Around Idaho: Economic Activity in March 2019

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

Kootenai County

  • Medical services continue to expand in Kootenai County. Inland Northwest Therapy, a pediatric physical, speech and occupational therapy clinic, is opening a new location in Post Falls. Resilience Psychiatric Medicine is also opening a new facility in Coeur d’Alene. Source: Spokane Journal of Business
  • Hospice of North Idaho has started construction on a $1.8 million expansion to its inpatient facilities to help meet Kootenai County’s growing need for end-of-life care. The expansion will add patient rooms and additional space for families, and it is expected to be completed by September. Source: Spokane Journal of Business
  • Coeur d’Alene City officials are working with the Idaho Transportation Department to rework traffic signaling on key transit corridors. Traffic congestion in Coeur d’Alene has increased substantially as the population has grown, and city officials believe that turning control of the signaling over to ITD will help alleviate congestion. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • After failing to find a buyer, Shopko announced it will be closing all of its remaining stores over the summer, and the closure of its Coeur d’Alene location is now slated for June 16. The Coeur d’Alene Shopko was initially not on the company’s closure list when it announced a restructuring plan in January. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • Viking Builders will construct a new subdivision in Hayden. The new development will include 52 single-family homes on a 20 acre parcel, in addition to lots for commercial space. Construction will begin after the completion of a new sewer lift station this spring. (Source: Coeur d’Alene Press), regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 457-8789 ext. 4451

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


  • Lewis-Clark State College hosted a career fair March 1 for 273 students from 16 high schools throughout north central Idaho and southeastern Washington. Organized by Clearwater Economic Development Association and the Idaho Department of Labor, the Dream It. Do It conference gave local youth ideas about career paths available to them in their home area — with or without college degrees. Sixty representatives of local employers talked about their own careers and how to prepare for jobs in their fields. This was the third year of the conference.
  • Idaho received its steelhead fishery permit from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration March 15, ending months of uncertainty over the future of the ongoing steelhead season. The federal agency issued an incidental take permit to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game that allows a small percentage of protected wild steelhead to be harmed during fishing for hatchery steelhead. The approval came the day a temporary agreement negotiated late last fall saved the steelhead season. The uncertainty about the steelhead season caused many outfitters, guides, hotels and private campgrounds lose business. This update should help communities such as Riggins, Orofino and Lewiston that rely on anglers for tourism. Spending by steelhead and salmon anglers is estimated to generate more $100 million in sales by north central Idaho businesses. Source: Lewiston Tribune

Nez Perce Tribe

  • The Nez Perce Tribe launched its new tourism business at Hells Gate State Park March 29. Nez Perce Tourism offers tours of Nimiipuu Country that combine interactive storytelling, song, drum and dance along with jet boat rides and land trips. Source: Nez Perce Tourism website

Clearwater County

  • The Orofino City Council March 7 approved a Rural Community Development Block Grant application to provide improvements to the Orofino Business Center and build a 4,800-foot-square fabrication building there to meet the needs of a growing boat builder. The company expects to increase employment from 13 to 25. Source: Clearwater Tribune

Idaho and Lewis Counties

  • Killgore Adventures, based between White Bird and Riggins, continues to expand. The company offers whitewater rafting, jet boat trips, guided hunting and fishing trips and helicopter tours of the Salmon River and the Snake River in Hells Canyon. It recently purchased two Lewiston-based tourism businesses so it could offer more jet boat tours. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • Kamiah High School will add a certified nursing assistant program to its curriculum. It will help students interested in a nursing career earn certification before they graduate from high school. Interest in pursuing a career in the health care industry is growing, and about 25 students participate in the HOSA (Future Health Professionals) program, which allows students to explore different careers in health care. Source: Clearwater Progress
  • The bounty of snow this winter benefitted the ski hills in Idaho County, which closed March 10. Snowhaven Ski & Tubing Area near Grangeville hosted about 7,000 skiers this winter, up 1,000 from the winter before. About 75 percent of its revenue comes from Lewiston-Clarkston Valley area visitors. It employs 30 people on its peak weekends. Cottonwood Butte also enjoyed strong attendance this winter. Source: Idaho County Free Press; Cottonwood Chronicle
  • A 120-mile loop of an old trail along the slopes of the Snake River breaks on Craig Mountain is being revamped for easier public access to the harder-to-reach areas of the Craig Mountain Wildlife Area. This includes the agency’s six public-use cabins scattered throughout the area. Craig Mountain is popular for hunting mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, chukar, partridge, black bears, turkey and whitetail deer. The three-year project will begin in April. The trail also provides a public safety advantage, since it will allow easier access for firefighters. The initial work is being funded by a $25,000 grant from the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The Idaho Department of Lands will provide an estimated $30,000 from the proceeds of timber sales on the mountain. The total project is expected to cost about $95,000. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The Veterans Administration in Walla Walla will close the Grangeville Veterans Clinic on March 31. Syringa Hospital has operated the clinic under a contract with the VA since September 2010. Veterans will have to travel 73 miles to Lewiston for the same services. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • Voters in the March election did not approve the Kamiah School District’s one-year maintenance and operations levy, set at the same rate as the current levy and projected to generate $500,000. The district may shut down its middle school. Kindergarten through sixth grade would be housed in the elementary school, while seventh through 12th grades would be housed in the high school. That’s expect to provide about $100,000. The levy failure also is likely to end the all-day kindergarten program, since the state only funds a half-day program. The district had depleted most of its reserves, eliminated most electives and extracurricular activities and transitioned to a four-day school week this year to reduce costs. Source: Lewiston Tribune; Idaho County Free Press
  • Voters in the Highland School District, based in Craigmont, approved a $499,000 one-year maintenance and operations levy in March. The replacement levy is the same as it was last year, which makes up 18 percent of the district’s budget. Source: Lewiston Tribune

Latah County

  • The Idaho State Board of Education at its March meeting approved the University of Idaho’s plan to construct a new basketball arena as long as the school’s new president to be named in April agrees to the project. Groundbreaking for the Idaho Central Credit Union Arena, which will be next to Kibbie Dome, is set to occur this spring next, while the $46 million construction project is slated for a 2021 completion. The 62,000-square foot arena will seat up to 4,200 people and will include a performance court, practice courts, offices, locker rooms, conference facilities and concession spaces. The mass-timber construction of the building will feature wood products designed by Idaho’s forest industry. Opsis Architecture of Portland, Oregon, is the architect and Hoffman Construction of Portland is the general contractor. The board allowed the university to issue bonds or use $29 million of reserve funds to cover initial construction costs. About $25 million in gifts, pledges and sponsorships already have been identified. Source: Lewiston Tribune; Idaho Business Review
  • Sojourners’ Alliance in Moscow will close its transitional housing in May because of a $150,000 shortfall in funding. About $100,000 of the deficit originates from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development decision in 2016 to re-allocate its funds from transitional housing programs like Sojourners’ to its rapid re-housing approach. The closure will affect 14 adults and four children who will need to move out of the transitional housing in May, and it will eliminate three jobs. The shutdown will not affect the nonprofit organization’s other programs, including off-site permanent supportive housing, homelessness prevention and motel vouchers. Sojourners’ plans to convert its eight transitional units into rentals for low-income people ages 55 and older. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • The former Pizza Hut near Moscow’s Eastside Marketplace will be demolished in April so that a new Taco Bell can open there by July. The current Taco Bell/KFC restaurant building on Blaine Street will be remodeled and be solely occupied by KFC. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • Three school districts in Latah County received approval on levies in March. About 80 percent of voters approved Troy School District’s one-year replacement levy, which is the same level as the current levy. It’s expected to generate $995,000, making up 30 percent of the district’s budget. The district educates 266 students. Potlatch School District’s one-year replacement levy should provide about $1.75 million, the same amount as the current levy, for maintenance projects, some staff salaries and utility bills. It will provide nearly a third of the district’s budget. Genesee School District’s one-year replacement levy is projected to raise $935,000 to pay for educational and extracurricular programs within the school district. The levy rate has remained unchanged over the last seven years. It makes up 33 percent of the district’s operating budget. About 289 students are enrolled. Source: Lewiston Tribune

 Nez Perce and Asotin Counties

  •  Tri-State Memorial Hospital in Clarkston is expanding rapidly. The hospital recently acquired Clearwater Medical Clinic in Lewiston. It opened a medical clinic at the Rosauers grocery store in Lewiston in early March and plans to open another in Moscow’s Rosauers this summer. The new clinic is staffed by nurse practitioners who handle routine care such as physicals, immunizations and treating colds and sinus infections. Tri-State currently is building a 34,000-square-foot wing at Evergreen Estates, its retirement community next to the hospital, which should be ready by late June, adding 30 units to the current 101. It’s converting some living spaces into a 20-person area for dementia parents, expected to start accepting residents in November. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Shopko is closing all of its stores, including the one in Lewiston, by mid-June. It will affect about 50 Lewiston workers, who will receive transition assistance from the Idaho Department of Labor. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Tri-State Outfitters will close its Lewiston store in late July. The outdoor recreation retailer operated there for more than 30 years. The store has struggled since Wal-Mart moved to Clarkston in 2010, reducing the amount of shoppers flowing into the area. The 20,000-square-foot Tri-State building will be leased by Lewiston’s NAPA Auto Parts in an agreement that begins in October. The NAPA stores on 21st Street and Bryden Avenue are consolidating and moving to the new location to have more space. Source: Lewiston Tribune


  • A Verizon dealer will open soon in the former Payless Store on Lewiston’s 21st Street. Cellular Sales carries cellphones, tablets and smart watches. Source: Lewiston Tribune


  • U.S. Bank will close its branch in downtown Moscow on June 1. Its branch on South Blaine Street will remain open. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News, 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

  • Go West Summit, a conference of tourism businesses based in the western United States and international tour operators, brought more than 500 visitors to downtown Boise in early March. More than 300 representatives of tourism-related business from 16 western states marketed products and services to 157 international tour operators, or buyers, from more than 20 countries. The conference was held at the newly expanded Boise Centre. Source: Idaho Press
  • Concordia University School of Law in Boise recently earned full accreditation from the bar association. In 2014 the bar association withheld accreditation while ‘fact finders’ took a closer look at the school. The delay resulted in 55 second- and third-year students leaving the school while other students took a leave of absence. Law schools must be accredited by the association before graduates can take the bar exam. The school received provisional accreditation in 2015 and 11 students received law degrees. Source: Idaho Press
  • The largest bakery in the United States is setting up shop in Boise. Bimbo Bakeries, the American corporate arm of Mexican company Grupo Bimbo, has leased 20,736 square feet of manufacturing space on Eisenman Road near the airport. The company owns and manufactures well-known brands such as Sara Lee bread, Thomas’ English muffins and Ball Park buns. A timeline and the number of workers or products to be manufactured has not been released. It is one of the first announcements of new businesses since the new Gateway East urban renewal district was formed in early 2019. Source: Idaho Press
  • Groundbreaking was held March 6 for Meridian’s fire station No. 6. The new fire station will provide essential services to the south side of the I-84 corridor. The cost of design, site work, construction and landscaping for the 10,229-square-foot fire station is $5.4 million. Officials expect the new station will be completed in March 2020. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Boise-based nonprofit Leap Charities, committed to providing affordable housing, will open Windy Court in the next few months. It will consist of four new homes for rent to low-income families. Windy Court, located off Old Horseshoe Bend Road, features homes built from used shipping containers by Boise-based IndieDwell, each with four bedrooms and two bathrooms. Rent will be $843 a month, including utilities. Leap is obtaining the adjourning property where four additional container homes will be sited. The National Housing Trust Fund loaned $939,000 for the first four homes. A federal neighborhood stabilization program is providing at $1.1 million in loans, and the Idaho Housing and Finance Association will administer funding for both projects. The city of Boise estimates it will need 9,500 new housing units in the next decade. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Boise, was ranked No. 1 best place to live in America in 2019 by and Ipsos. More than 1,000 cities with populations between 20,000 and 1 million were ranked to determine the top 100. Researchers measured housing, economy, amenities, infrastructure, demographics, social and civic capital, education and health care. “Boise has become a magnet for people looking for a tight-knit community, great job opportunities, easy access to the outdoors — and perhaps most importantly, a much lower cost of living than many larger and comparably-priced cities,” read the review. Other top 100 cities in Idaho were Idaho Falls at No. 47 and Moscow at No. 60. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Primary Health Medical Group opened its 19th clinic, but it is the first with a strong focus on pediatric urgent care. The clinic will be open on a walk-in basis seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The pediatric urgent care facility is located near Eagle and Franklin roads in Meridian. The new facility provides treatment, same-day lab results and X-rays, as well as prescriptions from an in-house pharmacy for infants through 18-year-olds. It also offers family medicine and adult urgent care services. Health care staff specializing in pediatric care have relocated from the Meridian Crossroads clinic. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Training, Rehabilitation and Career Evaluation (Trace) is opening a facility on Lakeharbor Lane in the building formerly home to The Drink, Montego Bay and other food and drink businesses. It will be the home to a job skills training program for people with disabilities. Boise-based Trace Inc. is a private, nonprofit organization. Source: BoiseDev
  • Behavioral health nonprofit company Lifeways Inc. purchased a Boise psychiatric hospital owned by Safe Haven in January. It is now called Lifeways Hospital. The 16-bed facility will serve adult patients who need short-term hospitalization for mental illness. The facility provides medication management, therapy, skills training, activity therapy and support as patient’s transition back into life outside the hospital. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • A residential building is in the works for downtown Boise. Visum Development Group of Ithaca, New York, has applied to build an eight-story tower at Sixth and Front streets to include 75 residential units and retail on the ground floor. Source: Boise Dev
  • Bogus Basin plans to install a high-speed quad chairlift to replace the three-seater Morning Star, the first chairlift upgrade at Bogus Basin since 2011. The announcement came after a record breaking season pass sale in February. Construction will begin in the spring and finish in late December 2019. Morning Star services beginner terrain on the front side of the mountain, but also leads to the more advanced terrain on the back side. Bogus Basin plans to close for the season April 14. Source: Idaho Press
  • Construction is underway for a new parking area in downtown Boise for bicycles. BikeBOI Bike Room will be a secure storage area for bikes on the ground floor of the Ninth and Main parking garage. It will include key card access, security video, dynamic lighting, secured racks to lock to, bike repair tools and outlets for e-bike charging. Capital City Development Corporation budgeted $150,000 to install it and is set to open this spring. Source: Don Day

Canyon County

  • Nampa experienced an increase in the number of building permit pulled in 2018. Nampa’s permit growth falls just behind Meridian’s, another rapidly growing city in the Treasure Valley. The growth is largely due to the influx of new subdivisions and other housing developments. Nampa developers pulled 1,429 permits for residential development in fiscal year 2018 (Sept. 30, 2017 to Aug. 1, 2018), compared with 903 in fiscal year 2017, a 58 percent increase. Commercial permits also increased slightly from 274 in FY2017 to 326 in FY2018, a 19 percent increase. Most of the residential permits were for single-family developments. Nampa had 763 single-family residential permits in FY2018 compared with 512 in FY2017 and 434 in FY2016. Permits are designated per lot, rather than by the project, so each one represents a house. In a multifamily development, one permit indicates multiple units. In 2018 Nampa had 146 multifamily permits pulled compared with 82 permits in FY2017. Source: Idaho Press
  • Nampa City Council approved major increases to the city’s impact fees, which take effect this summer. It will increase rates for developers between 99 percent and 855 percent. The additional funds from the fees will go to several city departments to take action to mitigate the strains of growth within Nampa. It is projected that the city could collect nearly $7 million in impact fees each year to fund growth-related needs. Over 10 years, that would generate $700 million to go toward the $255 million growth costs, largely for street maintenance and construction. The increases would also help cover a new police facility and additional patrol vehicles, three new parks and two new fire stations. Source: Idaho Press
  • Construction has started on a new youth sports center in Nampa. Mettle Sports, a 33,000-square-foot youth sports center, will feature four full-sized basketball courts, a speed and agility center and a dance studio. The facility offers space for rent for activities for children ages 8-18, though adults will also be allowed to use the area, particularly during school hours. The $3 million center is expected to open by fall 2019. Source: Idaho Press & Idaho Statesman
  • The two-lane Karcher Road Overpass, connecting Karcher Connector with Midland Boulevard, closed in March for a nine-month project replacing the overpass to accommodate the future widening of I-84 beneath it. Motorists are being detoured to the Karcher interchange to access Caldwell Boulevard. The new overpass will have one lane in each direction, wider shoulders and a sidewalk on the north side. Source: Idaho Press
  • The Idaho Press was selected as one of the “10 Newspapers That Do It Right” for 2019 according to Editor and Publisher magazine. Each year the magazine honors newspapers that have produced innovative revenue strategies, impactful journalism and creative audience growth. The Idaho Press, purchased by Adams Publishing Group in November 2017, was cited for its aggressive push into Ada County, launching a new Lazy Sunday weekly magazine, purchasing Boise Weekly, opening a new bureau in Boise and adding staff, which has led to a 31 percent increase in subscription circulation in less than a year. The publishing group also purchased Emmett’s Messenger Index in November 2017. Source: Messenger Index
  • Construction is being delayed for 12-18 months on Project Bronco, a 991,000-square-foot structure in Nampa, which is rumored to be an Amazon distribution center. In November, the developer acquired a permit to start work on the foundation. It is estimated that the project could create 2,000 to 3,000 jobs and lead to 7,000 vehicle trips a day. Source: Idaho Press
  • Diamond Z, a Caldwell-based chipping and grinding manufacturer, has been purchased by Screen Machines Industries of Etna, Ohio. The Ohio company is a maker of crushing and screening machines. The acquisition will service a growing need for mobile material processing machines across a variety of industries. Screen Machine began in 1966 as a structural steel company and found its niche serving crushing and screening needs for the aggregates and coal industries in the Midwest. Diamond Z is a manufacturer of horizontal grinders, tub grinders and other related products. Both companies will continue to operate from their respective facilities. Source Idaho Business Review
  • Plans for a 95-acre subdivision called Summit Ridge Subdivision near Lake Lowell are moving forward. The subdivision is planned to be low-density residential, with the average proposed lot size about 9,700 square feet. There is enough space for 245 residential lots. Source: Idaho Press

Gem County

  • The Payette River Regional Technical Academy (PR2TA) may add an aviation course beginning as soon as this summer. The Federal Aviation Administration predicts that there will be a need for 7,000 new domestic pilots a year for the next decade. American Airlines says it will need about 7,500 new pilots over that timeframe just for its operations. According to industry sources, 790,000 new pilots will be needed worldwide by 2037.The initial addition of an aviation focus at the Emmett career-technical charter school will be centered around a curriculum that would offer students a study of basic flying skills and the opportunity to fly gliders. Ron Hanks, director of the aviation program at Treasure Valley Community College, would help develop the program. Source: Messenger Index

Payette County

  • Cheekys, which started as a boutique in New Plymouth eight years ago, is now planning to build a distribution center in Australia. Cheekys has grown into a multi-million dollar online enterprise selling clothing, shoes, accessories, body care products and gift items geared to rural women. Its wholesale operations sell products internationally through roughly 600 small, independent retailers. Cheekys has a warehouse and office in New Plymouth, where it employs more than 15 people, and a retail boutique and salon in Fruitland. To support her growing enterprise, she has worked with community leaders on efforts to upgrade New Plymouth’s electrical supply, internet connectivity and other resources. Idaho Business Review recognized her as one of Idaho’s Women of the Year. Sources: Idaho Business Review; Inc.
  • Agri-Service, a farm equipment dealer, is expanding service offerings and capabilities with a new state-of-the-art facility it recently opened in Fruitland. It replaces stores in Weiser and Nyssa, Oregon, that recently closed, and workers from the two stores were offered jobs in Fruitland. The new 17,300-square-foot showroom, shop and large wash bay provides more space for growth and the addition of a new line of tractors. Source: Capital Press; Argus Observer
  • Payette School District patrons in March voted against a bond proposal to spend $31 million over 21 years to remodel both the Payette High School and West Side Elementary School campuses. The bond request required a supermajority, or 66.67 percent approval, but received just 49 percent. The bond would have financed heating, lighting, electricity and other repairs at the 60-year-old Payette High School, repaired windows at the elementary school and security updates at both schools. More than 400 students attend Payette High School and 238 students at the elementary school. Source: CBS 2

Valley County

  • The Idaho Transportation Department plans to straighten and widen a one-mile stretch of Idaho 55 just north of Smiths Ferry. The $15 million project also will add shoulders, guardrails, vehicle pullouts and ditches to catch falling rocks. Additional work will improve wildlife habitat and passage under the roadway. Work could begin this fall and is expected to take 2½ years. The improvements are expected to reduce significantly the crash rate on that stretch, which has a 33 percent higher crash rate than most sections. Source: McCall Star-News
  • Luke’s McCall Medical Center eliminated 11 positions as the hospital consolidated management roles for nursing, medical imaging and laboratory. St. Luke’s Health System made similar changes at all its hospitals. Seven of the affected people accepted new positions with the McCall hospital. St. Luke’s McCall now has about 250 employees at the hospital and associated clinics. Source: McCall Star-News
  • Cascade School District voters approved a two-year $650,000 supplemental property-tax levy in March. The new levy replaces a $500,000, two-year levy that expires at the end of this school year. It will help maintain current staffing levels, hire two additional teachers, support extracurricular programs, reopen its music program, add art and language classes and improve both facilities and transportation in the district. It will help schools develop a more rigorous college and career pathway by incorporating career and technical education class options over the next two years. Currently, construction systems and cabinetry are the only available career and technical education classes offered at Cascade. The district has entered into a project with the West Central Mountains Economic Development Council to identify the skills, personal traits and industry categories that regional employers most desire. New career-tech classes could include business management, agriculture and natural resources, engineering and technology, health sciences or skill-based technical sciences. Some of the programs are expected to lead to an apprenticeship program or certification. Source: McCall Star-News
  • The Payette Lakes Recreational Sewer and Water District will pay up to $68,200 to JUB Engineers for a study to determine whether the former McCall sewer system has the capacity to allow higher density development. After a May 2017 vote gave the sewer district control of the city’s sewer system, it realized its capacity had never been measured. Uncertainty about the system’s capacity has led the district opposing the city’s requests that the district accommodate more sewer connections for high density housing developments. A few developers have been forced to either scale back their plans or wait until the district completes the capacity study. The study should be completed by the end of the year, after which the district will be able to consider zoning increases from the city. It also is a first step toward developing a sewer system master plan. Source: McCall Star-News

Washington County

  • AFC Finishing Systems, a manufacturing company based in Oroville, California, plans to relocate operations to Weiser and bring jobs. The company hopes to soon begin building a 60,000-square-foot plant and 7,000-square-foot office building in the Weiser Industrial Park where it purchased 67 acres of industrial property, including the former Sunnyside feedlot. AFC Finishing has been manufacturing spray booths, paint booths, powder coating oven and powder coating finishing equipment since 1967. The company would employ up to 43 people. Fifteen families associated with the company could relocate from California and the rest of the workforce would be hired locally. The Snake River Economic Development Alliance and the Idaho Department of Commerce have worked on incentives to bring the company to Idaho. Commerce approved a Tax Reimbursement Incentive, which offers a refundable tax credit of up to 30 percent on income, payroll and sales taxes for up to 12 years. Part of the agreement is that companies must create 20 new jobs in a rural community with wages above the average county wage. Source: Weiser Signal America


  • Laundromat Rave Laundry opened in February on Fairview Avenue in Boise.
  • West BJJ Martial Arts opened on Hercules Road.
  • Chip Cookies will open a second area store in The Village at Meridian. It has a store in downtown Boise.
  • Ā Café will open this spring on 10th Street in Boise, serving lunch and dinner service. Source: BoiseDev
  • Boise restaurant State & Lemp closed in March. It will reopen as Epek with the menu including local, seasonal ingredients and produce from the restaurant’s garden. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Spring Creek Brewing Company broke ground in March on a new brewery/pizza restaurant in the Avimor community. Construction should be completed this year. Source: BoiseDev
  • Albertsons opened its latest Market Street store in Meridian in March. At 110,000 square feet, it is twice as large as the 1959 store it replaced. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • GRIT restaurant recently opened in an historic building overlooking Indian Creek in Caldwell. Owner Paul Baucher restored the 5,500-square-foot space to its original 1910 style. Source: Idaho Press
  • Good Burgers is adding two more locations in the Treasure Valley. One will share space with The Drop, a self-serve beer bar, in Meridian and the other will be a drive-thru on Fairview Avenue. This will bring the company’s total count to five new locations in one year. Source: Idaho Statesman


  • Walla Walla Clothing Co. closed its downtown Boise retail store in January. Its store in the Village at Meridian is still open.
  • Charlotte Russe is closing its store in the Boise Towne Square Mall.
  • Payless is closing four stand-alone stores in Boise as well as “store within a store” in Shopko in Boise and Nampa.
  • Family Dollar chain has been brought by Dollar Tree which has more than a dozen stores in southwestern Idaho. It has not been announced which stores will close. The 20 Dollar Tree stores are not affected.
  • Shopko is closing all its stores in Boise and Nampa.
  • Sockeye Grill & Brewery in Boise closed in March.
  • The post office and general store in Letha, a town in Gem County, has closed and its ZIP code has been changed. The post office was established in 1911. Source: Messenger Index

Business Updates

  • The Knitting Factory reopened in March following a fire late last summer damaging 60 percent of the interior. The remodel was extensive.
  • Guru Donuts in Boise’s Idanha building has new owners, Evan and Krystle McLaughlin of Mission Donut, a year-old, made-to-order home-based doughnut business in Boise. Guru will remain in the Idanha building. 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

  • School bond voting in March yielded mixed results. Cassia, Minidoka and Filer School districts, each requiring a two-thirds supermajority to pass, failed at the polls. Cassia County Joint School District requested $56.7 million, Minidoka County School District asked for $21 million and Filer School District requested $9.9 million. This vote affects an estimated 11,407 students based on the Idaho Department of Education’s district comparison report for the academic period of 2018-2019. Murtaugh School District’s $2 million school bond, also requiring a supermajority, passed with a 77.9 percent approval. Supplemental levies, which only require a simple majority to pass, were approved at the following school districts:
    • Twin Falls                   2-year                  $5 million annually
    • Jerome                        2-year                  $800,000 annually
    • Gooding                     2-year                  $650,000 annually
    • Camas County          2-year                  $250,000 annually
    • Camas County          2-year                  $50,000 annually for music programs
    • Hansen                      2-year                  $290,000 annually

Source: Times-News

Minidoka County

  • The Wilson Theatre and Event Center remodel is nearing the finish line as community-sponsored seats purchased for $650 are fitted with nameplates and affixed in the theatre. There are still 60 of the 400 seats remaining. The renovation of the theater on Rupert Square started in 2000, and now the estimated value of the venue is $4 million. The renovation was supported through grants and community investments. Source: Times-News

Twin Falls County

  • Gem State Dairy Products announced plans for a new 200,000-square-foot aseptic milk processing plant in Twin Falls. It will create more than 100 milk processing jobs when it opens in 2020. The sterile aseptic process creates “shelf stable” product that does not need refrigeration up to four months, but must be refrigerated once it’s open and consumed within seven days. For the past year or so, the dairy industry has reported an extra million pounds of milk produced daily in the region. The new processing plant along with extra capacity at the new Magic Valley Quality Milk Products plant in Jerome,   the excess milk may no longer be an issue for dairy producers. Source: Times-News
  • Kimberly’s Best is a goat and A1-free cheese and milk brand produced by Spring Canyon Foods. The business started with producers of the goat and cow milk in both Twin Falls and Buhl and has expanded into dairy products. The animals producing milk for Kimberly’s products have been bred to produce milk without A1 protein, a substance that makes milk more difficult to digest for some people. The company moved into the space previously occupied by a food processor in the city of Kimberly. Source: Times-News
  • Twin Falls Tess is the new promotional pup for the city of Twin Falls according to Nathan Murray, director of economic development. Lisa Buddecke, marketing consultant for the city, adopted Tess from a shelter. Murray believes Twin Falls Tess is a symbol of loyalty, youthfulness and the outdoor-minded mentality of the community. Tess will represent Twin Falls in photographs around the area including businesses and attractions on social media. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • St. Luke’s at both Magic Valley and Wood River have been given trauma center status at Levels 3 and 4 respectively. The legislature approved the certifying authority in 2014 called Idaho Time Sensitive Emergency System. There are five levels and before this award, neither facility had a designation. The higher designation of Level 2 requires neurosurgery to be available 24/7. The other hospitals in the south central Idaho region are not trauma centers. Idaho does not have any Level 1 trauma centers because it lacks a university teaching hospital that conducts medical research. Source: Times-News
  • The Times-News will be able to add a new staff member to cover an under-reported segment and to complete a community service project. Funding comes from Report for America, a national initiative of The GroundTruth Project, which selected the Times-News. The emphasis for this Times-News position will be the Hispanic population, particularly in Lincoln, Gooding, Jerome and Blaine counties. Boise State Public Radio was also chosen for the funding, One other Idaho outlet chosen was along with five other media outlets in other states — two each in Wyoming and  New Mexico and one in  Montana. Source: Times-News
  • Canyon Ridge High School, Southern Idaho Economic Development and Idaho Department of Labor hosted a job fair with more than 40 employers staffing booths at the school. There was an estimated 250 job seekers perusing the available jobs including students, parents and the public. Source: Idaho Department of Labor
  • The Twin Falls City Council approved construction of a new four-story Home@Suites by Hilton, an extended stay hotel, near on the canyon rim near Perrine Bridge. McNeill Hotel Company, owners of the Hilton Garden Inn, altered original plans from six stories to four stories to satisfy opponents of the project. The location carried controversy in the past when retail built up contiguous to this site. The hotel’s public hearing also heard from geologists concerned with the integrity of the canyon rim and those wanting to rein in development in general. Source: Times News
  • The two-day Construction Expo held at the College of Southern Idaho resulted in jobs for some high school students. Participants learned basic construction skills, built sheds for veterans and vanities for the Habitat for Humanity home, Valley House and the Boys and Girls Club auction. Sixteen construction contractors participated in the event and were able to interview and hire workers. Partners in the event included the city of Twin Falls, l Magic Valley Builders’ Association, the College of Southern Idaho and school districts in and around Twin Falls. The event followed a similar program held in Pocatello that also led to successful hiring. Source: Times News


  • Milner’s Gate Brewery held a grand opening at the newly renovated Historic Ballroom in downtown Twin Falls. Though the brewery is selling wine and beer, the application to brew onsite has been delayed due to the recent 35-day government shutdown. Owner Tom Nickel also owns the Sawtooth Club in Ketchum and Elevation 386 in Twin Falls. Source: KMVT News


  • Payless Shoe stores is closing after 62 years with locations in Burley, two stand-alone locations in Twin Falls and one located in the soon-to-closed Shopko.
  • Magic Valley Rehabilitation Services is closing after almost 50 years due to funding gaps.
  • St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center will discontinue its infant day care services. The center provided 12-hour, on-site day care for children up to 18 months of age. It operated for the past 25 years and until 2011 it was managed by the county-owned Magic Valley Regional Medical Center. Access to nearby daycare options and sporadic enrollment numbers led to the closure, according to the hospital spokesperson. 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


  • All but one of the proposed school bonds, supplemental levies and plant facility levies in southeastern Idaho passed in the March 12, 2019, elections. The successful levies and bonds which totaled $48.4 million are listed below:

  • The bond that failed was a $48.9 million bond issue to replace 81-year-old Bear Lake Middle School. The Bear Lake County School District 33 also wanted to add an auditorium, upgrade classrooms at Bear Lake High School and replace a 92-year-old section of Georgetown Elementary School. Source: East Idaho News
  • Your Future in Technology (YourFIT) program kicked off once again for its third year. High tech, high wage and high demand career paths were on display at local high schools throughout the region. The YourFIT expo kicked off at Aberdeen on Feb. 28. Source: Aberdeen Times

Bannock County

  • A large crowd gathered on March 16 for the groundbreaking for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Pocatello temple. The temple has a valuation of $62 million and cost the church about $395,000 in fees paid to the city of Pocatello. Church officials anticipate the temple will take two to three years to build. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • The Southeast Idaho Behavioral Crisis Center is set to open its doors in Pocatello next month. The center will share a parking lot with Pocatello City Hall and offer 20 beds, along with food and a place to relax for their patrons. Source: KIDK
  • Rehabilitative Health Services, the contractor hired to run the community’s forthcoming Southeast Idaho Behavioral Crisis Center, has hired a director and an assistant director and is expected to fill 25 more positions to staff the facility. The staff will include case managers who will help clients develop plans and access other services in the community for long-term help. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • Officials with Health West soon plan to open a pair of new local clinics, including a pediatric medicine and mental health clinic and an OB-GYN clinic. The nonprofit community health center’s pediatrics clinic is scheduled to open in late April, and the OG-GYN clinic should start taking patients this summer. Health West will locate both clinics on the second floor of a building owned by Portneuf Health Trust in Pocatello. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • ON Semiconductor Corp. laid off fewer than 40 employees who served in a variety of capacities for the company. The company spokeswoman said the reduction in force is one of many steps ON is implementing to cut costs. A company statement attributes the layoffs to an anticipated reduction in demand. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • The city of Chubbuck revealed the plans for a new city hall. The new Chubbuck City Hall will be built on Burley Drive and the existing city hall will be remodeled for the Chubbuck Police Department, which will give them more space. Construction is expected to start next year. Source: KPVI

 Bingham County

  • A tourist attraction, the Blackfoot Candy Jar, is slated to open across from the Idaho Potato Museum in May 2019. Construction is currently underway. Source: Morning News

Oneida County

  • Oneida School District topped Idaho’s statewide district-growth comparisons for the second year in row. Fueled by its online learning program, the district this year grew by 67 percent, adding nearly 1,000 students to its roster. Statewide, K-12 enrollment grew by nearly 5,100 students since last year. Source: Idaho Education News


  • Gin Sen Noodle and Ramen Bar in Pocatello


  • Preston branch of Lewiston State Bank, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 236-6710 ext. 4331

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


  • A plan to build the nation’s first small modular reactor plant at the desert site west of Idaho Falls could put eastern Idaho on the map on a global scale. The plant, called the Carbon Free Power Project, will be the first of its kind in the nation. The project is going through the federal permitting process now, and construction could start in the next few years. Source: Post Register
  • All proposed school bonds, supplemental levies and plant facility levies in eastern Idaho passed in the March 12, 2019, elections. The levies, which totaled $9.6 million per year ($19.2 million total), are listed below:

Bonneville County

  • Shopko is closing the last of its 363 stores. This includes the retailer’s buildings in Idaho Falls. The expected close date is June 16, 2019. Source: KIDK
  • The long-awaited pilot program for the new fiber-optic network in Idaho Falls is officially underway. Areas currently eligible for the service include the Carriagegate subdivision south of Sunnyside and two areas north of Tautphaus Park. Idaho Falls Power has been working for the last six months installing necessary infrastructure for the service in the identified pilot areas. There are now roughly 700 customers in those neighborhoods who can opt-in to the program. Source: East Idaho News

Madison County

  • East Idaho Credit Union will begin building a new branch in Rexburg this spring. Construction will begin in April, and the new branch will replace the existing office on the south end of Rexburg.


  • A new AAA Service Center inside Kingwood Plaza in Idaho Falls, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 236-6710 ext. 4331