Around Idaho: Economic Activity in February 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

  • The Coeur d’Alene Tribe received an Indian Housing Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, worth just over $1 million. The grant will support affordable housing development in tribal communities. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • Two manufacturers in Kootenai County – Advanced Thermoplastics Composites and Continuous Composites – are participating in a 10-week intensive training program with the US Air Force. The program provides special training for small manufacturers (with under 500 employers) developing structures and systems for unmanned aircraft. Source: Journal of Business
  • Six businesses in downtown Coeur d’Alene have been displaced by a building fire which led to a roof collapse. The structure fire effected Emerge Art Gallery, Cole Taylor Salon, Schmidty’s Burgers, Heart City Tattoo, Farmers Insurance Agency, and 720 Haberdashery. Source: Spokesman Review

Openings

    • Trails End Brewery in Coeur d’Alene.
    • Beauty Mafia in Coeur d’Alene.
    • Lave Vita Bella in Hayden.
    • Shiki Hibachi Sushi in Coeur d’Alene.
    • El Ranchero in Post Falls.
    • The Paint Buzz in Rathdrum.

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

Clearwater County

  • Nightforce Optics released a new product for extreme long-range shooters in January. The wedge prism is a clip-on accessory that mounts to a forward or continuous MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail to increase the effective elevation travel. Nightforce, known for its high-quality riflescopes, employs more than 100 people in Orofino. Source: Clearwater Tribune
  •  Eclectic Energies moved between the Saw Shop and The Timber Inn on Main Street in Pierce. The salon’s relocation allowed Elk Snout Eatery and Mercantile to expand. Source: Clearwater Tribune

Idaho and Lewis Counties

  • The Bureau of Land Management recently completed improvements at the Pine Bar boat launch area on the Salmon River. The contractor, Cook and Sons Construction LLC of Grangeville, widened the boat ramp to two lanes and extended it further into the river. That will ease congestion at the popular launch, a primary access point to the Lower Salmon River for anglers and recreationists. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • The Hogsback Deli and Ice Cream opened in February on Highway 12 in Kamiah across from Cloninger’s grocery store. It offers breakfast and deli sandwiches, soups and salads for lunch, as well as ice cream and milkshakes. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • The new owners of the convenience store and laundromat in Cottonwood have remodeled the former Mini-Village, opening up more space. The renamed Coyote’s One Stop now offers pizzas and other food for phone-in customer pick-up. Source: Cottonwood Chronicle
  • Clearwater Economic Development Association is offering a regional initiative set to launch in April. REV Up North Idaho will empower local leaders in 22 rural northern Idaho through training, hands-on assistance and a toolkit focusing on broadband, housing and community vitality. Several communities in Idaho and Lewis counties will participate. Source: Idaho County Free Press

Latah County

  • Genesee, a city with 520 residents, lost its only grocery store at the beginning of February. Genesee Food Center served the community for about 50 years. The grocery’s owner also closed the Troy Market, a grocery store in downtown Troy, in November. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • The Department of Transportation awarded a $6 million grant to the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport in January for its runway construction costs. The new runway opened in October and this year construction crews will begin work on a new taxiway, set to be completed in 2021. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • About 100 University of Idaho employees accepted voluntary separation and early retirement offers from the school as it works to cut $22 million out of its budget next year. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • Soon after a longtime downtown Moscow wine store closed, a new wine business opened on South Main Street. Wine Company, which operated in downtown Moscow for 40 years, closed at the end of December. A few weeks later, Vin Wine Bar and Cellar — a wine retailer with a bar — opened next to Moscow Bagel and Deli. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Nez Perce and Asotin Counties

  •  A new manufacturing facility is under construction in north Lewiston. Tsceminicum Water Bottling — using the Nez Perce word meaning “meeting of the waters” — broke ground in February on a 10,000-square-foot bottling plant on four acres it’s leasing from the Port of Lewiston. It plans to produce artesian water and lemonade in plastic and aluminum bottles. When the company begins production this summer, it will employ four to eight people. Source: Lewiston Tribune; KLEWtv.com
  • Vista Outdoor — the ammunition maker and outdoor products company that employs 1,000 people in Lewiston — experienced its first profitable quarter in more than 1½ years in the last quarter of 2019, but still faces challenges. Although the ammunition market is stabilizing, demand for rimfire ammunition — a product Vista makes in Lewiston — has not picked up. Walmart’s decision to discontinue selling ammunition for semi-automatic rifles and handguns after the end of December and the United States’ trade war with China are depressing sales of ammunition. Vista is working with other customers to carry the products that Walmart did. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The ports of Clarkston and Lewiston won a $55,000 grant early this year from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration to cover half the costs of an economic impact study of the cruise boat industry in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley. The other half will come from the commerce departments in Idaho and Washington; the ports of Lewiston, Clarkston and Whitman County; and the cities of Lewiston and Clarkston. The cruise boats play a growing role in the local tourism sector. The capacity of passenger vessels docking overnight in Clarkston climbed from 31,168 in 2017 to 78,166 in 2019. The Port of Clarkston is applying for a $35,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help build a 15-foot-wide and 30-foot-long floating dock at its 14th Street dock, expected to cost $60,000 to $70,000. The new dock would allow cruise boat passengers to easily board jet boats to tour Hells Canyon. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Lewiston-based Potlatch No. 1 Financial Credit Union continues to expand. By March 2021, it plans to open eight new branches. One will be in Genesee, while the others will open in the Idaho Panhandle and Washington state. Now its territory includes Payette, Gem, Washington and Adams counties in southwestern Idaho, all of Washington state and eastern Oregon. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The Clarkston branch of Walla Walla Community College continues to cut costs and programs. It will no longer offer on-campus classes focused on early childhood education after the spring quarter ends. System-wide, the college is cutting its budget by $1.4 million to reduce deficits caused by a decline in enrollment, an increase in operational costs and reductions in state funding for community colleges. It already cut costs by $1.1 million in September. WWCC will also eliminate 17 additional faculty and staff positions, including six positions on the Clarkston campus, bringing the total amount of reduced positions this year to 33, or about 9 percent of WWCC’s employees. Officials says the college remains committed to its Clarkston campus, which has more than 475 students. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Lewis-Clark State College has taken steps to help more students succeed. It now provides a “wrap-around” support system and coaching model that includes assigning each student a faculty adviser and student peer mentor while in school, and an alumni mentor after graduation. That may be one reason why its first-year retention rate improved from 57 percent to 63 percent last year. Its graduation rate — the percentage of students who receive a degree within six years — jumped from 28 percent to 40 percent. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Lewis-Clark State College continues to take steps to deal with the the increasingly restrictive financial circumstances all Idaho higher education institutions face. It eliminated two executive positions and consolidated some offices. It seeks to reduce its general education budget by 7 percent — $2.5 million — next year. LCSC recently began offering retirement buyout incentives for eligible employees. The one-time program will be open to benefit-eligible employees who are at least 64 years old by June 30. Interested employees may apply for the retirement incentive program until March 20. Payouts for those who qualify will be 20 percent of their base salary, or $10,000, whichever is greater. Employees would have to finish out their fiscal year 2020 contract, while classified staff would work through June 30. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • A National Council on Teacher Quality report gave Lewis-Clark State College’s elementary education program top grades for its early reading standards coursework. The report ranked the Lewiston college as one of the top 15 in the nation. LCSC offers bachelor’s degrees in elementary and secondary education, both of which lead to an Idaho teaching certificate. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Lewis-Clark State College closed its Institute of Intensive English in January. The institute prepared international students who wanted to study at a U.S. college or university, but lacked the English proficiency required. In recent years, enrollment numbers fell, reducing tuition payments, the primary funding source for the institute. At its peak in 2008, the program enrolled more than 100 students. Last fall, only five enrolled. The school continues to offer assistance to international students needing to improve their English skills through the Bridge program. 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

  • Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau is considering a novel idea to help the city appeal to large events. The idea is a single, universal contact for all the hotels a convention may need to use. Boise has a facility that can accommodate up to 1,500 people, but such an event may require up to 10 to 12 hotels to accommodate all the attendees. The bureau is working with several hotels to develop the idea, including both locally owned hotels and chains. Madison, Wisconsin, was one of the first places to introduce the master contact idea in 2019. The city has already seen two groups take advantage of it. Boise hopes to start marketing its own contact in the next two months in a move it feels would benefit the community and the region. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Ground was broken for a new housing and retail space project, Amazon Falls, in Star. The project will include 184 housing units and retail space. The site, located on State Street near Palmer Lane, will include 46 fourplex units on about 20 acres and 14 acres of commercial space. Each unit will include two bedrooms and two full baths. Source: BoiseDev
  • Boise Airport, the state’s largest commercial airport, set a record for 2019 with more than 4.1 million passengers traveling through. This was a 6.8 percent increase over 2018, a faster pace than the national average. The increase in the airport traffic prompted the addition of another security checkpoint in 2019. In January, a new airport welcome center was unveiled. Alaska Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines announced additional flights in 2020. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Micron Technology Inc. implemented travel restrictions for employees and on-site suppliers due to the coronavirus. The Boise-based manufacturer is also conducting health screening at many of its sites in Asia. As of early February, Micron had not identified any cases testing positive for the virus at its facilities, but will continue to take strong precautions to ensure the wellness of its workers. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Alaska Airlines announced that it would begin nonstop daily service between Boise and Everett, Washington. The once-a-day flight will operate year-round on an Embraer 175, which has 76 seats, beginning June 18. Every passenger will have a window seat. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Plated meal kits have returned to Albertsons Market Street store in Meridian. The meal kits were introduced in 2018 at the Broadway and Meridian stores, but were pulled in 2019. Customers had to go online to buy the meal kits and pay shipping costs. Now the meal kits have returned to the stores. They can be purchased in the store or as part of the home grocery delivery service. The meals feature new recipes, simplified and with precut vegetables. The cost is about $15 and will serve two. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Guerdon Enterprises has a new ownership team following a foreclosure auction. Innovatus Capital Partners LLC and Guerdon founders Lad Dawson and Mike Bowers now control the company together. Innovatus Capital led the investment. Guerdon primarily builds hotel rooms at its facility in Boise. The completed rooms are transported to project sites across the west where they are assembled into finished hotels. The new ownership will focus its resources and strengths on building modular structures for multi-family, student housing, affordable housing projects and hospitality markets. Source: BoiseDev
  • Darigold will expand its Boise plant, requiring an investment of $67 million. The investment will be used for equipment and installation of a new production line to produce its new milk product, Darigold FIT. The expansion will add 15 jobs and state-of-the-art equipment, which will use environmental-friendly aseptic packaging. FIT milk is lactose-free with 40 percent less sugar and 75 percent more protein. The Darigold FIT produced will be shelf stable and not require refrigeration. The first Boise production run of FIT using the shelf-stable packaging, is scheduled for fall 2020. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • California-based software company Cask expanded to Boise in 2017 to develop an application for the National Interagency Fire Center. The company has experienced “exponential growth” requiring not only an expanded workforce, but also space. The company moved into a larger space on the third floor of the 8th Street Marketplace Mercantile Building. The office will support the NIFC account, as well as “large scale systems integration work” for commercial and federal projects. The company’s ServiceNow platform serves as the basis for a supply chain app for NIFC. Cask employs both support and development people in Boise. Source: BoiseDev
  • Lowe’s in Boise hosted a walk-in hiring event in February to expand its workforce. The company is hiring more than 150 associates across the Boise-area stores to meet the spring project frenzy. Spring is the busiest season for home improvement projects. Source: CBS2
  • Boise State University President Marlene Tromp recently announced a new scholarship for first-generation students from rural Idaho communities. Boise State is committing to a rural outreach program called the Community Initiative, where officials are going into the rural communities and asking students what kinds of programs they need to be successful. The university is also developing a hybrid model of making education more accessible to those students so they can stay within their community and continue their work. Source: KTVB
  • In February, Concordia University-Portland announced it would close its doors at the end of the spring semester. The closure had a direct impact on Concordia School of Law in Boise. On Feb. 20, Concordia University, St. Paul (Minnesota) agreed to become the new parent institution for the law school. The American Bar Association must approve the merger before the agreement is finalized. The transfer of ownership to Concordia University, St. Paul means that there will be no disruptions of the legal program in Boise. Currently there are 190 students enrolled in the Boise law school. Prior to the current plan, Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa and The College of Idaho in Caldwell offered to assist undergraduate students hoping to transfer. Source: Idaho Press
  • PreFunk closed in the summer of 2019 in Boise to remodel. It has just reopened as Matlack’s, a public house and “beergarten.” A small, efficient kitchen was built during the remodel so there is a menu featuring pub food. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • McClatchy, the nation’s second largest local news company and owner of the Idaho Statesman, filed for bankruptcy in February. The Chapter 11 filing will allow McClatchy to restructure its debts and, it hopes, shed much of its pension obligations. Under the plan, about 55 percent of its debt would be eliminated as the news organization tries to reposition for a digital future. The filing has no immediate impact of the McClatchy’s employees or its 30 newsrooms in 14 states. Source: Idaho Statesman

Canyon County

  • CXT Inc. moved a manufacturing plant from Spokane Valley, Washington, to Nampa. The plant makes prefabricated concrete buildings, such as state park restroom buildings. The move began in November and the plant opened in late January 2020. It is anticipated that the relocation will bring about 80 jobs to the region. CXT is co-located in a new building on the G&B Redimix site on Flamingo Road. Source: BoiseDev & the City of Nampa
  • Grocery Outlet has leased retail space formerly occupied by Rite Aid and later Boise Rescue Mission Ministries thrift store in Nampa. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • The city of Nampa listed four projects in a recommendation letter to the Idaho Department of Transportation (ITD) to help ease the impact of the increased traffic from the Amazon fulfillment center under construction. Amazon committed $4.7 million to pay ITD for road projects. Amazon must pay before receiving its certificate of occupancy. The top priority would be to sync Nampa’s traffic lights to a new software, Intelligent Transportation System, which would bring the cameras at Nampa’s traffic signals into one network that can be monitored and controlled from a remote location. The first phase would be to sync the traffic signals near the Garrity Interchange near the fulfillment center, which already experiences high levels of traffic congestion. The second priority is to add turn lanes to East Franklin Road at the intersection with McDermott Road, which is next to the Amazon center. The third recommendation is planning the Highway 16 extension at I-84. The fourth recommendation was improvements to traffic flow along Garrity Boulevard near I-84, such as widening lanes and updating signal timing. Source: Idaho Press
  • Nampa will be the home to Idaho’s newest mental hospital. The State Hospital West will be an adolescent psychiatric treatment hospital for youth between 11 and 18. The hospital will be built on state owned land on the campus of the Southwest Idaho Treatment Center, but its function will not be related. The hospital will have a staff of about 65 and will include facilities for 16 patients. Construction will begin this fall with an anticipated opening in February or March 2021. Currently, about 75 percent of the young people that go to State Hospital South in Blackfoot are from the Treasure Valley. Source: Idaho Press
  • The city of Caldwell broke ground for its third fire station. The station will serve an estimated 20,000 citizens when the area is completely developed. Caldwell Fire station No. 3 will be on a two-acre site at the corner of Skyway Street and South KCID Road. The 10,000- square-foot facility will cost just over $5 million. Beniton Construction of Meridian is the general contractor for the project. The estimate for the completion of the new station is before the end of 2020. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Sunpro, a building material supplier, purchased Stone Lumber, a family-owned company in Nampa that has been operating since 1906. Sunpro hired all of Stone’s employees. The grand reopening is April 2 at the current location. Source: Idaho Press
  • United Grain Corp. based in Vancouver, Washington, purchased two grain storage and shipping facilities in Notus and Ontario, Oregon. The properties will add more than 1.6 million bushels of capacity for wheat and corn. United Grain celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019 and operates the largest export terminal on the West Coast. About 85-90 percent of soft white wheat grown in the Northwest is exported to countries in Asia, most notably Japan. Wheat from the Treasure Valley has been sent to the Columbia River for years making the Ontario and Notus facilities a natural fit of United Grain. Source: Capital Press

Elmore County

  • The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes recently purchased 157 acres of prime commercial development land in Mountain Home. The Council noted several reasons the land was brought including: the location is within 30 minutes of Boise and a large population base; the city of Mountain Home has an Opportunity Zone designation that makes further economic development opportunities available to the Tribes; and the Mountain Home Air Force Base, which makes contracting companies available. The property is located close to a main exit and has good access from a main artery road in Mountain Home. Source: Mountain Home News

Payette County

  • Fruitland is home to a growing business — iTySE — a manufacturer of reusable mesh bags to use in place of plastic or paper bags for grocery and other shopping. Shawna Pierson founded the business about 10 years ago and continues to be its chief executive officer. A nationwide push to make more environmentally friendly choices has led to some communities and three states — California, New York and Oregon — to ban single-use bags. The company offers a 25-year guarantee on its washable bags. Now, iTySE has introduced branded bags, customized with a name and logo to be used for corporate gifts, weddings, trade shows and promotional opportunities. All of the bags are made in the USA, mostly at Oregon Corrections Enterprise, which provide sewing services as one of its cottage industries. That allows the inmates to learn a new skills, and the money they makes goes for restitution to victims, child support, court costs and whatever else they owe while still incarcerated. Source: KIVI Boise 6

Valley County

  • A proposed development that could double the size of Cascade, a city of about 1,000 people, is moving closer to winning the required approvals. The River District would contain 475 homes on 121 acres of grazing land. Cascade plans to annex the area. The subdivision would contain 158 estate lots, 10 cottage lots, 47 townhouse lots and 51 multifamily lots consisting of 47 fourplex lots and four apartments with 16 units each. It would be built with two entrances from the east side of Idaho 55. It would provide much-needed homes for workers. Midas Gold estimates about 130 of its 1,000 or so employees would move to the Cascade area if its proposed gold mine near Yellow Pine moves forward. Source: McCall Star-News; Boise Dev

Washington County

  • Agri-Lines and Tri County Tractor and Implement held their combined grand opening in February in Weiser. The two businesses are located on U.S. Hwy 95 and will share office space. Agri-Lines sells, installs and services irrigation equipment to customers from Payette and Vale to Midvale, Cambridge, Council, New Meadows and north to Riggins. The Weiser location will also offer a full-service electrical department and custom fabrication shop. The company also stocks PVC and aluminum pipe and parts for all types of irrigation. Tri-County Tractor and Implement offers new and used tractors and implements. Source: Weiser Signal American

Openings

  • Good Burger opened a new restaurant in Boise in February on State Street.
  • Shi Sushi Bar is opening in downtown Caldwell.
  • Bank changes in Boise: Alpine State Bank, a new bank to the area and an offshoot of Bank of Jackson Hole, will locate in the former Mountain West Bank location in the Hoff Building. Mountain West Bank is relocating to the First Interstate Bank location at Ninth and Idaho streets. First Interstate closed that branch when it merged with Idaho Independent Bank.
  • Vertical View, a rock climbing gym located in Meridian near I-84, opened in late January.
  • The Commons Climbing Gym on Emerald in Boise opened in late February.

Closings

  • Master Cuts at the Boise Towne Square closed in December.
  • I and I clothing store at the Boise Towne Square closed in December.
  • Meats Royale Old Fashioned Meat Market in Boise closed in February.

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

Dairy 2019 Production Report
  • Idaho continues to the be the third largest producer of milk nationally following the longstanding No.1 ranked California and No. 2 ranked Wisconsin by a wide margin. New York state and Idaho have taken turns with the third place ranking over the past decade, but Idaho seems to produce more milk most frequently. The top five states produce the majority of milk nationally. Idaho milk prices increased during 2019 with forecasts of continued strong prices through 2020. This bodes well for an industry that has seen some consolidation of operations, but rarely cuts into production.
    The 2019 statistics in comparison with the other top five states are:

Blaine County

  • Ketchum Planning and Zoning approved the preliminary design of a mixed-use retail and residential building on a downtown corner. Underground parking with four stories of residential units and retail — six market and six affordable housing units – will sync with the pedestrian nature of downtown Ketchum. The developer, Solstice Homes of Mill Valley, Utah, has closely synced with the Ketchum City code, ensuring requirements are met or exceeded. There may be a conditional use permit requested later on in the process for the hot dog stand that has been a summer tradition on the lot. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • The Sun Valley Center for the Arts has rebranded to Sun Valley Museum of Art in an effort to establish its longstanding commitment to providing an experience, an education and an outreach that covers all arts including dance, live musical performances and lectures. It was accredited in 2006 with the American Alliance of Museums. Source: Idaho Mountain Express

Gooding County

  • Riverence Holdings LLC acquired Clear Springs Foods – a vertically integrated company based in Buhl  since 1966. Riverence started in Washington state raising rainbow and steelhead trout eggs. A Riverence press release dated Feb. 1, 2020, stated that with this acquisition, its 14 farms produce 15,000 metric tons of fish annually making it the largest land-based producer of steelhead and rainbow trout in the Americas. Both brands will continue as before with most of the 450 combined workers based out in Idaho and its Clear Springs operations. The company would not comment on whether the acquisition affects the existing employee stock ownership program at Clear Springs Foods. Source: Times-News and Boise State Public Radio
  • North Valley Academy closed the week before President’s Day for disinfecting and allowing both students and teachers to recover from the flu. This is the second year in a row the charter school suspended school because of the flu — this year an estimated 18 percent of the students were absent. Source: KMVT News

Jerome County

  • Moss Greenhouses of Jerome is Idaho’s Small Business of the Month for February 2020. The business was selected by Sen. James Risch and will be recognized in the Congressional Record of the U.S. Senate. The company is the largest plant producer and distributor in the state and started its operations in 1952. Moss Greenhouses continues to be a family-owned business with the third generation currently leading the company. Its market includes providing flowers to grocery stores and florists across the mountain west region. Source: Times-News
  • A grand opening was held at the newly renovated Visitors Center for the Minidoka National Historical Site, which is located in an area referred to as Hunt in Jerome County. The Visitors Center is in a former automotive repair shop. The prison camp occupied 33,000 acres, which included agricultural fields, 36 multi-family housing blocks and a mess hall. The camp once housed 13,000 Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II. Source: Boise State Public Radio

Twin Falls County

  • The south central Idaho chapter of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is changing its structure to a local entity with emphasis on local activities and business membership development. This chapter hosted the first Latino Fest in Twin Falls and two State of the Hispanic Community addresses since inception almost two years ago. According to Alex Castaneda, one of these two original board members from Twin Falls, “It was challenging to operate a separate chapter when the majority of the board was in western Idaho. We anticipate being able to help other areas in Idaho follow this model to become their own chamber of commerce.” Source: Times-News
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a $900,000 Small Community Air Service Development Program grant to the Magic Valley Regional Airport, also known as Joslin Field. Sixty communities competed for the 18 awards, with $12 million worth of funding distributed. The grant could provide a revenue guarantee for SkyWest to provide a direct flight for Twin Falls travelers to the Denver International Airport, a hub of United Airlines. Communities and businesses were instrumental in the successful grant bid by pledging financial support and writing letters. Source: Times-News
  • The Twin Falls Public Library hosted two job fairs in February for the U.S. Census 2020. The agency is hiring 500,000 temporary workers nationwide to fill jobs census workers and census field supervisors. The agency planners are hoping most residents respond to the online census form but for those who don’t, census takers will collect responses forms. The Idaho Department of Labor Twin Falls local office also is hosting all-day Census hiring events on Mondays through March 30. Source: KMVT News

Openings

  • Scramble City is a new business in Twin Falls selling comic books and Japanese animation, appealing to collectors. Source: Times-News
  • Barrio75 opened inside the Hotel Ketchum. The restaurant offers seasonal and sustainable ingredient tacos and more than 40 different tequilas. 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 Idaho State University College of Technology has been awarded a grant of more than $2.3 million to construct a new technical education facility to train students in diesel power generation systems. The Economic Development Administration awarded the grant to Idaho State because the demand for a trained workforce is critical. Idaho State is one of only two schools in the nation that provide specific training in on-site power generation. Source: Idaho State University

Bannock County

  • A roughly $1.5 million renovation is underway on the old Riverside Apartments in Pocatello. The building is more than a century old and currently has 49 apartment units, which share communal bathrooms and kitchens. After the renovation, the building will house 28 one- to three-bedroom units. Each will have its own bathroom and kitchen. Apartments should be ready to accept tenants within a year and will be affordably priced, with monthly rent ranging from $500 to $700. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • Old Town Pocatello Wells Fargo Bank branch is set to close in May. A decrease in foot traffic was cited as the primary driver for the company’s decision to close the branch, which takes effect May 13. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • A Utah businessman who has purchased the run-down Poplar Apartments in Pocatello and has already started a major overhaul, investing nearly $500,000 in improvements. The complex will be rebranded as Cottages at Poplar. About 20 units in the 50-unit complex are expected to be updated within the next six months. Rents in the apartments have ranged from $550 to $625. Rents will be $675 to $750 for updated units. The property is zoned for up to 100 units, and the new ownership anticipates adding another 20 to 30 units to the complex in the coming years. Source: Idaho State Journal

Bingham County

  • A field northeast of Aberdeen is in the final stages of transforming into Idaho’s most technologically advanced crop service facility, thanks to a multi-million-dollar agribusiness investment by J.R. Simplot Co. The new Simplot Grower Solutions Aberdeen plant replaces the aging American Falls and Aberdeen structures. It will provide crop nutrition and crop protection products and services and support for the Simplot location in Rockford and the Blackfoot area. It will also supply Simplot’s other eastern Idaho location as necessary. The 30 full-time staff from the American Falls and Aberdeen teams will be centralized at this location, with dozens of seasonal hires working as needed. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • NeighborWorks Pocatello has expanded some of its key services to include both Power and Bingham counties. This is due in part to an expansion opportunity grant Wells Fargo recently awarded to the organization. The local nonprofit is now able to expand its programs to provide safe and stable housing opportunities to more rural areas. Source: Morning News

Openings

  • 1st Choice Urgent Care in Pocatello.
  • Sophie’s Suds and Dry Cleaning in Blackfoot.
  • DNH Studios inside Station Square in Pocatello.
  • The Plant Shop in Blackfoot.
  • Fisher’s Technology 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

  • Idaho Falls metro area has the fastest job creation rate in the country. In 2019, the number of nonfarm jobs for the Idaho Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area increased 4.8 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number makes the Idaho Falls MSA faster growing than any other in the nation once seasonally adjusted. All five MSAs in Idaho saw job growth of 1.5 percent or higher in 2019, according to the Idaho Department of Labor. Source: Post Register
  • Two eastern Idaho counties, Fremont and Teton, were among the top five Idaho counties in Airbnb host income. Fremont County homeowners were second behind Ada County, serving 11,000 guests and earning $1.9 million. Teton County was fourth highest, behind Kootenai, with $1.2 million in income serving 6,800 visitors. Airbnb reports its Idaho host communities earned a total of $14.1 million in income last year, serving some 72,000 guests during five of the biggest weekends of the year. Source: KIDK
  • Idaho Gov. Brad Little and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden have signed a deal that will keep the Idaho National Lab’s Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) running past 2023. The 1995 settlement agreement between the state of Idaho and the Department of Energy (DOE) prohibits the storage of spent nuclear fuel in water past 2023. However, ATR uses an indoor, water-filled canal to cool spent nuclear fuel. The canal is essential to ATR’s operation and the 1995 agreement. The new agreement allows the ATR facility to continue operating the canal and puts requirements on the DOE on how it will handle the spent fuel. This is the second deal Gov. Little and Wasden have reached with the DOE on the 1995 settlement agreement in recent months. Source: East Idaho News
  • Idaho National Laboratory officials announced the lab will be hosting the United States Nuclear Industry Council’s 2021 Advanced Reactor Summit in Sun Valley. Those interested will tour INL. The 2021 event will be the eighth annual summit of its kind. Source: Post Register
  • The Idaho Falls Regional Airport set a new record in passenger volume in 2019, according to the latest data. In 2019, 352,093 people used the airport, according to numbers reported by the airlines. This tops the last high of 328,364 in 2014. The airlines reported 177,168 people getting on flights, up from 161,019 in 2018. The Idaho Falls airport offers flights to and from Denver, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. A terminal expansion is expected to start soon. Other recent changes there include more restaurant services, a new baggage claim and improved Transportation Security Administration Pre-Check line and the addition of a fifth daily flight to Denver. Source: Post Register
  • Allegiant will begin offering nonstop flights to San Diego from the Idaho Falls Regional Airport beginning June 5. The new seasonal route will operate twice weekly with flights listed as low as $59 one-way. Over the years, Allegiant has gradually added the number of cities passengers can travel to from Idaho Falls, including Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Oakland and Phoenix. Source: East Idaho News
  • Thirteen Idaho airports will receive $5.2 million in airport safety and infrastructure grants through the U.S. Department of Transportation. Three rural eastern Idaho airports are among the grant awards:
    • Driggs’ Reed Memorial Airport will receive $600,000 to fund an airport-related environmental assessment, plan and study, and a second grant for $350,000 to fund sealing the taxiway, apron and runway pavement surface and joints.
    • Rexburg-Madison County Airport will receive $88,888 to fund snow removal equipment.
    • Bear Lake County Airport in Paris will receive $300,000 for miscellaneous airport improvements and to install a runway vertical/visual guidance system. Source: KIDK

Bonneville County

  • A new entertainment center is coming to Idaho Falls. ShowBiz Cinemas’ Bowling, Movies and More! will began construction at Jackson Hole Junction with completion expected this December. The complex will include 14 bowling lanes, a lane-side café with food and drink options, arcade games, concessions, party rooms and eight movie theaters with luxury recliners. The arcade will have a “redemption center” where players can pick out prizes based on their winnings. The ShowBiz entertainment center is just the latest news to come out of long-anticipated Jackson Hole Junction. After years of planning, the junction is finally ready to begin opening businesses this year. Source: Post Register
  • BioLogiQ is transitioning all business in Blackfoot to Idaho Falls. Currently, all the company’s production takes place in Blackfoot, with only an office in Idaho Falls. BioLogiQ will soon be expanding manufacturing to Idaho Falls as well, with the goal of eventually basing all operations out of Idaho Falls. That manufacturing site will be located on Professional Way, just off Yellowstone Highway. In addition to the current building at the site, BioLogiQ will be adding more facilities. Construction on the first new building will begin soon. According to a building permit filed Jan. 27, the facility will measure 31,180 square feet. The job value is estimated at $1,571,904, with Streamline Precision Contracting in Burley serving as the contractor. Once complete, the Idaho Falls operations will be the global headquarters BioLogiQ, with offices, manufacturing facilities and warehouses. BioLogiQ is a company that invented and manufactures a biopolymer called NuPlastiQ, a thermoplastic plant-based resin created from potato by-products that come out of processing plants. More than 25 percent of the country’s grocery stores sell potatoes in bags made using NuPlastiQ, with Walmart being the most well-known carrier. Source: Post Register
  • The long-awaited reopening of the Bonneville Apartments was completed with a well-attended ribbon-cutting ceremony. What had once been Idaho Falls’ finest hotel, the Bonneville has relaunched as five floors of affordable apartments, completing a major project for the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency and other partners. Source: Post Register
  • Construction crews have begun renovations on the building that housed Famous Dave’s Barbecue restaurant in Idaho Falls, which closed its doors in September. The site will soon become the home of LongHorn Steakhouse, set to open in late spring of 2020 as its second location in Idaho. A Boise store opened several years ago. There are 515 locations nationwide. Source: East Idaho News
  • After several months of sitting vacant, the Pinecrest Event Center in Idaho Falls will soon have a new tenant. Bullfrog Spas, a hot tub manufacturing company based in Salt Lake City, recently acquired the 45,000-square-foot space and will be moving there in mid-March. The Idaho Falls store will be the first Bullfrog location in Idaho. A Boise store is also under construction. Source: East Idaho News

Openings

  • Pizza Hut at 163 W. Main St. in Rexburg.
  • Ka-Ko Jo’s, a family entertainment center, in Idaho Falls.
  • Rustic Vine, a new Mediterranean restaurant in Ammon.

Closures

  • Rizo’s Pizza in Ammon.

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

2 thoughts on “Around Idaho: Economic Activity in February 2020

    1. Idaho Department of Labor Post author

      This FAQ might help: I have exhausted my UI benefits. Are additional benefits available?
      Yes. The CAREs Act expanded the unemployment insurance program to include Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). This program extends benefits for claimants who exhaust their regular benefits. We are working with the U.S. Department of Labor on further details so we can implement these changes. If you have exhausted benefits, please continue to submit your weekly certifications. You will be made aware of any changes that will potentially affect your unemployment benefit claim.

      Reply

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