Around Idaho: Economic Activity in January 2020

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

  • Aspen Homes & Development has begun construction on a 20-unit apartment complex in Coeur d’Alene. The units will be roughly 1,200 square feet and priced around $1,400 per month. Source: Journal of Business
  • Idaho’s first “Holistic Chamber of Commerce” has opened in Post Falls. The chamber will target specifically environmentally friendly companies, ideas and products, with the self-described mission of representing “holistic professionals, practitioners, businesses and resource providers.” Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • Mainstream Electric, an electric, heating, cooling and plumbing company, is vacating its facility in Post Falls and moving its operations across the Washington border. The company, which employs 42 people, experienced 94 percent growth between 2015 and 2018, and has outgrown its space in northern Idaho. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press

Shoshone County

  • Hecla Mining Company and miners of the United Steelworkers Union 5114 have agreed to a new labor contract, ending a strike lasting 1,030 days. Hecla plans to bring workers back in phases and hopes to bring the Lucky Friday mine back up to full production this year. Source: Shoshone News-Press

Openings

    • Coeur Climbing in Coeur d’Alene.
    • Stillano Gelato in Coeur d’Alene.
    • Cock-A-Doodle Brew in Coeur d’Alene.
    • The Paint Buzz in Dalton Gardens.

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

  • About 500 sophomores and juniors from high schools throughout the region will attend the fourth annual Dream It. Do It. Conference on March 18 at the University of Idaho in Moscow. The students will spend the day learning about career opportunities in the local area including manufacturing, health care, construction, technology, transportation, hospitality, law enforcement, natural resources and finance. They also will hear about educational programs offered in the region that can prepare them for those opportunities. Students will come from 28 school districts and several private, charter and alternative schools in north central Idaho and southeast Washington. Partners that make the conference possible include the Clearwater Economic Development Association, Nez Perce Tribe, University of Idaho, Lewis-Clark State College, Southeast Washington Economic Development Association and the Genesee School District. Source: CEDA in Motion
  • CEDA is expanding the Dream It. Do It. career awareness initiative by exposing eighth graders to local career options. Funded through the Idaho State Workforce Development Council’s Public Outreach Grant Program, this initiative consists of half-day career awareness events and local manufacturing-based STEM competitions at each of the 15 school districts in north central Idaho. Southeast Washington Economic Development Association (SEWEDA) will use Washington state resources to bring the same program to Asotin, Garfield and Whitman counties. By 2028, the Idaho Department of Labor estimates this region will have a gap of 7,900 workers for an economy needing 50,000 government and private employment positions. The region’s gap is large because fewer youth are entering the region’s workforce than older workers who are retiring are leaving vacancies. In 2018, 1,310 north central Idaho residents turned 16 years old while 1,430 residents turned 65 years old. Planners hopes to stop the youth drain the region has experienced in the last 30 years. Source: CEDA in Motion
  • The North Central Idaho Small Business Development Center at Lewis-Clark State College received a $100,000 Portable Assistance Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration to focus on growth and retention for small businesses in north central Idaho. The center provides no-cost professional consulting for local businesses. The grant funds will help it connect with more businesses that need its resources to accelerate their business. The region has not experienced growth like many other places in Idaho, because of the loss of lumber mills, overseas competition reducing jobs in the ammunition and paper sectors, retail store closings and the long-term reduction in Forest Service employment. In 2019, the small business center has helped with 13 business starts. Those new businesses and business clients who have expanded created 80 jobs and increased their sales by $3.5 million. Source: North Central Idaho Small Business Development Center
  • Clearwater Economic Development Association (CEDA) is offering a technical assistance program over the next few months to help local communities in the 10 northern counties of Idaho to develop ideas and resources to expand broadband capabilities and affordable housing. It is funded by a $150,000 grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Community Development Initiative, $90,000 from the Avista Corp. and matching dollars from CEDA and Panhandle Area Council. The program will affect economic development in rural communities by leading to solutions to affordable housing problems. Cities in north central Idaho participating in the program include Cottonwood, Culdesac, Grangeville, Kamiah, Kendrick, Kooskia, Nezperce, Potlatch, Riggins, Stites, White Bird and Winchester. CEDA also plans to build capacity for meeting the need for broadband in rural communities. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Two federal programs that provide financial support to counties and school districts with federal lands in their boundaries have been reauthorized. The Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program provides relief to counties and school districts affected by the decline in revenue from timber harvests on federal land. The other program, Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), deposits money in the counties’ general funds to make up in part for non-taxable federal lands. SRS was approved for two years while PILT was approved for one more year. It’s not yet known how much the SRS and PILT payments will be. Because Idaho County contains more than 4.4 million acres of national forest lands — the most of all Idaho counties, it receives the most SRS funds. In 2018, Idaho County received $6.7 million in SRS payments and $1.7 million in PILT funds. Nearly $3.2 million was distributed to the county’s 12 independent highway districts. Mountain View School District, where SRS payments traditionally have provided 15 percent of the budget for the large district based in Grangeville and extending from Kooskia to White Bird. It received $1,200,161 in SRS funds in 2018. Cottonwood Joint School District received $408,156; Kamiah Joint School District, $247,009; and Salmon River Joint School District, $101,254. Source: Lewiston Tribune; Idaho County Free Press
  • Clearwater County also receives a large slice of SRS and PILT funds. Clearwater County received $510,595 for the county’s road and bridge fund in 2018 and $772,457 that year in PILT payments. Source: Lewiston Tribune; Idaho County Free Press
  • Washington State’s minimum wage increased to $13.50 an hour on Jan. 1. That was the last of the four annual increases resulting from a 2016 ballot measure, but the minimum wage will continue to rise because of automatic cost-of-living increases each year. Washington State has the highest minimum wage rate among the 50 states. Idaho’s minimum wage remains the same as the federal minimum wage of $7.25. That minimum last rose in July 2009. The higher minimum wage in neighboring Washington counties has caused more experienced and skilled workers in Lewiston, Moscow and other communities near the border to seek employment in Washington. That puts upward pressure on wages on the Idaho side. Source: Associated Press
  • As of Jan. 1, employers in Washington State are required to offer paid family and medical leave to almost all employees. Employers and employees began paying into the program in January 2019. Together, an employee and an employer pay about 0.4 percent of an employee’s wage into the program. Two-thirds is deducted from the employee’s check and the employer covers the remaining third. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees may forgo the amount paid by the employer. Qualifying employees, who have worked 820 hours for a business, may have as much as 12 weeks of paid leave either for themselves or to care for a family member. In some extreme circumstances, that can be extended to 16 or even 18 weeks. Source: Moscow-Pullman, Daily News
  •  In January, Innovia Foundation released its assessment of community needs and opportunities in nine counties in Idaho (Clearwater, Idaho, Latah, Lewis and Nez Perce), Washington (Asotin, Garfield and Whitman) and Oregon (Wallowa). In partnership with the Lewis-Clark Valley Healthcare Foundation, Innovia sent surveys to more than 8,400 households and hosted nine community forums attended by hundreds of participants last fall. It also compiled health and other data to provide an online picture of the region’s needs. Residents who answered the survey questions identified affordable dental care, medical care and mental health services as the top health needs in the region. Affordability was the biggest concern. The assessment highlighted residents’ challenges with many social determinants of health, including low wages, high cost of living and housing affordability. Approximately one in 10 survey respondents reported being unable to see a doctor in the past 12 months due to inability to pay. About 15 percent reported accessing nonemergency care in the emergency room because they were unable to see a primary care provider. The assessment found specific problems related to economic security, educational opportunity, access to quality health and dental services and community development. Source: Spokesman-Review; Idaho County Free Press

Clearwater County

  • The reopening of the steelhead season was great news for fishing guides, motels, restaurants, gas stations and tourist shops in the Orofino area. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission had closed steelhead fishing entirely on the Clearwater River in September, as well as the Snake River below Couse Creek boat ramp, due to small numbers of steelhead returning from the ocean. In December, confident that enough steelhead were returning, the commission announced it would allow steelhead fishing on the Clearwater River and lower Snake River downstream of Couse Creek Boat Ramp, starting Jan. 1. The North Fork Clearwater River remains closed to steelhead fishing. The spring steelhead season will last through April. Source: Clearwater Tribune
  • The Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy in Pierce graduated a class of 121 students in December. They were the 12th class to go through the 22-week boot-camp-style program designed to prevent Idaho students from dropping out of high school. While a few cadets earned their high school diploma and others earned a GED, most earned enough credits to return to their hometowns to complete their high school education. Most of the students faced high barriers to their success, and the academy is designed to help them surmount those barriers. After they return to their hometowns, they will receive guidance and support arranged by the academy for the next 12 months. The next class of cadets arrived in Pierce in mid-January. The academy, supported by the National Guard, employs nearly 50 people. Source: Lewiston Tribune; Clearwater Tribune
  • Bald Mountain Ski Area near Pierce celebrated its grand opening for the season on Saturday, Jan. 11, with 218 skiers visiting that weekend. Source: Clearwater Tribune

Idaho and Lewis Counties

  • A tenant at the Clearwater Economic Development Association’s Craig Mountain Business Park in Craigmont is diversifying and expanding. When Camas Post Yard LLC opened in 2013, it produced basic post and pole products on a single lot. Since then, it added a sawmill to custom-cut lumber and beams, and introduced a product line of doweled posts and poles for special applications. The company also sells firewood made from its waste products and other wood products that are treated offsite. Now it occupies two lots, and its workforce has more than doubled. Source: CEDA in Motion
  • A two-day windstorm in January destroyed the movie screen at the Sunset Auto Vue near Grangeville. Wind gusts up to 58 miles per hour collapsed the 32-by-72-foot metal screen. The drive-in was built in 1955, closed in 1986 and then reopened in 1998. While in its heyday in the early 1960s, more than 5,000 drive-in theaters operated in the U.S. Today, only 350 are left. The drive-in’s owner hopes to replace the screen and open the drive-in for the season in May. With drive-in theaters having become so rare, it may be difficult to find a screen builder with the required expertise. Source: Idaho County Free Press; Lewiston Tribune
  • After several years of stagnation, Idaho County enjoyed healthy business growth in 2019. The county’s nonfarm payroll jobs hovered around 4,200 between 2012 and 2017, and edged up to 4,280 in 2018. In 2019, they grew an estimated 4.2 percent to 4,460. Neighboring Lewis County’s estimated growth rate also was 4.2 percent in 2019. That made Idaho and Lewis counties the fastest-growing counties in north central Idaho. Despite the recent growth, Idaho County hasn’t fully recovered from the severe recession that began in December 2007. The county’s nonfarm payroll jobs remain below their pre-recession levels. They peaked at 4,584 in 2007. The biggest job gains in 2019 came from leisure and hospitality; construction; manufacturing; transportation; and businesses providing support services to forestry, mill and agricultural businesses. Idaho County’s retail sector lost about 10 jobs in 2019. The growth of online shopping has taken a toll on local retailers, contributing to the closure of Hoene Hardware in Cottonwood in the summer of 2019. Source: Idaho County Free Press interview of Idaho Department of Labor economist Kathryn Tacke
  • White Bird residents may soon have Internet access thanks to Inland Cellular, which is preregistering requests from local residents. Dates for installation haven’t been determined yet. Internet access is a high priority for many rural communities in north central Idaho. Service gaps for telecommunications often affect White Bird, which is located between Riggins and Grangeville on Highway 95. A December 2018 forum sponsored by the Ida-Lew Economic Development Council emphasized the importance of faster Internet speeds, better communications links between Riggins and White Bird and the need for redundancy. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • Cottonwood Butte Ski Area opened for the season on Saturday, Jan. 11, hosting 242 skiers and snowboarders that weekend. Source: Cottonwood Chronicle

Latah County

  • Opportunities Unlimited Inc. plans to close its thrift store in downtown Moscow by the end of February. The organization is a private nonprofit organization providing services and employment to people with disabilities. The store opened in May 2017 on South Main Street. OUI officials said the closure was caused by a lack of customers and the high cost of rent. The Moscow OUI office on Fourth Street will continue to provide services. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Nez Perce and Asotin, Washington, Counties

  • Lewiston’s retail sector lost more ground in recent months. Macy’s plans to close its department store at the Lewiston Center Mall in February. It is one of 30 stores nationwide the chain is closing early this year. The store opened 42 years earlier as a Bon Marche. About 50 people will lose their jobs. A few days after the Macy’s announcement, Rue21 LLC said it would close its store at the Nez Perce Plaza. Rue21, a specialty retailer of women’s casual apparel and accessories, opened near Pier 1 Imports in 2016. About 30 people worked there. Macy’s closed its Moscow outlet in 2016. The upcoming store closures follow the shuttering of Kmart, Shopko and Tri-State Outfitters last year. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The Lewis-Clark wine industry, helped by its 2016 designation as an American Viticultural Area, continues to grow. An AVA designation allows winemakers and wine consumers to attribute a given quality, reputation or other characteristics to its geographic origin. In 2011, the Lewis-Clark Valley was home to six commercially producing vineyards with 35 acres of grape vines. By 2019, there were 10 vineyards with a total of 87 acres grapes. In 2012, three wineries bottled 5,700 gallons of wine. In 2018, eight wineries produced over 36,000 gallons of wine. Vine 46 will open later this year in downtown Lewiston. In the interim, the winery operate a tasting room in the newly renovated Newbery Square downtown. Jovinea Winery has planted a one-acre vineyard outside of Lenore and recently opened a tasting room in downtown Lewiston. Benscoter Vineyards will begin commercial sales this summer. Twisted Vine Wine Tours began providing wine tours to locals and visitors, including cruise boat passengers. A new vineyard owner has moved to the area and is preparing to plant a five-acre vineyard south of Lewiston. Source: CEDA in Motion
  • After more than two years of negotiations, Clearwater Paper in Lewiston, north central Idaho’s largest manufacturer, signed a new contract with the United Steelworkers and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in January. The two unions represent about 870 of the paper mill’s nearly 1,200 employees. The new contract will be in effect through August 2025. Source: Lewiston Tribune

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

  • Shadows Custom Apparel & Designs, a custom apparel manufacturer, is building a 10,990-square-foot warehouse near I-84. The building will provide a new, larger space for design, production and sales. Source: BoiseDev
  • Boise State University will renovate the east side of Albertsons Stadium over the next two years to include premium seating, an expanded concourse, upgraded amenities and a new academic center. Initial estimates indicate the cost will be around $22 million. No taxpayer money or student fees will be used to pay for the renovations. The cost will be funded by private donations as well as money from the new premium seating options. Source: Idaho Press
  • Tech Tribune named eight Boise companies to the very best startups — VisitPay, Covr Financial Technologies, AppDetex, Black Box VR, Kno2, ConvertKit, Pingman Tools, Retrolux, Dental Innovations Inc. and Forsta. The following factors were considered: revenue potential, leadership team, brand/product traction and competitive landscape. The companies also had to be independent, privately owned, at most 10 years old and have received at least one round of funding. Sources: Idaho Business Review & Tech Tribune
  • Tandem Diabetes Care has signed a seven-year lease for the former Kmart store located on corner of Americana Boulevard in Boise. Tandem had a temporary office in Boise with about 50 workers. The move to the new facility will allow Tandem to double its workforce as they provide technical support to customers and insurance verification to physicians. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • The Leapfrog Group, a well-known nonprofit health care industry watchdog, announced St. Luke’s Medical Center in Boise was the only hospital in Idaho to make its 2019 Top 120 Hospitals list in the teaching hospital category, one of 55. In 2017, St. Luke’s was in the general hospital category and St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center was in the rural category. The only other Idaho hospital to make the Leapfrog top hospital list was Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg in 2014 in the rural category. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Web-based site HomeSnacks ranked four cities in the Treasure Valley as the best places to live in Idaho. The site said it combined a verity of resources into “bite-sized studies to help people understand what it’s like to live in different communities across the country.” Data from cities in Idaho with a population of more the 5,000 included median home values, median income, population density, unemployment rate, commute time, education levels, health insurance coverage and poverty rates. The cities and rankings are Meridian, ranked No. 1, Eagle No. 2, Star No. 3 and Kuna No. 4. Source: KIVI
  • The Idaho Central Credit Union’s new building construction is well underway at Eagle View Landing, a mixed-use development in progress in Meridian along I-84, and should be ready for occupancy this summer. Americor will be ready to move in to its new building by fall and hopes to create 500 to 800 more jobs. The development will also host a medical office, retail shops, restaurants and a golf entertainment venue. Source: Idaho Press
  • Ten Mile Crossing, a 400-acre complex development stretching from I-84 to West Franklin Road, is a three-way partnership among Ball Ventures Alquist (BVA), the Brighton Corporation and SCS Development. The current tenants are Brighton and BVA; Paylocity, a national human-resource technology company; AmeriBen, a third-party administrator of employer sponsored health benefits; and Pivot Lifestyle + Fitness by Kristin Armstrong, a gym. Saltzer Health, a health care organization acquired by BVA, broke ground in July for a medical complex that will include an ambulatory surgery center, physician clinics, rehabilitation, physical therapy, imaging, lab, pharmacy and a 24-hour urgent care clinic. In November, La Salle, an information technology management company that contracts with state, local and the federal government, broke ground for a five-story 150,000-square-foot office building. Source: Idaho Press

 Canyon County

  • Autovol, a company developing automated volumetric modular construction for affordable housing is schedule to open a factory in Nampa in April. Autovol CEO Rick Murdock has said that automated modular construction is typically 220 to 225 percent cheaper than a conventional “stick-built” home. Automation eliminates heavy lifting so workers don’t tire as easily, it’s faster and requires fewer workers. Modular construction can take place in a factory, avoiding problems caused by weather. Now that the building is completed, the company needs to program the robots to perform the actual construction. The company will start prototyping in April with some small builds. The company is in the process of hiring 250 to 300 workers. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Sears Hometown Stores opened Feb. 1 in its new location in downtown Nampa. The store sells various home appliances including refrigerators, laundry machines and gardening tools. Habitat for Humanity was the previous tenant, but it moved to Caldwell in August. Source: Idaho Press
  • Idaho lawmakers passed a resolution that the name “to be of important historical value and that the official name…..should always be ‘Chicken Dinner Road.” In July 2018, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) requested the city of Caldwell change the name of the road because the current one was not sufficiently respectful to chickens. The city did not change the name. The 2020 legislature reaffirmed that the name of Chicken Dinner Road will remain unchanged. Source: Idaho Press
  • Karcher Mall, the first enclosed mall in the Boise metro area when it opened in 1965, was purchased by Rhino Investments last year with plans to redevelop the aging mall. The revamped center’s new name is Karcher Marketplace. Several existing tenants will remain – More Furniture for Less, Ross Dress for Less, Big 5 Sporting Goods and JoAnn Fabric. A number of store spaces remain for lease, including a large call center space and other retail locations. Rhino hopes to build an apartment complex with 11 buildings, a clubhouse and a pool at the site. Source: Boise Dev
  • The Amazon fulfillment center in Nampa is beginning to take shape. The walls of the 650,000-square-foot warehouse can be seen from I-84. The center is located on the corner of Franklin and Star roads. Employees at the center will sort and ship purchases made through Amazon. Quick access to the interstate was a key factor in Amazon’s selection of the Nampa site. The fulfillment center is expected to generate 7,000 vehicle trips per day during the peak operating season (holiday months). It is estimated that more than 1,000 jobs will be created, making Amazon Nampa’s largest employer. The center is expected to open in the fall. Source: Idaho Press
  • Ball Ventures Ahlquist (BVA) announced in January a mixed-use 114-acre development in Caldwell. The North Ranch Business Park, located near Highway 20/26 and Smeed Parkway, will include light industrial and flexible office space totaling more than 1.4 million square feet, as well as more than 80,000 square feet of retail businesses and medical offices. Flexible office space is a mix between traditional office and industrial space. For example, a printing shop or architectural firm could operate a storefront with an attached rear warehouse for storage or shipping access. This type of office space is a new venture for BVA but it will be more affordable than what they have built in the past. Source: Idaho Press
  • Construction crews began expanding the Doles railyard to allow it to handle more agricultural commodities. The yard is between Caldwell and Greenleaf on the south side of State Highway 19. The addition of track and other infrastructure is expected to increase substantially the volume of cottonseed and distiller’s grain that the yard handles for the area’s growing dairy industry and position the yard to handle additional crops. It is expected that the Boise Valley Railroad, owned by Watco Companies, will substantially increase the number of cars it moves between the Caldwell site and the Union Pacific Railroad yard in Nampa. Plans also call for expanding the unloading pit and the constructing two large buildings. The buildings will enable the yard to handle hops and onions, two of the area’s high volume crops, giving producers an alternative to trucking. Source: Capital Press

Gem County

  • The Payette River Orchards subdivision in Emmett received approval in December to construct 242 single-family homes. The development was originally approved in 2006 but the economic downturn in 2007 pushed the plan into foreclosure. The development has raised concerns about the impact on traffic and the schools. The projected 10-year build-out timetable should mitigate some of the impact and allow for adjustments as needed. Source: Messenger Index

Owyhee County

  • Husky Pups Preschool opened in January in Marsing in the former Marsing Middle School. The Marsing School District conducted a survey that found many families within the Marsing community wanted to send their children to preschool, but did not qualify for Head Start. The district was awarded a $61,440 grant in December to implement a high-quality preschool in the HUB, the new community school and health center. The Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children also provided a $5,000 Preschool the Idaho Way planning grant in April. Marsing was one of 14 communities to receive the grant. The purpose of the grant is to help plan a high-quality preschool based on families’ needs and desires. Source: The Owyhee Avalanche
  • After more than 100 days, the post office in Homedale reopened Feb. 3. It was closed in October for safety upgrades to the electrical system and flooring replacement .Customers have been shuttling to Wilder to get their mail. Source: The Owyhee Avalanche 

Payette County

  • Every day hundreds of drivers cross the Snake River Bridge between Ontario, Oregon, and Fruitland, Idaho, to go to work. Many commute to work even further. The U.S. Census Bureau found more workers commute to Malheur County, which includes Ontario, from neighboring Idaho counties than those who commute to Idaho for work. Nearly 1,600 Malheur County residents worked in three Idaho counties — Payette, Washington and Canyon — in 2017, while more than 4,500 residents of those counties worked in Malheur County. In 2017, more than one-third of the people working in the Oregon county came from three Idaho counties — Payette (20.7 percent), Washington (4.1) and Canyon (6.1). Of Malheur County residents who worked outside the county, 41 percent commuted to the three Idaho counties — Canyon (19.3 percent), Payette (19.1 percent) and Washington (2.6 percent). According to an analysis of the data by the Oregon Employment Department, another 6.6 percent of residents worked in California and Washington. These commuters may have had extended shifts or short-stay occupations which entailed two or three-day shifts and then returned home for three or four days. Some positions had extended seasonal stays but not year-round residence. Source: The Argus Observer
    Note: Nearly as many Payette County residents worked in Malheur County (3,035) in 2017 as worked in their home county (3,054), according to Idaho Department of Labor analysis of the Census Bureau data.

Valley County

  • Two developers are working to fill some of the need for affordable housing in Valley County with prefabricated homes. Jonathan Frost already has built two prefabricated homes — with three bedrooms and two bathrooms — on permanent foundations in the Terrace Hills subdivision in Cascade. He has another 16 homes of the same size under construction and plans to complete them by the end of 2020. The homes are intended for long-term rentals. Bill Rhoads currently is building five 650-square-foot homes in the Mountain View RV Park on West Roseberry Road west of Donnelly. At full build-out, the development could contain up to 45 units. Source: McCall Star-News
  • Valley County road maintenance will get nearly $1 million each year for the next two years now that Congress reauthorized Secure Rural Schools and Self-Determination Act funding in late December. The county roads department will receive $950,000 in both 2020 and 2021, the McCall-Donnelly School District will receive $340,000 per year and Cascade School District will receive $65,500 each year. The school districts and the county roads department received no funding in 2017 when Congress allowed the program to lapse. The money will allow the county to move ahead with some maintenance projects, but its funding still remains too low to maintain fully the roads in a county that has seen rapid population and tourism growth. Source: McCall Star-News
  • The Valley County Planning and Zoning Commission approved in December an application by Knife River Corp. to open an asphalt plant off Loomis Lane two miles south of Donnelly. Knife River, a road construction and materials production firm based in Boise, proposes to operate the plant from May through October, depending on the weather. It estimates the plant could see about 85 truck trips per day during average operations with the potential for more during large projects. The permit is approved pending authorization from the Idaho Transportation Department, which may require Knife River to add turning lanes and other improvements to the intersection of Loomis Lane and Idaho 55. Source: McCall Star-News
  • Wildwood Express chairlift at Tamarack Resort opened Dec. 28. It will take skiers and riders up 1,646 vertical feet of some of the resort’s intermediate and expert terrain in fewer than six minutes. Source: KIVI

Washington County

  • Weiser Memorial Hospital is relocating several business and administrative offices currently housed in different locations in town to the former King’s building. The move will improve efficiency and save money as well as free up space in the hospital that can be used for clinical or other uses in the future. The hospital was set to move into the King’s building more than two years ago, but was delayed when Ridley’s store roof collapsed and the business temporarily occupied the King’s building. Ridley’s moved to its new store in 2019. Source: Weiser Signal American

Openings

  • Luxe Reel Theatre opened in Eagle in December.
  • Chop Shop BBQ opened in Caldwell bordering Indian Creek Plaza.
  • The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation Bike Path and an adjoining, newly revamped dog park, opened in January on Mountain Cover Road in Boise.
  • Lucy’s 13, a mini-doughnut shop, opened in Caldwell near the Indian Creek Plaza in December.
  • The Village Market opened in January at the Tamarack Resort, bringing a grocery market back to the area.
  • Clearwater Coffee Co. opened at the Tamarack Resort in December.
  • StageDotO, a Seattle-founded venture capital firm, opened an office in Boise.
  • Mountain Home Dental opened on North Third East Street
  • Roots Revival Salon opened on Main Street in Marsing.

Closing

  • Baja Fresh on Broadway in Boise closed Jan. 31.

Janell.Hyer@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

  • The Ketchum Tribute Hotel, a Marriott brand property proposed by Utah developer PEG Co., is working its way through the permitting and development agreement processes and further concerns from citizens expressed at the Ketchum City Council’s February meeting. The developer already has made changes to its initial request presented in October 2019, reducing the number of rooms, the employee housing units and the project’s floor/area ratio to comply with city requirements. The council approved the conditional use permit for a planned-unit development permit and the preliminary plat application. Neighbors attended the last three meetings concerned about reduced setbacks and a requested height variance. If built, this will be the tallest building in Ketchum at 72’. The council is requiring the hotel be LEEDS Silver Certified, that the developer work with Idaho Transportation Department on an encroachment agreement for State Highway 75 and meet the 16-footsetback on the hotel’s west side. The developer is respecting the dark-sky ordinance and implementing energy and water saving fixtures. The Ketchum Sustainability Advisory Committee endorsed these measures in a letter. The council will continue the hotel hearing at its March 16 meeting. This will be the second hotel that potentially will be under construction in 2020. The other is the Harriman Hotel at the southern entrance to the city. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • The Community Library in Ketchum completed a two-year $13.5 million renovation. Improvements include automated books checkout, the physical integrity to hold 80,000 books, meeting the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements to include accessible bathrooms and entrances, a treehouse-themed reading room with windows capturing the vistas around Ketchum, a fireplace and a foyer featuring a Chihuly blown glass art piece. The library is also displaying its Ernest Hemingway collection of letters and memorabilia along with other local history. It is an experience with learning opportunities and will allow patrons to enjoy the outdoors in summer with an outdoor civic plaza. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • Ketchum collected 5.4 percent more in local option tax in December 2019 compared with December 2018. It rose from $149,821 to $157,887. Retailers noticed slower business with the lower snowfall around Thanksgiving, but seemed to catch up in December. With the holidays hitting mid-week and increased snowfall, visitors poured in and stayed longer. Source: Idaho Mountain Express

Camas County

  • Camp Rainbow Gold held an open house highlighting a 10-year conceptual plan for its medical campus on 200 acres near Soldier Mountain. Dr. David McClusky, a general surgeon in Twin Falls, started the organization almost 40 years ago, specifically for children with cancer to have fun in the summer. It expanded over the years to include camps for siblings and family of kids with cancer. The new facility should be in operation by 2022 and plans are to include other nonprofits that help children with debilitating diseases. The organization will expand its offerings on this newly acquired land including a swimming pool to be used by county residents when the camps are not in session. Other creative ideas include a hammock forest, an archery range, bike paths and an arts building named after McClusky. Source: Times-News

Cassia County

  • The Cassia County Joint School District is asking voters to renew its supplemental levy this March. This same levy is renewed each year to cover those programs or community needs not prioritized at the state level — in this case nurses, counselors and resource officers. This year, there will be no tax impact to the voters as the school district has the repayment set aside. Source: Times-News

Minidoka County

  • The Idaho State Board of Education approved the planning and design phase of the Dairy Research Facility near Rupert. The cost of this phase is estimated at $3.5 million funded by state appropriations and private donations. The 492-acre parcel in Minidoka County was purchased in 2019. The total cost for the Idaho Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE) is estimated at $25 million and includes an education and research center in Jerome and the dairy product manufacturing program at the College of Southern Idaho. Source: Times-News
  • Rupert started a New Year’s tradition that made national press and brought out a large crowd when it dropped a sugar beet at midnight at the Rupert Square. The beet was made of steel, had lighting inside, weighed an estimated 1,500 pounds and was suspended from a crane. Amalgamated Sugar, with its plant in nearby Paul, was a major sponsor of the downtown event that consisted of music, food and drink venders, a performance of the Star Spangled Banner, the countdown then fireworks. Source: Times-News

Twin Falls County

  • Canyon Rim East and West, the two shopping centers along the Snake River Canyon rim, recently were purchased by Wood Investment Companies headquartered in Costa Mesa, California. The sales transaction includes the existing strip malls along with undeveloped pads and a permitted pad with intentions to build a four-story hotel. The properties were sold by Geronimo LLC, a partnership between Woodbury Corporation (owner/leasing manager for the Magic Valley Mall) and Nielson & Co. Both properties experienced rapid lease-up by national tenants including retailers, eateries and service providers. Canyon Rim West was built just three years ago while the East strip mall was built in the early 2000s. Source: Times-News
  • Paul Melni, co-owner of AWOL (A Way of Life) Adventure Sports, will continue operating the kayak, canoe and paddleboard renting concession at Centennial Waterfront Park. The business owner had concerns regarding lost business when roadwork is in progress on the grade, limiting access to the park. Twin Falls County agreed to discount the annual payment by $5,000 in exchange for AWOL providing the service for another four years. Source: Times-News
  • The College of Southern Idaho Refugee Center is set to receive a lower number of refugees in 2020 — a decrease from 121 in 2019 to 114 –from Congo, Burma, Eritrea, Afghanistan and Sudan. This is similar to last year’s refugee origins. The center’s funding from the federal government will drop from $781,000 to $721,000. Zeze Rwasama, center director, said to achieve the goals within the declining budgetary climate, the refugees need to find jobs quickly. Source: Times-News

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

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

Bannock County

  • Developers for Chubbuck’s planned large-scale, multi-use New Day District say they are making good progress and anticipate having much of their infrastructure in place by summer. Among the deliverables for summer include a 72,000-square-foot assisted living center, an urgent care facility, a few homes in a “55 and active” community and 36 general residential units – all within a proposed Northside Crossing subdivision on 226 acres. The build-out of Northside Crossing is expected to last about a decade and should eventually encompass 800 living units. On another subdivision within the district, a preliminary plat has been approved for the first phase of a project, which will include 49 residential lots. Construction of connecting roads is scheduled for completion by summer and construction of the first 25 homes are scheduled to start early next winter. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • The city of Pocatello intends to auction two large buildings and a vacant lot in Pocatello’s warehouse district, as well as a smaller building along U.S. Highway 30. The properties have been appraised at more than $1.525 million combined. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • City of Pocatello officials are optimistic that the Pocatello Regional Airport will soon have at least one daily direct flight to Denver. During the summer, the city applied for a $700,000 Small Community Air Service Development grant offered through the U.S. Department of Transportation to subsidize direct service to Denver on a trial basis. Officials are expecting the grant to be awarded. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • Private developers plan to build a 177-unit apartment building catering to Idaho State University students on the 4.13-acre property, which is the former site of Bannock Regional Medical Center. NP Elevate Pocatello LLC reportedly hopes to have the permits completed in time to start construction of a planned six-story building in April. The investment will be more than $25 million, and the facility should be ready for student occupancy prior to the start of the 2021 school year. Source: Idaho State Journal

Bingham County

  • The internal medicine residency program at Bingham Memorial Hospital has lost its accreditation and will shut down after the current class graduates in June 2020. The residency program was created in 2014 in partnership with Davis Hospital and Medical Center in Layton, Utah, and is sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Osteopathic Postgraduate Training Institution. Bingham graduated its third class of six residents last June. Source: Post Register

Oneida County

  • Since 2016, the remote southeastern Idaho district’s K-8 Idaho Home Learning Academy has added about 2,500 students, far exceeding growth at any other district or charter in Idaho. The digital influx brings millions of added annual tax dollars to the remote district headquartered in Malad. The school has hired dozens of additional teachers and increased its annual allotment of state taxes by more than $10 million in just three years. It became Idaho’s largest virtual school last year, with enrollment that now eclipses the town’s population by some 400 students. Oneida School District leaders plan to keep growing its virtual school, despite consistently low student test scores. Source: Idaho Education News
  • The long awaited Oneida County Events Center is under construction and will be ready for the county fair this August. When completed, the 15,000-square-foot multi-purpose building will be used for fair exhibits, the county extension office, voting, public meeting hall and other uses. Source: The Idaho Enterprise

Openings

  • BustNMoves Moving Company in Pocatello.
  • Diva G’s, a beauty salon in the Pine Ridge Mall in Chubbuck.

Closures

  • Anytime Fitness in Chubbuck.

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

Bonneville County

  • Ball Ventures and the Larry H. Miller Group announced the first Megaplex Theatre in Idaho will be coming soon to Snake River Landing. The partnership has outlined plans to break ground on the movie theater this spring. The size of the theater and number of screens has not been revealed. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • Idaho Falls Pediatrics opened its new office on Eagle Drive in Ammon in early February. The new building is more than double the size of the former office on Coronado Street in Idaho Falls. The 14,000-square-foot building allows accommodation for up to eight pediatricians. Source: East Idaho News
  • A four-unit strip mall is under construction on Eagle Drive in Ammon. The 7,700-square-foot project is slated for completion in late April or early May. Two restaurants and a personal service business will be moving into the development later this year. Source: East Idaho News
  • Front Row Events and Production Management LLC is moving into a 24,000-square-foot space in Idaho Falls currently occupied by Uturn, a vending machine company. The company will be moving in April, and is looking to hire 15-25 new employees. Front Row is the company that provides resources for clients nationwide to give presentations and samples to customers of large retail stores. Source: East Idaho News
  • The Ammon mayor has announced a plan to launch the final stage of the city’s fiber-optic network installation in 2021. This final stage of the proposed initiative, called Ammon Ignite 2021, would be the fifth local improvement district (LID) created for the fiber network and would potentially cover the entire city, including homes from previous fiber districts that had not been connected to the network. Ammon City Council approved the city’s first fiber district in August 2015 and its fourth district in November. As of the beginning of January, the Ammon Fiber website listed 1,134 homes that had filed to be included in a local improvement district. Another 941 eligible homes had chosen not to file, and 87 had asked to sign up for fiber without being part of a LID. Source: Post Register
  • The Idaho Falls Auditorium District cautiously estimates construction on the Mountain America Center will begin this March with a completion date of October 2021. The 48,000-square-foot building will be built in Snake River Landing and will include an arena and convention center for concerts and sporting events. It will also include a banquet room, premium seating and other amenities. A bidding process will help the district determine the total estimated cost of the project and the funding gap. Construction can proceed once the gap is closed. Source: East Idaho News

Openings

  • The Pit Barbecue Co. in West Main Mall in Rexburg.

Closures

  • Frontier Pies in Rexburg.
  • JPMorgan Chase bank branch inside the Fred Meyer in Idaho Falls.

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

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