Jan. 21, estimating hiring needs of 150-180. The company held on-site open house events to recruit workers. The restaurant seats about 250 people plus a patio for summer. The construction value on the building permit is $1.5 million. Source: Times-News
  • New restaurants continue to choose Twin Fall’s west side near St. Luke’s Regional Hospital and Canyon Ridge High as they enter the Magic Valley market in 2019. The latest round of announcements include Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop based in Las Vegas, which has won numerous awards in the greater Las Vegas area for its subs. It consciously located near another planned sandwich shop, Jersey Mike’s, opening in February. Sweeto Burrito out of Salt Lake City offers both tacos and burritos. It started in the oilfields of North Dakota with a food truck and family seed capital. Both Capriotti’s and Sweeto Burrito plan to start operations of its casual restaurants next summer. Source: Times-News

Minidoka County

  • Minidoka County School District reached its goal of providing laptops to all students at the high school. It originally started with freshmen, but the district realized there were seniors still lacking this classroom tool. The renovated laptops came from the middle school, and the seniors will be able to keep them after graduation. Source: Times-News
  • The Minidoka County School District will take a $21 million general obligation bond to the voters in March. The funds will be used to add elementary school classrooms, build a new agricultural building at the high school, enhance heating and air conditioning, replace a gym floor, buy land and provide Heyburn with a second gym. If approved, the bond would add an additional $50 above existing taxes per $100,000 property valuation. Source: Times-News

Cassia County

  • Southern Idaho Waste reported its Milner Butte Landfill is starting to receive revenues from the project that converts methane and other landfill gases into energy. Last May, Idaho Power started a test project, but upped the rate beginning in September. There has been substantial investment into the collection wells of $7.8 million with seven of the south central Idaho counties adding tax revenue to the district. The process moved forward six weeks ahead of schedule with 6.2 million kilowatt-hours generated between May and October. Gross revenue is $179,829. Source: Times-News

Blaine County

  • Sun Valley Resort held a grand opening to celebrate the rebuilt Warm Springs Lodge after a fire last April. Sun Valley Inn’s remodel had two-thirds of the rooms completed for Christmas occupancy and the lighting of the resort’s Christmas tree. Sun Valley’s village has retained its traditional Austrian design. Source: Idaho Mountain Express


  • Core Cycle opened in Twin Falls offering instructor-led fitness classes including cycling, Pilates and fusion classes. Source: Times-News
  • Kiwi Loco has reopened on Blue Lakes and is selling donuts, soup in soup bowls along with its original product that made it popular in Twin Falls—‘fro yo’.


  • The Pioneer Club in Twin Falls closed and demolition is scheduled. The liquor license was sold to Olive Garden in Twin Falls. The gasoline and convenience store operator next door purchased the parcel of ground with the intent of expanding its operations. Source: Times News, 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 J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation is donating $2 million to the Idaho State University College of Technology capital campaign to help renovate a building on the Pocatello campus to house all seven of its career technical education (CTE) programs. Consolidating these programs will let ISU increase enrollment by 10 percent the first year and an additional 10 to 15 percent the next three to five years. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • The city of Chubbuck is building a public pavilion on top of its new water tank to serve as the hub of a planned municipal park, which will be devoted to educating the public about water issues. The planned Espie Water Education Center is one of three forthcoming municipal parks slated to advance the goals of a parks master plan implemented in the early summer. Source: Idaho State Journal

Caribou County

  • The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Idaho falls District released a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) analyzing a mine reclamation plan that P4 Productions LLC submitted for the proposed Caldwell Canyon mine. The BLM and other agencies cooperating on the draft EIS seek public input until Jan. 14, 2019. If approved, the Caldwell Canyon mine would continue to sustain approximately 185 mining jobs and 585 plant jobs for an additional 40 years. Source: Caribou County Sun.

 Franklin County

  • A grant of $522,000 and a loan of $900,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development has been secured for the Franklin City Water Project. The total cost of the water project is $2.9 million with 3.25 percent interest rate on a 40-year term. Source: Preston Citizen


  • A new Idaho Central Credit Union branch in Blackfoot.
  • The Cookie Place in Pocatello.
  • Dragonfly Gallery in Lava Hot Springs.
  • Maverick Inc. in Franklin.
  • O’Reilly Auto Parts in American Falls.
  • Happy Whole You in Pocatello., regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 236-6710 ext. 4331

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


  • The U.S. Department of Energy has signed a deal to use some of the power generated by small modular reactors planned for eastern Idaho. NuScale Power plans to build the 12 small nuclear reactors, producing 720 megawatts between them, at Idaho National Laboratory’s desert site. They will help provide power to Idaho Falls and to parts of Utah through Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems. The deal with the DOE states one of the 12 modules will be designated for research, principally focused on integrated energy systems that support the production of both electricity and non-electric energy products. It will be called the Joint Use Modular Plant, or JUMP. A second module will supply power to INL. The small modular reactors are going through the permitting process now and construction is expected to start in the mid-2020s. Source: Post Register

Bonneville County

  • A new partnership with the College of Eastern Idaho will allow students in the Idaho Falls School District 91 to earn a year’s worth of college credits while still in high school. Starting this January, high school juniors and seniors in the district can apply for the “Jumpstart College Program,” which allows participants to earn up to 36 credits, or a year’s worth of college coursework, before graduating from high school. Source: Idaho Ed News
  • Ammon City Council approved the preliminary plat for a new business office called Eagle Park. Located north of the Modern Home Furniture Store on Eagle Drive, the 9.6-acre lot would provide room for eight medical offices or small retail stores. Source: Post Register
  • Bodifi, a locally owned gym formerly known as World Gym with locations in Ammon and Rexburg, is opening its third location in Idaho Falls. The new gym will be located in the space formerly occupied by Marketplace Home Furnishings at Westfield Plaza. The gym opened in January 2019. Source: Post Register
  • Reed’s Dairy recently expanded its manufacturing capacity and retail footprint. The Idaho Falls-based business gets fresh milk, ice cream and other locally produced foods into the hands of consumers via its own stores and a fleet of delivery trucks. The dairy in mid-December opened a store at Lake Hazel and Five Mile roads in southwest Boise, its second in the Treasure Valley in the past year and a half. The business plans to open a third store in the area eventually. The business also spent some $180,000 to remodel its production plant, added some new equipment and added about 50 milking cows, bringing the milking herd to about 230. Source: Capital Press


  • Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Rexburg
  • Taqueria El Rodeo, a fast-service Mexican Restaurant, in Idaho Falls
  • Smokin Fins restaurant in Idaho Falls.
  • Comprehensive Care Clinics in Idaho Falls.
  • Idaho Falls Outreach Clinic, a new VA Clinic in Idaho Falls.
  • Upper Valley Retreat and Medical Spa in Rigby.
  • Tailwind restaurant and bar at the Idaho Falls Regional Airport in Idaho Falls., regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 236-6710 ext. 4331