Around Idaho: Economic Activity in May 2021

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

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


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

Kootenai County

  • The Coeur d’Alene School District delayed the opening of a new planned magnet school until the 2022-2023 school year. District officials cited financial constraints as the reason. The magnet school will offer a hybrid learning model with a community service focus. Roughly 200 students are already enrolled in the school. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • A new four-story mixed commercial and residential building will be built in Coeur d’Alene’s Riverstone development. The building will include office spaces on the first floor with condo units on the higher floors. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • Kootenai County’s Community Development office produced a 22-page report on potential growth management strategies and is seeking public comments and participation. Kootenai County has been growing by roughly 2.5% per year over the last decade, and the Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization projects that the population of the county will grow by more than 130,000 by 2040. Source: Spokane Journal of Business

Openings in Coeur d’Alene

    • Terraza Waterfront Café.
    • The Fixture Gallery.
    • BidMore2Win Auctions.
    • Gas and Grain.
    • CDA Cremation & Funeral.
    • Cranberry Road Winery. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
    • Blue Shell Game Bar. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 457-8789 ext. 4451

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

Nez Perce Tribe

  • The Nez Perce Tribe is opening more opportunities for tourists to learn about its history and culture, while bringing more income to tribal members. The New York Times ran an article on May 14 about one operation. “To better supply an Indigenous voice to the history of Nez Perce (Nimiipuu) National Historic Trail, a 1,170-mile route that traces the flight of the Nez Perce tribe in 1877, the Nimiipuu tribal member Stacia Morfin began her own tour company in 2019. Her company, Nez Perce Tourism, offers an itinerary called “Hear the Echoes of Our Ancestors,” which involves a daylong boat trip on the Snake River into Hells Canyon, the nation’s deepest gorge. Along the way, Morfin shares traditional Nimiipuu songs, and offers visitors a chance to reflect on their own connection to the land.” Source: New York Times

Clearwater County

  • The Orofino Joint School District is expanding its career technical education programs through collaboration with local industries including resource management, construction, pre-engineering, industrial mechanics, fire, health services and others. The goal is to build partnerships that provide students with multiple opportunities to build skills and knowledge needed in these fields. The district also hopes to collaborate on pilot programs with local universities. Source: Clearwater Tribune

Idaho and Lewis Counties

  • Riggins continues to see more businesses opening. Sweetwater Design, offering antiques and home décor, opened inside Riggins One Stop on Main Street. Source: Idaho County Free Press

Latah County

  • Ziply Fiber’s internet service is now available to nearly 7,000 residences and businesses in Pullman and Moscow. The Kirkland, Washington-based internet, phone and television provider plans to build fiber for another 2,100 addresses in Moscow in the next few months. The company says most of the homes and businesses in Moscow will eventually be able to use its new, state-of-the-art fiber-optic network that continues to be installed on the Palouse. Ziply also expects the town of Potlatch to have access to fiber internet service by the end of August. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  •  This fall could see the University of Idaho back to the pre-COVID-19 normal. With vaccinations on the rise and local infection rates declining, the school plans to deliver instruction mostly in-person this fall. Although it’s still early to make projections about fall enrollment, applications and acceptances at the university so far are running higher than in years past. The increase is coming from out-of-state applicants; applications from Idaho residents remain depressed. The school is keeping tuition unchanged to encourage the return of students. Tuition and mandatory fees for Idaho residents seeking a bachelor’s degree will continue to be $8,340 and for undergraduate students who are not Idaho residents, $27,576. Those levels keep the UI significantly below the average student-borne cost at peer institutions. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News; Idaho Education News
  • Logos School, a Christian K-12 school on Baker Street, plans to add classroom space on the south end of Moscow. It will add three first grade and three second grade classrooms with as many as 15 students in each room. The school addition is intended to be temporary until Logos School is able to construct a permanent facility on the northeast side of Moscow. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Nez Perce and Asotin Counties

  • Clearwater Paper announced in early May some of its workers would take temporary downtime in the coming weeks at unspecified locations of its tissue operations. The Lewiston mill is the company’s largest tissue operation. The downtime will allow the company to adjust production to the slowdown in demand for toilet tissue, as consumers who stocked up in the early months of the pandemic are using up those stocks rather than buying more. On the other hand, demand for paperboard, Clearwater Paper’s other major product, is picking up as demand for folding cartons has picked up and a recovery in food service segments is gaining strength. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Lewis-Clark State College is adding a new dual-credit course on electricity to a variety of classes already available to high schoolers in the area. Beginning this fall, students can learn about heating, ventilation and air conditioning for five credits applicable to technical programs at the college, including electronics, industrial maintenance and millwright technology. “This is the first of many ways we hope to join the CTE education centers in the Orchards in a way that helps students, employers, and the community,” Jeff Ober, LCSC School of Career and Technical Education said in a news release. “The close proximity of the Schweitzer Career and Technical Education Center to the DeAtley Career Technical Center helps make this and future career exploration possible.” Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • EC Enterprises opened its new motorsports park in May near Lewiston where it will host motocross, monster trucks, demolition derby, concerts and other events. The owner hopes the park will bring extra tourism to the Lewis-Clark Valley. Source:
  • Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories — the largest private employer in north central Idaho and southeastern Washington — boosted its starting pay from $15.50 per hour to $16 per hour in early May. Demand for its products is up globally, so SEL currently is recruiting workers for 50 entry-level production jobs in Lewiston, where it employs 610 people, and Pullman, where it employs 2,420. Across the region, businesses are raising wages to attract workers in a tight labor market. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The City of Lewiston has approved $27.5 million to construct a new water treatment plant retrofitted to part of its existing facility, which was constructed in 1924. The city selected IMCO, based in Ferndale, Washington, to construct the water treatment plant. In 2019, Lewiston voters approved a $42 million bond measure to partially fund the new water treatment plant and other water-related needs. The new treatment plant is expected to provide reliable drinking water for the next 20 to 40 years. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Wilson AutoTech recently moved from Clarkston to D Street in Lewiston, where it enjoys better visibility and doubled its space. The owner would like to add more workers, but finding qualified applicants has been challenging. 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


  • Job postings surged this year compared to previous April labor demands. This is tied directly to the pandemic rebound, intensified by population growth. In 2020, southwestern Idaho’s population grew by 2.6%, an uptick of 21,863 from 2019. The region accounted for 58% of the state’s growth over the same time period. Source: Population Estimates Program, U.S. Census Bureau

  • Kuna Market Village took a big step forward as 50 Kuna high school students and professional construction contractors collaborated to build 12 sheds for the market opening in June. Idaho State University, Home Depot and local contractors committed two days to what is coined a Construction Combine, creating an environment in which the students learn construction skills while inquiring into careers with industry trades people. The pop-up village is on Kuna School District property and will serve the small businesses in Kuna providing a place to sell goods to the local community. Source: Idaho Press
  • Construction started on an expansion of an Interpretive Center at the World Center for Birds of Prey. Former Governor, Interior Secretary and Peregrine Fund board member Dirk Kempthorne and his wife, Patricia, will head up the capital campaign coined HATCHED. The goal is to raise $3 million to pay for the expansion that will add 48% visitor capacity. Source: Idaho News 6
  • The Idaho Youth Ranch broke ground on its new residential treatment center in Caldwell with a price tag of $22 million. A capital campaign has been successful in raising most of the funding with efforts still ongoing. It will provide treatment for up to 100 youth annually, offering long-term residential programs on its 258-acre ranch. These services have been unavailable since the Rupert Idaho Youth Ranch closed five years ago. This service gap resulted in Idaho youth on Medicaid traveling to a handful of southeastern states for residential services. The center will open in late 2022. The facility will have four residential wings, a dining room and recreation center, a welcome center, an education center and a wellness center. Source: Idaho Press
  • VisitPay, a start-up technology firm originally created in the basement of the founder’s Boise Foothills home in 2010, was acquired for $300 million by R1 RCM of Chicago. The company provides a platform to hospitals for customers to structure their repayment and remit on a monthly basis. The company estimates that one out of every 10 nonprofit hospitals uses its system. St. Luke’s of Boise was one of the first customers and realized an uptick of almost 30% in repayments along with a 100% customer satisfaction increase. The company was originally named iVinci Health. Regulatory approval is expected to occur by the third quarter of 2021. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Paddles Up Poke restaurateur, Daniel Landucci, announced plans during the COVID-19 pandemic to expand its restaurant ownership with a goal of 50 restaurants in five years. The first phase is underway as Paddles Up Poke replaces Bier: 30 in the Bown Crossing district of Boise with an opening date of mid-summer. Later in the fall, the restaurant will be serving patrons of Indian Creek in Caldwell. In 2022, the restaurant will have a presence at the Warehouse Food Hall in BODO. Two restaurants were opened earlier during the Pandemic. Based on customer satisfaction, the most recent enhancement to the strategic plan is to develop franchise contracts for out-of-state restaurants. Source: Idaho Statesman

Boise County

  • The U.S. Forest Service either closed or is considering closing several recreational areas due to abuse by visitors leaving garbage and belongings behind. Grimes Creek and Skinny Dip Hot Springs are closed for public use. Kirkham Hot Springs is under scrutiny currently with the message of ‘leave it better than you found it’ posted on social media sites. Those going up in the hills are encouraged to carry garbage bags and clean up the area they visit. Source: KTVB News

Canyon County

  • A job fair organized by the Caldwell Idaho Department of Labor staff yielded 120 employers who set up booths at Skyway Softball Field. The weather was inclement, yet around 350 job seekers attended the event. Employers reported good prospects and expected offers of hire to follow. Source: Idaho Department of Labor staff
  • Ground was broken near the Parma Middle School for Launch Pad, a religious ministry school with branches across Washington and Idaho. The land was donated by a Parma resident. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Idaho Job Corps celebrated its 2020 and 2021 graduates with a ceremony at the Centennial Job Corps Center in Nampa. The program is administered by Idaho Department of Labor and offers students a chance to earn their GED diploma as well as attain skill certificates. The two classes comprised 22 graduates with some earning certificates in welding and phlebotomy. The program is available for students between the ages of 16 and 24. Source: Idaho News 6
  • The College of Western Idaho trustees hired a firm to recruit and vet potential candidates replacing President Bert Glandon, who retired in May after serving the community college for 12 years. The firm is currently gathering information from the community through focus groups and listening sessions. The new hire will be the third president for the community college that opened its doors in 2007. Its current enrollment is about 30,000, including dual credit high schoolers and online students. Source: Idaho Press
  • Spring enrollment for the College of Western Idaho reported a 9.6% decline of full-time equivalent students from fall 2020 while Boise State University experienced a drop of 5.3% from the previous fall semester. Source:
  • Nampa removed any capacity limits that were in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Large scale events such as country western music concerts, graduations and rodeos have already announced dates and are selling tickets. Source: Idaho Press
  • Caldwell’s city council placed a moratorium on residential development for 120 days at its May 17 meeting. The moratorium includes new residential plats, planned urban development, new annexation where the proposed use is residential development and residential special use permits. Council members cited new state legislation capping the growth of services paid with property taxes by local municipalities as cause for the moratorium. From the city’s perspective, the new law stunts the ability of municipalities to pay for the services stemming from population growth. Caldwell experienced a high population increase in the last decade, growing by 26.2% from 2010-2019 (Population Estimates Program, U.S. Census Bureau). The city’s pause will allow the leaders time to identify solutions to a pending financial issue. Source: Idaho Statesman

Valley County

  • McCall voters in the May election approved a bond for upgrading the city library. The bond will cost taxpayers $4.2 million, while entire construction project will cost about $6.5 million. The expansion will increase the library from 4,000 square feet to about 16,000 square feet, creating additional places for hands-on learning with areas for focus groups and new technologies including 3-D printers and computers. Source: BoiseDev; McCall Star-News
  •  A $1.1 million project will improve Brown Park on Payette Lake and the surrounding shoreline. Construction, scheduled to begin in May and wrap up in September, will bolster the shoreline south of Brown Park to combat erosion from waves in the lake, improve landscaping and irrigation, and add playground equipment. The city of McCall awarded the project to Falvey’s Earthworks of McCall. Source: McCall Star-News
  • The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation recently awarded a $100,000 grant to the Nez Perce Tribe Watershed Division in McCall to form a group to protect the Little Salmon River watershed. The group, the Little Salmon River Watershed Collaborative, will bring together community representatives to include — including government, ranchers, land managers, conservationists and the timber industry — to find common ground on projects that would improve water quality in the watershed. The Little Salmon River runs from Blue Bunch Ridge about 10 miles south of New Meadows to Riggins where it meets the Main Salmon River. Elevated temperatures, phosphorous, E. coli and sedimentation all are causing problems in the Little Salmon River and its tributaries. Chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout will benefit from the collaborative’s projects. Source: McCall Star-News
  • Valley County recently received $1.4 million in federal funding for roads, schools and forest-related project under a one-year continuation of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act payments. The county roads department received $894,000, the McCall-Donnelly School District received $349,000 and the Cascade School District received $50,000. About $105,000 went to a fund used for search and rescue and programs, and to thin and prune trees near homes to prevent wildfires. The payments made to communities with federal forest lands have not been reauthorized for 2022. Source: McCall Star-News
  • Cascade voters passed a local option tax of 1% exceeding the super majority requirement by garnering 63% of the votes. The city reported 17% of the registered voters participated in the vote. The funds will be used for street and park improvements to include sidewalks and the Strand, a riverside pathway that was paved in 2010 and follows the Payette River. It provides vistas of Snowbank Mountain, the 29th highest peak in Idaho, along with the Sawtooth Range to the east, the Wallowa Range to the west and the Seven Devils Range that runs along Hells Canyon to the northwest. It offers opportunities for fishing at Fischer’s Pond, osprey nest viewing, and water activities and picnicking at Kelly’s Whitewater Park.  The LOT will apply to items requiring Idaho’s 6% sales tax.  Source: The Star-News
  • McCall City Council has approved a four-story, mixed-use building in downtown McCall in the urban renewal district that was established in 2019. The building is comprised of retail and a lobby on the first floor, a hostel bunkhouse and hotel rooms on the second floor with community laundry and dining facilities, two apartments on both the third and fourth floors. The rooftop will be a patio deck with a solar awning, and storage will be provided for bikes and sports equipment. Parking is limited and was a source of discussion among the council members. There is no requirement for parking in this urban renewal district. Additional housing for those working in the community is an ongoing topic as McCall has a robust vacation home market that boasts a bigger bottom line in short-term rental fees compared to long-term rent for workforce. The area faces increasing pressure as the area attracts remote workers and second home purchases causing home prices to rise. Source: The Star-News
  • Meadow Valley School District successfully passed a two-year supplemental levy totaling $434,000, replacing a 2019 supplemental levy with an increase of $36,000. The funds ensure school programs are offered with enough levels of staffing, equipment and curriculum. The levy passed with 70% of the voters in favor and 11% of the registered voters participating in the vote. The Meadow Valley School District serves the patrons of Adams County, and the levy passage decreases the average homeowner’s bill by $12 per $100,000 valuation, compared to the 2019 levy. The drop in taxation is a result of new construction expanding the tax base. Source: The Star-News 
  • Cascade announced it will graduate 20 seniors in a ceremony while Meadows Valley will award high school degrees to nine seniors in its gymnasium. Source: The Star-News


  • State Hospital West opened its newly constructed facility in Nampa providing residential mental health care. Its construction costs were $11,208,773, and the staff is budgeted at 65. The 24/7 facility estimates services will be provided to 125 to 150 adolescents annually, with ages ranging from 12-17 and length of stay averaging 30 days. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Tasso, a sandwich shop, moved out of its downtown Boise location and opened in Eagle with a patio that will seat 40 and seating inside for a dozen customers. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Duck Donuts opened in the Village at Meridian offering custom donuts cooked to order. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • MB Sandwich House opened its first restaurant on the bench in Boise, highlighting its hot sandwiches. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Crawford Cookshop opened within the Crave Delivery consortium in Meridian. It offers a short menu of American comfort foods, enhanced with fresh herbs from its rooftop garden and quality tested for delivery time. The five-time nominated James Beard Chef two restaurants in Raleigh, North Carolina. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Pie-O-Neer Pies opened its wholesale operation after closing its restaurant, Kiwi Shake and Bake, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The two owners are New Zealand transplants and envisioned going wholesale early on when they initially opened the restaurant. Currently, 15,000 meat pies are created each week and sent to locations across the Treasure Valley and the Wood River Valley for purchase in retail stores. The pies can be eaten heated or cold, and six different pie types are currently made. Source: Boise Weekly  

Closures/Lay Offs

  • Good Samaritan Village-Boise closed after 64 years. The care center provided 30-day notice to its residents so they could find an alternative facility. The center lost its Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement contract. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Wells Fargo closed one of its Nampa branches. The company reported currently there are 64 branches across Idaho, a 20% decrease from 2018. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • IndieDwell, a manufacturer of factory-built homes from used shipping containers, has hit the pause button on its operations in Caldwell. The building codes issued by the International Code Council were revised prohibiting the use of used shipping containers. The company estimates there are 24 million containers nationally that are decommissioned and could be used for affordable housing across the nation. Currently, there are completed units ready for a Boise neighborhood project and the company has temporarily laid off its workforce of 61 in Caldwell. The layoff is to retool its assembly line for the new steel product replacing the containers and adding lines to the plant. IndieDwell has expansion sights set for the company with a new plant in Virginia and growth at both its Caldwell and Pueblo, Colorado, plants. 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

Blaine County

  • Oregon-based Aero Air will offer flights between Sun Valley and Los Angeles starting May 28, the luxury semi-private airline company has announced. Flights will be priced at $1,600 each way and capped at 16 travelers. The charter flights will operate every Friday and Sunday between LA and Sun Valley starting Memorial Day weekend. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • The city of Hailey has authorized Party Animal Vodka to move ahead with its plans to open an alcohol mixing, serving and retail facility. Party Animal Vodka will serve ready-to-drink cocktails made with its potato vodka base, which is bottled and distributed in Rigby. This facility will be used for infusing the vodka with fruit and other locally farmed produce. The company also plans to offer private tours of its indoor mixing room. Source: Idaho Mountain Express

Jerome County

  • The CEO of Hempitecture – a Ketchum-based manufacturer of sustainable building materials – has announced plans to build a hemp processing and manufacturing facility in Jerome County. The company turns industrial hemp into fiber batting that could potentially replace fiberglass insulation and other toxic building materials. Source: Times News
  • Jerome School District residents have approved a $27 million bond. The bond will fund the construction of a new elementary school and additions at some existing schools. This work is intended to address overcrowding concerns as the district continues to grow. The new school is scheduled to open in time for the 2023-24 school year. Source: Times News

Twin Falls County

  • Region IV Development has partnered with several agri-business leaders in the Magic Valley to produce a feasibility study for a food innovation center. The goal is to provide businesses with space to test their ideas and get them to the marketplace. The innovation center will also provide entrepreneurs with business resources like a commercial kitchen, lab space and cold storage. Source: Times News
  • The College of Southern Idaho Refugee Center will soon start helping more people resettle into the U.S. following an announcement from the White House. The center will begin resettling up to 300 refugees a year. The center has helped refugees from countries around the world resettle in the Magic Valley since 1980. The resettlement process is intended to help people integrate into the community and become financially self-sufficient as the government assistance they receive only lasts for eight months. Source: Times News
  • Twin Falls Airport started offering daily direct flights to Denver in May on United Airlines. Prior to this, passengers leaving Magic Valley Regional Airport could only travel to Salt Lake City International Airport on three daily flights. The route to Denver opens more travel to the East Coast and international hubs, which could also help attract new business to the area. Source: Times News


  • Blane County Recreation District’s Aquatics Center in Hailey., regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 332-3570 ext. 3820

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


  • All counties in the Southeastern Idaho Public Health District are currently in minimal risk category regarding COVID-19. The region is facing a 10-month low in new cases. Source: Post Register

Bannock County

  • The city of Pocatello took a step toward returning to normalcy, lifting the mask mandate for entry into city facilities. As of May 24, anyone who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is no longer required to wear masks when entering city facilities. Source: East Idaho News
  • Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 voted to immediately suspend its mask mandate. The decision was a product of the recent announcement about relaxing preventive measures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with a recent downturn in COVID-19 cases within the district. Source: East Idaho News
  • Ten years after the grand opening of the Portneuf Medical Center main hospital, ground was broken at the development site of a new Portneuf medical plaza. The 20,000-square-foot building at Northgate will offer primary care, urgent care and occupational medicine. The new medical plaza is not expected to be completed until late summer or fall of 2022. Source: East Idaho News
  • An upscale development underway in the Mink Creek area south of Pocatello should test the upper limits of the community’s historically hot housing market. The 65-acre Deer Valley Reserve subdivision will encompass two separate divisions in close proximity to the hills above Mink Creek Road, with six lots planned off of Autumn Lane and another six lots accessible from Caribou Way. Homes in the subdivision will be priced at more than $1 million each, ranging from 4,000 square feet to 7,000 square feet. Work will start on the first houses this summer. Source: Idaho State Journal

Bear Lake County

  • The city of Montpelier has been awarded a $500,000 community development block grant from the Idaho Department of Commerce dedicated to renovating the downtown business district. While architectural plans predict a budget of $1.2 million to complete the full project over several years, the $500,000 will be concentrated on the eighth and ninth block for enhancements with phase one completion by the summer of 2022. Additional grants and fundraisers are being considered as well to augment the remaining costs. Later phases will include improvement and beautification efforts westward to and including the overpass entering the city. Source: The News Examiner
  • A proposed RV park that could put 500 dwelling units on 110 acres in Garden City has some residents nervous it could alter the direction of the Bear Lake town’s development. The project, called “Bear Lake RV Resort” in its application, would be situated between Hodges Canyon Road and the Pickleville Playhouse, taking up many of the fields west of existing houses on State Route 30. The RV resort is being proposed by Sun Communities, Inc., a real estate trust headquartered in the Detroit area. Source: Idaho State Journal

Franklin County

  • The Department of Health and Welfare is leveraging a lease that expires at the end of June to permanently close a small office in Preston located on North State Street. There were no layoffs. The three employees who work in the office will continue working for the department. Source: KIDK

Power County

  • On April 27, the community came together for a ribbon cutting and open house for the newly finished Power County Hospital renovations. The three-year-long endeavor wrapped up with the completion of updates to the nursing home wing, the lobby, the emergency room, exterior features and more. In all, these renovations were completed at a cost of about $15.35 million. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • An expansive new addition to the local Lamb Weston plant will house production of chopped and formed products such as potato patties and potato puffs. The new facility will start production in early 2022, and 70 additional workers will be hired to staff it. Lamb Weston is a leading manufacturer of frozen fries and other potato products. Source: Idaho State Journal


  • Saffron Indian Restaurant in Pocatello., regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 236-6710 ext. 4331

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


  • All counties in the Eastern Idaho Public Health District are currently in minimal risk level regarding COVID-19 meaning they have met the threshold requirements of staying below an active case rate of 15 per 10,000 for 14 consecutive days. The region has not seen a percentage of positive cases this low since June 2020. Source: Rexburg Standard Journal
  • Battelle Energy Alliance, a private contractor that runs day-to-day operations at Idaho National Laboratory, employed an average of more than 5,000 workers in 2020. The nation’s lead nuclear energy research laboratory remains a key player in Idaho’s economy as private operations injected nearly $2.9 billion into the state’s gross domestic product. According to a report released by the lab, almost 4,400 additional jobs earning a total of $200 million income stemmed from the lab’s private operations. For every $100 in direct economic activity at INL, an additional $93 of activity is created or sustained throughout the state’s economy. Source: Post Register
  • Research by Idaho National Laboratory scientists could help the nation accommodate more electric vehicles, while lessening the impact of vehicle charging on the electrical grid system. The Fast Charging Station Microgrids that the lab is modeling and simulating offer a more resilient and cost-effective solution to the issues of charging capacity and stress on the grid. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Electricity, Microgrid Program. Source: East Idaho News
  • Earlier this year the College of Eastern Idaho took the next step in providing students with a cybersecurity education. The college opened a secure operations center, a training ground for simulating cybersecurity attacks on a closed computer system, at the college’s satellite Yellowstone Training Center campus south of Idaho Falls. CEI’s computer programs will expand further in the future once the college’s Future Tech building opens. The roughly $35 million addition to the campus will be the central location for career technology programs ranging from hands-on machinery to cybersecurity. Initial designs for the school have been presented to the college trustees but an official design would not be finalized until the end of 2021. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • Grand Teton National Park hosted an estimated 87,739 recreation visits in April, a 48% increase compared with April 2019. The park was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020. Park statistics show that April 2021 had the highest number of recreation visits on record for the month of April. Source: East Idaho News

Bonneville County

  • Masks will now be optional in Idaho Falls School District 91. During a special board meeting, trustees voted to abandon its COVID-19 Operational Plan, which included a mask mandate for staff and students. The decision comes at a time when mask mandates are being rescinded across the state, due to new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Source: East Idaho News
  • Two multimillion-dollar levies were successfully renewed in Bonneville Joint School District 93 this month. A two-year $5.8 million supplemental levy ($11.6 million in total) passed with 69% of the vote and a 10-year $2.8 million plant facilities levy ($28 million total) passed above the required 60% supermajority with 69% of the vote. This is the second time in roughly two months the district has tried to pass these levies. On March 9, voters struck down District 93’s larger requests, which consisted of a 10-year $3.8 million plant facilities levy ($38 million total) and a two-year $6.8 million supplemental levy ($13.6 million). Those measures only managed to get 41% and 42% of the vote in March. Source: East Idaho News
  • After more than a decade, construction on the new event center in Idaho Falls is officially underway. Construction on the 48,000 square-foot Mountain America Center in Snake River Landing started immediately following a groundbreaking ceremony held in May. The project is slated for completion in October of 2022 and will include an arena and convention center for concerts and sporting events. It will also include a banquet room, premium seating and other amenities. Centennial Management Group, based in West Valley, Utah, will operate the facility once completed. Source: East Idaho News

Fremont County

  • Following a 2-to-1 vote, Fremont County Commissioners will move forward with the expansion of the current Fremont County Jail. The $10.6 million expansion will double occupancy of the 20-bed county facility to 40 beds. Source: East Idaho News

Lemhi County

  • First Cobalt has acquired additional mining claims at its Iron Creek project in Lemhi County, doubling the size of its land position. The new claims are west of the existing cobalt-copper project. The new claims bring First Cobalt’s land package to just under 4,000 acres. Iron Creek contains an indicated resource estimated at 12.3 million pounds of contained cobalt and 29 million pounds of contained copper. It also has an inferred resource of an additional 12.7 million pounds of contained cobalt and 40 million pounds of contained copper. Source: The Challis Messenger

Madison County

  • Official spring 2021 semester enrollment totals at Brigham Young University-Idaho show growth among both campus and online students who are continuing to pursue their academic goals despite a world-wide pandemic. Statistics released for the spring 2021 semester show a total enrollment of 21,142 campus-based students, a 2.8 percent increase over last spring’s campus enrollment of 20,560. This number includes campus students who are enrolled in face-to-face, blended, flexible, remote, online and/or internship courses. The number of online students for the spring 2021 semester is 16,829, an increase of 35 percent over last spring’s comparable online student enrollment of 12,440. The university estimates that approximately 14,500 students are living in the city of Rexburg during the spring 2021 semester. Source: East Idaho News
  • Salt Lake Express, a Rexburg-based shuttle service, announced that starting May 20, Los Angeles will be added to its routes. Previously, the company’s route system ended in Las Vegas, but the new addition will take riders through Primm, Nevada, Baker, California and Barstow, California before reaching the largest city on the west coast. The new route will leave from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. Source: East Idaho News


  • Meat & Potatoes in Rexburg.
  • Creamy Daze in Idaho Falls., regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 236-6710 ext. 4331