Around Idaho: Economic Activity in August 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 Idaho
Eastern Idaho


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

Bonner County

  • Tamarack Aerospace Group, which successfully emerged from bankruptcy this year, is expanding its operations by adding a hanger and additional office space in Sandpoint, as well as a new facility in the United Kingdom. The new hanger space will be used for the installation of Tamarack’s fuel-efficiency boosting jet winglets. Source: Journal of Business

Kootenai County

  • Construction is underway on a new five-story, 62-unit apartment complex in Coeur d’Alene’s Riverstone development. Completion is anticipated for fall, 2021. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • Coeur d’Alene City Council voted to demolish two abandoned hotels in the city. The hotels were acquired by the city in a land swap with the local charity organization St. Vincent de Paul. A new use has not been confirmed for the land currently occupied by the hotels, but public parking and a pocket park have been suggested by the city’s planning officials. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • Public schools in Coeur d’Alene have pushed back the start of school to Sept. 14 and will begin with a blended learning approach that combines online learning with classroom time. Students will attend school in person on alternate days (determined alphabetically by last name) to halve classroom size on any given day. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press

Openings – Coeur d’Alene

  • LunchboxWax
  • Spice & Tea Exchange Tea Bar
  • CAL Cars
  • Good Time Tap Room
  • Vapor Lounge
  • Engel & Volkers Luxury Real Estate
  • Sweet Treats Frozen Yogurt

Openings – Post Falls

  • Select K9 Resort
  • SWEET Pea Imagery
  • Bluegrass Baby Boutique
  • India House

Openings – Hayden

  • Voltage Studios, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 457-8789 ext. 4451

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


  • Harvest began this year as normal in late July in the river valleys and then a couple of weeks later on the Camas Prairie and the Palouse. It will continue into September at higher elevations. Yields for wheat are above normal, which makes up somewhat for low prices. Soft white wheat, the main type grown in the region, has been selling for about $5.50 per bushel at Portland. That’s about one dollar below the break-even price that would cover all production costs. The weak dollar, which is near its lowest levels in the last 10 years, should help boost exports. Nearly 90 percent of the Pacific Northwest wheat crop is exported. The pandemic increased demand and prices for pulse products — lentils, dry peas and beans. The major exception to demand is garbanzo beans, which was the pulse “star” until two years ago when overproduction and tariff issues resulted in lower prices. Yields for peas and lentils this harvest are considerably higher than normal.  Relatively low prices for diesel have helped farmers this year. Source: Lewiston Tribune; Capital Press; Spokesman-Review
  • The U.S. Economic Development Administration awarded $400,000 in CARES Act funds to the Clearwater Economic Development Association (CEDA) to prevent and respond to economic injuries caused by coronavirus. The funds will be used over the next two years for economic development, assessment of economic problems caused by the coronavirus crisis and technical assistance to highly impacted local governments, businesses and other stakeholders. CEDA’s technical assistance activities will focus on broadband, workforce development, economic development centers and business support. The pandemic has spotlighted the need for a robust telecommunication system for telehealth, education and access to goods. CEDA will work with municipalities, providers and others to coordinate planning, development and implementation of broadband and networking infrastructure. CEDA staff will work with industries and businesses to identify new or modified skill requirements and serve as a conduit to education and training resources to develop post-pandemic talent pipelines. Source: CEDA in Motion
  • CEDA has deferred loan payments for its borrower who participated in its loan program for small businesses, who were facing reduced revenues and profits because of the pandemic. Payments on loan could be deferred up to four months. Businesses with essentially normal operations have continued to repay loans as agreed. Source: CEDA in Motion
  • The U.S. Economic Development Administration awarded CEDA a $910,000 grant to fund loans that help north central Idaho businesses and communities recover from the coronavirus-caused economic crisis. The loans will assist small businesses with projects that demonstrate strong potential to positively impact the local economy. CEDA hopes to attract applications for projects that contribute to local economic resiliency through innovation, capitalization on emerging business opportunities and/or adapting to “new realities” of doing business. Source: CEDA in Motion

Idaho and Lewis Counties

  • An immense rockslide blocked Idaho’s main north-south arterial July 3, and it was a month before travelers could return. Idaho Transportation Department opened a temporary road around the rockslide on U.S. Highway 95 six miles south of Riggins at the beginning of August. The two-lane bypass is open 24 hours a day. ITD plans to hire a contractor to remove the massive boulders that block the highway soon.  Source: Lewiston Tribune
  •  Winchester, the town on Winchester Lake about 35 miles south of Lewiston, is working on revitalization projects to enhance its appeal to tourists and bolster community spirit. Founded as a company town by Craig Mountain Lumber Co. in 1909, the town lost economic vitality after the mill closed in 1965. Today, its largest employers are Lakeside Assisted Living and Winchester State Park, and most adults who aren’t retired work in Lewiston, Craigmont and other communities. Downtown now features large planters full of flowers and an 80-foot-by-10-foot mural celebrating the town’s history. It also contains a new gift shop and a wedding venue. Among the recently remodeled businesses are Winchester Lake Lodge, Winchester Kitchen and Bar and the Lake City Inn. The town’s appeal has drawn new residents in recent years. Its population increased 30 percent from 343 in 2010 to 443 in 2019, according to the Census Bureau. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The largest wilderness area in the Lower 48 states, Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, celebrated its 40th birthday in July. The wilderness designation protects 2.3 million acres in central Idaho including nearly all the Middle Fork of the Salmon River drainage and much of the Main Salmon River. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • One hundred years after laying the cornerstone for its historic building, the Monastery of St. Gertrude plans a $2.3 million remodel of its 70-year-old annex where the Benedictine sisters live. Work will begin in November and last about six months. The renovations will create an energy-efficient residence for those who live at the monastery and coordinate ministries, serving 20,000 guests, artists and retreat participants each year. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest is making repairs on a 34-mile stretch Lolo Motorway, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The project will improve drivability for the average SUV while retaining the rugged nature of the road by repairing damage caused by stormwater runoff, reconditioning the driving surface and replacing culverts. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The family of Ted Wilkins celebrated its Idaho Century Ranch designation in July at the homestead 13 miles west of Grangeville. The designation recognizes a ranch that has remained in a family for at least 100 years. The current owner’s grandfather started the ranch 117 years ago. Today, the Wilkins raise beef cattle and grow wheat, barley, oats, timothy, alfalfa and canola on the 1,020-acre ranch. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • The Tire Guy, which started in Cottonwood in 2017, opened its second store in August on Pine Street in Grangeville. The store, owned by Ryan and Heather Uhlenkott, offers a wide variety of tires, batteries and related services. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • St. John Bosco Academy, a Catholic K-12 school near Cottonwood, broke ground on a new wing in August. It will house three classroom, a larger child care center and a larger chapel. The school, which has more than 80 students, expects the new addition will open in November. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • Dr. Kim Wolfrum opened Tolo Veterinary Clinic at the USDA building on U.S. Highway 95 in Grangeville. Source: Idaho County Free Press

Latah County

  • The University of Idaho started classes Aug 31, offering 25 percent of its classes completely in person and 30 percent completely online, while the remaining 45 percent is a hybrid of both. After the Thanksgiving break, all classes will be online only. All students must test negative for coronavirus before they can attend classes. The school is partnering with Gritman Medical Center in Moscow to test students, faculty and staff. Enrollment on the Moscow campus appears to be about 4.4 percent lower than last fall’s 9,328. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News; Idaho Statesman; Idaho Education News
  • Activity at the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport is rising from its April low, when the pandemic reduced the number of passengers to 579. In June, more than 2,000 passengers traveled. In 2019, more than 5,800 passengers traveled in the average month. With increasing activity, Alaska Airlines added a second direct flight per day to Seattle at the beginning of August. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • Washington State University will not offer face-to-face classes this fall. All undergraduate courses will be delivered at a distance because of rise in COVID-19 cases in Washington and nationwide. Students who will be allowed to live on campus include those whose scholarships require it, international students and students who do not have a work study to pay for college. Last fall, nearly 21,000 students took courses at the Pullman campus. The tremendous reduction in WSU students living in Pullman will hurt retailers, restaurants, bars and other businesses in Pullman and Moscow. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • Coronavirus concerns led to the cancellation of the football season at both the University of Idaho and Washington State University. That will negatively affect motels, restaurants and retailers in the Moscow-Pullman area. Source: Spokesman-Review
  • New Saint Andrews College, a private college in downtown Moscow, started its fall semester Aug. 17. It has taken several steps to protect the health of its 200 students and its staff. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • School districts in Latah County have made adjustments for this school year to respond to COVID-19 conditions. The Moscow School District will begin the school year with a hybrid instructional model and delayed the beginning of formal instruction until Sept. 14. to give it extra time to observe the effect returning college students will have on disease trends in the fall. The district adopted an AABB model where two groups of students, labeled A and B, attend class in person on different days. Group A will attend classes in person on Monday and Tuesday, and Group B will attend Thursday and Friday. The Potlatch district will follow a hybrid instructional strategy similar to the Moscow School District. It moved its first day from Aug. 24 to Sept. 8. Three other rural school districts — Troy, Kendrick-Juliaetta, and Whitepine, which serves Bovill and Deary — plan to return to in-person instruction for the fall semesters, which started at the end of August. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Nez Perce and Asotin Counties

  • The Lewiston School District held ribbon-cutting events Aug. 14 for its new high school and A. Neil DeAtley Career Technical Education Center on Cecil Andrus Way in the Lewiston Orchards. A $59.8 million bond measure approved in 2017 led to the construction of the 200,000-square-foot high school, which replaces the 92-year-old school in Lewiston’s Normal Hill and the 40,000-square-foot career technical education building. The new school’s gymnasium can seat up to 2,000 people. The P1FCU Performing Arts Center, also in the main high school building, contains an orchestra pit and can seat up to 1,000 people. It’s surrounded by dressing, band and choir rooms. The new high school will include ninth graders as well as 10th through 12th graders. About 1,400 children are attending this fall. Source: Lewiston Tribune; Idaho Business Review
  • The new high school’s career technical center will serve 14 school districts in north central Idaho, providing training in business skills, health occupations and the trades for school districts from Grangeville to Potlatch. The new skills center is named after A. Neil DeAtley, a prominent businessman and philanthropist whose family made a $2 million donation to the skills center in 2018. It also received d funding through a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, which helped purchase state-of-the-art equipment. The skill center includes five computer-equipped classrooms for business and communications skills, lab spaces, hospital beds, simulation mannequins for health occupations, kitchens, lathes, CNC machines, robotic arms and equipment for construction and auto mechanic trades. In January, Lewis-Clark State College will open its new career technical center currently under construction next door to the high school’s center. That will make it easier for high school students to start earning certificates or associate degrees from the college. Source: Lewiston Tribune; Idaho Business Review
  •  Federal agencies announced in late July they will pursue salmon and steelhead restoration efforts that keep the lower Snake River dams in place. The Army Corps of Engineers, Bonneville Power Administration and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released a 5,000-page assessment of the environmental, social and economic costs and benefits of operating the 14-dam Columbia River hydropower system. Environmentalists and Native American tribes, including the Nez Perce Tribe, have advocated breaching four dams on the Snake River in eastern Washington saying free-flowing water would boost survival of salmon and steelhead. Breaching would carry economic costs — reducing regional hydropower generation — therefore increasing electricity costs — and eliminating cargo and passenger ships from the Tri-Cities to Clarkston and Lewiston. The federal agencies plan to spill high volumes of water at the dams during the spring and early summer when juvenile fish are moving downstream. Increased spill speed should reduce travel time for juvenile fish and help them avoid turbines and the fish bypass systems that have been linked to higher mortality rates. Dam advocates welcomed the non-breach approach, saying it will preserve a low-carbon source of electricity and also continue to provide farmers with an economical way to get their crops to market. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Lewiston’s newest manufacturer, Tsceminicum Bottling Company, became fully operational in August. “Tsceminicum” is a Nez Perce Tribe word for “meeting of the waters,” the term used for the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers where the bottling facility is located. It bottles water from an artesian well at its plant recently built on Colonel Wright Way in a Port of Lewiston business park. Its Artesian Fusion brand water in aluminum and biodegradable plastic bottles will be available in regional grocery stores and distributed through Idaho Beverages (Pepsi) to various retailers. The new business provides eight full-time and two part-time jobs. Source: Port of Lewiston Newsletter
  • Lewis-Clark State College will offer 70 percent of classes in person or in a hybrid format. The other 30 percent will be online only. All classes will be completely online after Thanksgiving. Enrollment this fall looks likely to be 6 to 7 percent lower than last fall’s 3,748. Source: Idaho Statesman; Idaho Education News
  • Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) broke ground in August on a health and well-being center near its Lewiston plant. The expansion will allow the addition of physical therapy, mental health counseling and a fitness center when it opens in mid-2021 for SEL’s employees and their families. A nurse practitioner and registered nurse work at the Lewiston clinic offering primary care. SEL manufactures products to protect, control, monitor and automate electric power systems. It employs over 600 people in Lewiston. Source: Lewiston Tribune;
  • The Port of Lewiston’s budget for the fiscal year that began July 1 includes a $785,000 investment in expanding its fiber optic network. The port already has installed roughly 37 miles of fiber optic cable in several area in Lewiston and now plans to expand service toward Clearwater Paper. Access to high-speed internet is vital for economic development, education and medical facilities. The port also plans to spend $100,000 to develop its Confluence Riverfront Park, which will contain an RV park and allow the port to host cruise ships. It also will invest $45,000 to improve rail service at the port. Source: Port of Lewiston Newsletter
  • SkyWest added a third daily round flight to and from the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport starting Aug. 2. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • St. Joseph Regional Medical Center is shifting its business office services — including billing — from Lewiston to LifePoint Health Business Services Center in Pennsylvania. Up to 20 employees will be affected. They will be offered severance and retention packages as well as outplacement assistance. They also will be eligible to apply for other positions at St. Joseph’s or at the business services center in Pennsylvania. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • After its renovation, the façade of the Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts & History on Lewiston’s Main Street will look like it did after it opened as the Vollmer Great Bargain Store in 1884. It served as the First National Bank of Lewiston from 1904 to 1946, then the First Security Bank until 1989. The college acquired the building in 1991 for its current use as a community center for arts and culture. The state appropriated $679,000 for the project. Talisman Construction Services of Spokane is making the renovation, which started in April. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  •  A Lewis-Clark State College program serving first generation, low-income students has been discontinued after the college was informed its 5-year federal grant was not renewed. The TRIO Student Support Services program, which the school started 32 years ago, assisted about 165 students a year. The program offered academic and career advising, and taught studying and time management skill. Students in the TRIO program had higher overall retention and graduation rates than the college’s overall average. The funding expired Aug. 31, leading to the elimination of three academic advisers and a loss of scholarships. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • A new Stinker Store is under construction on Frontage Road in Lewiston. The 4,000-square-foot convenience store with six pumps is expected to open by early October. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Southeast Washington Economic Development Association will provide grants to small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Up to $250,000 has been earmarked for Asotin County businesses that qualify for the funding. The grants, funded by the federal CARES Act, typically range from $5,000 to $20,000 to help struggling businesses with 20 or fewer employees. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The Lapwai School District postponed the start of its school year from Aug. 26 to Sept. 8 to adjust for being in the yellow category of the Idaho Back to School Framework. Schools in the yellow category — communities with higher danger of community transmission of COVID-19 than those in the green category can open – can open buildings by implementing physical distancing guidelines. In the red category, classes are permitted only by distance learning. About 520 students are enrolled in the district. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The Lewiston School District — with roughly 4,800 students — reopened for in-person classes in the green category. The start of the school year was pushed back from Aug. 26 to Aug. 31, allowing teachers more time to implement COVID-19 safety protocols in their classrooms. 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 

Ada County

  • The Meridian City Council approved a proposal for a planned community with the construction of the first few hundred homes and amenities within the Pinnacle in southern Meridian. Brighton Corporation’s master plan includes the homes, two schools, a dozen commercial sites, pathways, an amphitheater, a pool and community center. This will cover four corners of an intersection on 400 acres of farmland and the first two subdivisions will be Apex Northwest and Apex Southeast — 357 homes on 124 acres.  Source: Idaho Press
  • Ada County’s housing market set records for July. Sales on homes that had closed numbered 1,402 – a 16-year high – while pending sales surpassed the 2,000-home milestone. The median sales price bumped up to $399,000 – an increase of $50,000 from July 2019.  The statistics have been tracked since 2004. At the end of July, only 337 existing homes were on the market while 416 newly constructed homes were for sale. The consensus is demand outpaces supply. Source: Idaho Press
  • Boise Mayor Lauren McLean kept property tax collections flat this year and services maintained, although COVID-19 has brought its share of added expenses to local government. The expected employee merit raises of up to 3 percent has been part of the Boise budget since 2014. The merit raises have been reduced this year as McLean sought to balance the budget without raising taxes and slashing services. It is not clear how much less raises will be. The average inflationary rate across the nation from 2010 to 2019 was 1.8 percent, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Source: Idaho Press and BLS
  • The Idaho Food Bank held a virtual groundbreaking in July at its new location in Meridian. Renovation began in April on a 102,000-square-foot warehouse funded partially by Jackson Companies and Capital Distributing. Many subcontractors are donating time and labor to complete the construction quickly. Four sites will be consolidated into this building with donations covering 65 percent of the $14.5 million construction costs. The nonprofit estimates it has turned away two million pounds of food annually over the past five years due to its previously constricted warehouse space. The new facility will provide loading docks, room to store 2,400 pallets of food, two coolers totaling 6,000 square feet, 38,000 square feet of dry storage and 10,000 square feet of freezer space, loading docks and a repackaging space designed for sanitary food handling protocols. The new office area provides conference rooms, a commercial kitchen and a volunteer center, which will be available for the public to reserve. The grand opening will be in 2021. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • The Boise School District with its approximately 25,000 students started school on Aug. 17. The first week entailed online only attendance due to the higher level of COVID-19 alert in southwestern Idaho. Administrators have struggled with supply chain issues as 16,000 Chromebooks were distributed over the spring and summer to students for virtual learning. An additional 13,000 Chromebooks were ordered in May and were expected to finally be delivered during the first week of school.  About 4,500 students signed up to solely attend via virtual classroom through the entire school year. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • The West Ada School District patrons passed its two-year $28 million supplemental levy. The levy failed last May but passed by a majority vote of 53 percent in August. The levy protects the days school will be in session, allows the district to fill 20 open jobs and maintain its existing $27 million reserve account. This is the largest school district in Idaho and the supplemental levy is about 5 percent of its annual budget. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Boise State University’s enrollment is up by 1 percent from the previous fall 2019. The university is offering both online and classroom instruction to its students — a hybrid model based on factors associated with spread of COVID-19. The university will also be partnering with the Central District Health and the three major hospitals in Boise (Veterans Administration, St. Luke’s and St. Alphonsus) to test up to 4,000 students and faculty daily for COVID-19. Source: Boise State Public Radio
  • A new survey from SmartAsset ranked Boise fourth best city to retire among cities with at least 200,000 population. While housing costs are creeping up for those who live in Boise, it is still estimated housing in Boise requires only 26 percent of average retirement income — well below the threshold of cost-burdened, typically estimated at 30 percent. Boise State University, culture and sports were also listed as attractive to the retired cohort. Source:  Idaho Statesman

Adams County

  • Evergreen Forest sawmill recently invested $12 million to increase the production capacity of its mill near New Meadows. With the new technology, the mill can produce up to 80 million board feet per year of lumber, compared with 60 million board feet before the improvements. The new machinery also reduces the production cost per board. The expanded capacity positions the mill well into the future, protecting its 84 jobs. Evergreen Forest is the second largest employer in Adams County. Bark removed from logs fuel the six-megawatt power plant for 4,800 homes, while sawdust and chips go to Clearwater Paper’s mill in Lewiston. The mill also creates jobs for loggers and truckers. Logs most come from Forest Service timber sales around Riggins, Horseshoe Bend and Cambridge. Next, the mill will update its debarker, so it can strip logs faster. Source: McCall Star-News
  • The city of New Meadows awarded a 219,000 contract to Dig Well Idaho of McCall to drill a new water well to serve city residents this fall. That will add a third well to the town’s water system, extending the life expectancy of the other wells, making it easier for maintenance and increasing firefighting capacity. It also will accommodate the city’s growth for at least 10 years. Water user fees and revenue from a $3.4 million water bond approved three years ago will cover the cost for land and drilling. About $2.4 million from the bond remains following the installation of a new water line beneath U.S. 95 in New Meadows and the repair or replacement of all 55 fire hydrants in the city’s system. Upcoming projects include the replacement of a city booster station in Dorsey Warr Memorial Park, the replacement of a 250,000-gallon storage tank, water main line upgrades and technological monitoring improvements. Source: McCall Star-News
  • The Meadows Valley School District plans to hold in-person classes this fall taking precautions to protect the health of students and staff. The school year will start Sept. 8 to allow staff time to implement the plan before 155 students begin school. Source: McCall Star-News

Boise County

  • Bogus Basin Mountain announced several improvements including updates to the Simplot Lodge interior, more snow-making capacity, expanded outdoor seating with added outdoor food and drink options. The process for obtaining liability waivers has been changed to allow for electronic signatures and will be sent to season pass holders. The pass will arrive in the mail to alleviate in-person transactions. This will be the ski hill’s 78th season. Source:

Canyon County

  • Lactalis American Group, a foreign direct investment company owned by the Besnier family of France, announced plans to add a new production line at its Nampa cheese plant. Equipment and construction costs are estimated at $1.7 million. Other plants operated by the American subsidiary are located in New York and Wisconsin. Lactalis is considered the largest dairy product manufacturer globally with 85,000 employees across 94 countries. Idaho vies with New York for third place ranking of milk production while Wisconsin is consistently the second largest producer nationally. California is first. Source: Idaho Press and
  • Middleton School District voters passed a supplemental levy with 52 percent in favor of the two-year, $3 million bond. The previous May, it only garnered 48 percent, needing a majority vote to approve. The school district has adopted a four-day school week. Had the levy failed again, students would have had to pay higher amount out-of-pocket dollars to participate in athletics. The budget is still tight due to cutbacks from the state, but the district believes it should be able to meet its needs with this recent vote. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • The Middleton School Board pushed back its start of the fall semester to Sept. 8 giving the staff an additional three weeks to prepare for a revised schedule of three days online learning and one day of small group classroom instruction due to the pervasive spread of COVID-19 in the Treasure Valley. The school will require masks while in the school buildings. Source: Idaho Press
  • The Nampa School District is the state’s third largest by enrollment with more than 14,000 students. The start of school was delayed a week to Aug. 24 all online but will move to a hybrid model of in-person and online when Canyon County is no longer in the highest risk level for the spread of COVID-19. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • The Caldwell School Board approved plans for online learning through Oct. 2 due to the community spread of COVID-19 throughout the Treasure Valley. The administration is struggling with how to disburse food to all the students as they learn from home — all students qualify for free and reduced meals through the Caldwell schools. Source: Idaho Education News
  • The College of Idaho started classes Aug. 19, with most classes offered virtually until the precautions are no longer warranted. The college is allowing students to choose whether to live on or off campus. No extracurricular activities currently are available. The campus has maintained a core group of students residing in dorms. The majority are international students who are unable to return to their home country due to COVID-19 border restrictions. Source: Idaho Education News
  • Fall classes at the College of Western Idaho started Aug. 24, offering both online and classroom. The staff and students are divided about which approach they prefer, so CWI is working to accommodate both viewpoints as much as possible. Source: Idaho Press

Elmore County

  • The city of Mountain Home and its Dreamland Crew held a soft opening for its new skate park at Richard Aguirre Park in the middle of town. The Dreamland Crew, designers and builders from Oregon-based Dreamland Skateparks, provided an initial demonstration of their talents after removing the construction fences and allowing the youth in to use their new park. A formal grand opening will be held later in the year. Source: Mountain Home News

Valley County

  • Tamarack Resort near Donnelley hosted the Twisted Turtle Cross Country Bike Racing Series in early August. The series included other venues such as Brundage Mountain, Jug Mountain, Grassy Cross and Sandy Cross with races spread out between August and December. The variety of races include cross country, enduro and cyclocross. Cyclocross, more common in Europe, is a cross between road racing and mountain biking and involves carrying a lightweight touring bike through parts of the course. Source: Tamarack Resort website
  • The U.S. Forest Service released a draft environmental report in August on the potential effects of reopening and expanding an open pit gold and antimony mine at the headwaters of the South Fork Salmon River. The Payette National Forest, which oversees most of the affected land, is taking comments for 60 days, due by Oct. 13. Midas Gold Corp., a Canadian company, proposes to reopen the historic Stibnite Mining District 40 miles east of McCall. The company estimates it can recover as much as 4 million to 5 million ounces of gold, 6 million to 7 million ounces of silver and 100 million to 200 million pounds of antimony. The mine would employ as many as 500 people during an expected lifespan. Midas Gold projects two to three years of construction before the site would be operational, followed by about 12 to 15 years of mining for gold, silver and antimony. Environmental clean-up work following closure of the mine would last an estimated two to three years, plus another five to seven years of environmental monitoring at the site. The company said it will use some of its profits to restore a brownfields site caused by earlier mining activity including toxic pollution and an open pit that blocks access to spawning grounds for chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout. Opponents of the proposed mine, including the Nez Perce Tribe, are concerned that new open pits will exacerbate environmental problems. Source: Lewiston Tribune; Associated Press; McCall Star-News
  • Affordable housing is a priority for McCall leaders. The Thompson Place development is preparing to offer 12 shipping-container homes for sale by Oct. 1. The development is the first under the city’s local housing program, which reserves units for people who live and work in McCall through deed restrictions that remain in place for the life of the buildings. Each 640-square-foot condo unit made from recycled shipping containers will consist of two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and a living area. To qualify for the units, applicants must provide proof of employment in McCall, have a disability or be aged 65 or older. Source: McCall Star-News
  • McCall-Donnelly schools will open Sept. 8, with a mix of in-person classes and virtual learning. Trustees pushed back the opening date from Sept. 1 to Sept. 8 to train teachers on the reopening plan to limit the spread of COVID-19. Online courses for students in kindergarten through eighth grade will be delivered by school district teachers, while courses for high school students will be delivered by the Idaho Digital Learning Alliance or district teachers, depending on the course selections. More than 1,300 students are expected to enroll this fall. Source: McCall Star-News

 Washington County

  • Onion growers in southwestern Idaho and eastern Oregon began harvest in late July. Yields are in the normal range and the quality is exceptional, according to Herb Haun, owner of Haun Packing in Weiser. Yields are in the normal range. Prices remain below their pre-pandemic levels especially for the larger onions most widely grown in the area that are used mainly by restaurants and cafeterias. As of Aug. 17, 50-pound sacks of yellow hybrid onions out of the Columbia Basin in Washington and the Umatilla Basin in Oregon sold for $8-$9 for colossal; $7-$8, jumbo; and $7-$9, medium, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A year earlier, the same product sold for $15-$17 for colossal; $13-$16, jumbo; and $10-$12, medium. Source: The Packer; U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • The entrepreneurial spirit is creating new businesses in Weiser. Sterling Blackwell, a teacher in Fruitland who normally spends his summer directing plays at regional theaters, opened Sterling Shaved Ice this summer on Liberty Street. Sydney Cobb opened Thirsty Cactus in Weiser, which specializes in custom-stamped jewelry and boutique clothing. Ace’s Arrow Boutique will open a brick-and-mortar store on Weiser’s Main Street in September. Created as an online boutique three years ago, it sells “western fashion with an edge” including clothing, hats, jewelry and accessories. Source:; Weiser Signal American.
  • The Weiser School District started the school year in late August with a blended model that includes in-person classroom instruction and at-home learning. It divides students into two groups who attend on different days to reduce potential coronavirus exposure. Source: Weiser Signal American
  • With more people wanting locally sourced meat because of the pandemic, Roe’s Custom Meats in Weiser, which cuts and packages beef and pigs, is seeing twice as much business as normal. Source: Weiser Signal American


  • Tamarack Resort held a grand opening and ribbon cutting for its mountain bike trail expansion featuring a Pump Track and Mountain Bites, the resort’s new food truck. Andrew Taylor, the course designer, built similar mountain biking tracks in California and along the Oregon Coast. Source: Tamarack Resort website and KTVB News
  • Idaho Central Credit Union held a grand opening for its newest branch in Star. It is the 39th branch for this national credit union headquartered in Pocatello. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • TorchX, a real estate software firm managed by Constellation Real Estate Group of San Diego, opened an office in Boise. It is currently hiring salespeople and was attracted by the talent and potential of the area. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Café Rio has replaced Baja Fresh near the Boise State University campus with a full renovation of its kitchen and dining area. The Utah-based restaurant offers a Mexican food menu for dine in or take out. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Spring Creek Brewery opened its doors in Avimore, a large-scale planned community in the foothills off Highway 55 in Boise. The new brewery has a full mean and requires reservations. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • A virtual grand opening was held to celebrate Valor Pointe, a new affordable housing complex for about 30 chronically homeless veterans. The project was supported with private and public dollars. Source: Idaho Press
  • Paddles Up Poke opened its new location in Nampa.


  • Bear Island Brewing Company in Boise expanded to add limited food service to its taproom offerings. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • The Mode Lounge in downtown Boise has expanded to include limited food offerings, with seating on the pedestrian section of Eighth Street outside of its full bar. Source: Idaho Statesman


  • Caldwell’s Orphan Annie’s Bar & Grill announced its closure via Facebook due to retirement. The restaurant has been feeding the town and College of Idaho students for 15 years, according to filings at Idaho Secretary of State. Source: Idaho Press
  • Chase Bank is closing its branch located in a Fred Meyer grocery store on the Boise Bench. Source: Idaho Statesman, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 735-2500 ext. 3639

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

County Fairs

  • County fairs are a highlight of summer across America but particularly in rural areas. South central Idaho, with its high concentration of agribusiness – the region has four of the top five agricultural-producing counties statewide – especially looks forward to its fairs. South central Idaho’s counties responded with varying decisions this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Camas, Cassia, Jerome, Lincoln and Minidoka counties move forward with a schedule of events representative of previous years, despite the COVID-19 concerns. Social distancing, sanitation stations and mask wear were encouraged, especially during the 4-H class competitions and fat stock sales. Cassia, Jerome and Twin Falls counties continued the traditional Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) events with purses qualifying toward the PRCA world standings that are based on rodeo earnings.
      • Blaine County canceled most in-person events moving to a virtual format but after public comment, the Blaine County Commissioners approved the 4-H portion of the fair in person, allowing the kids to show and market the animals they have fattened over the year. The fair is held annually in Carey. Source: University Extension 4-H, Blaine County Facebook page
      • Gooding County canceled its carnival, food venders, open class entries and a fundraising luncheon. The PRCA rodeo was postponed to Sept. 16-19. The fat stock sale was moved into the open air arena with social distancing and many of the 4-H events continued with COVID-19 safety precautions.
      • Cassia County Fair required a COVID-19 signed liability waiver from those attending the fair, available online. The 4-H competitions and fat stock sale, parade, concert with Neil McCoy, rodeo and pari-mutuel horse racing continued but with safety precautions to avoid transmitting the COVID-19 novel virus. Volunteers were required to wear masks and submit to health screening and temperature checks. The precautions such as masks, hand sanitizers and liability waiver wrist bands were estimated to cost the fair board an additional $10,000.
      • Twin Falls County Fair, Sept. 2-7 is the final fair on the south central Idaho circuit. The fair board implemented precautions early with sanitizing stations, masks and distancing encouraged. The country music concert is postponed until 2021. The fat stock sale and 4-H class competitions are taking place as is the Magic Valley Stampede with heightened interest by top national competitors who have experienced PRCA rodeos cancellations across the country due to COVID-19. The Magic Valley Stampede is considered one of the top 60 rodeos nationally. The carnival, food vendors, magic shows, hypnotist, petting zoo and livestock barns are in place as normal. Source: Times-News and KMVT News

Blaine County

  • Mountain Rides Transportation Authority awarded the development of seven electrical charging stations in Bellevue and six charging stations in Ketchum along with transformers, to Hailey-based Power Engineers. Mountain Rides plans to add four new electrically powered buses in 2021 with plans to replace its entire fleet of 20 diesel buses with the clean energy alternative eventually. Carbon emissions will be reduced by an estimated 1,100 tons annually once the zero-carbon fleet is in place. Mountain Rides is using grants from the Federal Transit Authority plus settlement funds from Volkswagen’s diesel emission class action lawsuit for a total investment of about $9 million. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • Bluebird Village, an affordable housing concept, was approved for matching funds from the Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency for $564,860 if it is approved by Idaho Housing and Finance Association (IHFA). Some of the funding comes from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development but is disbursed through IHFA in the form of tax credits. An affordable housing proposal at the former Blaine Manor site was approved last year, also using KURA match funding, but did not gain traction in last year’s round of projects. The proposal is now in front of IHFA again but has almost doubled its housing units this year to 56 and will be built at the site of the former Ketchum city hall along with an adjacent parcel. This year’s proposal added amenities and infrastructure to the four-level, multi-building development. Developer Greg Dunfield of Seattle-based GMD Development says the project will be built in 2022 with private investors if it fails at the IHFA level again. Source: Idaho Mountain Express

Camas County

  • Just as Soldier Mountain prepared for to open its new bike trails, the Phillips Creek Wildfire swept through the area blackening shrubs, ground cover and trees around the ski resort and burning a bridge allowing access to the ski hill. More than 2,100 acres were scorched. The resort did not lose the lodge, out buildings or chair lifts, but lost the Magic Carpet, a conveyor belt that moves beginners up the bunny slope, to the fire. More than 400 firefighters contained the blaze that started from a lightning strike. Over the past months, development of the 7.7-mile bike trail system pulled in a couple dozen volunteers and two professional trail designers. The public will have to wait until 2021 to use the new trail system due to the loss of the bridge. In addition, the U.S. Forest Service is currently reviewing the most recent buyer, Ascent Ventures of Lehi, Utah, for approval of the long-standing land lease. The resort has had four owners in the last 10 years, most recently Diane and Matt McFerran from Bend, Oregon. The couple made substantial improvements over the past four years, including the new bike trails. Source: Idaho Mountain Express and Idaho Statesman

Cassia County

  • Wickel Tire Pros held its grand opening after purchasing and renovating a 23,000-square-foot a former Stoke’s Grocery Store in Burley. It plans to sell its former building while keeping another building for inventory warehousing. The property allows more room for semi-trucks to maneuver and provides offices and a customer waiting room. The company has experienced significant growth after purchasing the business in 2018, offering services to agricultural, industrial and commercial industries along with personal vehicles. Source: Times-News
  • Pomerelle Mountain Resort hosted its 22nd annual Pomerelle Pounder Bike Race featuring a large cohort of out-of-state mountain bike racers with competitors aged 9 to 50. Many of these events had been canceled due to COVID-19, so the turnout and enthusiasm was high as the racers tackle a 1,000-foot vertical elevation downhill descent. Nearby communities see an uptick in business during this event. It was part of the 2020 Utah Gravity Mountain Bike Series and wraps up the summer season. Source: KMVT News and Times-News

Gooding County

  • The city of Hagerman announced it would close its city park to crowds due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its higher-than-average senior population who are vulnerable to the virus. Hagerman Festivals & Farmers Market moved to a private property due to the closure but has less exposure to the public. An exception grandfathered in is the Blast on the Grass Car Show scheduled for early fall. The city is sometimes referred to as the Banana Belt of the Magic Valley and has an active retirement community. The most recent estimate of those 60 and older within Hagerman is 351 of a total 1,103 population – almost one in three residents. Sources: American Community Survey 5-year estimate, 2013-2018, US Census and KMVT News
  • North Canyon Hospital was the only medical facility in south central Idaho to receive a five-star rating based on patient experience from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. This is the fourth year in a row the hospital has received the five-star rating and is one out of 266 hospitals nationally.  Source: KMVT News

Jerome County

  • Agri Beef announced a new beef processing operation will be built in Jerome – True West Beef – on Highway 93. It is a niche business model that includes producers across the region as equity partners and provides a smaller, more nimble processing line with 500 head of cattle daily compared to some plants that process 5,000 head of cattle daily. The vertically integrated company plans on creating 400 new jobs averaging $52,000 annually with a total annual payroll of more than $21 million. Sources: Jerome 2020 and KMVT News
  • Scouler Co. plans to build a $13 million barley processing plant in Jerome. Next spring, it will start processing 1.9 million bushels of barley annually, with plans for expansion. Idaho is the leading producer nationally of barley and its production ranged between 48 million bushels and 62 million bushels over the past seven years. The plant will create 13 jobs when it is up and running May 2021. Construction will start adjacent to existing operations in Jerome. The plans are to collaborate with Montana Microbial Products producing a barley protein concentrate that is used in aquaculture and pet food. Idaho’s Hagerman Valley produces the most trout nationally, and local food sources will contribute to the supply chain. It also has plans to produce a high energy liquid feed supplement for cattle feeders. Source: Idaho Farm Bureau Quarterly magazine and Times-News
  • Jerome’s 22nd annual Joe Mama’s Car Show attracted similar attendance as in previous years with local residents and people from surrounding states. Source: KMVT News

Lincoln County

  • Magic Valley Energy, a subsidiary of LS Power, announced plans to build the largest wind farm in Idaho. The Lava Ridge Wind Project would be located between Shoshone and Dietrich on Bureau of Land Management land with job creation of 20 permanent workforce to maintain the 300 feet turbines. The output is estimated at 1,000 megawatts while Cold Springs, Idaho’s largest wind farm in Bliss, has 60 turbines generating 138 megawatts of power. Turbine technology is increasing at a fast clip indicating fewer towers need to be built to get more power than 10 years ago when construction began on the first of 18 windfarms in south central Idaho. The College of Southern Idaho’s Renewable Energy Systems Technology Program is already training workforce for both wind and solar industry needs.  Source: KMVT News and Times-News
  • Lincoln County officials and residents support buying the former Richfield Community Church, currently rented as a community center, to make it a permanent center targeted to youth. Attracting volunteers and donations is the first step. The facility will need broadband to allow kids to do homework and have a space for tutors. Hobby development and enrichment activities including STEM, life skills and counseling are some of the ideas for its future. Source: KMVT News

Minidoka County

  • Minidoka County School District schools opened in the yellow designation, requiring safety precautions, but in-person learning. Source: KMVT News

Twin Falls County

  • The National Ski Patrol Pacific Northwest Division named the Magic Mountain Patrol ski patrol Small Patrol of the Year. Magic Mountain, opened in 1939, is in the South Hills area of Kimberly. The Magic Mountain Patrol has 23 current staffers certified in outdoor emergency care and toboggan instruction. The patrol provides assistance for snowmobiling accidents along with injured or lost skiers, snowboarders and tubers. In addition, they support community activities throughout the year such as the Halloween Haunted Swamp, the Habitat for Humanity Run and the Southern Idaho Tourism Lights and Laser Show. Source: Times-News
  • The Department of Veteran Affairs National Cemetery Administration dedicated the Snake River Canyon National Cemetery in Buhl. This is the 144th national cemetery and the first in Idaho. It is the third cemetery to fall under the VA’s Rural Initiative Program, which provides veterans living far from a national or state cemetery access to burial services. The Idaho State Veterans’ Cemetery is the nearest, located in Boise, 131 miles from Buhl. The new Snake River Canyon National Cemetery is on eight acres with construction costs estimated at $4 million for infrastructure, including 900 spaces expected to be enough for 10 years. There are expansion plans for future development to total 4,500 spaces. Source: Times-News
  • The annual Lights and Lasers show, usually held at Shoshone Falls, has been moved to Canyon Springs Golf Course to allow for social distancing. It is scheduled for Sept. 24-27. The new location for the show provides a backdrop of both the canyon wall and the Perrine Bridge while allowing increased social distancing. The event is usually held in the spring when the water running over the falls is at its highest flow but was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. Source: KMVT News
  • Twin Falls School District is actively recruiting substitute or guest teachers – an estimated 50-80 positions. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the uncertainty of how frequently teachers will need to transition in and out of the classroom based on exposures, travel, personal health challenges and other school closures impacting family life led district administrators to double down on the pipeline of substitutes. The district is appealing to those individuals interested in a teaching career so they can sample the different grades and subjects. Source: KMVT News
  • Curds + Kindness donated almost a million pounds of dairy products to food pantries and school lunches in Idaho and Utah so far during the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign was introduced by Dairy West, a dairy marketing firm with membership including dairy farmers and industry processors in Idaho and Utah. It organized contributions of cheese curds, grilled cheese sandwiches and Chobani Greek yogurt cups to programs that assisted those in need. It also covered production costs for the products, without the profit margin. The shutdown of businesses that use food service products led to a surplus of milk in the earlier stages of the pandemic. Source: Capital Press
  • Make Peace is a Twin Falls-based small business making soap from Idaho potatoes along with a limited line of clothing. The business contributes one bar of soap to global refugee camps and displaced people in the U.S. for every product it sells. Entrepreneur Liyah Babayan, who came to the area as a political refugee, started the beauty line after achieving one of her goals — running Ooh La, her consignment shop in downtown Twin Falls, for 10 years. Source: Idaho Farm Bureau Quarterly magazine
  • The Idaho Food Bank and the USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program handed out five boxes of food per family to 750 Magic Valley families – an estimated 100 pounds of food per family. Statewide, about 5,000 boxes have been distributed monthly.  Source:  KMVT News
  • The city of Twin Falls will reduce property taxes this year with monies distributed from the COVID-19 CARES Act. The rapid rise of values has kept homeowners paying out more each year, which impacts renters as well since these expenses typically are passed down from the landlords. The city estimates a median priced home will experience a $75-$77 drop in property taxes. This is attractive to first-time home buyers and retirees coming into the area from higher-priced housing markets. According to the Intermountain Multiple Listing Service, the median sales price in Twin Falls County is $253,798, up 5.4 percent from Q2-2019 while the number of homes sold in the same time period is down 12.6 percent but up year-to-date by 2.7 percent. Source: KMVT News
  • A new monument will replace the current one at the site of the 1974 Evel Knieval jump that made national news and attracted thousands to watch the stuntman unsuccessfully attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon in a skycycle. The original monument was donated by Sunset Memorial in 1985 but had weathered over time. Scott Truax, son of Bob Truax who engineered Evel’s skycycle, raised $900 with a GoFundMe campaign. The city council also is donating some support toward the monument area. Source: KMVT News

Construction Postponed

  • Construction of a Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Twin Falls approved earlier in the year recently announced a delay until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has created economic disruption, particularly among the food service industry. The restaurant will be the sixth in Idaho and is estimated to create 140-150 jobs. Source: KMVT News
  • An aseptic milk plant scheduled to start construction this year in Twin Falls has been postponed. Source: Twin Falls Urban Renewal Agency


  • River & Adventure Toys of Twin Falls owners announced its closure after 30 years due to retirement. The inventory of new kayaks and gear are being liquidated, along with its inventory of rentals. Source: KMVT News, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 735-2500 ext. 3639

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


  • Five months after coronavirus closed the Pocatello campus, Idaho State University came back to life Aug. 17 as the first public institution in Idaho to reopen for 2020-21. Colleges and universities will not have solid fall enrollment numbers until October, but ISU’s fall enrollment appears to be down by about 4 percent. This drop-off is relatively small compared with national research predicting devastating decreases in the 20 percent range. Source: Idaho Ed News
  • U.S. land managers have approved a final plan for expanding an open-pit phosphate mine in southeastern Idaho proposed by the J.R. Simplot Co. The project is expected to keep about 600 workers employed for another three years at Simplot’s existing Smokey Canyon Mine and Don Plant processing facility in Pocatello. The East Smokey Panel Mine is the second phosphate mine U.S. officials have approved for Idaho-based Simplot this year. In April, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management approved the Dairy Syncline Mine Project, also in southeastern Idaho. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • A top official with the federal Bureau of Land Management signed a land exchange agreement intended to continue phosphate fertilizer processing at J.R. Simplot Co.’s Don Plant near Pocatello for decades to come. Under the agreement, 714 acres of federal land adjacent to the Don Plant will be traded for more than 826 acres of Simplot’s land in the Blackrock Canyon area. The exchange will protect about 600 Simplot workers’ jobs and another 1,300 jobs that indirectly rely on the plant. The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, however, issued a statement indicating they plan to appeal the exchange. The tribes are concerned the agreement would pave the way for further pollution of an already contaminated site, imperiling cultural resources. A local conservation organization, called the Portneuf Resource Council, also filed public comments opposing the exchange, noting it would expand part of the Power County fertilizer plant into Bannock County and make Simplot’s waste rock pile more visible by Pocatello residents. Source: Idaho State Journal

Bannock County

  • Effective Monday, July 27, the Mayor of Pocatello implemented face covering measures for city employees and for citizens who enter city facilities to participate in programs and activities. Citizens also are required to wear face coverings when riding in public transportation buses. The mayor also issued a proclamation encouraging mask wearing in all indoor and outdoor public places for all who are able to wear a face covering. Source: East Idaho News
  • The Pocatello City Council in approving the 2021 city budget also approved a one-time combined payment of $350,000 that will be spread out among all city employees. The city overall approved a 2021 budget of $131.418 million, which is about $2.826 million more than last year’s budget of $128.593 million, according to city numbers. To offset this one-time payment, the city and city employees this year saw a decrease in health care costs of $873,736 or 12.74 percent. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • Thanks to $264,672 in funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Pocatellans may be eligible for temporary rental or mortgage assistance. To be eligible for the program, citizens must be city of Pocatello residents, able to show proof of a loss of income, have not received a federal or state funded COVID-19 housing subsidy in the past 12 months, and meet income limits. Rental or mortgage payments will be made directly to the landlord or financial institution. Landlord or lender participation in the program is also required for the city to provide assistance. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • ECS will open new offices and support facilities in Pocatello/Chubbuck later this year to deliver innovative cloud, cybersecurity and big data services in the region. The facility will provide administrative offices, team building, training and meeting space to support more than 60 employees. ECS is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • A Texas-based developer of temperature-controlled warehouse space that specializes in providing agricultural shipping logistics broke ground for its massive facility at the Pocatello Regional Airport. Utility infrastructure construction is already underway for Frigitek Industrial Parks’ 280,000-square-foot cold storage facility, which is expected to open west of the Pocatello Regional Airport terminals as early as spring 2021. The cold storage facility will include a mixture of refrigerated and frozen storage, freight services and processing. The company expects to employ approximately 30 people per eight-hour shift, totaling 90 employees for a 24-hour shift. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • Several old brick buildings in the city of Downey’s downtown area are poised to undergo extensive renovations, and the community has built a new splash pad for children. The city has already started work on a $12,000 renovation of its city hall. Near the city building, a two-story former J.C. Penney location that recently housed the community’s only grocery store is planned for an extensive remodel. A couple from Utah bought the building a year ago. They plan to house their eBay business in an office in the building and rent the ground floor for community functions. The vacant former Western Auto Store building on Main Street is also planned for a renovation and may be the home of a future bakery or coffee shop. Source: Idaho State Journal

Caribou County

  • A ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the Caribou Loop Trail. The 192-mile trail loops through Bonneville and Caribou counties in Idaho and Lincoln County in Wyoming. It has been an ongoing effort of the three counties since 2014. Source: Caribou County Sun
  • Caribou Memorial Hospital (CMH) board announced the hospital is losing $1.7 million annually on its nursing home facility. The hospital is also in dire need of a new facility. Currently COVID-19 is negatively impacting profit margins due to fewer patients coming to the hospital for services. Projections indicate that CMH could operationally meet loan obligations to finance a new facility with a smaller footprint, which would not accommodate the additional square footage needed for a nursing home and/or the continued $1.7 million annual subsidy. If the county were to fund this new facility, it would need a $25 million levy – $110 per $100,000 property value per year per resident. The shortfall for the nursing home would be another $213 yearly. The county commissioners and the hospital board are reaching out to the community for comment on the option to keep or sell the nursing home and the option to transition the county-owned hospital into a nonprofit 501(c) (3). Source: Caribou County Sun

Franklin County

  • KEY-LIX, a company that produces salt licks for livestock, is considering the possibility for moving into Weston. The company currently based out of Smithfield UT. KEY-LIX is still examining its options before officially approaching the city for a building permit. Source: The Preston Citizen
  • The city of Preston signed a buy/sale agreement with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to purchase Craner Field. The city was the highest bidder and is expected to close on the 5.6-acre property within 60 days. Source: The Preston Citizen

Oneida County

  • The Oneida County Commission unanimously approved a project for Oxford Packing facility. The facility will start to harvest 10 – 15 animals per week and ramp up to 100 per week within three or four months. The facility, which will bring jobs to the community and help local ranchers, should be up and running by March 2021. Source: The Idaho Enterprise


  • Run of the Mill Bakery Delivery service in Blackfoot
  • Maverik in Malad
  • Portneuf River Rentals
  • The Bacon Experience in Old Town Pocatello, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 236-6710 ext. 4331

EASTERN IDAHO – Bonneville, Butte, Caribou, Clark, Custer, Fremont, Jefferson, Lemhi, Madison, & Teton counties


  • Regional Economic Development for Eastern Idaho, also known as REDI, has partnered with several organizations across eastern Idaho to form a new alliance focused on local entrepreneurship. The partnership has been named the Eastern Idaho Entrepreneurship and Incubation Alliance or EI² for short. The partnership consists of Regional Economic Development for Eastern Idaho, Small Business Development Center in Pocatello and Idaho Falls, the Idaho Innovation Center, Regional Development Alliance, Procurement Technical Assistance Center, Brigham Young University-Idaho College of Business and Communications and Research and Business Development Center, Idaho State University College of Business/Bengals Solutions and the College of Eastern Idaho. EI², in conjunction with REDI, plans to hold four events per year with intent to help entrepreneurs push their ideas to market; provide a platform to share experiences, ideas and best practices; and, to network. Source: Post Register
  • Visitation rates to Yellowstone National Park were higher in July than they were in the same month last year. This comes after the park’s overall visits had been down 49 percent from last year through the end of June. The park’s visitation rates were down 32 percent in June compared with the same month last year. In contrast, the park hosted 955,645 people in July, up about 2 percent from July 2019. The influx of visitors occurred even though campsites and hotels inside Yellowstone have drastically reduced capacity. Grand Teton National Park just to the south of Yellowstone also experienced a 3 percent increase in July visitors. Source: Idaho Press
  • A Utah fiscal watchdog group and a former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission member are calling on the cities involved in a local nuclear reactor project to back out, citing uncertainty about whether it will ever come together. Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems is working with the reactor developer NuScale Power on the plan to build 12 reactors at the U.S. Department of Energy site west of Idaho Falls, helping to power UAMPS members including Idaho Falls as well as providing Idaho National Laboratory with power for research. The other three dozen or so cities that have signed on to take a share of the power are mostly in Utah. The project’s backers say it will be a climate-friendly source of affordable energy that will help reduce dependence on coal. Critics point to escalating cost estimates and dependence on federal subsidies, which could put ratepayers and taxpayers on the hook if federal support dries up in the future. They also point to the history of past failed or delayed nuclear projects that have fallen on taxpayers, such as the Vogtle Project in Georgia and the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in South Carolina, as a warning. Source: Post Register

Bonneville County

  • School districts are reaching out to the Idaho Falls community to address a shortage of substitute teachers heading into the school year. The Bonneville Joint School District 93 has 30 percent fewer substitutes than at the start of the last school year. Many of the district’s substitutes are retired teachers who would face a higher risk of complications from the coronavirus if they were infected while teaching at those schools. Superintendents from Twin Falls and Lakeland school districts have reported similarly low numbers of substitute teachers as they prepare for the start of the school year. Source: Post Register
  • IBM Watson Health, has ranked the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls as one of the top 50 hospitals for cardiovascular care in the United States, selected from a pool of 989 hospitals evaluated for their inpatient cardiovascular services. Other Idaho healthcare organizations honored by IBM Watson Health this year are the St. Luke’s and Saint Alphonsus health care systems, ranked in the top 15 health care systems in the country, and West Valley Medical Center of Caldwell, ranked in the top 100 hospitals. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • With tourism revenue plummeting, construction of the Auditorium District’s Mountain America Center has been put on hold indefinitely. The district was $2.5 million short of the $57 million needed for the event center. The plan to cover the shortfall was dependent upon tourism revenues being consistent, which has not been the case due to the pandemic. Source: Post Register
  • FCR, an outsourcing call center, will be expanding its operations to Idaho Falls. It will be the company’s first branch in Idaho. The move is expected to bring 300 jobs to the city. In a unique move, all 300 jobs will be work-from-home. It will be the first time the company has started a new branch without procuring a building first. Source: Post Register
  • Construction will begin on a 72-unit housing complex, The Teton Mesa Apartments, at 855 Lomax in Idaho Falls this fall. A groundbreaking on the 5-acre property is expected to be announced once the design and construction bid process is finalized. The Housing Company, a nonprofit subsidiary of the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, is the developer for the project. Source: East Idaho News
  • Melaleuca is experiencing record growth and to keep up with demand, the company wants to hire more than 60 full-time employees immediately. Melaleuca sells nutritional, personal care, cleaning and cosmetic products and, since COVID-19 began sweeping the nation, customers have placed a record number of orders for Clear Defense hand sanitizer, Sol-U-Guard disinfectant and Peak Performance Pack vitamins. Since March, the wellness company has added more than 100 positions based in Idaho Falls to handle the increase in volume and now, it is adding the 60 additional positions in distribution, manufacturing and the call center. Source: East Idaho News

Custer County

  • The organizers of the Sawtooth Valley Gathering announced the annual event is postponed until 2021. The sixth annual Stanley-based music festival was initially scheduled for late July, but in June was postponed to September. Without an improvement to the coronavirus situation, though, organizers came to the conclusion that pushing the festival back a year was the only responsible course of action. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • Demand for homes in and around Stanley has been rising, surging especially in the last several years. Statistics from the Intermountain Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which includes a database of realtor-facilitated sales, show a significant spike in home and land sales over the past year and a half. There have been 12 reported home sales in the Stanley area since the start of 2019 —more than the overall total for the preceding five years. There were 11 homes sold in the area from the start of 2014 to the end of 2018. Demand is especially high for properties priced at $500,000 or less. Source: Idaho Mountain Express

Fremont County

  • After 57 years of business, the Playmill Theatre is moving to a new location. The owner recently purchased the building formerly occupied by the Mack’s Inn Dinner Theater in Island Park. Construction will begin once the old building is demolished. The new 22,000-square-foot building will be more than five times larger than its current 3,500-square-foot space in West Yellowstone, Montana. The seating capacity will nearly double from 267 to 480. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused some delays in the process but the hope is to have the project complete in time for the 2022 season.

Lemhi County

  • Revival Gold, which operates the Beartrack-Arnett gold properties in Lemhi County, plans to use the proceeds of a public offering of some company shares to fund more exploration and development in Idaho. Company officials are in the midst of an economic assessment on the potential re-start of one open-pit heap leach operation at the project site. Source: Challis Messenger

Madison County

  • The College of Eastern Idaho welcomed students back for the fall semester by providing both in-person and online learning options during the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately one-third of the classes will be taught in-person on campus and two-thirds will be through online learning. Source: East Idaho News
  • After five years of sitting vacant, the former Walmart building in Rexburg is getting a new tenant. Another Harbor Freight location is planning to open inside the 95,000-square-foot building sometime next spring. Harbor Freight will only be using 15,500-square-feet of the building. Other tenants will occupy the rest of the space. Source: East Idaho News

Teton County

  • Broulim’s has made its third pitch for a grocery store in Victor by bidding almost double the appraised value on the old Victor Elementary School on Center Street. The east Idaho grocery store chain has been denied twice in the last four years by the city of Victor for proposals to build its second grocery store in Teton Valley. Source: East Idaho News


  • Costco in Idaho Falls
  • Karie Anne’s Frozen Desserts in Rexburg
  • Stoney Court Playcare in Rexburg
  • Arby’s in Rigby
  • Fire & Smoke BBQ, a new food truck in Idaho Falls
  • Mahana Fresh, a Hawaiian-style restaurant in Idaho Falls
  • Yessi’s Puerto Vallarta restaurant in Ammon
  • HeartBeat, a sober nightclub in Idaho Falls


    • The Craze Fun Zone in Rexburg
    • Mountain River Ranch north of Heise, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 236-6710 ext. 4331