Around Idaho: Economic Activity in April 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
Eastern Idaho


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

Benewah County

  • The Federal Communications Commission has approved $521,000 in funding for Red-Spectrum Communications, a broadband provider owned by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, to expand access in Benewah County. Source: Journal of Business

Bonner County

  • The U.S. District Court has approved Tamarack Aerospace’s proposed reorganization plan. The Sandpoint winglet manufacturer has been pursuing a reorganization to allow it to emerge from ongoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Source: Journal of Business
  • Percussionaire, a Sandpoint manufacturer, has received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to produce and distribute a new compact ventilator. The company has also massively ramped up production, from their typical rate of roughly 100 ventilators a month, to more than 1,000 per week. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press

Kootenai County

  • Local food banks are facing significantly higher needs from the community in the wake of COVID-19-related job losses. The Kroc Center and the Silver Lake Mall are now hosting distribution of food as well as personal protective equipment and hygiene products. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • Despite economic disruption from COVID-19, some construction has proceeded apace in Kootenai County. The Atlas Mill Site development project is moving forward, although construction has not yet begun, and commercial construction in Hayden is still occurring. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • The Coeur Group, a volunteer group of professionals in Kootenai County, is providing a variety of services to affected residents through their COVID-19 task force. Services include running errands for health-compromised individuals who cannot go out in public, in addition to providing financial assistance to households struggling to meet basic expenses. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 457-8789 ext. 4451

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

Clearwater County

  • Clearwater Valley Hospital in Orofino and its partner, St. Mary’s Hospital in Cottonwood, officially transferred ownership to Kootenai Health, based in Coeur d’Alene, on April 1. The change is expected to strengthen health care in their communities, because local doctors and clinical staff members can tap into resources and exchange ideas with counterparts in Coeur d’Alene. In time, additional areas of collaboration could include information technology, human resources support, revenue cycle, billing, and purchasing. Kootenai Health committed to maintaining the Catholic identity and supporting operations of St. Mary’s Hospital. Syringa General Hospital in Grangeville has a management agreement with Kootenai Health, so the Cottonwood and Grangeville hospitals will work more closely together. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • The Federal Aviation Administration awarded a $20,000 grant to the Orofino Municipal Airport under a federal CARES Act program to assist airports deal with the coronavirus-caused slowdown in air traffic. Source: Federal Aviation Administration

Idaho and Lewis Counties

  • The Idaho County Airport in Grangeville was recently awarded a $300,000 infrastructure grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The grant will fund 90 percent of pavement rehabilitation, while the state of Idaho and Idaho County each will pick up 5 percent of the remaining cost. The runway, taxiway and the three taxi lanes on the west end, which serve the new hangars, will get a fresh coat of paint, expected to last five to 10 years. The project will close the airport to all traffic, except helicopters, for eight days. The airport recently learned it also would receive a $300,000 CARES Act grant from the Federal Aviation Administration. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  •  The Kamiah Municipal Airport will receive a $1,000 CARES Act grant from the Federal Aviation Administration. The grants to help airports cope with coronavirus-caused slowdown in air traffic may be used for airport operating expenses, capital expenditure or debt payments. Source: Big Country News
  •  Sunset Auto Vue, the drive-in movie theater near Grangeville, will open this summer, although a January windstorm destroyed its screen. Advanced Welding & Steel of Grangeville currently is welding and fabricating a new metal structure, while Holcomb Construction of Grangeville will put the pieces back together. Sunset is one of only 350 drive-in theaters still operating in the U.S. In the late 1950s, there were more than 5,000 drive-in theaters. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  •  Lewis County was the fastest-growing county in north central Idaho in 2019. Its nonfarm payroll employment grew 5.8 percent from 1,627 to 1,721. Every major sector added jobs. The sectors adding the most jobs were health care and social assistance, 28 jobs; manufacturing, 25 jobs; construction, 18; and retail, 14. The county also was the region’s fastest-growing county in the five-year period between December 2014 and 2019, when employment grew 10.7 percent from 1,555 to 1,721. Source: Idaho Department of Labor
  •  Between March 15 and April 11, 126 Lewis County residents filed unemployment insurance claims. They made up roughly 8 percent of the county’s employed residents before the coronavirus-caused economic crisis began in mid-March. In the four weeks before March 15, only 20 residents filed claims. Source: Idaho Department of Labor

 Latah County

  • Wintz and Co, a Moscow developer, plans to transform the former Salvation Army building on South Jackson Street in Moscow into offices for an unnamed high-tech company that plans to expand. Construction began in April. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Nez Perce and Asotin Counties

  • The Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport began a $7 million reconstruction of one of its two runways in late March. The Federal Aviation Administration is providing funds to cover all but $175,000 of the project’s costs. The runway’s surface has deteriorated so much that it was rated as poor, one step above failure, which requires closure. The project will replace the runway’s base and add taxiway lighting. The runway under construction serves the majority of the planes arriving and departing from the airport, including ones carrying packages for FedEx and United Parcel Service. The other runway primarily serves SkyWest, Lewiston’s only commercial passenger carrier. All planes that normally use the airport will be able to arrive and depart during the project, which is expected to be finished by June. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Tri-State Memorial Hospital in Clarkston has put about 80 employees on furlough for an unspecified length of time to compensate for the financial hit the hospital is taking because of the coronavirus pandemic. Like many hospitals, the shutdown of elective medical procedures, an important revenue source, has caused financial stress. The hospital emphasized that none of the employees lost their jobs and most of those who went on furlough did so voluntarily. Other people on the hospital’s staff of more than 600 will be taking one day off per pay period without pay. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Coronavirus has stopped the flow of cruise boats traveling the Columbia and Snake rivers from Portland to Clarkston. The season normally starts at the beginning of April. Passengers rose from 31,168 in 2017 to 78,166 in 2019, and the port expected to see further increases in 2020. The passengers spend money on hotels, meals, jet boat excursions, local wineries and the Nez Perce Tribe’s casino. Source: Port of Clarkston
  • Wine Press Northwest magazine named Clearwater Canyon Cellars its 2020 winery of the year. Clearwater Canyon Cellars is the first Idaho winery to win in the 19 years of the honor that chooses from more than 2,000 wineries in the Pacific Northwest. Clearwater Cellars won for the consistent, superior quality of their wines across several styles and for their work establishing the Lewis-Clark Valley American Viticulture Area. When the Umikers started the winery in 2004, they were at the forefront of a revitalization in a winemaking industry in the region that had been dormant since prohibition. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The internet took its toll on another print media staple in April. The Moneysaver, published weekly since 1973, closed its operations in Lewiston. The free want-ad newspaper originally was distributed only on rack stands in Lewiston and Clarkston. In 1977, the Moneysaver began building a private carrier system to deliver the papers to other towns and directly to homes, serving 11 counties in north central Idaho and southeastern Washington. In 1973, the Moneysaver began publishing the newly formed Multiple Listing Service for the Lewis-Clark Valley. Its print shop, which also closed in April, featured a staff of graphic designers, leading-edge digital presses and a wide-format printer for posters and vinyl banners. Source: Lewiston Tribune, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 799-5000 ext. 3984

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


  • Onion growers in southwestern Idaho and neighboring Oregon counties grow large onions, which are mostly used by restaurants and food services. With restaurant and schools across the U.S. shut down, demand has plummeted. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports Americans typically consume 14 million pounds of onions a day. In recent weeks, average daily consumption fell to 6 million pounds. USDA Market News reported the region’s colossal onions sold for $6 to $8 per 50-pound bag on March 13. A month later, they sold for $6 to $7. Year-to-date shipments as of April 13 were down 14.8 percent. In many cases, larger onions are being put into cold storage in hopes that they will sell later. When space is not available, farmers and distribution companies are plowing onions back into fields or dumping them. Source: Capital Press; Idaho Press
  • Saint Alphonsus Health System is issuing employees temporary furloughs due to the financial concerns of the coronavirus outbreak. The sustained loss of volume and increased costs associated with COVID-19 preparedness is outpacing its revenue along with a 50 to 80 percent drop in in inpatient and outpatient services, according to an announcement. As the hospital system has made operational changes that were necessary for the safety of their patients, colleagues and communities, it has resulted in significant unexpected costs, which could continue for the duration of the pandemic. Senior leaders, vice presidents and anyone ranked higher will take a pay cut while some employees’ schedules will be reduced to part time. Employees who are furloughed will be eligible for benefit continuation. All non-essential work will be suspended to focus on the COVID-19 priorities. The health system has expanded its telemedicine service. Source: Idaho Press
  • Eighteen Idaho businesses have collaborated their efforts to improve access to COVID-19 tests daily for Idaho essential workers. The goal of the Crush the Curve project is to test all workers deemed essential such as health care, grocery store and food service workers and delivery drivers. The Treasure Valley tests will be administered by Saltzer Health at its two Nampa location and remotely by arrangement at the workplace where appropriate. Positive tests will be sent to the state for assistance in tracing anyone else the person has had contact with. Residents can now receive either the test for COVID-19 or the antibody test regardless of whether they have symptoms of the disease or if they have been exposed to someone with it. Source: Idaho Press
  • Automobile traffic in the region dropped by 40.3 percent between March 6 and April 2. The average daily traffic in thousands of vehicles in Ada and Canyon counties on March 6 was 52.8, dropping to 31.5 on April 2. The Boise airport has noted a significant decline in passenger traffic upon observation and some anecdotal reports. April data is not available until mid-May. Idaho Business Review

Ada County

  • The Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy wants to remodel and expand the Falk & Co Building it owns in downtown Boise. The building was built in 1950 and was a warehouse for candy and tobacco for the one-time Falk ID retail chain. To suit the needs of the opera, a large interior portion of the main level will be opened up and heightened. The new taller portion will feature clerestory windows that will provide daylight to the rehearsal space. Source: BoiseDev
  • Intelligent Office held a virtual open house of its expanded space on the 14th floor of the Zion Bank Building. The company sells a variety of both physical and virtual office services for those who don’t need the staffing and overhead of full-time office space. The company offers phone answering and other administrative functions, offices by the day or month, conference rooms and mailboxes. The company began in 1995 in Denver and now has more than 60 franchises in the United States and Canada. The Boise franchise office opened in the fall of 2014. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • The Boise Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which is made up of Ada, Boise, Canyon, Gem and Owyhee counties, was the eighth fastest-growing MSA in the country. The Census Bureau released the 2019 population data in March and estimated 749,002 people lived in the metro area, an increase of 2.78 percent or 20,291 more people, from the previous year. Source: U.S. Census Bureau
  • The 11th Annual Boise Music Festival has been cancelled due to coronavirus health concerns. The festival was scheduled for June 17 at Expo Idaho. Organizers are working to find a new date to hold the festival. Source: KBOI News
  • Nashua Builders in Boise laid off more than 100 workers, most of its workforce, in late March. The company builds commercial, multifamily and other pre-fabricated buildings at its plant in Boise. The layoffs were due to adverse business conditions and a general downturn in business activity and orders for their products. Source: BoiseDev
  • TDS Metrocom, a business unit of TDS Telecommunications LLC, plans to build a fiber-to-home network in Meridian that will ultimately connect more than 57,000 homes and businesses in Meridian, Garden City and Boise. When completed, the fiber optic networks can deliver up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) internet speeds to homes and up to 10 Gbps internet speeds to businesses. Last fall, the company began building its 700-mile fiber optic network in northern Idaho. The company will hire four workers in the telecommunication field, including two outside residential sales representatives, a consumer specialist and a network specialist. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • In an effort to gear up for online school, Boise and West Ada school districts, the state’s two largest, launched a sizable communication effort in an attempt to map which of their 65,000 students had access to computers and internet at home, and who needed resources. More than 3,000 educator attempted to reach every household in the two districts. The West Ada district had at least 2,300 high school students without access to a computer with internet at home. In the Boise school district, some 6,000 students asked for a laptop so they can work from home. The Boise school district had quick access to 17,000 Chromebooks and planned to set up 500 hot spots. The West Ada district did not have enough devices to give out to every student with the priority to get laptops or hotspots to 2,379 high school students who needed them. Paperwork would be distributed to students in the lower grades who did not have internet access. Source: Idaho Education News
  • Boise School District received a permit to build a new school at the site of Valley View Elementary School on North Milwaukee Street in Boise. Valley View was built in 1969 and in 2016 was ranked as the worst elementary school in the district for educational adequacy. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Alder Industrial, an industrial real estate firm with a Boise office, is building two office and light industrial buildings off Eagle Road in Meridian. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • DbUrban Communities of Salt Lake City filed a permit to build a hotel in Meridian between North Eagle Road and East Franklin Road. The four-story building would include 153 rooms. DbUrban wants to rezone the land from industrial to commercial. The properties are owned by Alder Industrial, which hopes to develop the site into the hotel. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Boise State University is providing temporary housing for health care workers who do not want to return home to their families and risk exposing them to the coronavirus. The campus has residential capacity since most of the students have returned home. Source: Idaho Press
  • Boise State University’s Department of Respiratory Care faculty developed a variety of educational materials like video tutorials, instructions and documents to train contracted nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) to assist with ventilator management and care for COVID-19 patients, acting on a request from the Idaho Division of Public Health. Idaho Public Health and the Idaho Board of Nursing are disseminating the training modules to their health care partners locally and across the country. The Department also shared 14 state-of-the-art ventilators and other equipment with local hospitals to offset shortages. Source: Boise State News
  • Garden City’s City Council has approved a Las Vegas developer’s 7-acre apartment and hotel project, called the Boardwalk. The development would front the Boise River Greenbelt and include a nine-story, 148-room boutique hotel, in addition to two apartment buildings. The first phase is construction of a five-story apartment building with 237 units, underground parking garage, five commercial tenant spaces and a central plaza. The second phase will be a five-story, 38-unit apartment building. Last will be the hotel, which will include a restaurant, rooftop bar and retail spaces. Construction will depend upon the hotel industry’s recovery from COVID-19. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • The city of Boise is finalizing a 30-day, month-to-month lease with the empty Cottonwood Suites Hotel to house people experiencing homelessness and are sick with COVID-19 or are awaiting test results. The effort to use the hotel is a second state of a plan from the city and local homelessness nonprofits to keep those without a place of their worn safe during the pandemic. The 106-room hotel will cost the city $73,140 per month to rent. The city plans to seek reimbursement from either the state or federal government for the funds, but details of financial relief packages are still being finalized. Source: Idaho Press
  • The Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field will receive $18,930,039 from the Federal Aviation Administration to fund continuing operations and replace lost revenue resulting from the sharp decline in passenger traffic and other airport business due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. It is part of a $44.2 million aid package from the FAA to 36 airports in Idaho. The funds are available for airport capital expenditures, operating expenses, including payroll and utilities, and airport debt payments. Source: KMVT
  • Boise City Council approved purchasing up to 23 travel trailers from four area retailers to provide a safe place for operators of Boise’s water renewal facilities to shelter in place. Once ordered, the travel trailers will be delivered to the specific water treatment plant in 48 hours and be ready for an employee to stay onsite while they work to minimize their exposure to the disease. The water renewal facility needs staff with the necessary skill available 24 hours a day to keep the city sanitary. Source: Idaho Press
  • The U.S. Air Force announced in April that Boise’s Gowen Field would not get the F-35A jets in this round of placement. Truax Field in Wisconsin and Dannelly Field in Alabama will be the next locations for the jets. The fighter jets make significant noise and a draft environmental impact statement from the Air Force found that putting the mission at Gowen Field could make hundreds of homes unlivable. There are 272 households with about 665 people would regularly be subjected to noise as loud as a vacuum cleaner 3 feet away. Those people live on 446 acres near Gowen Field. Owyhee-Harbor Elementary School is one of the places within the acreage where sound would be near 65 decibels at an average point. The noise would even be louder on 74 acres closet to the airport that house 83 households. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • The Jesse Tree, a Boise nonprofit dedicated to helping families stay housed, received a $250,000 grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation to provide services during the COVID-19 crisis. The grant will provide rental assistance to 300 additional families this year. The donation will allow Jesse Tree to help people struggling with job layoffs or job loss and to stay housed. Source: Idaho Press
  • Kuna School District announced they would furlough 145 classified employees until the end of the academic year as it braces for funding cuts and holdbacks from the state. These include workers in food service, busing, school safety, attendance clerks, classroom aids, receptionists and secretaries. The temporary furlough doesn’t apply to teachers and administrators as they teach online and manage the shift to distance learning, Source: Idaho Press

Adams County

  • Tamarack Resort, the county’s largest private employer, closed the ski season on March 17, about four weeks earlier than it expected, because of the COVID-19 threat, putting 150 seasonal employees out of work. The resort gave them an extra week’s pay to help them adjust. Its 70 full-time employees remain on the payroll through the shutdown. Construction on the resort’s Village Plaza is expected to continue through the summer. Source: McCall Star News
  • The Council Municipal Airport is one of the 36 Idaho airports receiving part of a $44.2 million funding from the Federal Aviation Administration. It will receive $20,000. Source: Federal Aviation Administration

Canyon County

  • Koenig Distillery in Caldwell halted production of its potato vodka and is using the spirits to produce hand sanitizer for St. Luke’s Health Systems to distribute to its clinics and hospitals through the state. Between March 21 and April 3, Koenig packaged 2,500 gallons of hand sanitizer in five-gallon buckets. Volunteers repackaged it into bottles and labeled it for use. Source: Idaho Statesman & Idaho Business Review
  • Reyco Systems of Caldwell specializes in “ultraviolet germicidal irradiation,” which involves large racks and wands of ultraviolet light bulbs used in the food processing industry to sanitize raw materials. The technology kills microbes and bacteria, mold and yeast and viruses, according to a company representative. Reyco worked with the governor’s COVID-19 task force to donate than 20 pieces of equipment to hospitals across the state. Source: East Idaho News
  • Purple Sage and Fairview Golf Courses in Caldwell opened April 17. The city of Caldwell has put in place certain social distancing modifications at both courses. Clubhouses will be open for golf transactions and limited concession purchases. All other meal service is suspended. Source: KIVI

Payette County

  • Swire Coca-Cola began a 108,000-square-foot expansion to its production facility in Fruitland early this year. The Fruitland plant first opened in 1986. In addition to producing the Coca-Cola, the plant produces approximately 600 brands and package sizes, including Dasani water. Today, it produces up to 15 million cases per year, and distributes them in 13 states. In Idaho, Swire Coca-Cola has distribution facilities in Boise, Idaho Falls, Lewiston, Pocatello and Twin Falls. The expansion will double capacity by adding a third production line, which can bottle up to 1,500 12-ounce cans per minute. The expansion will create 20 to 25 new jobs. Source: Argus-Observer
  • The Payette School District plans to transition to four days a week this fall, with classes Monday through Thursday. The district says studies show no significant difference between four and five-day weeks when it comes to standardized assessments, while the benefits include reduced costs for the school district and improved student attendance. Source: Argus-Observer

Valley County

  • The largest employers in the McCall area — Shore Lodge and the Brundage and Tamarack ski resorts — closed in mid-March. Brundage Mountain Resort closed the ski season on March 17, more than a month early because of coronavirus concerns. Half of its 27 year-round began working from home. Some international employees on work visas are unable to go home due to global lockdowns, so Shore Lodge managers provided those employees free housing. Shore Lodge in McCall furloughed 180 employees after canceling reservations and closing its 77-room resort March 22. The company deferred rent payments for about 80 employees living in employee housing. About 30 year-round employees continued working to maintain resort infrastructure and prepare for the upcoming tourist season, Source: McCall Star News
  • Valley County residents filed more unemployment claims in the first four weeks of the coronavirus crisis than they filed in the previous two years combined. From March 15 to April 11, residents filed 882 unemployment claims. In 2018 and 2019 together, they filed 728. Leisure and hospitality workers filed 532 claims, and retail workers filed 83. Nationwide, those are the two sectors hardest hit by the economic shutdown. The crisis hit Valley County especially hard because those two sectors provided 43 percent of its nonfarm payroll jobs in 2019, while they provided 21 percent of U.S. jobs. Young adults (25 to 34 year olds) filed 30 percent of the claims, more than any other age group. The claimants make up nearly 16 percent of Valley County’s labor force prior to the coronavirus effects. Source: Idaho Department of Labor
  • The Federal Aviation Administration announced in April that it would provide $10 billion in funds to airports affected by the coronavirus-caused slowdown in air traffic. The McCall and Cascade airports will receive $30,000 each. Source: Federal Aviation Administration
  • Valley County has taken several steps to slow the spread of COVID-19. Pilots are advised that the McCall airport is open only to flights for essential travel, and planes will be turned back if they come for non-essential purposes. The county temporarily closed inns, RV parks and short-term rentals. Short-term rentals and hotels may only be used by essential personnel working in the region and quarantined health care workers under the statewide stay -home order. In early April, Valley County commissioners set May 15 as the soonest short-term rentals could begin renting to non-essential personnel again. Source: McCall Star News; Idaho Statesman
  • Hotels and short-term rental property managers report that reservations for May, June, July and even August are very low, as visitors are uncertain about how long the need for social distancing will make travel inadvisable. Source: McCall Star News
  • The Payette National Forest is making adjustments because of the coronavirus. Its 218 employees have all continued working, with the vast majority switching to telecommuting. As the forest hires smokejumpers and other seasonal employees, the new workers will be required to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival. The forest usually employs about 40 smokejumpers and 90 other seasonal workers. The Payette National Forest delayed the opening dates of campground and many popular recreation sites and suspended all recreational access to the waters within the boundaries of the Lower South Fork of the Salmon River. The closure will remain in effect until June 30, 2020. Source: CBS2 News; McCall Start News

Washington County

  • Weiser, known for its agricultural products, now has a new farm-to-table option. Kilee and Gabi Saldivar opened The Market by Flat Beer Farm April 17. Offering fresh food grown locally, it also offers vegetables from their own garden. The Market will provide opportunities for local producers to sell their vegetables, eggs, bacon, beef and homemade goods. The greenhouse will feature plants from local growers and wholesalers. On Mondays, their Harvest Baskets service will deliver products to people’s front doors. Source: Living in the News
  • The Weiser Municipal Airport is one of 36 Idaho airports receiving part of a $44.2 million funding from the Federal Aviation Administration. It will receive $30,000. Source: Federal Aviation Administration


    • Sears Outlet Store on Franklin Road in Boise. The retailer has combined its business with American Freight and is rebranded as American Freight.
    • Edward Jones, an investment company, is opening an office in a new building in Meridian., 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

  • Construction and landscaping resumed activities in Blaine County, Ketchum and Hailey on April 20 after Gov. Brad Little’s modification of essential businesses on April 16, Sun Valley’s re-opening of construction activities on April 11 and positive votes by county commissioners and city council members. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • A new trail was opened in Hailey connecting Lion’s Park to the Simons Bauer Preserve on 118 acres that includes a wetlands area with beaver, muskrat and myriad birds. It is a short trail that will eventually connect with the Hailey Greenbelt. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • Friedman Memorial Airport experienced a 50 percent drop in travel during March 2020 compared to March 2019. It experienced a 75 percent drop in arrivals to the airport when comparing partial data from April 2020 to the same period April 2019. Nationally, the drop in commercial airline activity is estimated at 97 percent. The airport believes by the end of April, a similar dramatic decline will be reported. The Federal Aviation Association awarded about $44 million funding to compensate for the COVID-19 crisis with Friedman receiving $18.5 million. Source: Idaho Mountain Express/ KMVT News

Cassia County

  • The Federal Aviation Administration awarded Burley Municipal Airport $30,000 to compensate for losses attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. The monies can be used for a variety of expenses such as ongoing operations, lost revenue from the decline in passengers due to travel restrictions, capital expenditures, payroll, utilities, and airport debt payments. Source: KMVT News

Gooding County

  • The Federal Aviation Administration awarded Gooding Municipal Airport $30,000 for relief from losses associated from the COVID-19 pandemic. This airport was originally built circa 1940’s by the military to serve as a back-up venue for pilot training at the Mountain Home Air Force Base. After World War II, it was the only airport in the region supported by United Airlines because of its status with the sole paved runway in the Magic Valley. Source: KMVT News and

Jerome County

  • The Federal Aviation Administration awarded $30,000 to Jerome County Airport to assuage some of the losses associated with COVID-19. The state received $44.19 million going to 36 Idaho airports. Source: KMVT News

Twin Falls County

  • L. Dean Fisher, Ed.D., was named the College of Southern Idaho’s new president in mid-March. CSI Board of Trustees narrowed down its selection to four finalists, breaking its tradition of promoting internally. He replaces President Jeff Fox who is retiring. Fisher currently serves as provost for SUNY Corning Community College in Corning, New York. He will assume his new duties July 1. Source: Times-News
  • Magic Valley Energy announced it will build a wind farm at the confluence of Lincoln, Minidoka and Jerome counties. The company estimates a build-out of approximately 200 wind turbines on a combination of Bureau of Land Management and state of Idaho lands. The start of construction is contingent on the Environmental Impact Report as normally required on public lands. It is estimated between 15 and 20 local jobs will be created when this infrastructure heavy construction projection is completed.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration awarded grants to both Joslin Field at the Magic Valley Regional Airport in Twin Falls and to Buhl’s Municipal Airport. Buhl received $20,000 while Twin Falls received about $1.2 million. Source: KMVT News
  • Castleford School District announced that it will revert to a four-day school week starting with the 2020-2021 academic year. Students will have Monday off, and school days will last 50 minutes longer Tuesday through Friday. The four-day school week impacts 330 students. Forty-four other school districts and four charter schools statewide have implemented a similar structure. In south central Idaho, smaller schools such as Bliss, Hansen and Gooding have all adopted this model. Castleford School District believes it will improve prospects for teacher recruitment and retention. There is limited housing available for teachers so many commute from Twin Falls — nearly an hour daily round trip. A community survey showed support for the shift. Source: Times-News


  • Itty Bitty Farms opened in Carey just a month before Blaine County had one of the highest rates of COVID-19 infections in the nation. The store sells fresh produce, baked goods and crafts. It opened, in part, to offer an alternative to the community for groceries and other items. The closest grocery store is in Richfield, 20 minutes away. Itty Bitty Farms also is selling locally made masks, paper products and other essentials. Source: Idaho Mountain Express, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 735-2500 ext. 3639

SOUTHEASTERN IDAHO – Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Caribou, Franklin, Oneida & Power counties and EASTERN IDAHO – Bonneville, Butte, Clark, Custer, Fremont, Jefferson, Lemhi, Madison & Teton counties

Bannock County

  • A communal workspace with key amenities to help small businesses thrive is in the works for old town Pocatello. Huddlle, which will encompass 25,000 square feet of combined space, received a $75,000 grant from Pocatello Development Authority to help with renovation costs. The high-end co-working space will comprise Huddlle North, located inside 123 N. Main St., and Huddlle West, based at 312 W. Center St. The partners hope to open Huddlle in early June. Clients will pay a membership fee ranging from $99 per month for basic business amenities to $300 per month for a deluxe package that also includes a small private office. Huddlle will also offer day passes. Source: Idaho State Journal

Eastern Region

  • The Idaho Falls District 91 school board has voted to extend the soft closure and continue remote learning through the end of the school year. The school board has also outlined an alternative plan to conduct graduation ceremonies in May. Ceremonies will be conducted at the Motor Vu Drive-In on North Yellowstone in Idaho Falls. Source: KIDK
  • The Behavioral Health Center at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center (BHC) recently completed a year-long renovation that increased inpatient acute beds by 39 percent. Bed availability for the adult program increased from 28 beds to 37 and the adolescent program increased from 17 to 25 beds. Source: East Idaho News
  • Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) is looking for a construction partner to help prove the value of new nuclear power reactor technology. The partnership would focus on developing technologies and procedures that could reduce the costs and scheduling of reactor projects. Those who express interest may be considered for future requests for proposals (RFP) that might follow. Battelle says the project will be an initiative of the National Reactor Innovation Center, which enables advanced reactor demonstration and deployment, is led by the INL. The work was authorized in 2018 and established by the Department of Energy last year. Source: KIDK

Bonneville County

  • Beard St. Clair Gaffney Attorneys announced plans to build a 14,500-square-foot-building on a 1.325 acre lot in Snake River Landing along Pier View Drive near Liberty Mutual, Bill’s Bike & Run and The Buckner Company. Construction is scheduled to begin next month. The law firm is the latest company to move into Snake River Landing. Last year, construction began on two new office buildings totaling roughly 75,000 square feet. The Falls Apartments in Snake River Landing is now leasing units following an expansion. Source: East Idaho News
  • Idahoan Foods saw a massive jump in sales last month and is immediately looking for 100 employees to join its team. Orders were up 250 percent in March, according to a news release, and the Idaho Falls-based company has introduced additional benefits and compensation for its 600 front-line operations and warehouse team members. Source: East Idaho News
  • Once people can attend movie theaters again, audiences will see changes at the Paramount Theater in Idaho Falls. Remodeling was already underway on all four auditoriums at the Paramount. With the new changes, the theatre would possibly need to hire more employees. Source: East Idaho News

Madison County

  • Creating Comfortable LLC plans to build a master-planned affordable housing community that bypasses the traditional home-buying route and puts the design and building process directly into the hands of homeowners. The proposal includes twelve 1,300-square-foot houses on a 2-acre parcel inside Sugar City’s Old Farm Estates subdivision. The cost per home would be about $120,000. Two people are committed to the project so far, but 10 more families are needed before it can move forward. Source: East Idaho News


  • BarberPop Shop in Rexburg
  • Jim Brook, DO, Family Practice in Idaho Falls, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 236-6710 ext. 4331