Around Idaho: Economic Activity in November 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

  • Sandpoint-based manufacturer Tamarack Aerospace Group has filed a reorganization plan to bring the company out of chapter 11 bankruptcy. The new plan, if approved, will allow Tamarack to emerge from chapter 11 reorganization without additional staffing reductions. Source: Journal of Business

Kootenai County

  • The Coeur d’Alene Planning Commission unanimously passed plans for the development of the Atlas Waterfront site. The plan will develop a 61 acre complex along the Spokane River over eight to 10 years. The development will include single family homes, townhouses, apartments and condos along with retail space, while preserving 12 acres of public space along the river. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • The Kootenai Humane Society broke ground on a new facility. The Humane Society is progressing through a $6.5 million fundraising campaign to build the shelter, which is expected to be completed in 2020. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • Work is underway on a $15 million expansion at the Coeur d’Alene Airport, which will be used by StanCraft Boat Co. to launch a new aircraft retrofitting and refueling facility. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press

Openings

  • Inland Botanical Body Bar in Post Falls.
  • Senior Helpers in Coeur d’Alene.
  • Terri Reece Studios Salon in Coeur d’Alene.

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

  • Gov. Brad Little’s broadband task force in November recommended the state expand broadband service, focusing on a pilot project for underserved parts of north central Idaho. The region’s rural area is considered the largest unserved area in the state. In the more urban counties of Latah and Nez Perce counties, more than 75 percent of households have broadband service with internet download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second (mbps) and upload speeds of at least 3 mbps. In Clearwater, Idaho, Lewis and Benewah counties, fewer than 35 percent of households have access to broadband. The report recommended the state focus on unfunded projects in north central Idaho, including a proposed five-county open access fiber network extending from Lewiston to Orofino and Grangeville, and a north-south connector running from Grangeville to Riggins. The governor has accepted the task force’s recommendations and will include some in his 2020 budget. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • An innovative program in north central Idaho has prepared students for local manufacturing jobs by working closely with local manufacturers to determine what skills were needed. Spearheaded by Clearwater Economic Development Administration and the Northwest Intermountain Manufacturing Association, with support from the Idaho Department of Labor, the program run by Lewis-Clark State College helped high school students throughout the region develop metal fabrication and manufacturing design skills needed by more than 100 companies in the region. Read the full article. Source: Idaho Department of Labor
  • Affordable housing is a big issue throughout north central Idaho. With limited housing availability and rising prices, some people are moving out of rural areas to Lewiston or Moscow. Employers are finding lack of housing poses obstacles to hiring workers from outside the region. Many report that they have made offers to job seekers, who then had to refuse the job because they couldn’t find housing. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there is a shortage of rental homes in Idaho that are affordable and available to extremely low-income households, whose incomes are below 30 percent of their area’s median income. That makes many households severely cost burdened, which affects their ability to pay for other necessities. Clearwater Economic Development Association obtained a grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to hold seminars to train public officials on their role in assessing affordable housing availability and promoting affordable housing development. It will teach the tools available to them and present best practice cases from other rural communities. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  •  Due to very low returns of steelhead over the Columbia River dams from the ocean, Idaho Fish and Game closed steelhead fishing on the Clearwater River and its tributaries and the Lower Snake River on Sept. 29. There still are enough fish returning to allow steelhead harvest on portions of the Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers. Bag limits are reduced. The closure on the Clearwater River has reduced tourists visiting Orofino and Lewiston this fall. And even in Riggins, where steelhead can be harvested, confusion about what was closed has kept some people away, affecting fishing guides, lodging places, restaurants and tourist shops. Steelhead and salmon fishing in north central Idaho is estimated to bring in $100 million in tourist spending each year. Source: Lewiston Tribune; Idaho Statesman
  • Steelhead returns picked up in November, which may allow steelhead fishing on the Clearwater and lower Snake later in the season, which runs from October to April. The fishing probably would be catch-and-release, although harvest may be allowed if steelhead return increases significantly. Source: Lewiston Tribune;
  • This is the second year in a row for poor steelhead fishing. Last year, the Fish and Game Commission briefly shuttered the season after environmental groups threatened to sue over an expired incidental take permit, which allows for activities that could inadvertently involve the harvest of endangered or threatened species. Two years in a row has taken a toll on fishing guides and the communities like Orofino and Riggins that rely on steelhead fishing to bring tourists. Some fear that a couple of years in a row of poor fishing may reduce the number of people who come to Idaho to fish in future years. Source: Lewiston Tribune

Clearwater County

  • Clearwater County Economic Development sponsored a Main Street program workshop with the Idaho Department of Commerce in October. It shared information about international marketing with Obenauf’s, a Peck manufacturer of leather-conditioning products, and worked with six businesses to help them develop strategies for growth. The organization also provided ongoing support for the TIGER grant to revive the 73-mile rail line between Jaype and Lewiston, which was abandoned after Potlatch’s Jaype mill closed in 2000. Construction is underway at its expansion of the Orofino Business Center, which will allow SJX Jet Boats to grow. The economic development group began the second round of its workplace readiness efforts working with the Idaho Department of Labor, Idaho Vocational Rehabilitation and Maximus. Workplace development efforts also included coordinating with Associated Logging Contractors, Idaho Forest Product Commission and Joint School District 171 on a wood products workforce promotional campaign. It is coordinating efforts between Idaho Parks and Recreation and the National Park Service for Orofino’s skate park, and helped the city of Orofino and the Idaho Transportation Department submit a grant for sidewalk construction and improvement along U.S. Highway 12. Source: Clearwater Tribune
  • The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest’s North Fork Ranger District moved in October into a smaller, more energy-efficient facility built next to its former location. The new building measures 8,072 square feet, while the older building contained nearly 30,000 square feet. The older building also had housed the headquarters of the Clearwater National Forest prior to the 2014 consolidation of the Clearwater and Nez Perce forests. The relocation to a smaller building reflects the long-term decline in Forest Service employment caused by the consolidation, the decrease in timber harvests on national forests since 1992 and technological improvements that reduced the need for office staff. Forest Service employment in Clearwater County fell from 250 in 1992 to 70 this year. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • First Step 4 Life opened a new outreach pilot on Main Street in Orofino. The recovery, re-entry and resource center serves people in recovery from substance use disorders and/or mental health illness. In additional to counseling, the center offers a variety of different life skills groups including budgeting, art, résumé writing, first aid, tobacco cessation and socialization. Its computer lab is open to the public to create résumés, search for jobs and research schooling. Source: Clearwater Tribune

Idaho and Lewis Counties

  • The U.S. Mint’s newest quarter commemorates the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. The Idaho quarter is the 50th in a 12-year program honoring “America the Beautiful” with quarters featuring national parks or other sites of national significant. “The Frank” contains more than 2 million acres (about 5 percent of Idaho’s land mass) of rugged mountains, rich forests and rivers offering whitewater and fishing opportunities. The new quarter may lead to more visitors coming to the wilderness area, which would benefit communities from Grangeville and Riggins to Salmon. Source: Idaho Press; Image: U.S. Mint
  • At the Idaho County Light and Power Cooperative annual meeting Nov. 7, officials announced that electricity rates will not rise in 2020 or 2021. The cooperative, which played an important role in rural electrification since the 1930s, serves more than 3,400 members in most of the rural areas of Idaho County and part of Lewis County. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  •  About 85 percent of Stites voters in November approved a $1.9 million, 40-year bond to upgrade the city’s water system so it will comply with Idaho Department of Environmental Quality requirements. TD&H Engineering of Lewiston, which developed the project proposal, said the bond will increase ratepayers’ bills by about $16 a month, up from the current average of $50. The construction, scheduled to begin in 2021, will replace a water storage tank lid, replace undersized water mains, add hydrants and provide more valves to improve flexibility in the water system. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Restaurants and bars play important roles in small towns as a focal point for connections within the community and visitors. Nezperce, Lewis County’s seat with a population of 480, will once again have such options. Kelly Johnson has reopened the Clover Club, the bar in the Nezperce Hotel, currently open Wednesdays through Saturdays. Johnson plans to also reopen the café, which has been closed for several years. The café space is available for groups who need a place to gather. Source: Idaho County Free Press

 Latah County

  • Latah County’s economic growth depends to a large extent on enrollment and spending at the University of Idaho. The ongoing decline in enrollment at its Moscow campus has been a drag on Moscow’s economy. About 100 fewer students were enrolled on the Moscow campus this fall than last fall. Since 2011, fall enrollment on the Moscow campus has fallen 14 percent from 10,791 to 9,328 this fall. The number of freshman entering the university grew 2 percent from last fall to 1,475 this fall, but fewer students returned to Moscow for the new school year resulting in a 4 percent decrease in undergraduate enrollment. Graduate school enrollment climbed 3 percent to 1,803. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News; Idaho Education News
  • The University of Idaho projected in early November its revenues will fall short by $22 million in fiscal year 2022. It already has made $14 million in cuts. Gov. Brad Little announced in October that state agencies and the universities, would be required to reduce spending by 1 percent in the current fiscal year – about $1 million for the university – and reduce spending by 2 percent in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020. The university may make layoffs, reduce salaries, not fill vacant positions and eliminate academic programs. It also is looking at centralizing services across the university and outsourcing some services. In late November, the university asked eligible employees to take voluntary furloughs, ranging from one hour up to five days, to help deal with budget cuts. The school also plans to offer incentives for early retirement and voluntary separation. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • Northwest River Supplies — a paddle sports equipment and apparel manufacturer and wholesaler — moved into its new 155,000-square-foot facility on South Blaine Street in Moscow in early November. It includes a warehouse, customer service center, corporate headquarters and a flagship retail store. The new facility allows the company to locate all its functions under one roof and offers increased space for inventory and personnel. NRS was founded in 1972. Today, the employee-owned business employs about 110 people in Moscow. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • Moscow’s Main Street between Friendship Square and Third Street is in midst of big changes. Sangria Grille plans to relocate from a pad at the Palouse Mall this summer to a new restaurant to be built in the parking area of the former U.S. Bank building. The bank branch closed this summer when U.S. Bank consolidated it with its South Jackson Street branch. The second floor of the former bank building will contain commercial offices and a co-working space. In the nearby space between The Garden Lounge and Hodgins Drug and Hobby — a vintage clothing, décor and records store — will move in, while the current tenant, White Pine Outfitters, will move into a building on South Jackson Street. Revolver Culture Co., which is expected to open before Christmas, has been operating online. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily
  • In the November election, voters in Genesee approved a 10-year, $6.2 million bond to upgrade sewer and water infrastructure to meet new EPA standards. Construction is expected to start in 2021 and end the following year. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • The Moscow City Council at a November meeting made two moves to improve the city’s infrastructure. It approved a 20-year, $4.3 million loan offer from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality for water system improvements. The council also approved agreements with the Idaho Department of Commerce and Emsi for a$350,000 Idaho Opportunity Fund grant to assist in paying for about $716,000 in public infrastructure improvements surrounding the technology company’s new property in Moscow’s north end. The improvement include sidewalk improvements, installation of decorative light fixtures and trees around the perimeter of the property, and relocating a portion of Hogg Creek. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Nez Perce and Asotin, Washington, Counties

  • Clearwater Paper, the region’s largest private-sector employer, currently is facing some challenges. The company lost $7.56 million in the first nine months of this year in contrast to making $44 million during the same period in 2018. A planned, temporary outage for major maintenance at the Lewiston plant played a role in the losses this summer — mostly by raising pulp costs for tissue that is made into toilet paper, paper napkins, paper towels and facial tissue. About 900 of the Lewiston facility’s 1,300 employees are involved in on-going labor issue with the company. Negotiations have been ongoing since the spring. In October, members of both the United Steelworkers and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers rejected the latest contract offer from the company. According to union officials, management proposed that new hires receive a high-deductible catastrophic health care plan and lower wages than existing employees. The union members continue to work under the terms of the expired contract. Source: Lewiston Tribune; KLEWtv.com
  • Clearwater Converting plans to move from the Port of Lewiston to a new building near its largest customer, Clearwater Paper, early in 2020. The company takes rolls of Clearwater Paper’s paperboard with diameters as large as 7 feet and cuts them into smaller rolls or sheets. After Clearwater Converting relocates, an unnamed north central Idaho manufacturer will move into the port facility that also houses an ice skating rink. It plans to expand its warehousing operations there. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Howell Munitions & Technology in Lewiston has been acquired by another company that pledged to run it with current staff and help it emerge from a complicated bankruptcy. Kash CA, based in Lewiston, was the only business to bid on the assets of Howell Munitions & Technology and seven affiliated businesses in a transaction approved in October by a U.S. bankruptcy court judge in Nevada. Following the sale, most of Howell’s remaining 80 employees kept their jobs. Before the 2016 presidential election caused a severe drop in ammunition sales, Howell employed more than 400 people in the Lewiston area. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Vista Outdoor, which employs about 1,000 people at its Lewiston ammunition manufacturing operations, continues to lose money each quarter, and now it is bracing for the impact of Walmart discontinuing sales of some types of ammunition. Vista’s executives believe consumers will still buy the ammunition elsewhere and have done an in-depth analysis to identify other places to sell it. The company also is bolstering its e-commerce sales — making sales directly to customers. Employment at Vista’s Lewiston operations has dropped about 400 jobs since the 2016 presidential election. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Lewiston’s retail sector will lose a key component when Kmart closes Dec. 15 as part of a nationwide downsizing by the parent company of Kmart and Sears. The store on 21st Street opened in 1974, and employs more than 50 people now. Lewiston’s Shopko closed earlier this year. After Kmart closes, Lewiston will no longer have a big-box discount store. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Asotin County, Washington, residents voting in the November election backed a plan to build a new jail. It adds a 0.3 percent sales tax expected to bring in about $910,000 a year to help build and run the new jail. The current jail built in 1984 to house 16 inmates is overcrowded and in bad condition. Construction is expected to cost $13.7 million. Source: Lewiston Tribune

Opening

  • Green’s Auto Servicing opened this fall in Riggins.

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

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

Ada County

  • Construction started in October on an eight-story, mixed-use development in downtown Boise. The nearly 300,000-square-foot building should be completed by the summer of 2021. It will include 173 residential units, 3,000 square feet of retail space, 400 parking spaces, bike storage, fitness center and a landscaped rooftop courtyard. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Amazon is converting the FedEx Ground facility near the Boise Factory Outlet into a distribution center. It is adding a large parking lot, as well as a new entrance and canopies to the building. This facility differs from the fulfillment center being built in Nampa, where workers pick products and pack them. This distribution center will receive packaged goods, load them up in vans and trucks for customer delivery. Source: BoiseDev
  • Boise metropolitan area’s office vacancy rate is 6.03 percent, the lowest in more than 30 years, according to Thornton Oliver Keller Commercial Real Estate. The asking price for Class A office leases is $19.90 per square foot per year, the highest in more than 12 years. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • A Seattle developer, Resolve Development, plans to convert part of the former Safari Inn in downtown Boise to apartments. The hotel closed in November as the 52-year land lease came to an end. The ground-level retail businesses will remain. The building was built in 1920 but has changed several times over the years. Resolve plans to create 38 small studio apartments and four one-bedroom apartments. Sources: BoiseDev & Idaho Statesman
  • Two Boise businesses made Outside Magazine’s top 20 best places to work in 2019. Duft Watterson, a full-service branding and advertising agency ranked 11th. The business was highlighted for its periodic Friday afternoons off to ride, ski or float the Boise River. All of the employees receive a Linus bike after 20 days of employment. The second business, Lone Cone, ranked 17th. Lone Cone is an outdoor gear shop for kids. The magazine highlighted its flexible scheduling, the ability to work remotely, a downtown office just steps away from the foothills, gear discounts and routine “play days” for boating or skiing. Source: CBS2
  • Dean Foods, which owns Meadow Gold, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November, allowing the company to keep operating while it seeks a buyer. The company obtained $850 million in financing from its existing lender to pay vendors and employee wages and benefits. Boise’s plant will continue to operate as normal. The downtown Boise plant has produced milk and other products since 1950. Nationwide, milk consumption has declined over the past four years and sales are down $3 billion. The Boise facility operates under Southern Food Group, a Dean Foods subsidiary. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • CVS Health has a new Pharmacy Tech Training Center in Boise to meet the demand for more pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in rural communities. The first group of trainees completed the program in September. To date, 35 pharmacy technicians, one pharmacist and one pharmacist manager have graduated through the training program. A new group of 15 start in the next few months. By the end of the year approximately 50 total new jobs will have been created in Idaho. Students start at the training facility, but shift to working from home once they are up to speed. A 90-day program at the center trains pharmacy technicians to have the necessary skill to assist CVSA Caremark members in remote communities who need help. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Ball Ventures Ahlquist broke ground on another new building at Ten Mile Crossing that will be home to Perspecta, a government services provider. Completion of the building is expected to be in the fall of 2020. Ten Mile Crossing has five occupied buildings, three more under construction and four more to start in the coming weeks and months. Those include a Saltzer building, a second building for Ameriben, a daycare, other medical facilities and some smaller retail and restaurants. Source: Idaho Business Review

Boise County

  • Bogus Basin began snowmaking operations in late October with its new system. Twenty-four automated fan guns blew snow onto the Upper Ridge and Lower Ridge ski runs off the Deerpoint chairlift, dumping around half a million gallons of water. The colder temperatures allowed the resort to start make snow earlier than expected, enabling it to open its terrain park to freestyle skiers and snowboarders Nov. 8. Bogus had its opening weekend Nov. 29-Dec. 1. Daily operation started Dec. 7. Source: Idaho Press
  • Low unemployment rates could be a challenge for a nonprofit ski resort to hire 500 seasonal workers before winter. Bogus Basin has been dealing with the tough labor market by raising wages and adding perks. The resort raised its minimum wage for most positions to $10 an hour. By early December, it already had hired 400 of its 500 seasonal workers. Source: Idaho Press

Canyon County

  • The College of Idaho and College of Western Idaho have a new partnership called the Yote Track. The partnership allows CWI students automatic admission to the College of Idaho if they have an associate degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher. Both college presidents have been working on the partnership for about 18 months. As students work to finish an associate degrees at CWI, the Yote Track allows other benefits such as scholarship opportunities, enrollment counseling, free admission to Yote athletic events, 15 percent discount at the college store, mentorship opportunities, priority registration and access to the Cruzen-Murray Library. Source: Idaho Press
  • Caldwell-based indieDwell is expanding to Pueblo, Colorado, to manufacture affordable homes. The factory will employ approximately 200 people and generate an estimated $16 million in annual payroll. The first homes are expected to be manufactured in early 2020. The factory is expected to construct 1,000 modules annually. The expansion to Colorado is a result of a partnership between indieDwell and Denver-based Gary Community Investments. The Denver company invests in philanthropic solutions for Colorado’s low-income children and families. Source: Idaho Press
  • Amazon, which plans to build a fulfillment center in Nampa, has said the company would contribute $4.7 million to the city for construction on the Garrity Interchange. It is projected the center will increase traffic on the interchange by 10 percent. Idaho Department of Transportation estimates improvements to the interchange would cost $5 million. The Amazon center is expected to generate 7,000 vehicle trips per day during peak season. Source: Idaho Press
  • Nampa City Council approved its new transportation plan, which identities 141 improvement projects through 2040 costing $532 million. The plan is intended to improve capacity, safety, bicycle and pedestrian transportation and freight mobility. Thirty-five projects have been recommended to be completed over the next two years, ranging from pedestrian safety improvements to installing traffic signals or roundabouts. Several of the recommendations are intended to help freight mobility near the new Amazon fulfillment center. The plan largely relies on state or federal funding. Source: Idaho Press
  • Mission Aviation Fellowship, a nonprofit Christian organization, broke ground on a new 8,000-square-foot family and training center at its U.S. headquarters at the Nampa Airport. The center will include a library, study, computer stations, a kitchen and dining area for 45 people and meeting rooms. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Karcher Mall’s new owners, Rhino Investments, broke ground on a multimillion-dollar redevelopment project in November. The project’s cost is expected to be $30 million to $50 million. Demolition of 115,000 square feet in the center of the mall started in November to be completed in January. The demolition will make way for additional parking and access to 37 acres behind the building. The west area will be redeveloped for multiple uses such as a possible trampoline park/entertain facility and a call center. The plan includes nine residential buildings with a total of 216 units on 7 acres. Mor Furniture for Less, Big 5 Sporting Goods, JoAnn Fabric and Crafts and Ross Dress for Less will remain at the mall. Source: Idaho Press
  • Sunridge Dairy received a conditional use permit allowing it to expand its waste handling system. This also will allow the dairy to expand its headcount to 5,700 from the current 5,400. The dairy can now add two lagoons, two manure storage ponds and a composting area to its existing operations. The dairy wanted to add young stock and be permitted for 3,000 milling cows as well as 2,700 head of dry cows and replacement. Source: Capital Press

Gem County

  • Gem State Raceway held its grand opening in late October. The one-of-a-kind race track and event center is located in Emmett at the site of the old Emmett Saw Mill. The 1.6 mile track will be a road course, meaning means there will be multiple changes of direction for the cars. There will also be about 90 RV spots. The goal is to attract more people to the area and town of Emmett. Source: KTVB

Valley County

  • Tamarack Resort is nearing completion of 56 ski-in/ski-out condos at The Village at Tamarack. The condos include furnished studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom units and penthouses with a sale price starting around $350,000. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • CUB McCall, a community hub, will provide a coworking space for nonprofits and local startups. The West Central Mountains Economic Development Council has teamed with Luminaire, a McCall-based business, to develop the 750-square-foot space, which will have room for about five nonprofits, two businesses and one startup. There will be Wi-Fi, a lounge, meeting space, a meditation studio and informal kitchen. Source: Idaho Business Review and BoiseDev
  • Brundage Mountain Resort has been more aggressive in providing housing for its employees. The resort owns some manufactured homes in New Meadows that it uses for seasonal workers and also is partnering with Shore Lodge in McCall. The lodge needs employees in the summer and the resort needs them in the winter. The partnership has been successful for the past couple of years. This year, Brundage also is bringing some college students from South America through the J-1 visa program. The National Ski Association said the visa program provides 5 to 10 percent of ski area seasonal workers nationwide. The program requires employers to provide housing and specified number of work hours. Brundage hires more than 300 seasonal workers every winter. Source: Idaho Press
  • Tamarack Resort has seasonal workers for both winter and summer seasons – some seeking out a schedule that is called the “4-2-4-2-4” – on for four months in both the summer and winter, then off between the seasons for two months. Tamarack hires about 130 seasonal workers for the winter. The resort recently has raised its hourly wages and also provides free on-site childcare and end-of-season bonuses. Source: Idaho Press

Openings

  • Jasmine + Ginger, a Thai-themed restaurant, opened in McCall in mid-October on the lower level of the Yacht Club building. Chef Steven Topple also opened an Italian restaurant, Ragazza Di Bufalo, in Donnelly last year. Source: BoiseDev
  • Rush Bowls, a Colorado-based chain featuring grab-and-go meals, opened its first Idaho restaurant in Boise.
  • Jensen Jewelers, a full-service jewelry store offering exclusive collections, opened at The Village at Meridian. It is the Village’s first fine jewelry store.
  • Postal Connections opened in the Hazelwood Marketplace located at Five Mile and Lake Hazel roads. It provides packaging, shipping and business services.
  • A second Fiesta Chicken opened in Boise on Orchard Street.
  • Bill and Tami Reed opened their second Reed Cycle store on Bogus Basin Road in November.
  • NextScan, a records management business, opened on North Principle Place in Meridian in November.
  • ICON Credit Union opened a new location on North Ten Mile Road in November.
  • Zions Bank opened a new location on West Island Green Drive in Meridian in November.
  • Bolder Barbershop opened on Eagle Road in Eagle.
  • Tupelo Honey, a Carolina comfort food restaurant, opened in November in downtown Boise.
  • Food Land, a combination market, coffee shop and Mediterranean restaurant, opened on North Orchard Road in Boise.
  • John Smiths Subs, a Florida-based chained opened its first Idaho restaurant on South Ten Mile Road.

Closing

  • Boise Sizzler at the Boise Towne Square Mall closed in October.
  • Roz & Ali, formerly the Dress Barn, will close by Dec. 26. The national retailer is closing all of its stores.
  • Horse racing at Les Bois has been discontinued.
  • The Benchmark Bodega on West Overland Road in Boise closed.
  • Jamba on McMillan and Eagle Roads closed. The only remaining Jamba in the area is at Boise Towne Square Mall.
  • Hungry Onion, which has been serving burgers, fries and shakes since 1963 in Meridian, will close Dec. 31.
  • Google Fiber closed its call center 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

Region

  • The Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and Environment received a $1 million donation from the JR Simplot Company. That achieved the match threshold of $10 million the University of Idaho had to meet to release the $10 million pledged by the legislature prior to the Great Recession. The project includes a research dairy in Rupert, a public education complex in Jerome and the College of Southern Idaho’s training and research science program. This year’s legislature will be asked for funding to start the design phase. Source: Times-News

Blaine County

  • Visit Sun Valley released data indicating 2019 was a great tourism season for the Wood River Valley. When surveyed, 64 percent of retailers rated this summer better than 2018. Room nights sold for October increased 13.9 percent from the previous October. Sun Valley Resort’s occupancy was higher throughout the summer than the other major destination resorts in the West. The opportunities provided by the new EPIC pass has the area abuzz as to whether the Vail Resort’s inclusion of Sun Valley as a ski option will bring large numbers to the resort and greater area. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • Opening the Sun Valley Culinary Institute has been a long-term goal for the Wood River Valley with its plethora of restaurants, cafes, breweries and coffee shops. The venue is in the former Cornerstone Grill on Main Street in Ketchum. It will eventually be home to a federally certified apprenticeship program with 12 culinary students. The technical certification will consist of two segments of study, then on-the-job training over the course of a year. This structure works well with the seasonal economy of the Wood River Valley. The space and its commercial kitchen will be available to rent for events such as cooking classes, fundraisers and soirees. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • Blaine County Hunger Coalition is purchasing a larger building near its current location in Bellevue. The 13,000-square-foot building on 4 acres will be named Bloom Community Food Center and serve as a community center. Its food pantry will be designed like a grocery store. Staff at the Hunger Coalition reported Blaine County has the eighth highest food costs in the nation and serves 20 percent of the county population, yet 40 percent of this same population are considered food insecure. The cost of the expansion is between $9 million and $10 million. A capital campaign is slated to start in 2020 with the center opening in 2021. Source:  Boise State Public Radio
  • Sun Valley Resort was ranked second by readers of the SKI Magazine 2020 Resort Survey following Aspen among many other western destination ski resorts. Sun Valley scored top honors in seven areas including lifts, service, lodging, off-hill/down-day activities, family-friendliness, charm and overall satisfaction. It ranked lower in serious steeps and access. Source:  Idaho Mountain Express

Camas County

  • Camp Rainbow Gold plans to relocate to its new camp in 2022 at the former Soldier Mountain Ranch and Resort in Camas County. The new camp consists of 172 acres with an estimated improvement cost of $14.5 million. There will be a name change to Hidden Paradise. Many of the camp’s current benefactors reside in Blaine County so a fundraiser was held at the Limelight Inn to assist with the myriad updates needed before construction starts for the health center and social gathering space. Already, an unidentified organization has donated $2 million. An anonymous donor covered the purchase of the ground for a $1 million so the new camp is whittling away at its costs prior to its construction schedule start in 2021. Source: Idaho Mountain Express; Photo: Idaho Mountain Express

Lincoln County

  • The Lincoln County voters denied a $5 million bond to remodel the county courthouse. The bond failed to achieve its super majority with 51.44 percent voting in favor of the remodel. County commissioners approved dropping the bond from $5.84 million to $5 million just days before the election, so the ballots were not updated. The final count was 410 votes in favor and 387 votes against the proposal. Source: Times-News

Twin Falls County

  • The College of Southern Idaho has met the threshold criteria to be considered a Hispanic-Serving Institution, making it eligible for grants to serve this student population group. The college reports 26.3 percent of its full-time students are of Hispanic ethnicity. The final designation will be decided in two years, but the college is already making plans as it opens the doors for new funding alternatives. Source: Times-News
  • Southern Idaho Economic Development encountered a roadblock in one of its recruiting initiatives — veterans. Changes to the Transition Assistance Program went into effect this year and applied standardization to the training that occurs when leaving the service. Those providing services can no longer contact a military member directly. It is hoped this rule will be reviewed and recruitment efforts resume. The area’s main economic development group has been contacting veterans directly and circulating resumes in efforts to connect vets with unfilled jobs in south central Idaho. Source: Times-News
  • College of Southern Idaho’s President Jeff Fox will retire in June 2020 after 32 years with the community college – seven as president. The school is conducting a nationwide search as has been the tradition in the previous two leadership transitions. Source: Times-News
  • A Texas Roadhouse restaurant may be coming to the Magic Valley Mall. Mall owners requested a permit through the Twin Falls Planning and Zoning Commission for the restaurant in the former AT&T space near Olive Garden. Neither the mall management or Texas Roadhouse corporation have confirmed it will be entering the Twin Falls market, potentially waiting until city approval of the permit. Source: Times-News
  • The College of Southern Idaho will use a $1,114,424 grant to expand teacher certification in the eight-county service area. The Workforce Development Council, under the office of the Governor, approved the industry sector grant for CSI to expand its popular non-traditional educator preparation program directed towards individuals changing careers or certificates. The program is accelerated and takes just four semesters to complete. Paid mentors are part of the program along with hands-on training and course materials delivered either face-to-face or online, providing flexibility for the student. The desired outcome is 830 teachers over a three-year period. Source: Times-News
  • Chobani awarded five community grants totaling $200,000. All five projects help groups implement programs that can be life changing.
    1. Hagerman High School’s ag and food science program, which educates students on field-to-table activities, impacts a sector that is significant to its community.
    2. Annie’s Project trainers, which trains women in the Magic Valley to become instructors of other women, helps them gain the skills to become successful farm owners and partners.
    3. Jannus Inc., – $45,000 – to fund a part-time staffer advising financially troubled individuals and families.
    4. Community Council of Idaho – $30,000 – to support its early childhood teacher training program in an effort to improve childcare offerings in the valley.
    5. Magic Valley Youth Foundation – $30,000 – to support its mission of funding 9-17-years-olds opening or expanding a business.

Source: Times-News

Openings

  • A ribbon cutting was held as the Canyon Rim Trail system, which is now connected from the west canyon rim to the 7.5 mile trails that wind around Shoshone Falls. It has taken a collaboration of partners to achieve this long-standing goal. Source: Times-News
  • The Hive Hair Salon opened in the Hotel Ketchum to provide services to guests and locals alike. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Zion’s Bank has opened a new branch this year in Twin Falls and remodeled its existing branch. It is also adding market share across other growing cities such as Meridian. Source: Idaho Business Review

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

Region

  • The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes have both adjudicatory and regulatory jurisdiction to impose a $1.5 million annual hazardous waste storage permit fee against the FMC Corporation for storing hazardous waste within the Fort Hall Reservation. According to the tribes’ Waste Management Act, the storage fees are to be used for environmental monitoring, compliance and cleanup. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • Idaho State University’s total student enrollment headcount for the fall 2019 Census Day was 12,425, a slight increase of 0.3 percent from the previous year. The overall positive enrollment report includes a sizable increase in early college (dual credit) students. The increase in dual credit enrollment offsets a multi-year decline in undergraduate degree-seeking students at ISU. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • Idaho State University announced that it will break ground on its $8.3 million alumni and visitors center near Holt Arena sometime next year. Aside from $2 million that will come from university reserves, private donations will fund construction of the new 22,000-square-foot alumni facility. ISU is working with Old Town Pocatello firm Myers-Anderson Architects to design the new alumni center, which is currently in the schematic design phase. ISU anticipates putting the project out for construction bids in the summer of 2020. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • The U.S. Department of Energy is giving Idaho State University $800,000 for research that will help develop new nuclear fuels. The research is being done in collaboration with Idaho National Laboratory. The grant will pay for the time of ISU and INL researchers, support an ISU graduate student and pay for the operation and maintenance of the instruments used. It also will be used to buy new equipment to supplement what’s already available at the ISU Eames Advanced Technical Education and Innovation Complex’s microscopy laboratory in Pocatello.​ Source: Post Register

Bannock County

  • The FBI hosted a ribbon cutting for its $100 million facility expansion in Pocatello. The local FBI facility currently has a staff of about 300 workers. The expansion, which includes a 100,000-square-foot new data center and a new 40,000-square-foot office building, will add sufficient space to employ an additional 250 workers, whose salaries will be set based on the federal GS (general schedule) scale. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • The latest proposal for redeveloping the 68-acre Hoku Materials site involves creating an industrial business park that could include a brewery, a data farm and various light-manufacturing companies. The two local businessmen who are proposing the park, operating as Portneuf Capital, estimate their plan would create up to 1,500 jobs. According to their proposal, they would use 170,000-square-feet of space in existing Hoku buildings and would build roughly 30,000 square feet of new space within the first two years. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • A new joint venture entity is planning to build hundreds of apartments and a handful of townhomes within the Northgate development in Pocatello. Ball Ventures, LLC, and Kartchner Inc., recently announced they purchased 17 acres from Portneuf Development, LLC. They plan to build 384 apartment units and 20 townhomes — the vast majority will be rental properties — on the land near the Portneuf Wellness Complex at Chubbuck Road and Fairgrounds Road. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • The city of Chubbuck has unveiled designs for the planned 26,000-square-foot city hall. Bidding for subcontractors will start in late January or early February, and the city hopes to break ground in March or April. The new city hall, scheduled for completion by the spring of 2021, will be located at the corner of East Chubbuck Road and Burley Drive. It’s planned to be the anchor of a new downtown area the city intends to build, spanning from Chubbuck Road south to Interstate 86 and from the railroad tracks west to Yellowstone Highway. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • The Chubbuck City Council has opted to cover more than $15 million in planned municipal construction projects using a creative approach to financing that avoids both a public vote and the need to formally take on long-term debt. This approach involves using non-appropriations leases, funded by the sale of “certificates of participation.” The city treasurer explained $15.31 million in certificates will be sold to investors who will each hold a share in ownership of the facilities. Holders of those certificates will then lease the facilities back to the city to use. The treasurer anticipates the interest rate will be between 3.5 and 4 percent, and the city’s annual lease payment will be roughly $930,000. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • HabeRae Homes and Development is turning the long-vacant warehouse next to Portneuf Valley Brewing into a mixed-use building with seven residential lofts, an art studio for budding local artists, a residential lounge and an events center to be donated to Idaho State University to use for off-campus gatherings. When completed, the apartments will likely be rented out for between $800 and $900 per month, and all utilities will be included with the cost of rent. Source: East Idaho Business Journal
  • The Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 plans to sell the former Bonneville Elementary School property for $250,000 to NeighborWorks, the Pocatello Neighborhood Housing Services. The group intends to build new housing in an effort to revitalize the Bonneville neighborhood. According to the city of Pocatello, the space can accommodate a maximum of 18 new housing units. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Pocatello Idaho Temple is starting to take shape and now has much of its steel frame in place. The construction project is eight months into what will take up to three years to complete. The LDS temple will be the sixth in Idaho and third in the state’s eastern region. The Idaho Falls Idaho Temple was dedicated in 1945 and the Rexburg Idaho Temple was dedicated in 2008. Source: Idaho State Journal

Caribou County

  • A ribbon cutting ceremony was held in late October for the new $65 million Hooper Springs Substation and Transmission Line project at Threemile Knoll north of Soda Springs. Planning began on the project in 2003 and changed hands three times between Bonneville Power Administration and Lower Valley Energy. Lower Valley took over final construction and completed the project in 16 months. Source: Caribou County Sun
  • The U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service released the jointly-prepared final environmental impact statement for the Dairy Syncline Mine Project about 14 miles east of Soda Springs. The five open pits, disposal areas, tailing ponds and other mine workings would cover about 4.3 square miles. The release of the documents begins a 30-day protest period for the bureau and a 60-day objection period for the Forest Service. Approval would keep 185 miners working as well as nearly 600 jobs at the company’s processing plant in Soda Springs for the 40-year life of the mine. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • The Sagebrush Steppe Land Trust and the Habitat Improvement Team announced the distribution of $630,000 for habitat restoration projects near the Rasmussen Valley Mine. This work will increase opportunities for wildlife-based recreation in southeastern Idaho. Source: Caribou County Sun

Franklin County

  • Production Technologies Inc., of Logan, Utah, is relocating to Preston, bringing with it about 30 new jobs that are well above the median income for Franklin County. The company was created to help solve problems for manufacturers, and helps with anything from powder coating to metal fabrication to 3D modeling/printing, composites/ molding and business solutions. The company expects to break ground before the end of the year. Source: Preston Citizen

Oneida County

  • Current and past county commissioners celebrated the end of construction of Old Highway 37 — “The Narrows” — in western Oneida County. About 3.7 miles of roadway adjacent to Rock Creek was reconstructed in the $7 million project. Source: The Idaho Enterprise

Power County

  • A $2.95 million bond that would have provided additional funding for an ongoing renovation project at Power County Hospital in American Falls failed at the Nov. 5 election. While many voters supported the bond, it fell short of the two-thirds majority it needed to pass with a vote of only 592 for and 487 against. Source: Idaho State Journal

Openings

  • Wright Physical Therapy in Blackfoot.
  • Eye Care of Blackfoot.
  • Bear River Holistic Wellness Center in Montpelier.
  • Unbridled Hope, an equine therapy facility in Shelley.
  • The Urban Blüm floral shop in Blackfoot.
  • GameChanger arcade in Old Town Pocatello.
  • Barricade, a retro arcade bar in Old Town Pocatello.
  • Blush Beauty Spa in Chubbuck.
  • Community Learning Center in American Falls.
  • Amazing Glaze Donuts in the Pond Student Union Building at Idaho State University.
  • Thai Zap Restaurant in Pocatello.

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

  • The Idaho National Laboratory spent $222 million with Idaho’s small businesses in 2019 — $135 million more than last year. Every year INL sets goals on how much money it plans to spend with local small businesses. This year, it exceeded its goal by $41.5 million. Source: East Idaho News
  • The Idaho National Laboratory has formally opened its new Park and Ride for Idaho National Laboratory commuters at the intersection of Broadway and Bellin Road. The 7-acre site features 550 parking spaces and five shelters for commuters catching INL site buses. Source: KIDK
  • The contractor that runs Idaho National Laboratory – Battelle Energy Alliance – is looking for private partners to build the first new test reactor in the United States in decades. The Versatile Test Reactor will have dedicated “fast-neutron-spectrum” testing capability, creating the conditions necessary to see how fuels, materials and sensors endure when battered with radiation in the form of fast neutrons. Construction cost estimates vary from a low of $3 billion – $3.5 billion to a higher estimate of $3.9 billion – $6 billion. The U.S. Department of Energy will decide, perhaps in 2021, whether to proceed with the project and if it moves forward, construction could start in 2022 and operations in 2026. Source: Post Register
  • Idaho National Laboratory is leading a charge for better battery technology in electric vehicles by working on developing a system that offers both a quick charge and long-lasting battery life. INL is also working to place charging stations on 1,500 miles of interstate highway among the three states of Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. In addition, the lab is working with Montana to study an electric vehicle corridor for the 450 miles between Yellowstone National Park’s south entrance and Glacier National Park. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • The state of Idaho and the U.S. Department of Energy have come to an agreement that will mean new research opportunities at the Idaho National Laboratory, while still requiring the DOE to honor its commitments to nuclear waste cleanup in Idaho. The agreement gives INL a one-time waiver to receive 25 commercially spent nuclear fuel rods, around 100 pounds, from the Byron Nuclear Generating Station in Illinois. Conducting research on these materials will improve the understanding of the behavior of nuclear fuels and materials irradiated in commercial reactors. But before INL can receive the fuel rods, the DOE must begin treating the liquid nuclear waste currently stored in tanks directly above the Snake River Aquifer. DOE has also agreed to remove at least 300 pounds of special nuclear material by the end of 2021, treat 165 pounds of Sodium Bonded EBR II Driver Fuel Pins until they have all been treated by the end of 2028 and allocate 55 percent of the transuranic waste it ships the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant to come from INL. Source: East Idaho News
  • Fewer people visited Yellowstone National Park in 2019, according to statistics recently released by the National Park Service. The numbers show Yellowstone hosted 170,038 visits in October 2019 – a 22 percent decrease from October 2018. So far in 2019, the park has hosted 3,977,852 visits, which is down 2.5 percent from during the same period last year. Officials attribute the decrease to snow in October, which caused some entrances and park roads to be temporarily closed, according to a park news release. Source: East Idaho News
  • More than 100 local high school students came through Compass Academy night to get a glimpse of the high-paying jobs available in eastern Idaho. Your Future in Technology, also known as YourFIT, was a career expo for technical jobs that are in high-demand fields but only require a two-year degree or certificate. Idaho National Laboratory, Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, the College of Eastern Idaho and Idaho State University’s College of Technology set up booths at the high school to encourage students to start thinking about job paths that the institutes offer. Source: Post Register

Bonneville County

  • After years of low graduation rates, Stevens-Henager College will close its campus in Idaho Falls as the school moves toward online-only classes. The college would continue to offer classes for the students currently enrolled for degrees, but would stop admitting any new students outside of the online programs. There are 60 students currently enrolled in the Idaho Falls campus located at Snake River Landing, and the switchover will occur over the next two or three years. Source: Post Register
  • If all goes according to plan, the city of Idaho Falls will build a new police complex at the current location of the cattle stockyards on Northgate Mile. The decision comes after the city bought the property in September for $675,000. After renderings and costs have been decided, the city will work on how to fund the project. Source: East Idaho News
  • The Idaho Falls School District 91 Board of Trustees is moving forward with plans to build an addition onto Sunnyside Elementary School. The approved preliminary design includes four new classrooms, restrooms, a cafeteria and a warming kitchen. The project, which is estimated to cost around $3.2 million, is being financed with money from the district’s reserve funds. Administrators expect to put the project out to bid by the spring. Source: East Idaho News
  • The city of Idaho Falls welcomed a new baggage claim area at its regional airport with a ceremonial ribbon cutting. The new baggage claim is the first of a three-part terminal expansion to Idaho Falls Regional Airport. The remaining two phases will start next year and will increase the terminal by about 35,000 square feet. Source: KPVI
  • Having seen more than 140,000 visitors over the course of the year, the Idaho Falls Zoo is now closed for the season and will reopen in April 2020. The year’s revenues will go toward the construction of a much-needed new entrance and gift shop, which the zoo staff hopes to break ground on within the next five years. Source: East Idaho News
  • Melaleuca awarded $1,985,264 in bonuses to company employees marking landmark anniversaries. The company pays $5,000 on a five-year anniversary, $10,000 at 10 years, $15,000 at 15 years, $20,000 at 20 years, $25,000 at 25 years, and $30,000 at 30 years. According to Melaleuca, the average tenure of its employees is 6.8 years. That number is diluted by hundreds of call center employees attending college in Rexburg. The company has paid nearly $28 million in longevity bonuses since the program began in 2007.​​​​ Source: KIDK
  • The cost for the first phase of a long-term plan to upgrade the Idaho Falls School District’s aging infrastructure could start at $78 million. The district shared draft recommendations for a three-phased plan to upgrade its schools in the coming years. The first recommended phase includes a $78,100,611 potential price tag and revolves around “safety, capacity and critical upgrades” at Idaho Falls and Skyline high schools, and Eagle Rock and Taylorview middle schools. The district does not yet have estimated price tags for phases two and three. Source: Idaho Education News
  • Museum of Idaho has started work on the second phase of its renovation with the aim to have it done by the end of 2020. The renovated space will contain some components from the previous museum such as “Eagle Rock,” Idaho Falls’ original name, which contains a number of shops and exhibits, many of them based on real Eagle Rock shops of the time. It also will house the 14-foot tall Columbian mammoth and a 13-star flag carried in the Civil War. The first phase of the $5 million renovation officially opened on Sept. 28. Source: Idaho Business Review

Lemhi County

  • Lemhi County voters rejected a ballot measure to join the College of Eastern Idaho taxing district. It was defeated by a vote of 841 in favor to 1,472 against, but approved a measure to create a new, 15-year, 4 percent hotel-motel room tax. This new tax is intended to help pay for a Salmon Valley Community Pool, community parks, general tourism development, and to offset the costs of other amenities that tourism might create. Source: KIDK

Madison County

  • Official statistics indicate Brigham Young University-Idaho had a total campus enrollment of 20,592 students this fall. Enrollment is up 1.8 percent over last fall’s numbers. Another 4,543 campus-based students are taking online courses or fulfilling internships away from campus, according to the university. Source: KIDK
  • Plans are in the works to convert the Old CAL Ranch building in Rexburg into a possible medical clinic for Mountain View Hospital. Architectural plans indicate the interior of the 24,460-square-foot building will include multiple exam rooms, offices, labs and a kid’s gym. Future parking lot expansions are also in the works, along with new parking spaces east of the current building. Source: East Idaho News

Openings

  • Lost Rivers Surgical Center in Arco.
  • Dollar Tree in Rigby.
  • Affordable Granite & Stone in Rigby.
  • Papa Murphy’s in Rigby.

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

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