Around Idaho: Economic Activity in February 2021

Information provided in this article is from professional sources, news releases, weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.

Northern Idaho
North Central Idaho
Southwestern Idaho
South Central Idaho
Southeastern
Eastern Idaho

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

Region

  • The Panhandle Health District board voted by a 4-3 decision to extend the mask mandate for all five northern counties. The mandate will now remain in effect until the next board meeting, currently scheduled for April 22. Source: KREM

Kootenai County

  • Housing inventories in Kootenai County continue to drop due to high demand and aggressive offers by out-of-state buyers looking to move to northern Idaho. Inventory of homes below $1 million fell to only 27 in early February, with median prices up more than 30% from 2020. Source: Spokesman Review
  • Community Network Libraries, which have been closed since November due to COVID-19, have reopened with social distancing and occupancy regulations in effect. Source: Coeur d’ Alene Press
  • Dollar Fulfillment, a Hayden based e-commerce fulfillment company, has purchased several acres in the Post Falls Bighorn industrial park and is planning a future expansion there. Source: Journal of Business
  • Heritage Health is now partnering with the Kroc Center in Coeur d’Alene to distribute COVID-19 vaccines. Source: Coeur d’ Alene Press

Openings

  • Leavitt Works Gunsmithing in Hayden
  • Westside Pizza in Coeur d’Alene
  • Maverick Gas Station in Post Falls
  • Timberlane Trading Company in Coeur d’Alene

Sam.Wolkenhauer@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 457-8789 ext 4451

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

Region

  • At the beginning of this year, the price of wheat rose above $7 /bushel for the first time in more than five years. U.S. corn production fell short of expectations, causing corn prices to rise, which lead to many grain purchasers switching from corn to wheat. A weaker dollar made U.S. products a better bargain for foreign wheat buyers such as Japan and China, adding to the surge in demand for U.S. wheat. While most farmers have already sold their 2020 crops, some chose to store some of their wheat to wait for higher prices and can take advantage of the higher prices. Farmers hope wheat prices remain high when they harvest their 2021 crop this fall. Source: Lewiston Tribune; Whitman County Gazette
  • Inland Northwest Partners and Avista Corp. recently launched SizeUp Inland NW, a market research tool to support growth of small and medium-sized businesses in the region. The free service provides businesses in eastern Washington and northern Idaho with industry-specific and hyperlocal market research. The SizeUp tool uses big data, cloud computing and computer algorithms to provide insights on demographics, labor, wages, consumer spending, transportation and other topics. Source: Spokesman-Review
  • Although the region’s recovery from the COVID downturn is progressing well, unemployment remains higher than before the downturn. Initial claims for regular unemployment insurance programs filed by north central Idaho workers in the first five weeks of 2021 totaled 559. That was 47% higher than the 380 filed in the first five weeks of 2020, but only 12% lower than the 499 filed in the first five weeks of 2019. The increase between 2020 and 201 came from Latah and Nez Perce counties, while the three more rural counties in the region had claims in the normal range of the previous two years. The higher claims in the two larger counties came from several sectors — health services, education, construction and accommodations and food services. Source: Idaho Department of Labor
  • U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson is proposing legislation to breach the four lower Snake River dams to help recover salmon and steelhead runs and fund a $33 billion infrastructure and community investment strategy to mitigate the economic impact. If the proposal is implemented, Lower Granite Dam would be breached in the summer of 2030. The breaching of the other three dams would follow, returning the entire stretch of the river to its free-flowing state by 2031. Breaching the dams is expected to cost $1.4 billion. Tug-and-barge transportation between Lewiston and the Tri-Cities would cease and hydropower would no longer be produced on the lower Snake River. The proposed legislation would provide funds to those affected economically by the plan, including:
    • $16 billion to replace lost hydropower production with renewable energy, pay for continued spill at lower Columbia River dams and upgrade the region’s electric transmission system.
    • Farmers would get $1.5 billion to invest in high-speed unit loader trains to replace barge transportation. Agriculture cooperatives that operate riverside grain storage facilities would have access to $300 million for the transition. Source: Lewiston Tribune
    • The ports of Lewiston, Clarkston and Wilma would share $200 million to adjust to the loss of barge transportation. The cities of Lewiston and Clarkston would receive $150 million for waterfront restoration, $100 million for economic development and $50 million for tourism promotion. The proposal also recommends $75 million for marina relocation and $50 million to compensate people with boats designed for slack water. Source: Lewiston Tribune
    • Clearwater Paper would have access to $275 million to reconfigure its wastewater effluent pipes and perform additional odor abatement at its Lewiston pulp mill. The odor abatement work is being viewed as a tool to help the town be more appealing to families and businesses. Source: Lewiston Tribune
    • The Snake River between Clarkston and its mouth at the Tri-Cities would become a National Recreation Area administered by the Bureau of Land Management and a $125 million fund would pay for restoration and management of the 140-mile-long river corridor. Source: Lewiston Tribune

Sources: Lewiston Tribune; Idaho Statesman

Nez Perce Tribe

  • In February, the Nez Perce Tribe activated 770 solar panels installed on the rooftops of several buildings in Lapwai. The new source of renewable energy will increase the tribe’s energy independence and spearhead its efforts to help slow down climate change. The tribe plans to add solar panels in Orofino and Kamiah. The project has developed the skills of tribal workers in the booming solar field and potentially could lead to a profitable tribal enterprise — solar energy contracting. Source; Lewiston Tribune

Idaho and Lewis Counties

  • St. John Bosco Academy, a Catholic K-12 school near Cottonwood, recently moved into its new wing. The addition includes classrooms for preschool through first grade and a new chapel. It also doubles the size of its daycare. Source: Idaho County Free Press

Openings

  • The Vinyl Bar, LLC opened on Kamiah’s Main Street in February. It sells custom made tumblers, iron-ons for hats, T-shirts and decals for cars, and provides etching on glasses, plates and other items. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • Pete’s Prep and Trading opened at milepost 69 on Highway 12 between Kamiah and Kooskia in December. The store provides supplies for preppers — people who are preparing for emergencies. It offers foods for medium and long-term storage, food safe storage buckets, portable generators, water filters, first aid supplies, emergency blankets, lights and tools. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • Three Mile, a café-style restaurant which also serves a variety of beer and ale brewed by the owners, opened on Main Street in Grangeville. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • Sam Augello’s Tires opened in Stites. Source: Idaho County Free Press

Latah County

  •  The University of Idaho is now operating with a $900,000 surplus. The school began making cuts to reduce its budgetary shortfall two years ago. It cut $45 million in spending and eliminated 160 positions and conducted furloughs. It managed to eliminate its budgetary shortfall despite revenue losses caused by the pandemic. The university lost about $7 million in revenues from student room-and-board and campus events following the closure of the campus during the pandemic last spring. Creating a campus coronavirus testing lab and preparing the campus for a fall reopening cost more than $1 million. In the fall, full-time, on-campus enrollment fell 3%. Before the pandemic, the school was on track for an enrollment boom with applications up 16%. Source: Idaho Education News; Lewiston Tribune
  •  Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport is receiving construction bids for terminal renovations and development of a new parking lot through May 1. Mead and Hunt will move forward with the design phase of the. CARES Act money and FAA grants will fund the projects. The new much larger terminal is expected to have an automated parking payment system. The airport currently has two daily round-trip, nonstop flights to Seattle. Passenger volume is about half of what it was before the pandemic. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • Flights between Pullman and Boise had the most potential for profit, according to consultant firm Mead & Hunt’s report to the Idaho Legislature’s interim Intrastate Air Services Committee. A commercial passenger flight between Idaho Falls and Boise could also be profitable, the study found. Lewiston-Boise and Pocatello-Boise routes were considered marginally negative and could support service if fares end up higher than forecasted or with permanent subsidies. Despite its higher elevation and greater exposure to snowstorms and fog, the Pullman-Moscow airport has improved operational reliability to be much more in line with the Lewiston numbers, according to Mead & Hunt. The $5 million instrument landing system installed last year helps pilots find their way to the runway even in fog, reducing flight cancellations. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Construction will begin this summer on a mixed-use development on the southwest corner of Sixth and Jackson streets in Moscow. The city’s Urban Renewal Agency approved an updated development proposal by developer Rusty Olps. The project includes a three-story building on a triangular parcel on the Sixth Street frontage. The first floor would be seven commercial units and 10 residential units on the second and third floors. A second building, for commercial use, is expected to be built on a triangular parcel on the Jackson Street side. An extension of the Hello Walk from the northeast corner of the lot is expected to divide the two triangular parcels. The urban renewal agency has long sought mixed-use development for the property. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • New Saint Andrews College is converting the former Cadillac Jack’s nightclub building in downtown Moscow into classrooms, studios, offices, a student lounge and a music performance hall with seating for 680 people. About 164 students take classes at the current NSA building and another 30 attend the school online. The new building, which is expected to be fully completed in five years, will provide space for up to 500 students. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • Potlatch School District returned to in-person education five days a week Feb. 22. It’s the first time since March 2020 that local students have been in a normal schedule of face-to-face learning. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The University of Idaho received more than $800,000 in nuclear research funding from the U.S. Department of Energy for three projects led by faculty from the College of Engineering. The projects is to develop artificial intelligence techniques to better understand reactor performance and assist operators in making informed decisions to avoid an unnecessary shutdown; research safe, reliable nuclear fuel storage technologies; and provide deeper understanding of molten salt critical to both recycling reactor waste into fuel and safer molten salt reactors. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Target is spending about $2 million as it prepares to open a 60,00-square-foot store at the Palouse Mall in Moscow. No dates for renovation or opening have been released. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • After declaring bankruptcy, Christopher and Banks is closing more than 400 stores, including the one at the Palouse Empire Mall at Moscow. The company opened the Moscow store, which sold women’s clothing and accessories, in 2003. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Nez Perce and Asotin Counties

  • Demand for jet boats built in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic as Americans spent money for outdoor recreational pursuits. Clarkston’s Thunder Jet hired 19 employees in 2020, bringing its employment to 75, and expects to add another 20 positions this year. The business is expanding its footprint, which will allow it to increase output by an estimated 25% to 30%. The region’s largest boat builder, Renaissance Marine in Clarkston, kept its employment steady and currently is hiring. Jet boat builders in Lewiston and Orofino added 18 jobs in 2020. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • With demand for package delivery growing rapidly, FedEx Ground is seeking an expansion of its Lewiston operations. It plans to add to its building near the Nez Perce County jail in Lewiston so it can double the number of employees in the building and add drivers. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Asotin County was one of the 33 Washington counties that moved up to Phase 2 of the Washington’s economic reopening plan in February. In the second phase, restaurants can offer indoor dining at 25% capacity, and indoor fitness centers can open with the same limit. Source: Associated Press
  • With COVID-19 cases on the decline, Lapwai School District moved from a hybrid model to five days of in-person instruction March 1. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • An entrepreneur has proposed a project at the Port of Lewiston that its backers say would create hundreds of jobs. Its biomass co-generation steam plant, powered by wood waste and straw, would sell electricity and steam. In addition, the site would produce liquid CO2 for soft drinks and diesel exhaust fluid, which helps diesel vehicles meet emissions standards. It also would include an ammonia plant that would make agricultural fertilizer. The project is expected to take about five years. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Students from Idaho who major in health care-related fields will have access to $1 million in scholarships over the next 10 years through a new partnership between Lewis-Clark State College and the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health. The new scholarship program will start this fall. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  •  Lewis-Clark State College’s nursing program rates as the best among all four-year institutions in Idaho for how well the program prepares students for licensure, according to a nursing advocacy organization. RegisteredNursing.org gave LCSC a score of 94.32. Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg was second among the four-year schools at 92.65. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • EC Enterprises Motorsports Park opened in late February in North Lewiston. The owner projects that the park will attract about 30,000 people a year. It features a 1.3-mile loop for motocross races and a 60,000-square-foot arena. It also will host demolition derbies and “horsepower versus horsepower” competition pitting horses against motorcycles in a barrel-racing style event. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • EC Enterprises Motorsports Park opened in late February in North Lewiston. The owner projects the park will attract about 30,000 people a year. It features a 1.3-mile loop for motocross races and a 60,000-square-foot arena. It also will host demolition derbies and “horsepower versus horsepower” competition pitting horses against motorcycles in a barrel-racing style event. Source: Lewiston Tribune

Closing

    • His Story Christian Gift Center, an 11-year-old business on Lewiston’s 21st Street, plans to close at the end of April. Source: Lewiston Tribune

Kathryn.Tacke@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 799-5000 ext. 3984

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

Ada County

  • Jet Blue, a commercial airline, is offering direct flights to John F. Kennedy airport in New York City from Boise starting July. The flights will continue through Sept. 6, with a longer window if the flight proves popular. This is the longest flight Boise offers and is the furthest east that a commercial carrier has provided direct service. The red eye flights are scheduled for Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of each week.  Source: Idaho News 6
  • Beginning May 28, Allegiant Air will start a one-way direct flight from Boise to Nashville. Source: Idaho Press
  • Scentsy announced it will add two new storage warehouses to its campus in Meridian and expand an existing warehouse. In addition, a new regional distribution center will be built in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The company plans for the 75-acre site expansions to be complete in spring of 2022. Source: Idaho News 6
  • Chandlers Prime Steaks-Fine Seafood restaurant and Hotel 43, both located in downtown Boise, were awarded the Forbes Travel Guide’s 2021 Star Awards in the Recommended group. The online rating service also bestows 5-star and 4-star awards globally to spas, restaurants and hotels. This is the sixth year Chandlers has been recommended. Forbes has been anonymously reviewing luxury hospitality against 900 standards since 1958. Source:  Idaho Statesman
  • The Ada County Realtors Association released data on the median sales price of homes since 2011, reporting a 354% increase. The home construction sector was still recovering from the Great Recession’s housing bubble burst and foreclosures still commonplace. Source: KTVB News

Source: Ada County Realtors Association

  • George’s Cycle is celebrating its 50th anniversary of selling bikes in Boise. The second set of owners Mike Cooley and Tom Platt are retiring and handing over the keys to Linda and Nathan Lloyd, also biking aficionados. The creation of the Twilight Criterium is largely attributed to Cooley and Platt but the duo provided key leadership with other races such as the Ore-Ida Women’s Challenge, the Bogus Basin Hill Climb and Cascade’s 4 Summit Challenge. The new owners are enthusiastic to continue as a destination for the cycling community and anticipate dedicating more space to electric bikes. Source: Idaho News 6
  • The Warehouse Food Hall is the new concept for Boise’s BoDo area that previously housed retailers such as Urban Outfitters and Ann Taylor Loft. The timeline is October 2021 for completion of the renovation with plans to lease up to 22 local food venders in the 29,000-square-foot space. The Stil and Caffé D’arte will have its space integrated into the food hall. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Boise State University’s College of Business and Economics received additional funding to sustain its Bronco Corps program through 2021. Bronco Corps provides free internships to small businesses and nonprofits by paying each intern from a private industry fund. The recent anonymous infusion of $30,000 will ensure another 48 internships occur over the next three semesters. Source: Idaho News 6

Canyon County

  • The city of Wilder signed an interagency agreement to operate the Chula Vista housing complex. The 120 units house H2A visa workers from other countries for seasonal agricultural work. The property was actively managed by the Wilder Housing Authority previously and subsidized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development agency. The budget was just over $900,000 fueled by federal funds. The administration of the housing complex now falls on city employees, having absorbed several of the maintenance workers previously employed by the Wilder Housing Authority. The mayor of Wilder hopes to clean up the complex and develop additional affordable housing options in the community. Source: Idaho Press
  • Northwest Nazarene University reported high enrollment figures for its 2021 spring semester. The undergraduate students were estimated at 1,223 with 689 graduate students, totaling 1,912 students. NNU has had students and instructors in physical classrooms since August except for a one-week stay order in November due to COVID-19 spread. Source: Idaho News 6.

Gem County

  • Gem County’s median sales price for homes sold in January was $331,000, up 35% using a rolling 12-month sales price calculation. There were 22 homes sold in January, up 37.5% and another 79 homes under contract. Source: Messenger Index and Boise Regional Realtors
  • Voters in early March approved one levy and denied another for the Emmett School District. A two-year supplemental levy of $2 million passed with 56% approval. It replaces the existing supplemental levy intended for curriculum and programs A 10-year school plant facilities levy narrowly failed with 53.5% voter approval, but it required a 55% majority to pass. The levy would have generated additional funding for remodeling projects, maintenance and prioritized building projects. Source: Messenger Index

Owyhee County

  • Marsing School District patrons in March voted to continue the 10-year Canyon Owyhee School Service Agency (COSSA) Maintenance and Operations levy, which is set to expire this year. The consortium combines resources to provide federally mandated special education and career-technical classes to students of Marsing, Homedale, Notus, Parma and Wilder school districts. The CTE classes are held at the COSSA Regional Technical Education Center in Wilder. Marsing enrolls 101 special education students who benefit from the educational partnership that would otherwise cost the district an estimated $1.26 million. The 10-year levy cannot exceed one-tenth of one percent of property taxes. Source: The Owyhee Avalanche

Valley County

  • Shore Lodge and the Narrows Steakhouse were awarded 2021 Star Awards by Forbes Travel Guide. Both the hotel and the restaurant were recognized in the Recommended category indicating, “These are excellent properties with consistently good service and facilities.” Sources: Idaho Statesman and Forbes Travel Guide website https://www.forbestravelguide.com/award-winners#cmpid=forbes_HN
  • The Mountain Central Association of Realtors reported 2020 home sales increased by 23% while sales of bare ground parcels, including acreages, grew by 61% from 2019. There were 369 homes sold in McCall and 86 homes in Donnelly. Cascade and New Meadows each sold 76 and 62 homes, respectively. Two-thirds of the buyers were Boise residents while the residual hailed from California, Washington and Oregon. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • The Meadows Valley housing market became even hotter in 2020. Sales of homes and lots reached levels not seen since the real estate boom of the 2000s. The Mountain Central Board of Realtors, which covers Valley County and the New Meadows area in Adams County, reported home sales increased 23%, from 483 in 2019 to 593 last year. Sales of vacant land rose 61%, from 453 lots to 730 lots. Buyers have few options because homes are sold as soon as they are listed or are sold even before they are listed. The lack of homes available for sale drove the median price of a home sold in McCall from $406,000 in 2019 to $455,000 in 2020. The number of Boise area residents seeking second homes in the Meadows Valley region rose as the pandemic amplified people’s interest in nearby outdoor recreation, while a growing number of buyers came from throughout the West looking for either primary residences or second homes to escape political unrest and urban problems. In addition, the increase in remote working spurred by the pandemic has led to more workers being able to choose communities where they want to live. McCall’s recent strides in increasing internet speeds made that more possible. Sources: McCall Star-News; Idaho Statesman
  • Tamarack Resort has major plans for expansion. In January, the resort filed a special use permit with the U.S. Forest Service that would more than double its mountain terrain for winter and summer recreation. If approved by the Boise National Forest, it would add 3,300 acres of terrain to its current 2,000-plus acres. The expansion would add six new aerial lifts including a 10-person gondola. A year-round facility for scenic lift rides and dining would open at the gondola’s top. Nearly 20 miles of new hiking and mountain biking trails would be added, along with a via ferrata area — a climbing route that employs steel cables and ladders affixed to rock — and a mountain coaster. Gaining the required permission from the Forest Service is a long process involving public comment and environmental impact statements. Sources: KTVB; Idaho Statesman
  • Decades-old mining waste polluting water at Stibnite will be cleaned up by Midas Gold under an agreement reached in January with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The agreement allows Midas Gold to immediately begin cleanup of mining waste left from operations during World War II and the Korean War without facing liability for the waste. About $7.5 million in work will begin this spring by diverting streams away from toxic waste and moving about 325,000 tons of waste away from the East Fork South Fork Salmon River. All work outlined by the agreement will be paid for and conducted by Midas Gold, but overseen by the EPA and other regulatory agencies. The agreement has no effect on the Payette National Forest’s permitting process for the company’s proposed Stibnite Gold Project, which would create up to 500 jobs. Source: McCall Star-News
  • Midas Gold Corp. relocated its corporate headquarters from Vancouver, British Columbia, to downtown Boise in January and changed its name to Perpetua Resources. The company is seeking approval from the Forest Service for its plan to reopen and expand an open-pit gold mine in the Stibnite area 40 miles east of McCall. Its projected mineral reserves include more than 4 million ounces of gold and 100 million pounds of antimony – used to make flame-proofing materials, paints, ceramic enamels, glass and pottery. By moving to the U.S., the company strategically positions itself as the only domestic producer of mined antimony, a mineral deemed critical by the federal government. The gold is expected to produce about 94% of the anticipated $6 billion in revenue over the mine’s 15- to 20-year lifetime, while antimony will produce about 5%. Sources: McCall Star News; Idaho Statesman

Washington County

  • The Bureau of Land Management contracted with Crop Jet Aviation of Gooding to reseed more than 4,000 acres that burned during the Woodhead fire. The fire covered nearly 97,000 acres near Cambridge in September 2020. The aerial reseeding included sagebrush and grasses vital to big game and grouse habitat, along with livestock grazing. Reseeding is most effective when the temperature is cold for germination. Spring moisture will follow, further increasing success rates. BLM personnel will monitor the perennial grasses and sagebrush growth and abate weeds throughout the summer months. After the summer heat subsides, bitter brush seedlings will be hand planted, usually with the help of volunteers. These efforts are critical to eradicate invasive species of plants such as cheat grass. Source: Weiser Signal American

Openings

  • The Creative Home opened in downtown Weiser offering space to 10 local artisans selling items such as scarves, soaps, upcycled furniture and wine barrel dog beds. The space was previously occupied by Casey Girl Designs, an upholstery service and owner of the storefront. Source: Weiser Signal American
  • Pho 7 Authentic Vietnamese Restaurant opened in Nampa. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • A new Saltzer Health urgent care and family medicine clinic opened in East Boise’s Barber Valley area serving the ever-growing Harris Ranch master community. This is the fourth new Saltzer Health clinic to open in the past year. Saltzer is a member of Intermountain Healthcare. Sources: Idaho Statesman and Saltzer Health’s website  https://saltzerhealth.com/
  • Bright Bank, based in Jackson, Wyoming, opened its second Boise branch after opening its first branch in downtown Boise. It previously was known as Alpine. Another branch in Eagle is planned for later this spring. Source: Idaho Statesman

Closure

  • Doc’s Lodge, a drinking establishment located in downtown Boise, is closing its doors. A couple staffers are relocating to Priest River for jobs. Source: Idaho Statesman

Under Construction

  • Site preparation started on a new Mr. Gas truck stop at Eisenmann exit, the first I-84 eastern Boise exit. The 11,000-square-foot store will offer prepared foods and essential goods, gasoline and diesel pumps, while amenities for truckers such as showers, a truck scale and trailer drop areas will be available. There also will be overnight parking for trucks and RVs and a dump station. Capital City Development Corporation is providing $500,000 to extend water and sewer lines, streetlights and sidewalks. Lynch Land Development of Burley is the proprietor. The opening is scheduled for fall 2021 creating 31 permanent jobs. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Albertsons broke ground for a 63,000-square-foot store in Star. It will include a pharmacy with a drive-thru window, a Starbucks Coffee Bar, a service deli with indoor and outdoor seating. Source: Idaho Statesman
  •  Adler Industrial LLC, developer of industrial projects and carrying a portfolio of 80 properties located throughout the Treasure Valley, broke ground on a new facility for 84 Lumber in Meridian. The construction materials chain had been in Meridian prior to the Great Recession and closed Idaho operations amid the housing crisis. 84 Lumber is leasing the 33,000-square-foot space on almost 2 acres from Adler. The family-owned interior and exterior building supplies company, headquartered in Eighty Four, Pennsylvania, has established more than 250 stores in 30 states in its 70-year history. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Spokane’s Backyard Public House has purchased the former Dutch Goose in Boise. Renovations include fenced space for dogs, indoor space for children to play and improvements to the patio. The restaurant and bar operator coined its first gastropub as ‘Spokane’s favorite five-star dive bar.’ There are five other locations throughout Washington state. The plan is to open by April 1, 2021. Source: Idaho Statesman

Jan.Roeser@labor.idaho.gov, 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

Blaine County

  • Ketchum City Council has approved plans for the approximately 130,000-square-foot Marriott-affiliated Ketchum Tribute Hotel. The 92-room hotel with 23 employee housing units would be located at the corner of River and Main streets. The hotel will include several public amenities including a rooftop bar and restaurant. Source: BoiseDev

Minidoka County

  • Construction of a new 12,000-square-foot food processing plant is currently underway in Rupert. Bare Beans fully cooks and packages pinto, garbanzo, red and black beans into food service-sized 4-pound packages, expanding into the retail market soon. The plant is expected to roll into production by the first of May. The factory is planned in three stages and will start with 10–12 employees and build up to 35–40 workers in production line, transportation, sales and the company’s management. The company hopes to start hiring in March. Source: Times News

Shoshone County

  • The city of Shoshone has voted to dissolve its police department and lay off its officers. The city’s decision comes after months of difficulty keeping shifts fully covered, with officers already working extra hours. Going forward, the city will contract with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office for policing. The sheriff’s office will assign four deputies to the city who will be responsible for handling service calls inside city limits and enforcing city code. Source: Power County Press

Twin Falls County

  • The city of Twin Falls has approved a transportation service agreement with SkyWest Airlines, operating as United Express. The arrangement establishes a new non-stop route between Magic Valley Regional Airport and Denver International Airport. This once-a-day flight is schedule to start on May 12. Source: Times-News
  • The College of Southern Idaho signed agreements with Idaho State University and Lewis Clark State College to help CSI students transition to pursue advanced degrees. This arrangement will help students work toward a degree through the ISU or LCSC while taking classes at CSI. Source: Times-News

Opening

  • Mosaic Sun Valley Art Therapy and Counseling in Ketchum

Closure

  • Shoshone City Police Department

Bonang Seoela@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 735-2500 ext 3820

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

Bannock County

  • School District 25 resumed a five-day, in-person learning schedule for all grades March 1, with safeguards in place, as decided by the Board of Trustees in a 4-1 vote. , It was the first day of the school year’s final trimester. The change the board approved moves students in grades six through 12 to the same modified traditional schedule already in place for elementary students. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • The Bannock County Commission presented Bannock Development an oversized check symbolizing its $70,000 contribution, up significantly from the county’s $25,000 investment last year. The city of Pocatello made its usual $75,000 contribution to the organization, which is tasked with strengthening existing businesses and attracting new growth to the county. The organization anticipates moving into a new office in the City Center building owned by Portneuf Health Trust by May 1. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • Chubbuck-based Patriot Real Estate LLC has proposed building 107 single-family homes on about 60 acres of agricultural land located along Interstate 15, between the port of entry and the Inkom exit. The development, to be called Portneuf Meadows, would entail upper-end homes built on roughly half-acre lots. The developers hope to start work on roads by the summer and begin home construction before the year’s end. Aside from Portneuf Meadows, about 50 lots have yet to be built in Inkom’s previously approved Rocky Mountain Estates subdivision. There also has been rapid growth just outside of Inkom near Pebble Creek Ski Area in the Coyote Hollow subdivision. Inkom currently has about 1,000 residents living in 300 households. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • Local businessmen are making progress on their plans to turn the defunct Hoku polysilicon plant into a robust industrial park. Partners of Portneuf Capital recently announced the 68-acre site off Kraft Road has been renamed the River Park Complex. Since acquiring the property from the Pocatello Development Authority for $1.25 million in December 2019, Portneuf Capital has worked to install necessary infrastructure for converting the plant into a large industrial complex and has already landed one tenant that will occupy 57,000 square feet of space. This single tenant is projected to bring approximately 80 new high-paying jobs to the Gate City area by the end of this year. The River Park Complex is estimated to create up to 1,500 jobs in the first two years. Source: Idaho State Journal

 Bear Lake County

  • Idaho Parks and Recreation is applying for two grants for site improvements to campgrounds and beaches on the Idaho side of Bear Lake. The first grant is for electrical hookup upgrades to 20 sites along the lake; the second grant is for water system upgrades to 48 units on East Beach. The agency has also begun work on two new parking lots to accommodate up to 300 cars on East Beach. Bear Lake has seen increases in usage on the beaches over the past few years with 35 percent more usage on North Beach in 2020. Source: The News Examiner

Franklin County

  • The Northwestern Band of the Shoshone is planning to build an outdoor amphitheater at a western bluff that overlooks the bend in the Bear River where their ancestors gathered for generations. It is also the site of a ceremony Jan. 29 this year – the first in 158 years – for Shoshone descendants of the survivors of the Bear River Massacre honoring the memory of their ancestors who were victims. Next year, the Shoshone plan to celebrate in the amphitheater. Funds already raised for a new interpretive center also at that site will be used to construct the amphitheater phase of the center. Source: The Preston Citizen

Power County

  • When the citizens of Power County approved a bond initiative for $15 million in 2017 to renovate the Power County Hospital District in American Falls, the first date for completing renovation of the 56-year-old hospital was September 2020. After contracts were bid, that date moved back six months to March 2021. The final touches to finish the construction are in process and the project is on schedule to be complete by the end of March. The renovation includes a 15,000-square-foot expansion of the original 40,000-square-foot building. Source: Idaho Business Review

Openings

  • Bluebird Family Eye Care in downtown Pocatello
  • Hokkaido Ramen & Sushi in Pocatello
  • The Radioactive Retailer in Pocatello

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

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

Region

  • NASA, its contractors and the Idaho National Laboratory are working together on the next generation of dynamic power sources to replace the solid-state Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator currently used by the Mars rover Perseverance. NASA provides the specifications of what it needs, contractors compete to engineer a working generator design and the INL fuels, tests and delivers the competed power source package. NASA’s Glenn Research Center solicited proposals from companies experienced in designing and building this technology in December 2020. The design that NASA eventually selects will be built and sent to the INL to receive its plutonium and be tested. The lab is looking at a 2028 launch schedule. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • The Department of Energy has awarded $3.5 million to Idaho National Laboratory and POWER Engineers to develop two projects over 18 months aimed at increasing the power grid’s cybersecurity. The first technology being developed, the Protective Relay Permissive Communications, provides intelligent filtering that will enhance the ability of protective substation relays to detect and isolate potential cybersecurity threats. INL is also developing a Master Fault Detector methodology and solution, which serves as an independent check on the current state of a power and communications system. Source: Idaho Business Review

Bonneville County

  • Idaho Falls topped an annual report of the best-performing cities in the country from the Milken Institute, a nonprofit economic think tank. The city moved from seventh place on last year’s list of best-performing small cities to first place. One of the key reasons for Idaho Falls’ rise was continued job growth over the past year. The number of short-term jobs available in town grew by 4.7% between October 2019 and October 2020, which Milken cited as the highest growth rate for cities of its size. ​ Source: Post Register
  • Idaho Falls Regional Airport has added two more nonstop flights to top U.S. destinations beginning this summer. American Airlines will be offering daily direct flights to Dallas/Fort Worth and Phoenix beginning June 3. The two routes will be offered year-round on Canadair Regional Jets planes with up to 76 available seats. This is this year’s second major announcement of new flights for Idaho Falls. In January, Allegiant Airlines announced it would be offering twice-weekly flights to Portland beginning in May. The growing number of flights through the airport reflects the ongoing $12 million expansion taking place at Idaho Falls Regional Airport. Construction is underway on two new terminal gates, one on each floor of the airport, while new security and TSA screening areas were recently completed. All terminals at the airport should be operating by early July. Source: Post Register
  • Since December, a highly anticipated new secondary school opening this fall in Idaho Falls, has received $955,000 in support from a variety of sources. Alturas Preparatory Academy (APA), a new International Baccalaureate charter school founded as a sister school of Alturas International Academy (AIA) in Idaho Falls, has been awarded a competitive federal grant and has attracted numerous local donors and a local credit union eager to see the school succeed. Upon receiving state approval, APA also was awarded a $1.76 million grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation to help fund the purchase and renovation of the former Sears building in the Grand Teton Mall. APA will house grades 6 – 10 in its first year, adding 11th and 12th grade in subsequent years. AIA, currently a K – 8 school located in the historic O.E. Bell Building, will then revert to grades K – 5. Construction at the 73,000-square-foot former Sears building is currently underway. Source: East Idaho News
  • Encircle, a nonprofit that provides community resource houses to LGBTQ+ youth and their families, announced plans for a home to be established in Idaho Falls. The announcement is part of Encircle’s “$8 Million, 8 Houses” capital campaign aiming to build new homes in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada and Utah. The organization already has three houses in Provo, Salt Lake City and St. George with a fourth under construction in Heber, Utah. Source: East Idaho News

Clark County

  • Canadian-based Excellon Resources and its U.S. subsidiary, Otis Capital USA Corporation, is interested in about 22 acres of forest land in the Dubois Ranger District in Clark County. The company believes the region holds enough gold to operate an eventual open pit, heap leach, cyanide gold mine for three to five years. This type of mining, which was outlawed in neighboring Montana, is legal in Idaho, but with stringent rules to protect the environment. If approved, the project would include 130 drilling stations on drilling pads that would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week from July through December, and would be accessed through the construction of 10 miles of new roads. As part of the exploration, the U.S. Forest Service is reviewing public comments about the Environmental Analysis of the project. The forest service has been taking comments on the analysis for part of the past two months. Source: East Idaho News

Jefferson County

  • Silvercreek Realty Group partnered with Hailey-based developers Triumph Group to buy a 32-acre parcel of land on State Highway 48 across from Rigby High School. The project, Farmington Station, will include a mix of multi-family and single-family homes on the back 10 acres, with commercial property occupying the rest of the space. The developers are several months away from finalizing a deal for a movie theater in the development. The other tenants will be determined as the project gets underway. A groundbreaking ceremony is slated for this spring, and the partners anticipate the project happening in phases over the next five years. Source: East Idaho News

Lemhi County

  • The proposed Beartrack-Arnett mine in Lemhi County would create 858 full-time jobs including direct employment of 267 personnel at the site. The mine would also add $1.2 billion to Idaho’s gross domestic product over an estimated seven years of production, as reported in results of an economic impact study. Revival Gold Inc., a Canadian company, is in the exploration and pre-production steps of opening a mine 32 miles north of Salmon. The company aims to start mining activities by reopening the former Beartrack Mine, which still holds the record as the largest gold producer in Idaho to date. Once production is established, the firm will expand operations to include the nearby Arnett mineralization. Revival Gold anticipates that a pre-feasibility study will be complete by the end of 2022. Source: Idaho Business Review

Teton County

  • Eastern Idaho’s largest family-owned grocer, Broulim’s, has taken the first step toward establishing its second store in Teton County. Store owners recently requested a zone change from the city of Victor that could establish an almost 20,000-square-foot, multi-use building at the site of the former Victor Elementary School. After two failed attempts in Victor to establish a second store in the valley, the company has worked to accommodate the city’s needs and incorporate public input. Source: East Idaho News

Openings

  • Mac ‘n Kelly’s Pub & Grill in Idaho Falls
  • Mountain View Hospital Medical Plaza in Rexburg
  • Rocknak’s Hardware in Terreton
  • Pizzeria Alpino in Driggs

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

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