Information provided in these news updates is from professional sources, news releases, weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.
NORTHERN IDAHO – Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone Counties
- Coeur d’Alene internet provider Intermax Networks has expanded into the Spokane market by acquiring Telwest Inc., a Spokane-based telecommunications provider. Source: Journal of Business
- Kootenai County is on the shortlist of potential sites for a new manufacturing plant KORE Power – a battery manufacturer – is planning to build in the United States. KORE’s corporate operations are already located in Coeur d’Alene, but their manufacturing operations are currently in China. KORE plans to build a new plant in the United States which will employ roughly 3,000 people once fully operational. Source: CDA Press
- A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency highlighted the successful completion of a variety of cleanup projects related to the Bunker Hill Superfund Site and laid out plans for an additional $20 million in cleanup work and construction through the end of 2020. Source: CDA Press
- Northwest Softplay in Post Falls
- A&R Metalworks in Dalton Gardens
- Jitterz Espresso in Hayden
Coeur d’Alene openings
- CDA Marine Sports
- Camfit CDA
- Burger King
- Lean Kitchen
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
- Idaho moved into the fourth and final stage of its economic reopening plan June 13. All businesses could reopen, while safety protocols for various industries remained in effect. Non-essential businesses shut down March 25 when the state issued a stay-at-home order to reduce coronavirus spread. In Stage 1 of the reopening, which took effect May 1, about 90 percent of Idaho businesses could be open. Another 5 percent reopened when Stage 2 began on May 16. Under Stage 3, which began at the end of May, bars and movie theaters could reopen. The first phase of the reopening brought many north central Idaho residents back to work, as shown by unemployment statistics for May. Unemployment statistics always are for the week containing the 12th day of a month. About one in five north central Idaho residents who had been unemployed in April returned to work in May. The number of unemployed residents fell 20.6 percent from 5,713 in April to 4,537 in May. Despite the fall, about 3,100 more of the region’s residents were jobless in May than in March. Source: Idaho Department of Labor
Nez Perce Tribe
- The Idaho Community Foundation announced it would award a $25,000 grant to the Nez Perce Tribe from the state COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to address food insecurity through the distribution of food vouchers to help low-income families in need. Source: Lewiston Tribune
Idaho and Lewis Counties
- Quality Contractors LLC in Deary won a $9 million contract to build a headquarters for Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest in Kamiah. Construction will begin in this summer. The 15,000-square-foot building on U.S. Highway 12 will house about 70 workers when it opens in the fall of 2021. Source: Lewiston Tribune
- The Mountain View School District, based in Grangeville, declared a financial emergency after voters rejected a $3.9 million supplement levy in May. Before the election, the district said a levy failure would require a 29 percent cut in all programs. Idaho law allows a school district to declare a financial emergency if it meets certain criteria, which gives it more flexibility to renegotiate contracts with employees. The district’s budget for the upcoming school year is $417,000 lower than the 2019-20 budget because of the levy’s failure, a 1 percent holdback issued by Idaho Gov. Brad Little for the 2019-20 year and a 5 percent holdback for the 2020-21 school year. Budget reductions under consideration include furloughs for all staff, changes to insurance premiums, deferring the purchase of textbooks and curriculum, postponing maintenance and operations projects and delaying the purchase of new buses. To balance its budget, the school district used more than $4 million from a reserve fund generated by timber sales on federal forest lands. Source: Idaho County Free Press; Lewiston Tribune
- Voters in three local school districts approved one-year supplemental levies in the May election. The districts and the value of their levies were Nezperce School District, $445,000; Salmon River School District based in Riggins, $525,000; and Cottonwood School District, $325,000. Source: Lewiston Tribune
- Several construction projects are underway at the University of Idaho. A $1.6 million project involves refurbishing the facade of the Bruce M. Pittman Center and adding insulation. A $1.75 project is for making changes to campus roadways reserved for pedestrians. It will improve access for firefighters in the pedestrian mall between Memorial Gym and the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences. It also will limit vehicle access to a road in front of the Administration Building’s eastern entrance and make it pedestrian-friendly. Another $3 million will fund installation of turbines in the school’s steam plant. Currently, the plant produces steam under high pressure that goes through a series of pressure reduction valves as it travels to campus buildings. That results in a loss of energy. After project completion, turbine generators will replace the valves to reduce pressure and use the steam to generate electricity. That should save nearly $300,000 per year. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
- The University of Idaho expects to open Aug. 24 for the fall semester and offer most classes face-to-face. To allow social distancing, it will reduce class sizes for some courses or move classes to larger rooms. Dormitories, fraternities and sororities will reopen with reduced density. Source: Idaho Education News
- The University of Idaho lost more than $7 million in revenue by the end of June because of the coronavirus. Revenue losses mostly came from housing, dining, parking and summer programs. The school expects to receive $3.5 million in federal support to help offset revenue losses. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
- The University of Idaho already had reduced its base budget by $22 million before the pandemic. Now, the pandemic and a new holdback on state funding will lead to more budget cuts including program eliminations and mandatory furloughs. By the end of June, 112 U of I employees participated in voluntary separation and optional retirement programs. The State Board of Education at its June meeting approved the university’s operating budget for fiscal year 2021, a $14 million reduction from the current fiscal year. The budget does not include the latest 5 percent holdback for state funding. This fall’s enrollment may create further budget challenges. In a June survey, 3 percent of students said coronavirus-related financial issues might prevent their return this fall. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
- Washington’s public colleges, including Washington State University, are preparing for large budget cuts because of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. This spring, they lost millions of dollars in residence hall rents, meal plans, parking fees, conference revenue and sports tickets when they closed their campuses. Schools are uncertain about how many students will return this fall and anticipate reduced tuition revenues. In addition, they expect significant cuts in state funding. During the Great Recession, higher education was among the hardest-hit state agencies institutions in Washington. State funding per student fell 35 percent between 2007 and 2012. WSU officials are preparing for a 10 percent budget reduction. Budget cuts at the Pullman school will affect many Idaho residents by reducing retail activity in Moscow and causing unemployment or pay cuts for Idahoans who work at WSU or in Pullman’s retail and service sectors. Source: Associated Press; Moscow-Pullman Daily News
- The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality awarded a $6.4 million low-interest wastewater construction loan to the city of Genesee in May. The city will replace the collection system and improve the wastewater treatment system, including a new headworks facility, lagoon system and ultraviolet disinfection. Source: Lewiston Tribune
- The State Board of Education recently approved the University of Idaho’s plan to create an online Master of Arts program in teaching in secondary education. The program will help address Idaho’s teacher shortage. Source: Lewiston Tribune
- The Whitepine School District, based in Deary, received voter approval for a one-year supplemental levy of $880,000 in May. Source: Lewiston Tribune
- Pour Co., a craft beer and retail bottle shop, recently opened near the eastern edge of the U of I campus in Moscow. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
Nez Perce and Asotin Counties
- J.C. Penney announced in June that it will close its store at Lewiston Center Mall this summer. The company has had a store in Lewiston since 1911. This is the second anchor store the mall will lose, after Macy’s pulled out earlier this year. J.C. Penny is closing 154 stores nationwide, after filing for bankruptcy protection in May. After the closure, Lewiston will have no traditional department stores. About 40 people will lose their jobs when the Penney’s store closes. Source: Lewiston Tribune
- Clearwater Paper donated $38,000 to Lewis-Clark State College in May for the Schweitzer Career and Technical Education Center under construction in the Lewiston Orchards. The money will fund an engineering technology classroom, a millwright classroom and a breakout space for students. The new career-tech center, along with the 204,000-square-foot A. Neil DeAtley Career Technical Education Center at the new Lewiston High School next door, will provide expanded opportunities for local youth preparing for the workforce. Both centers will open in August. Source: Lewiston Tribune
- Redline Aviation recently moved from Missoula, Montana, to Lewiston with plans to expand. The company is building a 12,000-square-foot hangar at the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport. It’s the first tenant at a new development in the southern part of the airport. Redline stores and performs maintenance on single-engine aircraft tankers in addition to training pilots to fight forest fires from the air. Lewiston’s warmer climate will give the company more flying days for pilot training than in Missoula. Source: Lewiston Tribune
- Lewis-Clark State College has cut an estimated $5 million out of its budget for the coming fiscal year. Before the pandemic, the school already was struggling to reduce a $1 million budget deficit. To save money, the school implemented furloughs, imposed a spending freeze, reduced travel and offered early retirement. Over the past year, it cut 60 full-time positions from its staff of 450. The most recent round of cuts eliminated 25 positions. The college discontinued its associate degree program in engineering, its Kids’ College summer program and its continuing education programs in Grangeville, Orofino and the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley. The college eliminated its administrative management program, which trained students to be office managers or administrative executives. Source: Lewiston Tribune
- Port of Lewiston commissioners approved a $1.98 million budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. It includes $100,000 to design a dock for cruise boats. Estimates for the dock in a master plan are $5.06 million for one. In recent years, the Port of Clarkston has courted the cruise boat industry, while the Port of Lewiston has focused on serving as a cargo hub. The new dock would be built in the port’s 13-acre Confluence Riverfront Park currently under development. The park would also include an RV Park. The proposed dock would allow Lewiston to provide room for the boats Clarkston doesn’t have space for. The growth in cruise boat traffic is creating a need for additional berths. Source: Lewiston Tribune; Port of Lewiston news release
- The Port of Lewiston plans to spend $400,000 this year to expand its 35-mile fiber optic network that currently reaches downtown Lewiston, Normal Hill, Lewiston’s new high school, the Lewiston airport and nearby industrial districts, and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Lewiston. The port has been working for several years to provide reliable and redundant internet service. This year, the network will extend toward Clearwater Paper. Source: Lewiston Tribune; Port of Lewiston news release
- The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded Lewiston Transit a $1.4 million grant Friday to help it with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The city bus and dial-a-ride system will use the grant for cleaning supplies, masks and other protective equipment such as plexiglass driver shields and staff to perform cleaning tasks. It will fund construction of a secure fenced area at the Lewiston Community Center to protect city buses. It also will partially offset reductions in fare revenue because of declines in ridership during the pandemic. Source: Lewiston Tribune
- Washington State approved Asotin County’s application to move to Phase 3 of the state’s post-lockdown reopening plan June 10. Phase 3 allows restaurants to operate at 75 percent capacity and bars at 25 percent. Retail stores, libraries, museums and government buildings could open to the public. In Asotin County, many smaller restaurants did not reopen. The Quality Inn in Clarkston shut down its restaurant and lounge because they could only support four tables under Phase 3 rules. Asotin County officials are working to qualify for the final phase as soon as possible. Source: Lewiston Tribune; KLEWtv.com
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
- St Luke’s FItOne 2020 race will be a virtual event. The event will still feature a 5K, 10K and half-marathon, but instead of happening on one day, it will be spread out throughout a week, starting Sept. 18 through 26. Participants can either run on one of several courses race organizers will be creating throughout the Treasure Valley, or they can create their own course. Because the event is virtual, there will be no limit to the number of participants who can sign up. Source: Idaho Press
- The Boise City Council approved the closure of a section of Eighth Street most of each day to allow restaurants to expand patio seating to the curb. Pedestrians and cyclists will use the street rather than the sidewalk. This will allow businesses to have more room for customers and still follow the guidance on social distancing. Source: Idaho Press
- Black Box VR, a Boise-based virtual reality exercise product, is piloting a project with Eos Fitness, a gym chain. The pilot project was scheduled to open July 3 primarily in the greater Phoenix area, plus one in Oceanside, California. If the pilot project is successful, the goal is to expand into all its approximately 300 clubs. The Black Box VR installations would be staffed by Eos staff rather than Black Box VR employees.
- Ansots Basque Chorizos will open in downtown Boise in mid-July. This is a new venture for Dan Ansotegui who was the former owner of Bar Gernika and the Basque Market. The new venture will be part bistro, part caterer and part wholesaler. He plans on selling four versions of chorizos, along with pancetta, solomo and bacon. He will be supplying restaurants and grocers with the meat products, but also selling in bulk to in-store customers. The front of the store will be a bistro that will offer a modest menu of mostly house made Basque cuisine. Ansots will be located in the former Jenny’s Lunch Line space in the Pioneer Tent Building. Source: Idaho Statesman
- The Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission program, through the Idaho Department of Commerce, awarded Boise State University a grant of $248,083 to assist industry partner Pitch Aeronautics LLC with developing its cyclorotor drone and incorporating a thermography sensor system. Pitch Aeronautics’ products are intended to make it easier to use drones for difficult and dangerous maintenance work. Source: Idaho Business Review
- BodyBuilding.com has a new owner, the third in less than a year. The new owner is a Phoenix-based private equity firm, The Najafi Companies. The firm also owns stakes in The Phoenix Suns and Book of the Month Club. Source: BoiseDev
- West Ada School District will again include the two-year, $28 million levy on the August ballot. During the spring election, the levy received only 46 percent support, just short of a simple majority. The levy represents 5 percent of the district’s budget and is used to fund teaching positions and classroom instruction days. Source: Idaho Press
- Marvell Semiconductor, a large California-based semiconductor firm, will expand its Boise offices. The company leased the first and second floors of the Clearwater Building, which would provide space for up to 444 employees. Marvel has partnered with Micron Technology on several product lines and currently has a smaller space on Explorer Drive Source: BoiseDev
- Eagle-based Lamb Weston temporarily laid off 660 workers for about 90 days at processing plants in Washington’s Tri-Cities because of low demand for French fries. The company has not laid off workers in the two Idaho processing plants located in Twin Falls and American Falls. Source: Idaho Statesman
- Albertsons eliminated a $2 an hour pay raise for employees placed at potential risk for working through the coronavirus pandemic. The nation’s second-largest grocery chain will award in-store workers a separate “Appreciation Pay” bonus payment equal to $4 per hour for hours worked from March 15 through June 13. Workers will be credited with a minimum of 15 hours per week even if they worked less and will receive at least $90 a week. Source: Idaho Statesman
- Boise State University will reopen in the fall with a combination of in-person and online courses. The announcement was based on the most current information available but may change depending on factors that are out of the university’s control. Small classes will be moved to larger classrooms and large lectures will be reduced in size or moved to even larger rooms in the Student Union Building or other facilities. Students will leave the campus after Thanksgiving and complete the rest of their course work remotely to stop a potential spike caused by students traveling between campus and hometowns. The move-in process will be spread out over several days. Some employees returned to work the week of July 7 to focus on services that provide direct support for facility and students. Source: Idaho Press
- Ball Venture Ahlquist will build a five-story, 120-room Hyatt Place hotel in the Eagle View Landing subdivision. The facility will be worth $21 million and will include meeting areas, a pool and spa, an exercise room and a restaurant. Source: Idaho Statesman
- Micron Technology’s fabrication shop designed and built a shield that can be used by doctors and nurses as they insert ventilator breathing tubes to help COVID-19 patients breathe. The cube-shaped shields are made from a clear polycarbonate material. They function like an incubator for a newborn, which includes gloves that allow a health care worker to reach inside the clear box to insert the ventilator while still protecting them from any infectious material from the patient. These are used on top of traditional personal protective equipment such as masks, gowns and face shields. Nearly 60 shields have been distributed to St. Luke’s heath system and West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell. Source: Idaho Press
- Boise Airport passenger traffic was down 94 percent in April 2020 from April 2019 and 34 percent year-to-date according to the City of Boise airport statistics. In April 2020 there slightly more than 18,000 passengers compared with 304,600 in April 2010. In June 2019 there were an average of 71 scheduled departures a day. In 2020, officials estimate that number will be 31 which will be a sharp improvement from 18 in May and 29 in April. Delta Air Lines’ scheduled new service to Atlanta this summer and Alaska Airlines service to Everett, Washington, have been indefinitely postponed. Source: Idaho Statesman
- PillPack, an Amazon-owned online pharmacy, is planning to build a call center in Meridian, which would create 500 full-time jobs. The call center would be located at Overland and Eagle roads and is expected to open in 2021. PillPack customer service employees are trained to handle questions about insurance coverage, prescription refills and renewals, pharmacy service and billing. The company also has registered pharmacists on call. The hourly wages will start at $15 an hour with increases based on tenure and training. Source: Meridian Press
- IO, a Boise-based company, secured a large investment from Bessemer Venture Partners. Tackle.IO is a cloud software company that helps sellers make software available on cloud platforms. The company’s roots are in Idaho, with employees around the country. Source: BoiseDev
- Boise restaurateur Dave Krick hopes to launch a brewery concept in downtown Boise, but during the interim, he’s elected to start producing beers by the case under the name Works Progress Administration, or WPA, partnering with established local breweries to produce special varies with a charitable donation component. Lost Grove and Payette Brewing teamed with WAP to launch a City of Good beer. The pale ale will give all the proceeds toward the community effort that connects restaurant kitchens with people in the community in need of food. Lost Grove brewed the beer, Payette packed it and now customers can buy six-pack cans at Boise Co-Op or the two breweries. Another community-focused beer will be launched this summer. The goal is to build a physical brewing facility to Boise. Source: BoiseDev
- Bright Bank, formerly known as Alpine State Bank, is the first new bank in Idaho in several years. The bank opened in downtown Boise in the Hoff Building. It will also have branches in Meridian’s Fairview Village. The bank plans to start with five employers and eventually expand to around 20. Bright Bank is owned by the same parent company as Bank of Jackson Hole, based in Jackson, Wyoming, and Vast Bank, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Source: Idaho Business Review
- Concordia University School of Law in Boise said it will close permanently at the end of the summer term as part of the closure of Concordia University-Portland. The eight-year-old Boise law school had hoped to stay open through a transfer of the School of Law to Concordia St. Paul. The universities in February signed a letter of intent to transfer but were “unable to consummate the transaction,” according to a press release issued recently on behalf of the Boise law school. Concordia Law officials are working with officials from the University of Idaho to provide a plan to transfer students to UI’s law program. Officials are also looking for other schools to offer students multiple options for continuing their education. Source: Press Tribune
- A group intends to form a company to purchase Barber Dam and the Hydroelectric Project. The company, Barber Pool Hydro, wants to purchase the dam and its holdings to preserve the Barber Pool and Barber Pool Conservation Area, a 700-acre riverine landscape and one of the largest wildlife refuges in an American city. The Barber Pool Hydro project has no plans for the area beyond supporting the Barber Pool Conservation Area and clean energy/hydropower. Owned by Ada County since 1977 and operated by Central Rivers Power, the dam has had problems over the past few years including power outages. Source: Idaho Press
- The Idaho Botanical Garden in early June reduced staff due to the coronavirus, which has caused shrinking revenue and postponement of some major events. The garden will be open every day for the foreseeable future under new policies related to the pandemic. The garden is a private, nonprofit corporation that has no state or federal funding. Source: KBOI
- Boise School Board approved a fall reopening plan in June, providing the option for students to return to school for in-person learning or to enroll in the district’s online learning program. COVID-19 forced Boise to close all its school buildings and to transition to online learning in spring. To prepare for possible outbreaks next year, the district is purchasing laptops and iPads for all of the district’s 25,000 students. Students in the first through 12th grade will receive Chromebook laptops and kindergarteners and preschoolers will receive iPads. The district’s most recent back-to-school reopening plan can be found on its website at Boiseschools.org Source: Idaho Statesman
- Intuit, an international corporation with a location in Eagle, announced in June that it would cut 715 jobs across the company The company said it would hire 700 new roles in the future to “build the capabilities needed as we look ahead.” Intuit acquired Eagle – based TSheets in 2018, rebranded the campus and began to hire employees focused on products outside the core time-tracking product it acquired from TSheets. Local employees would be affected, but the numbers are not currently available. Source: KIVI
- Bogus Basin opened for summer operation June 26 and will be opened daily through Aug. 16., The resort transitions to weekends from Aug. 16 through October. Activities include the Glade Runner mountain coaster, summer tubing, scenic rides on the Deer Point and Morningstar chairlifts, bike rentals and gem panning. Bogus will be debuting its lift-served mountain bike park. Source: Idaho Statesman
- Pantera Market, a Hispanic grocer, opened its second Nampa store – the third for the Treasure Valley – in downtown Nampa in the former Furniture City store location. The market includes a retail area with grocery items, produce and meat, a kitchen and seating area for its restaurant and a bakery that supplies all three stores. It also includes a snack stand, Botanas Time.
- Nampa City Council voted to temporarily waive permit fees for catering, temporary parking and peddler’s licenses. The wavier is intended to help small business weather the effects of the pandemic. Restaurants will not have to pay catering permit fees or temporary parking permit fees for six months. Peddler’s licenses — carried by business such as food trucks and landscapers — had fees waived for three months. Business will still have to carry the permits but will not have to pay the associated fees. This will allow restaurants to service customers in public sidewalk areas and parking spaces outside their businesses. Source: Idaho Business Review
- The Nampa Police Department was awarded a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to advance community policing efforts by hiring additional personnel and reducing crime. The department was one of four in Idaho to receive the grant. The other three were Pocatello police, Twin Falls Sheriff’s Office and Salmon police. Source: Idaho Press
- The College of Idaho plans to start the fall semester one week early and end on-campus instruction by Thanksgiving to minimize travel and potential campus-wide exposure after the holiday. “Move-in day” for new students will occur over four days to minimize density and help maintain social distancing. Source: Idaho Press
- Northwest Nazarene University, located in Nampa, will begin classes one day earlier and end one week earlier than previously scheduled. Students moving into housing will be phased in. The changes were made for the health and safety of the students, faculty, staff and community. Source: KBOI
- Community Council of Idaho resumed some of its migrant and seasonal Head Start services June 10 for children ages 5 and under. The goal is to allow parents to return to work without having to worry about child care. Before the children get on the bus, their temperatures are taken, and multiple screenings are conducted each day. Source: Idaho Press
- St Luke’s Nampa Medical Center opened a new medical office building June 23. The new facility is located west of the main entrance to the hospital. Services include St. Luke’s Children’s general pediatrics clinic, St. Luke’s Children’s Center for Neurobehavioral Medicine, breast surgery clinic and non-oncology infusion clinic. Other St. Luke’s services that will move into the building include St. Luke’s Children’s cardiology clinic, Idaho Cardiology Associates and the Certified Midwives Program. Source: Idaho Press
- The Glenns Ferry Opera Theater opened under new ownership June 13 after some renovations. The 1914 building was also restored before the opening. Source: KMVT
- While many rodeos in Idaho and across the country have been cancelled, the Gem/Boise County Fair and Rodeo is still set for the last week in July in Emmett. Adjustments have been made to enhance the health and safety of participants and spectators. Events will be business as usual unless some unpredicted circumstances occur, then changes will be made. There will be a four-day carnival this year. Other new features are being developed to add to the 4-H and Future Farmers of America exhibits, a truck/tractor pull and two nights of rodeo. Source: Emmett Messenger Index
- Patrick Nauman, owner of Weiser Classic Candies, opened a 1950s-style ice cream soda fountain inside the Prescription Pad in Fruitland in May. Sweet Willy’s uses many Idaho products including ice cream from a dairy in Idaho Falls, root beer brewed in Boise and huckleberries, Source: Argus Observer
- Tamarack will host a special elopement ceremony for as many as 16 couples impacted by the pandemic. The resort has set aside Sept. 12 to host the weddings. The package cost $200 and includes a mountaintop ceremony, officiant, DJ, dance floor, cupcakes and a champagne toast. Each couple can invite up to 10 guests who can purchase a lift ticket to join the ceremony. Source: BoiseDev
- The City of McCall’s plan to renovate and expand its library failed to get enough backing from voters. About 64 percent of voters approved the measure, nearing the two-thirds supermajority required to pass a bond levy. A 20-year bond would have provided $6.2 million toward adding 12,000 square feet to the 4,000-square-foot library. Source: McCall Star News; KTVB
- St. Luke’s McCall resumed non-urgent services in late May, including elective surgeries, procedures, imaging and clinic visits in late May, as the COVID-19 shutdown was coming to an end. Source: McCall Star-News
- Wells Fargo announced in early June that it would not reopen its branch in downtown Weiser, which has been closed for 10 weeks because of COVID-19. Source: Weiser Signal American
- A proposed $6.5 million bond levy for Weiser Memorial Hospital failed in the May 19 election. The levy would have funded a new emergency room wing, providing more space for out-patient procedures, allowing consolidation of radiology services and adding a mental health holding area. Source: Weiser Signal American
- Grocery Outlet opened a new store in Nampa in June.
- Paddles Up Poké opened in downtown Nampa.
- Poke Vibes replace Paddles Up on McMillan Road
- Corner Hustle Neighborhood Bar opened in June 13 at the Eagle Clocktower business strip.
- Greenbelt Market in opened in Garden City, located on the Greenbelt pathway. It also serves as the office and headquarters for Greenbelt Magazine.
- Bliss, a wedding and event planning company, closed its warehouse and office on River Street in Boise and converted to conducting its business online.
- Crave Kitchen & Bar, after a soft opening, made its public debut June 22 in Eagle
- Boise Zoo partially opened June 22, but its playground, Small Animal Kingdom, Penguin Pavilion animal encounters in the Zoo Farm and Giraffe encounters are closed.
Cancelled or Closed
- The Western Idaho Fair for 2020 has been cancelled. The 4-H and Future Farmers of America participants will still show their animals and the livestock auctions will take place in the exhibition halls, which will allow more room for social distancing.
- Deathproof Coffee, which shut down in March, has permanently closed. The coffee shop was located on Fairview Avenue in Boise.
- After 28 years, Rockies Dinner on the Boise Bench closed.
- The Footbridge Tavern on Overland Road in Boise closed on March 19 because of the pandemic and will not reopen.
- Great Steak, one of the longest-running restaurants in the food court at Boise Towne Square, closed.
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
- Friedman Memorial Airport reported practically a 100 percent decrease in commercial operations in May that was alleviated by private aircraft usage and services increases. The net result was a four percent decline in overall operations. “In part because of the nicer weather last month, we saw a lot of smaller aircraft flying into the backcountry and pilots out training,” said Airport Manager Chris Pomeroy. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
- Hailey voters supported the local option tax (LOT) extension that was due to run out in 2030, extending it until 2050. Currently, Hailey imposes a 4 percent LOT on car rentals and lodging, a 2 percent tax on alcohol by the drink and a 1 percent tax on restaurant food, with 1 percent of the “car rentals and lodging” category allocated to Friedman Memorial Airport operations. Those levies have brought in about $6 million in revenue over the past 13 years. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
- The Valley Club reopened its North Nine course concluding a major two-year renovation project at the private golf and country club. The $7.5 million renovation replaced an aging irrigation system, expanded a pond reserving irrigation water and implemented a redesign that will be more attractive and competitive for the golf aficionados living or visiting the Wood River Valley, co-designed by Love Design and Beau Welling. Heritage Links was the general contractor. A special event will be held next summer to celebrate the 27-hole course and its improvements as originally planned before the COVID-19 outbreak. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
- The Limelight Hotel reopened its doors well into May after closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic mid-March. In the spirit of community need, the hotel through its Limelight Ketchum Community Fund and the Aspen Skiing Company Family Fund donated to the following four nonprofits who have been active in the Wood River Valley:
- The Hunger Coalition, $5,000
- The Senior Connection Meals on Wheels program, $5,000
- National Alliance on Mental Illness, $2,500
- The Crisis Hotline, $2,500
- The Idaho Transportation Department is gathering input on a proposed project to widen state Highway 75, between Elkhorn Road and River Street. Growth has caused congestion and plans are to rebuild the Trail Creek Bridge at the same time. The project is scheduled to begin in 2025.
- The Rock Creek Archers hosted its fourth annual weekend in June designed to showcase archery skills for all age groups from seniors to elementary schoolers. The event is called the Soldier Mountain Showdown with participants spending the weekend at Soldier Mountain, taking the chair lift to the top of the ski hill and hiking to the different courses that were set up in advance. Handcrafted buckles are awarded and each year the event attracts more enthusiasts. Source: Soldier Mountain and Rock Creek Archers Facebook sites
- Several food processing companies had employees who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus in the past few weeks. In late May, the South Central Public Health District confirmed 44 employees at the Ida-Beef meatpacking plant in Burley tested positive for COVID-19. At that time, Minidoka Memorial Hospital tested about 72 Ida-Beef employees, three of whom were tested for antibodies. Ida-Beef is one of the Magic Valley’s largest meatpacking plants, handling around 200 cows a day. Other food processors hit with COVID-19 spread included Rite Stuff Foods in Jerome, Fry Foods in Weiser and CS Beef Packers in Kuna. Source: Times-News
- The Almo Elementary School is shuttered starting this fall due to budget shortfalls and reduced enrollment figures. The action was considered in 2019 by the Cassia County Joint School District trustees until the community garnered $21,000 to subsidize the budget of $130,000. The eight kindergarten through 3rd grade students will spend 11 hours away from home daily due to the distance between their homes and the Raft River Elementary School. The Almo School will be maintained just in case 17 or more students enroll in subsequent years. The state of Idaho has nine schools with 10 or fewer students, including Almo. Source: Times-News
- Wendell’s two-year $1.2 million supplemental levy was renewed by voters with 59 percent support. Source: IDEDNEWS.org
- Bliss passed its 10-year, $500,000 plant facilities levy. Source: IDEDNEWS.org
- Patrons of the Jerome School District did not support the $26 million school bond to the super majority requisite — 62 percent voted in support. Funds would have been used to finance construction of a new elementary school. Source: IdahoEdNews.org
- A recent ribbon cutting marked the public opening of the Snake River Canyons Park. The park is located on the north side of the canyon benefiting both Jerome and Twin Falls communities. The park covers more than 6,000 acres, has been in the making for five years and offers a variety of activities for recreation. Source: KMVT News
- Moss Greenhouses, founded in 1952 as a family business, received the February 2020 Idaho Small Business of the Month recognition. The business, still run by the same family, is now the largest nursery in the state. Its scale allows it to provide plants, flowers and orchids to floral shops, grocery stores and garden shops across the Mountain West. Its name will reside in the Congressional Record of the U.S. Senate. Source: Times-News
- The Jerome Joint School District is shifting the delivery and content of its English-language learner program to address growing demand. It moved up to No. 6 in the state in number of students needing English-language assistance. Education Northwest, an outside consulting firm for English as a Second Language, provided a report to assist the school district with improving its delivery, access and outcomes. Source: Times-News
Twin Falls County
- The International Women’s Wine Competition recognized Holeinsky Winery’s Malbec with not only a gold medal, but also Best of Show award. The grapes were grown in the Buhl vineyard, processed, then aged for two years. The wine is currently found only at Snake River Grill in Hagerman, sold by the glass. Source: Times-News
- The second year of Chobani Scholars recipients were announced. The award covering four years of studies at the University of Idaho in its Animal and Veterinary program providing $20,000 annually is provided to four Magic Valley graduates. This year the recipients of the award include Narcisse Mubibya from Canyon Ridge High, Katlyn Scarrow from Kimberly High, Alicia Easterday from Lighthouse Christian School and Shaylyn Young of Jerome High. Source: Times-News
Virtual Farm Tour
- Magic Valley Dairy Days held in Wendell for the past couple of decades is canceled due to COVID-19 precautions. However, there is a virtual tour of the White Harvest Dairy Farm offered on Facebook. Dairy West, a Utah and Idaho promoter of dairy products and farming, produced this branded virtual tour found at facebook.com/UnbottleGreatness/live.
Business Under Construction
- Naz Kitchen, The House of Kabobs in Twin Falls
- Texas Roadhouse in Twin Falls
- 2nd South Market in Twin Falls, a food hall. It will be the home of three vendors: the Smokey Bone BBQ, Cloverleaf Creamery & Tacos Dona Vero.
- The Human Bean in Twin Falls.
- Java Express, a second franchise in Twin Falls for this drive-through coffee shop.
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
- Idaho State University plans to reopen for face-to-face classes on Aug. 17 but will shift to online final exams after Thanksgiving. ISU’s satellite campus in Idaho Falls is planning to make the same transition, which would likely be easier for the smaller location. Idaho State will move classes into larger meeting spaces to allow for social distancing. Some classes will shift to online or online-classroom hybrid models. University housing will reopen, according to a news release, “setting aside adequate space for self-quarantine if needed.” If coronavirus infection rates surge, Idaho State is prepared to shift back to remote learning. Source: Idaho Education News
- Commercial passenger flights will continue at Pocatello Regional Airport, as Delta Air Lines was declined permission from the U.S. Department of Transportation to suspend service in Pocatello. Delta is the only airline that has commercial passenger flights at Pocatello Regional Airport and had petitioned the U.S. Department of Transportation in late April to suspend service in nine airports, including the Gate City airport, as airline travel has significantly decreased amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Source: Idaho State Journal
- On June 2, the Pocatello Development Authority (PDA) board — responsible for administering the community’s tax increment financing districts — approved $420,000 toward power, gas and fiber-optic infrastructure to make an industrial business park at the former Hoku site. A pair of local businessmen operating as Portneuf Capital LLC have bought the 68-acre former Hoku site off of Kraft Road from PDA for $1.25 million, mentioning a data farm, a brewery and a company that builds ATVs as potential business tenants for the industrial park. Source: Idaho State Journal
- Construction is underway on a modern, state-of-the-art assisted living center in Pocatello. Located on the corner of Hawthorne Road and Snowbird Avenue, the $1.1 million facility will become the fifth building in the area for Elegant Residential Living, which is being built by Inkom business partners. Construction on the new 32,000-square-foot assisted living center began a little over two months ago and is expected to reach completion sometime in the fall. Source: Idaho State Journal
- A proposed Frigitek project at the Pocatello Regional Airport is likely to break ground this summer. The project is being planned by Lionchase Holdings, a private equity firm in Washington, D.C. It will include refrigerated, dry and freezer warehouse space and pre-cooling and packing facilities to serve food processors, food shippers, freight handlers and agricultural producers. On April 15, Pocatello Development Authority board ratified an owner participation agreement with Frigitek, authorizing about $4.5 million in payments to support the project. The board has already approved $115,000 toward surveying and construction management for Frigitek, authorized during a May 20 meeting. The board will also consider approving more than $180,000 in funding toward engineering of the proposed project. Source: Idaho State Journal
- Local leaders are mulling a new tax increment financing (TIF) district to entice development within an underutilized stretch of South Fifth Avenue. Pocatello Development Authority, which administers the community’s TIF districts, voted Wednesday morning to hire someone to conduct a study into the feasibility of a new TIF, the ideal size, how it should be configured and whether or not it would generate a sufficient tax increment to cover investments in infrastructure. Source: Idaho State Journal
- Discount home goods retailer Tuesday Morning filed for bankruptcy, blaming COVID-19 for prolonged store closures that caused an “insurmountable financial hurdle.” The Dallas-based chain said it will permanently close approximately 230 of its nearly 700 U.S. stores in cities where “too many locations are in close proximity.” The stores in Idaho Falls and Pocatello are among the 230 locations that are closing. Source: KIDK.
- Itafos, owner and operator of several Idaho phosphate properties, posted a 135 percent increase in sales volume from its Itafos Conda subsidiary during the first quarter 2020 compared to first quarter 2019. Despite the increase in sales volume, Itafos Condo posted a first-quarter net income of $955,000, which is an 82 percent decrease year-over-year, and an adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $8,295,000, a 28 percent year-over-year decrease. The drop in earnings is tied to the international market for phosphate-based fertilizer, where prices declined steadily throughout 2019 and did not rise in the first quarter of 2020. The price drop was the result of bad weather in North America in 2019, which shortened both the spring and fall windows for fertilizer application and led to less acreage being planted. Coupled with weak demand in international markets, these factors led to a global oversupply and the lowest prices in 13 years. Because of the weak market driving slender margins, Itafos idled the Arraias mine in Brazil until the fertilizer market recovers. Itafos is still pursuing the permit process to begin mining on its Husky-1 and Dry Ridge claims in the Caribou Range. Opening these two properties for mining will extend the life of Itafos Conda’s southeastern Idaho operations. Source: Idaho Business Review
- Cakes and Shakes food truck in Pocatello
- SodaShak in Chubbuck
- The Rooftop Bar in Lava Hot Springs
- ATCO Structures and Logistics in Pocatello
- Tuesday Morning discount store in Pocatello
Esther.Eke@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 236-6710 ext. 4331
EASTERN IDAHO – Bonneville, Butte, Caribou, Clark, Custer, Fremont, Jefferson, Lemhi, Madison, & Teton counties
- The U.S. Department of Energy will invest $65 million in nuclear technology advancement, and Idaho National Laboratory is expected to be one of the beneficiaries of that spending. The $65 million will go toward nuclear energy research, cross-cutting technology development, facility access and infrastructure awards for 93 advanced nuclear technology projects in 28 states. University-led nuclear energy research and development projects will receive the largest portion, with $55 million going toward their programs. Source: Post Register
- Battelle Energy Alliance is starting a grant program to help local small businesses, many of which have been hit hard by the shutdown and economic slowdown that have accompanied coronavirus. The partnership with Idaho Falls’ Small Business Development Center will deliver grants of $2,000 to $4,000 for up to 50 local small businesses to aid in their recovery. To be eligible, a business must be in eastern Idaho; have annual sales of $5 million or less and have had 50 or fewer employees on March 1; have been in business for more than a year; and have scaled back, such as by laying workers off or cutting their hours, closing or cutting hours of operation, during the pandemic. Source: Post Register
- The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission accepted Oklo Inc.’s application for review for its proposed nuclear reactor on Idaho National Laboratory property. The California-based company is now one step closer to moving forward with its plans to develop the first commercial reactor to generate power while reducing nuclear waste. The application was first submitted in March. Source: Post Register
- Idaho Business for Education, a coalition of business leaders who want to improve education in Idaho, announced last week more than $260,000 in contributions to an Internet for Students Emergency Fund. The largest single donation was $100,000 from the country of Qatar. Idaho Business for Education also highlighted numerous contributions from its members, including $75,000 from the Micron Foundation, $25,000 from the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation and $20,000 from Idaho National Laboratory. Source: Post Register
- The new Costco construction has not experienced any delays due to the coronavirus and is on track to open in 2020.The 150,000-square-foot store, which will include a retail warehouse and a 15- to 30-pump fueling station, will sit on approximately 18 acres of land at the northwest corner of East Lincoln and Hitt roads on a piece of land annexed by the city in 2018. Construction began in September, at which time the company announced it expected to open in August 2020. Costco representatives declined to comment on whether it still expects to meet that timeline. Source: Post Register
- College of Eastern Idaho and the two university satellite campuses in Idaho Falls have begun rolling out plans for how they will return to classes this fall. The college has faced budget issues over the last few months, with the school estimating a $500,000 loss this year for cleaning and new equipment. Early enrollment numbers for the fall, however, are up by around 9 percent over this time last year. The school has also seen a spike in popularity in the online summer classes it is offering. The number of students enrolled at CEI over the summer increased from 399 last year to 598 this year, and the number of credits those students took jumped up by more than 70 percent. Source: Post Register
- The Shilo Inn on Lindsay Boulevard has gone into foreclosure and will be put up for public auction. The sale will take place at 2 p.m. on Aug. 11 in the offices of Alliance Title & Escrow Corp. in Idaho Falls. Other locations in the area have been sold to other hotel franchises, including the Shilo Inns in Salt Lake City, Coeur d’Alene and Twin Falls. Source: Post Register
- Pier 1 announced that it would be permanently closing all 540 remaining stores – including its Idaho Falls location – and going out of business. The Fort Worth, Texas-based company known for its home décor was unable to find a buyer after filing for bankruptcy in February. At the start of 2020, Pier 1 had approximately 1,000 locations. The company then closed 450 after the initial bankruptcy announcement. Source: Post Register
- The Tuesday Morning home goods store on East 17th Street will be closing as the Dallas-based company files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The retail chain announced the closing of 230 of its nearly 700 stores. The Tuesday Morning corporation is just the latest in a series of retail giants to fall during the pandemic. Others include Gordmans, Pier 1, J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus and J. Crew. Source: Post Register
- Idaho Falls Fiber has announced reduced prices and new areas for the city’s high-speed fiber network. As of late June, the connection charge dropped from $30 to $25. The connection charge coupled with network provider costs means a total of $59.99 per month for internet through the fiber network. Prices could continue to drop as the network is expanded. Source: Post Register
- This year’s Braun Brothers Reunion festival in Challis is the latest victim of the coronavirus pandemic. In a news release, Braun family members announced that the three-day outdoor music festival has been canceled. The reunion has sold out for the past several years and brings an estimated 3,000 people to the community each summer. This is the first time a Braun Brothers Reunion concert has been canceled since the event began in 1979. Source: Challis Messenger
- According to Jefferson County Planning and Zoning, the county continues to see a rise in building permits and revenue despite being in a COVID-19 world. For May, the office saw 39 percent more requests for inspections; and June permits from June 1 to June 5 were up 71 percent from the same period in 2019. In the fiscal year, starting in October 2019 and currently up to June, the county is up 12 percent in permits as well as in its cash flow. Source: Jefferson Star
- Brigham Young University-Idaho and the other universities in the BYU system are turning down almost $54.2 million in federal funding that they could have gotten under the federal coronavirus relief bill. The institution believes they can assist their students without the CARES Act funds. Idaho’s public colleges and universities will get a combined $36 million under the CARES Act. Locally Idaho State University will get a little more than $7 million and the College of Eastern Idaho will get almost $1 million. Source: Post Register
- MOD Pizza in Ammon. The Ammon location has hired 22 new employees.
- Pier 1 imports in Idaho Falls.
- Tuesday morning discount store in Idaho Falls.
Esther.Eke@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 236-6710 ext. 4331