Around Idaho: Economic Activity in August 2019

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

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

 

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

Bonner County

  • Tamarack Aerospace Group is moving forward with its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing and received U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval to move forward with a financing plan that will allow the company to resume its sales. Source: Spokane-Kootenai Journal of Business

Kootenai County

  • TDS Metrocom, a Wisconsin-based telecommunications company, has begun constructing a new fiber optic network in Coeur d’Alene, which will eventually offer high-speed residential connectivity. TDS currently has a staff of 11 people in Coeur d’Alene, but expects to ramp up to as many as 200 employees by 2022, at which point the company anticipates having installed more than 700 miles of fiber. Eventually, TDS expects to be able to serve roughly 48,000 residences and business in Kootenai County. Source: Spokane-Kootenai Journal of Business
  • The city of Post Falls is moving forward to create a 548-acre urban renewal district encompassing the city’s downtown district. A report from the city council noted that 151 of the 674 structures in the district were in a state of deterioration, while the area also suffered from a lack of sidewalks, unfinished streets and underdeveloped tracts. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • The Red Lion Templin’s Hotel in Post Falls is undergoing a complete renovation by its new owners, KVA Management. Improvements include a renovation of all 163 guestrooms, a renovated lobby and a new restaurant and kitchen. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press

Openings

  • Sawmill Grille in Post Falls
  • Beau Monde Luxe in Coeur d’Alene
  • Farmhouse 208

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

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

Region

  • Clearwater Valley Hospital in Orofino and St. Mary’s Hospital in Cottonwood in August plan to transfer ownership from Essentia Health System in Minnesota to Kootenai Health of Coeur d’Alene. They expect to finalize the transfer in early 2020. Kootenai Health, the Coeur d’Alene hospital system, will provide the hospitals access to resources, best practices and the opportunity for physicians and clinical staff members to work with other providers to share information and discuss complex cases. Syringa General Hospital in Grangeville has a management agreement with Kootenai Health, so the Cottonwood and Grangeville hospitals will work more closely together. In addition to the hospitals, Clearwater Valley operates clinics at Orofino, Pierce and Kooskia and St. Mary’s operates clinics at Cottonwood, Grangeville, Kamiah, Nezperce and Craigmont.  At this time, there are no plans for major changes in staffing, operations or management of the two hospitals. Source: Lewiston Tribune; Idaho Business Review

Idaho and Lewis Counties

  • Rain, hail and flash flooding on Fiddle Creek north of Riggins on Aug. 9 led to a mudslide that blocked U.S. Highway 95 for nearly 24 hours. The highway is Idaho’s only north-south arterial. The mudslide was about 200 feet long and 4 feet deep, but did not appear to damage the pavement. There was some damage at Cow Creek Road and John Day Road. The mudslide and hail damaged most of the crops and water lines in the fruit orchards and gardens of the Fiddle Creek Fruit and Hardware Store. Source: Lewiston Tribune; Idaho County Free Press
  • A $5 million expansion is underway at St. Mary’s medical clinic in Kamiah to better accommodate the increasing need in the region for more providers and improved services. With the expansion, the clinic will grow to 17,000 square feet and house 18 treatment rooms, a larger waiting room and two training classrooms. Private tele-psychiatry rooms will provide greater access for patients, and St. Mary’s Physical Therapy, currently located off-site, will move to the new facility. St. Mary’s recently added four new physicians to help support the newly expanded clinic. The expanded facility, slated to open in April, also will reduce patient waiting times.  Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • More than 225 people greeted Gov. Brad Little and several state agency officials when he made Grangeville Capital for a Day July 30.  Among the subjects raised were school funding and program accountability, crisis and recovery centers, and fish and wildlife issues. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • A to Z Counseling in Orofino plans to open a three-bed facility for adults as a respite for a day, on an outpatient basis. A to Z, providing help for mental health issues, opened in Orofino in 2004.  In the past few years, it added a substance abuse program and a respite program for children with severe emotional disturbances for parents and caregivers. The company employs about a dozen people. Source: Clearwater Tribune
  • More than 100 students arrived at the Idaho Youth Challenge Academy, the National Guard school in Pierce, in late July. The students, from across Idaho, have either dropped out of high school or were at risk of doing so. The first week included boot-camp-style activities. The students will spend the rest of this year attending school and volunteering to assist communities throughout the region. They will return to their homes to finish high school. Nearly 50 people work for the school. Source: Clearwater Tribune
  • The Clearwater County Sixth Grade Forestry Tour, a three-day, two-night event in July, gave 42 students a chance learn about the county’s natural resource heritage and natural resource careers including forest products manufacturing and fish, wildlife, forest and range management. The annual tour is organized by the University of Idaho Extension Clearwater County Office and supported by local businesses and organizations. Beginning in 1961, the event has included gold panning, camping under the stars and trips to Empire Lumber in Weippe, Deyo Reservoir near Weippe, a logging operation on PotlatchDeltic forest land and the Bertha Hill Lookout. Source: Clearwater Tribune
  •  A concrete crew at Clearwater Memorial Public Library is working on the 2,750-square-foot annex and expanded parking lot. Work began in 2018 with demolition of old houses next to the library in downtown Orofino. The annex will create more room for the library’s growing collection, a children’s section and a meeting room. On an average day, 200 patrons visit the library. The library’s tax district provides about $200,000 a year for its operating budget for utilities, books, periodicals and its seven employees. The construction expected to total more than $1 million — is being financed through fundraising, grants and donations. Source: Clearwater Tribune
  • Bryce Greenfield and Aubyn Honeysett have spent the past year creating a data center for mining bitcoin at the former Tri Pro mill in Konkolville. They found the location for their company, Peak Digital Processing, with the help of Clearwater County Economic Development and Clearwater Power Company. Bitcoin is the most popular of cryptocurrencies and has been around since 2009. The cryptocurrency may be used to buy or trade internationally. Source: Clearwater Tribune
  • As a part of their health care mission, both St. Mary’s and Clearwater Valley hospitals acquired or established satellite medical clinics in Kamiah, Kooskia, Nezperce, Craigmont, Pierce, Cottonwood, Grangeville and Orofino. They hosted close to 45,000 patient visits last year.

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

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

Treasure Valley

  • Valley Regional Transit (VRT) will increase the bus fares by 50 percent beginning Oct. 1. A single ride will increase from $1 to $1.50 and the universal base fare from $3 to $4.50. Seniors, students and riders with disabilities will continue to get the half-off discount. VRT manages public transit for Ada and Canyon counties. It is the first increase in 16 years. The current fare only covers about 8 percent of the operating costs. Sources: Boise State Public Radio & Idaho Press
  • Valley Regional Transit will expand its after-hours job access and training transportation service to include Nampa beginning in August. The late night service began to operate in Boise earlier this year in partnership with Lyft. The program provides $3 bus rides to and from work and training classes for qualifying low-income riders. Many available jobs are second- and third-shifts jobs and those later hours are not serviced by the traditional bus system. The Late Night program operates from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Source: KTVB

Ada County

  • A new virtual reality workout gym experience was launched in Boise in August, located in The Gym at Eighth & Main. Ryan DeLuca, co-founder of Black Box VR, said he wanted to make the fitness experience more addictive to help keep people on track. Video games and e-sports provided a natural path to the development of the resistance-based virtual reality fitness experience. The Black Box VR portion of the facility measures 1,233 square feet and contains seven Black Box VR machines, each with a dedicated workout space. The Boise-based company launched its first full location in San Francisco. Source: Idaho Business Review & BoiseDev
  • Real estate developers Rafanelli & Nahas broke ground on a mixed-use project in downtown Boise in August. The 10-story office tower is reported to cost between $40 million and $45 million. The building could be open as early as the end of 2020. It will include a parking garage on the adjacent block, rooftop deck for tenant events and activities, showers, lockers and indoor bike storage. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • A second housing development in Boise for chronically homeless residents is under construction. Valor Pointe, a 27-unit housing development built specifically for veterans, will provide housing, health care, mental health services and other social supports. The development is funded through a combination of Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the Idaho Housing and Finance Association vouchers. About 11 percent of the nation’s homeless population are veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Ada County exceeds the national average at 14 percent. Source: Idaho Press
  • The new Center for Visual Arts opened in August on the Boise State University campus. The new building allowed the fine arts disciplines to move from seven locations to one. The state-of-the-art building will be home to the art history, printmaking, metal arts, painting, ceramics and sculpture departments. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Albertsons’ Drive Up and Go program, where customers place orders online and pick them up at an Alberstons store, has expanded to 300 of the Boise-based chain’s 2,268 stores. The delivery program is in partnership with Instacart, a company that provides the service for Albertsons and other grocery outlets. Both online services are available in the Treasure Valley.
  • Albertson’s 33 percent increase in digital and e-commercial sales and a 1.5 percent increase in same-store sales helped fuel the grocery chain’s improved performance this year. For the first quarter of its fiscal year ending June 15, Albertsons reported a net income of $49 million. Last year for the same time, the company reported a loss of $17.7 million. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • AceCo Precision Manufacturing is building a 92,000-square-foot building near the New York Canal. The company makes components for several industries including semiconductor and solar. The two-story building will house a warehouse, manufacturing floor, office space, breakroom and conference room. Source: BoiseDev.com
  • Hardin Sanitation, a waste collection company based in Payette, leased a 10,000-square-foot industrial site in Meridian for a new office to operate its 10-year contract with Ada County. The company will dispatch the 14 garbage trucks to serve Ada County beginning Oct. 1. Hardin will provide services to roughly 20,000 households and 500 commercial customers. Source: Idaho Press
  • Boise was ranked seventh by SeniorAdvice.com as one of America’s top cities for retirement in 2019. Factors determining the score included the area’s percentage of senior citizens, available social activities, weather, presence of senior communities, quality of health care, number of hospitals and pharmacies and cost of living. Compared to other nearby states, Idaho has lower crime rates and property taxes. There are nearly 90 senior living facilities in the Boise area and several senior community centers to support the aging population. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Vacasa, the vacation rental service with a major base of operation in Boise, purchased Wyndham Vacation Rentals. Vacasa will increase its inventory to more than 23,000 rental homes around the world. The deal will add brands like ResortQuest, Vacation Palm Springs and Hatteras Realty to their portfolio. Vacasa has more than 150 employees working in Boise. Source: BoiseDev
  • Bird e-scooters were deployed in Meridian in August. Lime e-scooters were launched last fall in Meridian but after a short time were discontinued. Meridian City Council chose Bird as the city’s sole provider of e-scooters. Bird provided 150 scooters initially and is adding another 100 scooters every two weeks to a maximum of 500 scooters. The contract lasts until the end of the year. Bird will need to reapply, along with any other e-scooter companies. Source: Meridian Press
  • TSheets, based in Eagle, is now Intuit’s Boise site. QuickBooks and TurboTax parent company Intuit Inc. purchased TSheets in January 2018. Since the purchase, Intuit’s Boise site has grown by 160 employees to 4,000. The Boise site’s customer base also has more than doubled from 36,000 to 82,000 customers. The Boise site focuses on employee time tracking, scheduling and job costing. The company’s time tracking system will to be branded TSheets by QuickBooks. Source: Meridian Press
  • Saint Alphonsus Regional Rehabilitation Hospital opened in Boise in August. The 40-bed inpatient rehab hospital replaces the former rehab unit at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. The hospital provides rehab and medical management for patients recovering from stroke and other neurological disorders, hip fractures, brain and spinal cord injuries, amputations and orthopedic conditions. The hospital has a staff of 114, including therapy, nursing and additional support staff. Source: Idaho Press
  • Roaring Springs Water Park in Meridian plans to build a $1 million water slide. The Double Flying Saucer ride will be ready for the 2020 season. The new attraction is made by Proslide Technology of Ottawa, Canada, and will be assembled by The Russell Corporation of Boise. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Zennify, a Meridian software consulting firm, earned a spot on Inc. 5000’s annual list of fastest-growing private companies in the country. Zennify made its debut on the list at number 632, with a reported three-year revenue growth rate of 698 percent. The company uses cloud technology solutions to help its business clients, with an emphasis on the financial services industry. The firm has employees in 12 states with its primary offices in Meridian’s Ten Mile Crossing and in Sacramento, California. Source: Meridian Press

Adams County

  • The Idaho Department of Lands is planning two major timber salvage sales in the Packer John State Forest due to a Douglas fir-tussock moth infestation that has killed most of the trees on the nearly 2,000 acres. Because the public school endowment owns the land, schools will benefit from the sale proceeds. The appraised value of the two sales are $1.67 million and $1.13 million respectively. Once the dead trees are removed, the department plans to treat the land with herbicide to control the brush and weeds, then replant with a variety of trees including Ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, Englemann spruce and western larch. Source: Idaho Press
  • VisitPay, an online health care technology company in Boise helps patients manage health medical bills and improve a health system’s cash flow. VisitPay expanded its office space to a facility on West Shoreline Drive this summer to keep up with its projected growth. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Brundage Mountain Resort near McCall opened the three-mile Lakeview Vista Trail, the latest addition to the Brundage Mountain Bike Park. The trail is also open to hiking. Source: McCall Star-News

Boise County

  • The National Forest Service has marked a number of trees for removal at Bogus Basin due to hazards the trees could create for those who use the trails and ski on the mountain. Up to 80 percent of tree stands within the Bogus Basin project area are diseased or infested with Douglas-fir dwarf mistletoe. Tree removal began in August on about 1,050 acres. Source: Idaho Press
  • Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area marked a milestone in August when the 100,000th passenger climbed aboard the Glade Runner. The mountain coaster ride is one of several attractions the nonprofit resort has added to increase visitor attendance. The ride opened in December 2017. Other summer attractions include Deer Point chairlift rides for scenic views and bike transport, concerts,  hiking and biking trails, and several kid-based activities. Source: Idaho Business Review

Canyon County

  • Rhino Investments purchased Karcher Mall in May and plans to develop a trampoline park/ entertainment facility at the site, as well as a call center and several other commercial and residential proposals. Nampa’s urban renewal agency is slated to provide more than $1.5 million in tax reimbursements for the project. Mor Furniture For Less, Bug 5 Sporting Goods, JoAnn Fabric and Crafts and Ross Dress for Less are staying in the mall. Source: Idaho Press
  • Winco Fireworks LLC plans to build a 60,000-square-foot-warehouse on 8.2 acres near Sky Ranch Business Park. The warehouse would serve as a regional distribution center for the company, which is an exclusive Black Cat wholesale firework distributor. Winco Fireworks sells fountains, firecrackers and aerials. Source: Idaho Press
  • Syngenta held a grand opening for its new Trait Conversion Accelerator at its Nampa location and seed production facility in August. The accelerator is a corn breeding facility featuring state-of-the-art greenhouses and laboratories and will accommodate the majority of Syngenta’s North American corn trait conversion work. The expansion will add at least 10 employees and 10 third-party contractors by the end of the year with additional hires in 2020. Source: Idaho Press

Elmore County

  • Luke’s Elmore Quick Care opened in August in Mountain Home. The clinic will serve more than 26,000 people living in the area. Without the clinic, patients would have to seek medical services at the St. Luke Elmore County Medical Center’s emergency room or drive to Boise for care. The clinic should help reduce non-emergency visits to the hospital. Source: Idaho Business Review

Gem County

  • Firebird Raceway has been listed on the national Register of Historic Places. Gov. Brad Little presented the certificate during Firebird’s 48th Annual Pepsi Nightfire Nationals in August. The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. The New family established the drag strip in 1968 and has owned and operated it for the past 51 years. Firebird is the first drag-racing strip in the U.S. to achieve the honor. Source: Messenger Index

Owyhee County

  • The Sandbar restaurant in Marsing will now be home to the offices of the city of Marsing. In addition to paying for the sale price, the city will be responsible for meeting the grant requirements from the Idaho Department of Commerce. Marsing Senior Citizens Inc. secured an Idaho Community Block Development Block Grant to purchase the restaurant from the former owner. As part of the agreement with the state agency, the dining area will be available to the town’s senior residents during normal business hours. It will also be set aside for meetings and gatherings. The rest of the main floor will be renovated to accommodate city hall staff. Source: The Owyhee Avalanche

Payette County

  • The former Home Furnishings Liquidators in Fruitland will be revamped and become home to Global Tel Link Corp. (GTL). GTL operates technology services for correctional facilities. Renovation work has started on the 16,000-square-foot building at a cost of $800,000 to convert it to a modern call center by October. Alturas Capital will own the building and lease it to GTL. Source: BoiseDev
  • Treasure Valley Classical Academy opened its doors in late August after a $3.2 million renovation of Fruitland’s Olde School. Idaho laws allow first year charter schools to enroll up to 54 students per grade for kindergarten through fourth grade, and 27 students each in fifth and sixth grades. Every year, the academy will add a grade until it reaches full kindergarten through 12th grade enrollment. At full enrollment, it is expected to have 700 students. Source: Argus Observer
  • Mio Farms near Fruitland harvests and distills mint on nearly 700 aces. Idaho farmers began planting mint in the 1960s, and it has grown into a significant crop. With more than 17,000 acres throughout the state, Idaho is the third largest mint producer in the country. From spearmint to peppermint, more than 2 million pounds of Idaho mint oil is sold each year. Source: Idaho Department of Commerce

Valley County

  • Construction began on the new addition to St. Luke’s McCall Medical Center in August. The addition should be completed in 2020 with a total estimated cost of $40 million. The addition’s first floor will house an expanded and modernized emergency department, laboratory, medical imaging and infusion departments. The second floor will include 15 private patient rooms, two labor/delivery/recovery rooms, three operating room suites and one procedure room, pre- and post-surgery recovery bays, inpatient pharmacy and inpatient therapy services. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • The Nez Perce Tribe, based in Lapwai, has filed a lawsuit against Midas Gold Corp. claiming the Canadian company is illegally discharging pollutants including arsenic, mercury and cyanide into waterways near the company’s proposed mine near Yellow Pine. The tribe says the pollutants are harming wildlife and people who depend on the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River. The mine is within the tribe’s historic homeland where tribal members continue to fish for salmon and steelhead under rights reserved in the Treaty of 1855. Mining in the region began more than a century ago and left tailings that include heavy metals. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has spent $4 million since the 1990s trying to clean up the area. Midas Gold claims that although it is not responsible for contaminants left by previous mining companies under the federal hazardous waste laws, it is working with regulators to clean up contaminants from previous mining operations as part of its mining proposal. The Payette National Forest is expected to issue its draft environmental study by the end of the year. The current schedule calls for a decision on the mining project in late 2020. Midas estimates that the area in the headwaters of the South Fork of the Salmon River contains an estimated 4 million ounces of gold. It expects to operate a mine there for a dozen years and provide a few hundred jobs. Source: Associated Press; McCall Star News
  • Verizon and T-Mobile are taking steps to improve cell service in the McCall area. Every summer, Valley County and Meadows Valley face a dramatic worsening of service when the summer tourism season gets underway. The number of users of the Verizon network doubles in the winter and triples in the summer, taxing cell sites and causing connectivity issues. Verizon is in the process of installing new service on two towers in McCall, and T-Mobile recently installed a new cellular service site. Source: McCall Star-News

Washington County

  • Ag Air Turbines, a turboprop engine maintenance, repair and overhaul company based in Midvale, has been acquired by Australian-based TAE Aerospace. TAE Aerospace said adding the agricultural market knowledge, reputation and experience of the Ag Air Turbines team will prove valuable as TAE expands its customer base in the U.S. The former owner of Ag Air Turbines, Katie Bane, will lead the new US Ag division for TAE Aerospace. Ag Air Turbines provides complete service for TPE331 turboprop engines. Source: AgAir Update
  • Ridley’s Family Market recently opened its new 60,000-square-foot store on 6th Street in Weiser, replacing the store that was demolished after a heavy snowfall in 2017 collapsed the roof. Ridley’s is building a 4,000-square-foot commercial building at the location of the previous store. Potential occupants have not been announced. Source: Weiser Signal American

Openings

  • Your CBD Store opened in August on Fairview Avenue in Meridian.
  • Restaurant Eight Thirty Common held its grand opening in August on North Main Street in Meridian.
  • Magnificent Garden, a cook-your-own Korean barbecue restaurant opened in Boise.
  • Art studio Artful Bon’s recently opened in Weiser. It offers a variety of art and craft classes for all ages. Weiser Signal American
  • Lucky Duck Consignment, a consignment store for children’s clothing and other items, opened on S. Washington in Emmett. Source: Weiser Signal American

Changes

  • Mocha Moose Coffee on Bogus Basin Road in Boise closed its small drive-through hut and moved nearby to an indoor space formerly occupied by Caffè The location includes a drive-through.
  • Epi’s Basque Restaurant in Meridian closed when the owners retired. It will reopen under a new owner, but keep the name. Source: Meridian Press

Closings

  • Frugals, a drive-through hamburger restaurant in Nampa.
  • Caffè Capri on Bogus Basin Road in Boise.
  • Sunset Video in McCall.
  • Walla Walla Clothing at The Village in Meridian.
  • Lolli and Pops in Boise.

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

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

Regional

  • The Idaho Travel Council awarded Southern Idaho Tourism (SIT) almost $400,000 from its Idaho Regional Travel and Convention Grant Program — a pool of money that totaled $6.1 million this year in tourism dollars to help Idaho groups promoting tourism. Source: Times-News

Blaine County

  • The Blaine County Fair expanded its livestock barn with the help of local businesses, donors and the community. The barn was not quite finished as the fair exhibits arrived on the Carey fair site this year, however, additional concrete was poured, mats put down and temporary panels erected to solve the short-term problem. The additional participation in 4-H livestock clubs can be attributed to farmers and ranchers helping the town kids by providing space, pens and mentoring. Some of the livestock exhibits increased by 40 percent over the previous fair. Source: KMVT News
  • The Hailey Planning and Zoning Committee approved plans to build five townhouses, down from the original request to build 11 townhouses due to franchise parking requirements that could not be met. The Marriott associated project consists of 2,100 square feet, three-story townhouses that will add to the affordable housing inventory required of new construction in Hailey. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • The Trailing of the Sheep festival placed third in Best Fall Festival contest nationally by USA Today. The event was one of 20 nominated by the publication. Source: KMVT News

Twin Falls County

  • The Pollinator Committee, a creation of the Twin Falls City Council, created the Pollinator-Friendly Community Resolution decreeing Twin Falls a Bee and Monarch City USA community. It will educate, encourage and preserve milkweed and nectar plantings that attract and help with population recovery of the monarch butterfly. According to its website, nearly a billion monarch butterflies have vanished since 1990 according to data released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in February 2015. This is an annual designation while the Bee Campus USA is a one-time initiative to create gardens that feed the also declining bee population. The committee members will base out of the Tom Courtney City Park for their educational outreach. Sources: Times-News, http://monarchcityusa.com/   and https://www.beecityusa.org/

Retail

  • The Magic Valley Mall announced Kohl’s is taking over space vacated by Sears. Kohl’s announced it is partnering with Amazon to accept returns at its brick and mortar stores. It is implementing a number of renovations to its existing space.
  • Magic Valley Mall management is attempting to acquire the shuttered Shopko location near the Magic Valley Mall. In addition, an announcement regarding the former AT&T space near Olive Garden is expected soon. The number of retail job postings in south central Idaho for June 2019 was 374, all in the top 10 ranking by number of postings for all occupations. The breakout is as follows:

Source:  Times-News and Help Wanted Online pulled by Idaho Department of Labor

Dairy

  • Chobani announced a new initiative – Milk Matters. This collaboration of dairy workers, dairy farmers, experts and elected officials from across the country believe this initiative will address the economic, environmental and social impacts of milk production. The six pillars of Milk Matters:
      • Environmental stewardship
      • Animal care
      • Worker well-being,
      • Local sourcing
      • Economic opportunity in dairy communities
      • Support for dairy farms
  • The initiative creates a certification guaranteeing higher milk prices for those certified as dairy farmers. “Dairy farms are the backbone of the communities we call home,” Hamdi Ulukya, Chobani founder and CEO, said in a press release. Milk Matters has a goal of certifying all milk providers to Chobani by 2025. Sources: Capital Press, Chobani
  • The roller coaster of falling commodity prices, rising feed and input prices, trade uncertainty and labor scarcity are just a few of the issues creating havoc with agricultural sectors. The pricing of class III milk, typically sold to value-added food manufacturers, bottomed out three times in 2018 and at the start of 2019, as evidenced in Chart 1. Chart 2 tracks covered employment in the dairy cattle and milk production industry, compiled by Idaho Department of Labor’s Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. Historically, there has been flat growth of new farms over the past two decades, yet employment growth of one and a half times over the same time. This decline of employment and farms in early 2019 indicates greater consolidation of operations, production and efficiencies, with keener animal husbandry techniques that have grown production per cow. Idaho is the third largest producer of milk nationally based on 2018 data. It has just over 600,000 dairy cows. Source: Times-News Idaho Department of Labor and Progressive Dairy – Aug. 7, 2019

Chart 1
Source: Progressive Dairy – Aug. 7, 2019

Chart 2

Source: Idaho Department of Labor, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages

New Construction

  • Summit Development of Boise pulled a $10 million building permit to build Cedar Park Apartments in southeast Twin Falls. The development will consist of 28 buildings with four apartments per building, totaling 112 units. According to Sperling’s Best Places, the rate for vacant housing listed for rent in the city of Twin Falls was 1.5 percent compared to the nation at 2.1 percent, in its latest report of March 2019. Source: Times-News and https://www.bestplaces.net/housing/city/idaho/twin_falls
  • Gem State Dairy Products LLC announced earlier in the year that it will build an aseptic milk processing plant on land next to Glanbia in southwest Twin Falls. The Twin Falls Urban Renewal Agency (URA) approved reimbursement of sewage and wastewater infrastructure investment the company will make – an estimated $21 million. The company is expected to generate $42 million in tax collection over the 20-year URA period. The plant will cost an estimated $130 million and the company expects to hire 100 workers in the fall of 2020 upon construction completion. Source: Times-News
  • The Human Bean will build a new drive-through coffee shop in Twin Falls. The espresso operation will employ between 15 and 20 mostly part-time workers in its 650-square-foot shop. It will be open seven days a week including holidays from 4 a.m. to midnight. The company plans to open a second drive-through in another Twin Falls location. Source: Times-News
  • The Herrett Center at the College of Southern Idaho is offering some of its planetarium shows in Spanish along with English, driven by the high Hispanic population share in south central Idaho. Three of the eight counties have a one in three ratio of residents with Hispanic ethnicity, while another four counties have one in four residents with Hispanic ethnicity. Twin Falls County, with the largest population, has 16 percent of residents with Hispanic ethnicity. Source: American Community Survey, 2013-2017, US Census and Times-News

Jerome County

  • Crossroads Point is the latest acquisition and new home of the Development Complex, the educational outreach arm for the University of Idaho’s CAFÉ (Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment). Located at the junction of I-84 and US Highway 93, the complex could attract many visitors passing in all four directions. It will include a visitor’s center, residential housing, faculty offices and classrooms. CAFÉ is designed to be the largest research dairy research center in the world, conducting research on a 2,000-cow dairy purchased earlier this year in Rupert. As one of the partners of the project, the College of Southern Idaho will participate in the center with its food processing and research program. CSI started offering its first bachelor’s degree in the program this fall with industry input and support. The desired timeline to open the Discovery Complex is 2023. Source: Times-News
  • North Park in Jerome recently was renovated with funding from Idaho Central Credit Union (ICCU). The city of Jerome, the North Park Citizen’s Committee and ICCU had a dedication ceremony renaming the park Idaho Central Credit Union Park. It now has a splash pad, a playground with musical features, an amphitheater and a pump track. Source: Times-News

Openings

  • Zions Bank hosted a grand opening celebration at its new branch on the southeastern side of Twin Falls. The 2,800-square-foot branch is the second location in Twin Falls. Ten non-profit organizations were awarded $5,000 as part of the festivities. Source: Times-News
  • Bearded Axe opened in Twin Falls featuring casual and league competition axe throwing activities for all ages. It is certified by the World Axe Throwing League and offers 10 lanes with two targets per lane. Source: Times-News

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

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

Bannock County

  • The former Hoku Materials plant in Pocatello has been purchased by Solargise America LLC. The British company also plans to build two other plants next to the former Hoku plant on the city’s north side. According to the Solargise owner, the former Hoku facility will be used to make the raw material — high-grade polysilicon — and in a second proposed plans, the polysilicon pellets will be reformed into cylinder ingots, which will be sliced into wafers in a proposed third facility. The three Pocatello plants will eventually employ a combined 450 full-time workers, with hiring expected to begin early next year and ramping up through 2023. Jobs would pay between $50,000 and $60,000 on average. Solargise anticipates trial production beginning by late next year and ramping up to a 7,000-ton annual output within two years of opening. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • After 83 years in eastern Idaho, East Idaho Credit Union will open a branch in Pocatello. The new branch will be across the street from the Pocatello Costco and is expected to break ground later this fall with completion next summer. It will be about 2,500 square feet and will house six employees. Currently, the credit union has nine branches: Two in Idaho Falls, and one each in Ammon, Arco, Challis, Rexburg, St. Anthony, Salmon and Shelley. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • North Bannock County Fire District voters overwhelmingly approved a special emergency property tax levy increase to fund the first-ever fire department for their fire district. The proposed location of the Fire District’s first fire station is near Tyhee Road and Yellowstone Avenue. The Fire District is in the process of hiring a fire chief to lead its new volunteer fire department. Source: Idaho State journal

Bingham County

  • The Bingham Crisis Center has expanded into the Shelley-Firth area with services now available Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Shelley outreach office started operating at Shelley City Hall the first week of July. Source: Bingham County Chronicle

Power County

  • American Falls’ first roundabout should be built in 2022. The Idaho Transportation Department shared final plans for a roundabout slated for Highway 39 and Pocatello Avenue in American Falls. Construction will take about four months to complete and will be scheduled around harvest and planting season. Source: The Aberdeen Times

Openings

  • Nay’s Soup, Salad, Sandwich at Pine Ridge Mall in Pocatello.
  • Crafted, a beverage company in Old Town Pocatello.
  • Poky Kids, a clothing store in Old Town Pocatello.
  • Wild Dog Coffee Wagon, a food truck in Pocatello.
  • We do Work in Blackfoot.

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

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

Region

  • Yellowstone National Park recorded 936,062 visits last month as the busy summer tourist season ramped up. The July visitation was down by about 4,500 from July 2018 when more than 940,500 people visited the park. So far this year, the first national park has hosted nearly 2.3 million visitors, which is down 1.19 percent from the same period last year and trails year-to-date visitations recorded in 2016 and 2017. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • August marked the third year for the College of Eastern Idaho and the 50th anniversary of the opening of the original campus as Eastern Idaho Technical College. Enrollment has continued to grow at the college since the name change. More than 1,400 students have enrolled for the fall semester so far, up from 1,200 last year. Source: Post Register
  • NuScale, the company that plans to build 12 small nuclear reactors near Idaho Falls, has received federal grants to build reactor plant simulators at three universities. Simulators will be built in Idaho Falls, at Oregon State University and at Texas A&M University-College Station. The grants are for $843,986 total – $285,763 of that will be used to build the Idaho Falls simulator. Source: Post Register

Idaho National Laboratory

  • A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for a new Research Collaboration Building at the Materials and Fuels Complex at Idaho National Laboratory. The Research Collaboration Building cost $9.5 million to build. Construction started in March 2018. Source: Post Register
  • The U.S. Department of Energy announced the National Reactor Innovation Center would be housed at the INL. The center isn’t so much a physical location, as it is an initiative, which brings private sector technology companies and government researchers together to build and test nuclear reactors. The ultimate goal of the partnership is to improve the speed of licensing and commercialization of new nuclear technologies. Source: East Idaho News
  • The U.S. Department of Energy announced it will prepare an environmental impact statement as part of the process to build the test reactor at either Idaho National Laboratory or Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory by the end of 2025. A new nuclear test reactor is needed as part of an effort to revamp the nation’s fading nuclear power industry by developing safer fuel and power plants. Public comments on the environmental review are being taken through Sept. 4. Source: Post Register

Bonneville County

  • Idaho Falls Fiber, a fiber-optic network company, is expanding to more neighborhoods. They recently announced that residents on Sycamore Circle, Hickory Lane, Hickory Court, Hickory Circle, Tuscany Drive, Burgundy Drive and Napa Drive could now connect to the Idaho Falls Fiber Network. The Residential Fiber Pilot Program officially launched in March with service available to a pilot group of customers. Source: City of Idaho Falls
  • Love at First Bite, a specialty treats, home décor and jewelry shop inside Snake River Landing, is adding an additional 2,000 square feet to make room for new inventory. This project marks the second major expansion for the shop since opening the original 1,500-square-foot shop in 2009. Construction will be completed sometime in October. Source: East Idaho News
  • Broulim’s Fresh Foods has acquired Teton Clinical Pharmacy and will expand services across eastern Idaho. The Teton Pharmacy on Jafer Court will close but Broulim’s will operate Teton locations on 17th Street in Ammon and Broadway Street in Idaho Falls. The 17th street location will be remodeled to make room for a new compounding room and bubble packing operation. The Broadway location will undergo a few minor changes. Source: East Idaho News
  • After 30 years of business, the Wells Fargo bank branch inside Smith’s Food and Drug in Idaho Falls will be closing its doors in November. The reason for the closure is due to a decrease in traffic. The branch’s last day of operation will be Nov. 6, 2019. Source: East Idaho News
  • A partnership between Idaho Steel and Kiremko, a Netherlands-based company, has recently started selling the largest industrial drum dryer on the market. The new drum is eight feet in diameter, 21 feet long and weighs around 100,000 pounds. The previous largest one made by Idaho Steel was six feet by 20 feet. Source: Post Register

Lemhi County

  • With the merger of Jervois Mining and eCobalt, Jervois officials said in a news release they expect to be selling cobalt mined at the shuttered Idaho Cobalt Project in Lemhi County by 2021. Jervois must first update a feasibility study for the Morgan Creek-area project. Part of that effort includes completing a scoping study to evaluate opening a refinery at Blackfoot to process the concentrates mined near Salmon. Once the mine is open, 180 jobs will be created with additional jobs at the refinery in Blackfoot. Source: Challis Messenger
  • Prescient Security is offering federally certified cybersecurity apprenticeships in the Lemhi County seat. Apprentices at Prescient receive college-level training on the job. At the same time, they are enrolled in online classes through American Public University. Veterans can enroll in American Military University. The two colleges are both part of the American Public University System. Source: Challis Messenger

Openings

  • Mac’s Classics, Hotrods, & Customs car dealership in Idaho Falls.
  • Island Park Charter School in Island Park.
  • Bonneville County Fairgrounds in Idaho Falls.
  • Buckle Youth clothing store in Idaho Falls’ Grand Teton Mall.
  • New West KnifeWorks in Victor.

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

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