Around Idaho: Economic Activity in December 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

Kootenai County

  • The Coeur d’Alene City Council voted to create a health corridor urban renewal district around Kootenai Health. The new urban renewal district will allow infrastructure improvements to accommodate the rapidly expanding hospital. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • The city of Post Falls voted to rezone a large parcel of industrial zone to urban center. The rezoning will tie in with the city’s intention to expand commercial development in 2020. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • California-based Strategic Service Solutions Inc. has leased new office space in Post Falls, which the IT integration company will use to service eastern Washington and northern Idaho clients. Source: Journal of Business
  • Dollar Fulfillment, a Hayden-based e-Commerce fulfillment company, has purchased 5 acres in Post Falls’ Bighorn Industrial Park to expand operations. Last Year, Dollar Fulfillment was ranked among the 300 fastest-growing private companies in the United States. Source: Journal of Business

Openings

  • Bean & Pie in Coeur d’Alene.
  • Birdie’s Pie Shop in Post Falls.
  • Sherwin Williams in Post Falls.
  • Edwards Jones Investments 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

  • A limited steelhead season opened Jan. 1 on the Clearwater and lower Snake rivers. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission closed steelhead fishing on the rivers in October because too few steelhead were returning to the hatchery at Dworshak. With improved steelhead returns, the commission at a December meeting approved the reopening of limited steelhead fishing on the Clearwater River and its South and Middle forks, as well as the Snake River below Couse Creek. Under the rules of the fishery that opens Jan. 1, anglers will be required to release all hatchery steelhead longer than 28 inches and will have a bag limit of just one fish per day. The commission did not reopen fishing on the North Fork of the Clearwater River. The closure of steelhead fishing has significantly reduced business for restaurants, hotels, outfitters and fishing guides in the Orofino and Lewiston areas. More than 700 hotel reservations there were cancelled in October and November Source: Lewiston Tribune

 Idaho and Lewis Counties

  • Nezperce School was named one of Idaho’s two Distinguished Schools of 2019 by the Idaho Department of Education. Students at the school outperformed more than 80 percent of other schools in the state by either meeting or exceeding proficiency standards in two subject areas over the past three years. Last year, 74 percent of Nezperce students were proficient on the Idaho Standards Achievement Test, beating the statewide average of 55.6 percent. In math, Nezperce’s pass rate was 71 percent, higher than the statewide average of 45 percent. To qualify for the award, schools must have a poverty rate of at least 35 percent. Nezperce’s poverty rate last year was 42 percent. Source: Lewiston Tribune

Latah County

  • To reduce a budgetary shortfall expected to grow to $22 million by 2022, the University of Idaho offered separation incentives to employees who may be considering leaving the university or retiring early. By Dec. 10, 61 people had applied for voluntary separation and 93 had applied for optional early retirement. To qualify for voluntary separation, an employee must have worked for the school for at least 10 years. Those who are approved will receive 33 percent of their 2019-20 salary upon departure. Early retirement was offered to employees older than 55 who have spent 20 years with the university and who do not already have an approved retirement plan. Those approved for early retirement will receive 20 percent of their 2019-2020 salaries annually for the next five years. Separation payments for both programs would begin July 1. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • In addition to cuts to reduce the $22 million deficit, the university, like almost all state agencies, is required to decrease its budget for the current fiscal year by 1 percent — roughly $1 million — and to reduce budgets for the coming fiscal year by another 2 percent. Administrators have asked eligible employees to consider taking as many as five days of voluntary furlough in direct response to the cuts. Many other cost-cutting efforts are under consideration, including the elimination of academic programs, outsourcing some in-house facilities services, layoffs and salary reductions. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Increasing tuition for Idaho students will not be an option for reducing the university’s deficit. University of Idaho, Lewis-Clark State College, Boise State University and Idaho State University announced in December that they would freeze tuition for resident undergraduate students in the 2020-2021 school year. The four schools will collect $281 million in tuition revenues this year, a sum that has doubled over the past decade. In that same time, state appropriations for higher education have increased 23 percent. The tuition freeze is likely to cost the University of Idaho $2 million to $3 million in lost revenue. Source: Idaho Education News; Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • The Idaho State Board of Education in its December meeting approved construction of a $5.2 million seed potato germplasm facility on the University of Idaho’s Moscow campus. The project will not affect the university’s budget shortfall, since separate state and private money will cover the cost. The school will advertise for bids on the project in early spring. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • The Moscow Urban Renewal Agency plans to undertake several public infrastructure improvement projects on Main Street and the West A Street area in 2020. They include utility and lighting improvements outside the planned Idaho Central Credit Union building on West Third Street, an A Street water main replacement, frontage improvements on A Street, reconstruction on a portion of Almon Street, including sidewalk and curb repairs and alley paving in the Almon/Ashbury area. The construction projects will cost about $385,000. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News`
  • A $210,000 renovation project is slated for the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre in downtown Moscow. The project for the former movie theater, built in the 1920s, will include a resurfaced floor, improved lighting and replacement of chairs installed in the 1980s with 1920s-style chairs. The center operates as a venue for community events including films, plays, lectures, concerts and parties. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • A few downtown Moscow businesses have closed, but new ones are filling the void. Mock Orange, a restaurant featuring American cuisine, beer and wine, replaced D. Willy’s Blues Brew and BBQ on Sixth Street, while a Thai restaurant will open in the former Hoof and Trotter barbecue place on Second Street. Snap Fitness opened in November in the former Safari Pearl space on East Third Street. Sangria Grille will move from a pad at the Palouse Mall to the former U.S. Bank building at Main and Third in a few months. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • The $5 million instrument landing system installed this year at the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport is reducing flight cancellations. It helps pilots find their way to the runway even in the fogs that are common to the area. The instrument landing system, including the runway lights and the bright strobe light that operates at night, are what pilots look for when they begin their approach to the runway. Before it was installed, pilots would have to see a light from a mile out and 325 feet in the air in order to safely land. The new instrument landing system reduces the distance for pilots to see lights to a quarter mile and 200 feet high. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • Northwest Showcase — a store featuring regional art, crafts and gifts — closed after 17 years on North Main Street. Its neighbor, the Palouse Habitat for Humanity store, plans to expand into that vacated space. The owners of Northwest Showcase will continue to operate its 34-year-old Woodland Catalog, which ships Smokey Bear products all over the U.S. and Canada. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Nez Perce and Asotin, Washington, Counties

  • In 2019, hundreds of more people came to the Lewis-Clark Valley on cruise boats than the year before, meaning millions of additional dollars for retailers, restaurants, lodging places and tourist attractions. This year, a new cruise boat, the American Song from American Cruise Line, was added to the line-up. In 2018, the Quest from Lindblad Expeditions and the Wilderness Discoverer from Un-cruise Adventures first came up the Columbia and Snake rivers. American Cruise Lines reports it is planning for steady growth in Columbia-Snake River cruising, and will add another boat, the American Melody, in 2022. Source: Port of Clarkston Outlook
  • Tri-State Memorial Hospital in Clarkston continues to grow. Two years ago, it employed 476 people. Now it employs more than 600. It opened medical clinics at the Rosauers grocery stores in Lewiston and Moscow this summer. Tri-State recently opened a 34,000-square-foot wing at Evergreen Estates, its retirement community next to the hospital. That added 35 units bringing the total to 131. It expects to open a 20-person dementia unit by February 1. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The Port of Clarkston began investing in fiber-optic cable for high-speed internet in 2013. Since then, it has steadily made investment. In 2020, it will undertake its largest construction build ever, spending over $500,000 to bring fiber to Asotin, six miles from Clarkston. Source: Port of Clarkston Outlook
  • Lewis-Clark State College faced a possible $1.6 million shortfall in September and took several cost-cutting steps. Enrollment remained stable, however, helping reduce the expected shortfall. Now, the school is further tightening its belt. Facing an uncertain revenue picture, Gov. Brad Little has directed Idaho’s state colleges and universities to cut spending by 1 percent in the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, and by 2 percent in the next fiscal year. In addition, the college and the other three state-funded institutions of higher education announced they would freeze tuitions for in-state students in the 2020-21 fiscal year to make it easier for students to afford school. Source: Lewiston Tribune; Idaho Education News
  • Idaho Forest Group donated $50,000 to Lewis-Clark State College’s technical education center under construction in the Lewiston Orchards near the new Lewiston High School building. The Schweitzer Career & Technical Education Center next to the new Lewiston High School is scheduled to open this fall. It will house technology programs including auto mechanics, CNC machining, information technology, engineering, industrial electronics and heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration. Idaho Forest Group, headquartered in Coeur d’Alene, operates six mills in Idaho and Montana, including the mills in Lewiston and Grangeville. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The City of Lewiston plans to build a bus transit center at the west end of the Lewiston Community Center’s parking lot, using a $64,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration. The new center will include contain a restroom, additional room for buses to pull in, shelter areas for people transitioning from one bus to the next and will reduce congestion around the community center’s front door. The community center is a hub for three bus systems — Lewiston’s, Clarkston’s and the Nez Perce Tribe-operated Appaloosa Express. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Community cooperation led to the opening of a temporary overnight warming shelter for homeless individuals in Lewiston. After the ROC rescue mission in Lewiston closed in May, there were no places providing overnight accommodations in the city. First Step 4 Life, a nonprofit addiction and mental health resource center in downtown Lewiston, opened the warming center in late November. It can provide temporary shelter for up to 22 people. Community Action Partnership will assist in securing needed supplies and food, and the Lewiston Corps of the Salvation Army will assist with food, water and guidance on shelter operations. Source: Lewiston Tribune; KLEW TV

Closing

  • After 65 years of business, the 410 Drive-In on Clarkston’s Bridge Street closed in December.

Opening

  • The Kooskia Outpost opened in December on Kooskia’s Main Street. The new store sells kitchen and bath items, toys and a wide variety of consignment items made by local artisans. Source: Idaho County Free Press

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

  • Prosperity Organic Foods, an Idaho plant-based food company based in Boise is adding another eight new items to its product line, including cheese, cheese dip and other snacks. The company makes Melt, a plant-based butter. Its market has expanded and the products are now sold in 12,000 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Meridian city planners updated its comprehensive plan, sparking tensions in residents as it suggested changing low-density areas to higher density, industrial or mixed-use zones. Source: KTVB
  • Plans are in the works for 14 food vendors to operate along a 16,000-square-foot corridor in an urban food hall intended for Boise BoDo commercial district. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • A project to widen Ten Mile Road from Ustick to McMillian in Meridian has been approved by the Ada County High District. The project will widen the road from three to five lanes and is expected to cost $6.13 million. Source: Idaho Press Tribune
  • An individual proposing an RV park is seeking a special exception to operate east of Cole Road near Costco. The RV park would include 52 full hookups for RVs and 20-foot cabins made from shipping containers. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • The median home price in Ada County was $352,000 for October, up $2,000 from the previous month. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • New Boise Mayor Lauren McLean was sworn in Jan. 7. The former city council president defeated Mayor David Bieter in a runoff election in December. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • The Boise Centre’s bond rating has been upgraded from an A to an A+. This could help the district with saving money on future bonds, but will not affect any bonds currently in place. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Boise urban renewal will cover $988,276 in costs for infrastructure improvements for the new apartments near the Boise downtown WinCo foods, including funding for sidewalks, streetlights and landscaping. Source Idaho Press Tribune

 Adams County

  • Brundage Mountain Resort near McCall opened Dec. 6 with snow depths up to 30 inches at the base and 36 inches on the summit. The resort is open seven days a week. This is its 59th ski season. Smoky’s Bar & Grill, The Upper Lot Pub and the Main Street Market also are open for the season. Brundage hires more than 300 employees every winter. The resort expanded its snowcat program this year. This ski season, a new snowcat with room for 12 skiers joined the fleet. It also added 16 new snowmobiles for its sled tours. Brundage’s Snowcat Adventures opens up nearly 18,000 acres of backcountry skiing across three mountain peaks. Source: McCall Star-News; KREM; BoiseDev
  • The broadband task force, created by Gov. Brad Little in May, released findings in November and made recommendations to expand broadband service. It encouraged the state to focus on a pilot project for underserved parts of central Idaho — including Adams, Benewah, Clearwater, Idaho and Lewis counties. Source: Lewiston Tribune

 Boise County

  • Bogus Basin Ski Resort has accepted a sponsorship agreement with Idaho Central Credit Union, intended to fund two passenger shuttles and developments to the recreation area. Source: KIVI Staff

 Canyon County

  • Rapid population growth in Nampa has spurred a boost in housing development, with nearly 500 new multifamily housing units built in 2019. The city had seen 3.7 percent population increase since 2018 and a steady annual growth of 3.8 percent for the past five years. Source: Boise Dev
  • A traffic study identified more than 40 projects through 2030 necessary to accommodate growth resulting from the new Amazon facility after it opens. Source: Idaho Press Tribune
  • The College of Western Idaho’s new Fire Service Technology program is set to graduate 15 students in the innovative program designed by fire chiefs throughout the state.
  • The Idaho Transportation Department plans to widen Chinden Boulevard between Meridian and Caldwell. The $350 million project is the first phase of a larger project to transform Chinden Boulevard to a divided highway from Eagle Road to I-84 by 2032.

 Payette County

  • The Payette School Board is considering shortening its schedule from five to four days per week. Currently, 60 of Idaho’s 174 school districts operate on a four-day school week. In addition to saving money, four-day school weeks can also result in increased attendance. In many rural districts, students have to travel long distances to deal with dental, medical or vision appointments or just to get to school. Some districts report the shortened week helps with recruiting and retaining well-qualified teachers. Source: Argus Observer
  • Voters rejected Fruitland’s proposed $2.6 million bond for a new police station and city hall upgrades in the Nov. 5 election. The 30-year bond would have added $48 per $100,000 of taxable property value and would have provided about 3,600 more square feet for the 14-officer police force currently operating in 1,200 square feet. It also would have increased parking, improved traffic flow at city hall, improved its façade and fixed its roof. Source: Argus Observer; KTVB

 Valley County

  • St. Luke’s McCall is building a new $40 million hospital facility in the region. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Tamarack Ski Resort near Donnelly opened for the ski season Dec. 6, offering new opportunities for skiers and snowboarders. It reinstalled the Wildwood lift this summer. The lift was removed after the resort went through financial problems in 2009. The quad-chair detachable lift runs slightly more than a mile up the hill and brings visitors from the base to the top in just over 5 minutes. It opens up another 200 acres of skiable terrain. Tamarack also started a round-trip bus shuttle from the Boise area. A 56-passenger bus will leave Boise at 7 a.m. every Saturday through Feb. 29 and return by 7 p.m. Source: CBS2; BoiseDev
  • Two proposals to develop marinas on Lake Cascade must wait for the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation and Bureau of Reclamation to negotiate a long-term management agreement. Tamarack Resort proposes to build a 100-slip marina at the Poison Creek Campground near the resort, expected to cost about $4.35 million to build and eventually employ about 15 people. Lake Cascade Sport and Marine hopes to build a 200-slip marina at the Van Wyck Campground in Cascade. It would provide about seven jobs. Both sites are within Lake Cascade State Park. Source: McCall Star-News
  • Wild Onion, a gift shop, opened this fall in a former real estate office on Idaho 55 in McCall. The shop offers unique art, antiques, clothing, jewelry, toys, home décor, Christmas décor and a line of personal care items. Source: Boise Dev

 Openings

  • Idaho Humane Society’s new facility in Boise.
  • Barrigas Mexican Restaurant in Boise.
  • Smart Foodservice grocery store in Meridian.
  • The Twisted Kitchen in Garden City.
  • Beer Guys Saloon in Star.
  • Food Land Market in Boise.
  • Sage Yoga in Boise.

Closings

    • Smashburger in Boise.
    • Internet Auto Rent and Sales in Boise.

Brian.Husler@labor.idaho.gov, research analyst, senior
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 332-3570 ext 3914

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

Blaine County

  • Sun Valley Resort is gearing up for additional skiers based on its inclusion in the EPIC Pass — a Vail Resort product that provides a week of skiing at any of 60 ski areas across the globe during the 2019-2020 season. These passes have become a common marketing concept for ski resorts, yet Sun Valley has held off joining the crowd since many Sun Valley skiers appreciate its shorter lift lines and less congested hills. This is likely to bring greater density to the ski trails based on last year’s EPIC Pass estimated participation — between 900,000 and 1 million people. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • Hillside Grain is growing and milling local artisan flour without additives or chemicals to achieve a more healthy and local alternative for bakeries in the area. The flour is heavy in germ and bran, but light on shelf life, lasting six months. The family farm has been in existence for more than 45 years in Bellevue near Silver Creek. It capitalizes on the production of malt barley prior to grinding its soft white and hard red wheat types. Owner Brett Stevenson will speak at the Culinary Institute of America in January at an event co-hosted by Harvard’s School of Public Health. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • Picabo Airport can expect more planes as its owner, Picabo Livestock, received approval for a fly-in sub-division around its runway. The six-lot community will allow up to three planes parked at each residential parcel, and the airport is allotted seven planes, capping its capacity at 25 planes. The popularity of the driveway to runway concept is a new one for Blaine County, but is a popular concept across the nation. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • Friedman Memorial Airport creates $305 million worth of economic impact to the region. That is up 155 percent from 2010 when the estimated value of the airport was $120 million. The enplanements are up by 74 percent since 2010. These preliminary estimates come from reports generated every 10 years by Idaho Department of Transportation’s Division of Aeronautics. The full study has not been released. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • The Harriman Hotel, originally developed as the Auberge Hotel, received final approval after digging a 40-foot hole in the ground in 2017.  The developer proffered proof of financing at the Ketchum City Council meeting, penned in a different management group and changed ownership from Trail Creek Fund LLC to Harriman Hotel LLC. The luxury hotel – first developed under the name the Auberge Hotel – was originally submitted and approved in 2008 receiving five extensions to submit requirements. In this latest move, the developer provided the $60 million required.  Source: Idaho Mountain Express

Camas County

  • Soldier Mountain Ski Area opened mid-December with 20 inches of snow at the top and 14 inch at the bottom. Source:  www.soldiermountain.com

Cassia County

  • Pomerelle Mountain Resort opened its ski hill the Saturday before Christmas. The snowfall is one of the greatest in the region, the website purports an average 500 inches of snowfall annually. Source: www.pomerelle.com

Gooding County

  • Apiaries across south central Idaho are finding higher than normal bee deaths curtailing not only profitability but also viability. Most of the bee boxes are shipped to California for almond pollination during the winter months. Source: Times-News
  • Gooding County voters rejected a 20-year $16 million jail bond. The bond would have been used to increase beds from 21 to 80, enhanced the facility that supports the sheriff’s office, adding a new staff break room, a new conference room, a training room and an interview room. There would also be separate evidence processing and storage rooms with male and female lockers. The vote was equally divided, but the bond needed a super majority or 66.6 percent voter approval to pass. Source: Times-News

Jerome County

  • Nelson-Jameson, a wholesale supplier of equipment and supplies to the dairy and food processing industry throughout the Magic Valley, is building a new 29,000-square-foot distribution center south of Jerome. It is moving from a leased facility in Twin Falls. The new location is closer to I-84 and has rail transportation service. The distribution warehouse is estimated to cost $6 million and employ between 10 and 15 workers. Nelson-Jameson is headquartered in Marshfield, Wisconsin and was founded in 1947.Source: Times-News
  • Family Health Services broke ground on a new facility in Jerome. It will replace the existing clinic that has experienced high population growth over its 10-year life. Jerome’s population has grown grew by 16 percent over this period. Source: Times-News and US Census Bureau.
  • Jerome County approved a $15.4 million tax exemption to Agropur Dairy Cooperative. The company invested about $30 million in expanding and adding equipment to its cheese-making facility in 2018 and 2019. The county wants to encourage employers to expand, particularly large employers such as the dairy products manufacturing sector, according to county officials. The company is based in Canada and has other plants Canada and the U.S.  Source: Times-News

Twin Falls County

  • D&B Supply will remodel the space that has been occupied by Kmart Corp. for decades. Kmart announced the shuttering of most its remaining stores nationally by the end of 2019. D&B plans to open in the new location this fall. Source: Times-News
  • Snake River Juvenile Detention Center is moving to the County West building, freeing up space to redirect overcrowding at the adult jail. Twin Falls County voters rejected a $25 million bond earlier this year that would have added 316 beds in modular units to the Snake River Juvenile Detention Center to house the county’s adult male incarcerated population. Though 58 percent of the voters approved the bond, it needed a super majority of 66.6 percent to pass. The juvenile court also will be moved to County West to alleviate transporting the juveniles. Source: Times-News
  • A wheat farmer in Buhl won the National Association of Wheat Grower’s annual irrigated yield award with a 211.59 bushel-per-acre average. A typical soft white winter wheat acreage may typically produce 150-160 bushels per acre on any given year. Before some of the genetically engineered research, the yield would have been closer to 140 bushels per acre. Rick Pearson credits the weather with a lot of rain, the good seed variety from Syngenta and the fertile soil that he tills in Buhl. Source: Times-News
  • During National Computer Science Education Week Dec. 9-15, 2019, eighth graders at O’Leary Junior High School in computer sciences classes learned to code and passed on their skills to other students in the school through hosting the Hour of Code. Source: KMVT News

Openings

  • Panaderia La Michoacana opened its fourth family bakery in Twin Falls. The Mexican-style pastries and tortillas are also sold at its locations in Rupert, Bellevue and Jerome. Source: Times-News
  • Good Heart Candle opened its doors in downtown Twin Falls, moving from a location on Blue Lakes Boulevard. Source: Times-News
  • Sips N Sweet Treats will vacate its Blue Lakes Boulevard location, moving closer to the regional hospital on Cheney Drive. Source: Times-News
  • Connect Your Dots, a yoga studio, will occupy the Good Heart Candle building in Twin Falls. Source: Times-News
  • Hangar Breads opened its doors earlier this year in Hailey creating sourdough baguettes that take two days to create, using Hillside Grains. It sells sandwiches and sweet rolls, as well. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • Arctic Circle drive-in is adding another restaurant, moving into the former Popeye’s fast food restaurant near the Magic Valley Regional Hospital. 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

Region

  • Idaho State University plans to comply with Gov. Brad Little’s request that it cut more than $822,000 from its current budget largely by delaying hiring of new personnel. In FY 2021, ISU is expected to cut more than $1.644 million from its budget. The university estimates it will achieve between half and 75 percent of the budget cut by eliminating some vacant positions and through a slowdown in the replacement of approved vacant positions. To meet the remainder of the cut, ISU has asked its campus community to identify areas for reductions. Furthermore, ISU intends to review leases to determine which of them may be unnecessary, postpone scheduled maintenance for 2021 that isn’t deemed critical and seek opportunities to consolidate contracts for copying and printing services. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • Idaho State University is ending its massage therapy program. ISU made the announcement last spring, and stopped accepting applications for the program. The resources from ISU’s massage therapy program will be reallocated across other career and technical programs in the college of technology. Source: KPVI
  • Idaho National Laboratory’s K-12 Education Enrichment program has launched a new Coding Coalition to support extracurricular computer science clubs in eastern Idaho schools. Available to schools in education regions 5 and 6, which cover eastern and southeastern Idaho, the coalition will provide $1,500 in grant funding, resources and INL employee support to middle and high school advisors who assemble an extracurricular club aligned with next generation science standards or computer science standards. While the club can focus on any number of computer science elements such as coding or robotics, each eligible club must commit to participating in one of two national cyber competitions: Girls Go CyberStart or eCYBERMISSION. Source: Idaho National Laboratory
  • A new agreement between Air Idaho Rescue, an air program of Air Methods, and Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center will clear the path for a new air medical service base in Idaho Falls. The base will provide air medical services to Bonneville, Bingham, Jefferson, Butte, Madison, Caribou, Bannock and Fremont counties, as well as other surrounding communities. This new base will also support NICU patients in cooperation with EIRMC’s NICU transport team. As part of the move, Air Methods will move its Air Idaho Rescue Air 5-A Star aircraft from Soda Springs to Idaho Falls. The company will continue to cover the Caribou County service area with the Idaho Falls base and other Air Idaho Rescue air medical rotor-wing and fixed-wing aircraft. Source: KIDK
  • The T-Mobile 5G network went live Dec. 6, bringing 5G to more than 80 Idaho communities. In southeastern Idaho, T-Mobile 5G will be low-band 5G, meaning it would not have the lightning speeds promised by other carriers in select cities, but it will be more reliable and have a farther reach. Southeastern Idaho locations include Aberdeen, American Falls, Arbon Valley, Arimo, Blackfoot, Chubbuck, Downey, Fort Hall, Georgetown, McCammon, Montpelier, Pocatello, Preston, Rockland, Shelley, Soda Springs and Tyhee. Source: Post Register

Bannock County

  • Portneuf Capital has purchased the 68-acre long-vacant Hoku Materials industrial site off Kraft Road from Pocatello Development Authority for $1.25 million. The company plans to open an industrial business park there with business tenants expected to operate at the site within 90 days. One company involved in light manufacturing could be among the earliest to move in and would employ about 70 workers. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • The Northgate interchange opened to the public a few hours after the ribbon-cutting ceremony concluded, with Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad, Chubbuck Mayor Kevin England and members of the Bannock County Commission all driving their cars across the bridge as the official first users. The total project, which provides a new entrance to northeast Pocatello and adjacent Chubbuck, represents an investment of roughly $31 million, including connecting roads and infrastructure.​ Source: Idaho State Journal
  • An extended-stay hotel – Home2 Suites by Hilton – is planned to open in about a year on Pocatello’s east bench. The Koehler Organization, which owns the future Pocatello establishment, already has one hotel in Pocatello — the Hampton Inn & Suites — and owns 36 total hotels that are mostly in the western United States. Its newest hotel in Pocatello will open on Via Caporatti Drive near Jakers Bar and Grill. The hotel will employ 25 to 30 full-time and part-time employees. Construction will begin as soon as a building permit is acquired and the weather is satisfactory. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • Pocatello-Chubbuck School District 25 has started discussions with Idaho State University about setting up a partnership that would help the district boost its career and technical education curriculum. The potential collaboration could lead to construction of a career and technical education (CTE) facility near ISU’s campus in Pocatello. ISU hosts some of school district 25’s approximately 425 CTE courses. Pocatello, Highland, Century and New Horizon high schools are the other hosts of CTE. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • A plan formulated by a group of local realtors and a downtown funeral home owner could result in Pocatello High School acquiring space needed to build a long-awaited athletic field on its campus. The space in question is the nearly 1-acre lot on the 200 block of North Garfield Avenue directly behind the landlocked, 80-year-old Pocatello High with an asking price of $1.1 million. School District 25 officials are reviewing the plan and will comment on it later. Source: Idaho State Journal

Bingham County

  • A local charter school — Blackfoot Charter Community Learning Center — is officially expanding. It recently swapped 12 acres of land near Airport Road for 19 acres off Pioneer Road in the Groveland area. The new campus would combine the middle and elementary schools and allow more flexibility and room for students and facilities. The school currently is split into two locations. Source: KPVI

 Oneida County

  • A $1.1 million state grant has been awarded to Oneida County for needed improvements at its airport. The funding would cover taxiway, runway and apron projects. It will be a five-year plan slated to start by 2023. Source: The Idaho Enterprise

Openings

  • Donut Bros in Pocatello.
  • Physical Therapy Center in Shelley.
  • Soda Smiles Family Dentistry in Soda Springs.
  • The Place, a coffee shop and eatery in Inkom.

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

  • Idaho National Laboratory’s K-12 Education Enrichment program has launched a new Coding Coalition to support extracurricular computer science clubs in eastern Idaho schools. Available to schools in education regions 5 and 6, which cover eastern and southeastern Idaho, the coalition will provide $1,500 in grant funding, resources and INL employee support to middle and high school advisors who assemble an extracurricular club aligned with next generation science standards or computer science standards. While the club can focus on any number of computer science elements such as coding or robotics, each eligible club must commit to participating in one of two national cyber competitions: Girls Go CyberStart or eCYBERMISSION. Source: Idaho National Laboratory
  • Four Idaho National Laboratory technologies recently won prestigious national awards. The R&D 100 Awards, which have been around since 1963 and sometimes are called the “Oscars of Innovation,” recognize the top 100 revolutionary technologies of the year. INL’s four winning technologies: an electronic neutron generator calibration system; high-temperature irradiation-resistant thermocouples; wireless radio frequency signal identification and protocol reverse engineering; and consequence-driven cyber-informed engineering. INL also was the lead on two finalist technologies, a lithium-ion battery defect detector and a wireless sensor system to monitor the positions of nuclear power plants’ valves. INL has now won 22 of these awards since 2005. Source: Post Register
  • The third supercomputer arrived at Idaho National Laboratory’s Collaborative Computing Center. The $19.2 million system, with almost 100,000 processors, is named Sawtooth after the Idaho mountain range. It ranks 37th on the 2019 Top 500 fastest supercomputers in the world, the highest ranking reached by an INL supercomputer. Sawtooth will play an important role in developing and deploying new advanced nuclear technologies and is a key capability for the National Reactor Innovation Center, which the U.S. Department of Energy designated INL to lead in August. Source: Post Register
  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission completed its fourth phase of review of NuScale Power’s design certification application. The project now enters the fifth and sixth phases of design review. The Idaho-based Small Modular Reactor plant is slated for operation by the mid 2020’s. In preparation for that, NuScale Power is building out its supply chain and signing preliminary agreements with companies that will offer technical expertise and manufacture components of the reactor. ​Source: KIDK
  • US. Department of Energy has started the process to find the next contractor who will run the Idaho Cleanup Project. DOE’s $1.4 billion contract with Fluor Idaho, the company responsible for nuclear waste cleanup at DOE’s desert site west of Idaho Falls, expires May 31, 2021. On Dec. 11, DOE posted an initial notice that it is seeking a new contract, which says it plans to issue a draft request for proposals within the next 15 to 45 days. Fluor has not yet decided whether it will seek the contract again. Source: Post Register
  • Nine schools and groups in eastern Idaho received grants from the Idaho STEM Action Center providing more than $20,000 for projects and events that promote science, technology, engineering and math. Grant recipients included Madison Junior High School, White Pine Elementary School in Ammon, Sugar-Salem High School and Rigby High School. Source: Post Register
  • The College of Eastern Idaho is preparing more students to fill a growing demand for nurses in Idaho. The school is rolling out the part-time registered nurse program and the licensed-practical-nurse-to-registered-nurse (LPN to RN) bridge program. Both will allow students who work full time during the day to do schooling online in the evening. With these two programs, the college expects to graduate close to 100 students a year, up from roughly 40 students a year currently. Source: East Idaho News
  • The T-Mobile 5G network went live Dec. 6, bringing 5G to more than 80 Idaho communities. In eastern Idaho, T-Mobile 5G will be low-band 5G, meaning it would not have the lightning speeds promised by other carriers in select cities, but it will be more reliable and have a farther reach. Eastern Idaho locations include Arco, Irwin, Island Park, Mackay, Rexburg and St. Anthony. Source: Post Register

Bonneville County

  • Al’s Sporting Goods is opening its third store in Idaho Falls inside the former Toys ‘R’ Us 30,000-square-foot-building. The store will bring 75-95 new jobs to the area and is expected to open September next year. Al’s is a full-line specialty sporting goods retailer based in Logan, Utah. Source: East Idaho News
  • The newly renovated Bonneville Apartments are now taking leasing applications. The Bonneville Apartments are now the largest apartment complex in downtown Idaho Falls. Officials with both the city of Idaho Falls and the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation hope the project will further help revitalize downtown. Source: Post Register
  • Idaho Falls School District may be adding two new career technical education (CTE) programs — Idaho agriculture, food and natural resources and hospitality management. The district currently has CTE programs for emergency medical technicians (EMT), certified nursing assistant (CNA), culinary arts, business computer science, auto and construction.​ Source: KIDK
  • Unitek Learning has announced plans to open a new nursing program in Idaho Falls in 2020. Based in Newport Beach, Calif., Unitek Learning is a for-profit company that offers education programs in nursing, medical assistant training, dental assistant training, medical office administration training and informational technology. The Idaho Falls’ location will be an Eagle Gate College, meaning its programs will consist of three programs: Bachelor of Science in nursing, Master of Science in nursing administration, and leadership and medical assisting. Source: Post Register

Lemhi County

  • Samples taken at First Cobalt’s Iron Creek Project in Lemhi County have been deemed high grade, according to a news release from First Cobalt President and CEO Trent Mell. This newly sampled mineralized zone opens up the possibility for a much larger mining complex centered on the Iron Creek resource and a long-term, meaningful supply of cobalt in America. First Cobalt officials will issue a new resource estimate for Iron Creek before the year ends. Source: Challis Messenger

Openings

  • Idaho Falls Community Hospital.
  • Manwaring Cheese in Idaho Falls.
  • Nugget CBD in Idaho Falls.
  • Park Avenue Grill in Idaho Falls.
  • Nay’s Soup Salad Sandwich in Grand Teton Mall, Idaho Falls.
  • Bob’s Indoor Golf in Idaho Falls.

Closings

  • Mom’s Place Gluten-Free in Ammon.

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

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