Around Idaho: Economic Activity in September 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
Southeastern
Eastern Idaho

 

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

Kootenai County

  • A large mixed-use project is planned for the 33-acre Landing at Post Falls development on the banks of the Spokane River. According to the Post Falls Urban Renewal Agency, at least three separate developers are planning to build on the site, which includes plans for at least 548 residential units and substantial office and commercial space. Source: Journal of Business
  • A public charter school, Elevate Academy North, is being developed in Post Falls with plans to open in time for the 2022-23 school year. The school will specialize in career technical skills and will initially serve around 310 students. Source: Journal of Business

Openings – Coeur d’Alene

  • GEICO Insurance
  • McCormick’s Flooring
  • Simply Being Bazaar
  • Golf Island

Post Falls

  • DNA Electric & Fabrication

Hayden

  • Kaffee Meister

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

Latah County

  • The Annual Latah County Fair returned to Moscow this year in September, with roughly 14 concession vendors and more over 20 commercial vendors, including the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, Palouse Pathways and Walmart. While the return of the fair created excitement, the recent surge in COVID-19 cases called for additional steps in minimizing the risk of infections among attendees. For example, there were fewer vendor staff, hand-sanitizers were installed, and masks were provided for attendees while indoors. The fair also offered an opportunity for people to exhibit their special skills and offers attendees way to explore the educational needs of the community. Source: Lewiston Morning Tribune
  • Candidates for Moscow mayor and city council addressed water availability and affordable housing at a recent event organized by the Moscow Chamber of Commerce and the Latah County Board of Realtors. Candidates discussed the city’s growth and how it will affect the declining aquifer. Several water conservation ideas were discussed such as offering incentives for new home developers, businesses, institutions and other large-scale water consumers who commit to significant water conservation measures. Participants agreed many stakeholders will need to help develop water conservation plans. Forum participants also discussed a partnership involving Moscow Affordable Housing Trust and the Partnership for Economic Prosperity, Latah County’s economic development organization, in creating affordable housing and altering the city’s housing code to allow for different types of housing. Some further believe that the region’s labor deficit will only exacerbate its capacity to achieve these goals. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • Due to labor and supply limitations caused by the pandemic, the University of Idaho’s food court has temporarily closed its Qdoba and Chick-fil-A restaurants. U of I officials said they have increased hourly compensation and enlisted the support of outside recruitment services to help them hire full-time workers so they can reopen. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Nez Perce County

  • The coho salmon season began on Sept. 1 in both the Snake and Clearwater rivers. The season was approved by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission because fisheries managers expect a record volume of the salmon to pass through the Lower Granite Dam. The Bonneville Dam is seeing an increase in fall Chinook salmon, which began in mid-August and is likely to exceed the forecast, which is also higher than last year’s figures. Source: Clearwater Tribune
  • Construction improvement on the main runway at the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport temporarily disrupted commercial airline service in late September. The new upgrade will make way for new direct flights between Denver and Lewiston for the first time beginning Oct. 5, thanks to a $4 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration. Source: Lewiston Morning Tribune

Idaho County

  • During the last week of August, the Syringa Hospital Board of Trustees approved the fiscal year 2022 budget of just over $19.6 million, which includes a 1.5% ($34,921) increase in employment benefits, accounting for $2,422,114 of the total budget. Other highlights include a 3.6% reduction in salary budget for FY2022 due to higher salaries paid in FY2021 related to COVID-19. Source: Idaho County Free Press

 Openings and Expansions:

  • The Hungry Horse food trailer, open 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays in Lewiston. Source: Lewiston Morning Tribune
  • What’s Poppin’ Balloons & Events, a one-year-old party business in Lewiston that specializes in customized balloons and decorative backdrops, has opened a new location at 710 Main St. Source: Lewiston Morning Tribune

Rajshri Suresh@labor.idaho.gov , regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 735-2500 ext. 3639

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

Ada County

  • Between January 2020 and March 2021, 43 new businesses opened and 27 businesses closed according to data released by the Downtown Boise Association. Of those closures, 16 attributed their demise to COVID-19. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Starting in 2022,  400 Afghan refugees – translators, drivers and others who helped the U.S. Military, plus their families. – will relocate to Idaho.  According to the International Rescue Committee Boise, it takes 18 to 24 months to process a refugee before they arrive in their new city. Both Boise and Twin Falls have offices and staff who assist with resettling refugees. Source: Idaho Press
  • The Wassmuth Center for Human Rights plans to construct a building around the Anne Frank Memorial. The new building will incorporate the statue, wall and outdoor seating that about 120,000 people visit annually. The two-story building will showcase an arch with the quote “We believe in the power of words. Words Matter.” Classrooms, meeting rooms and interactive elements are part of the concept. Groundbreaking is scheduled for November. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Wal-Mart is expanding its footprint at its Ten-Mile location adding 3,000 square feet of space dedicated to storage for pick-up orders and a new pharmacy canopy. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • A research study is underway to determine whether Boise is truly ‘nice’ based on quantitative and qualitative data. The Boise Nice project has the survey posted on its website, which is a collaboration with Boise State University: https://www.boisenice.org/take-the-survey/.  The Boise Metro Chamber is very interested in the results since findings have the potential to market the area to businesses and to attract talent. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • The Boise Outlet Malls is under new ownership for the seventh time in its 28-year history. Gardner Company, headquartered in Salt Lake City, purchased the property with active leases that include Eddie Bauer, Pendleton, Graffiti Fit Club, Trinity Learning Center and a Jazzercise studio. The city of Boise owns and operates the adjacent Ice World. Gardner Co. indicates it will likely develop the mall into a non-retail property, specifically citing storefronts and storage for tradesman not needing warehouse style space. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • St. Luke’s downtown Boise location is adding a pharmacy kiosk to the front of its hospital to enable drive-through pickups. The pick-up site is expected to cut down on social contact during this COVID-19 pandemic. Source: BoiseDev
  • The Idaho Department of Correction upped its pay for new correctional officers from $16.75 an hour to $19 an hour. The agency awarded retention bonuses of $1,500 to tenured correctional officers, as well as new hires. New hires would receive the retention bonus for up to five years annually to promote longevity. Raises to existing correctional officers helped with the issue of wage compression, an event that can happen when new hires earn almost as much as longer-tenured workforce, which happens when competition is high for certain occupations. The agency had been losing its Kuna officers across the border to the Ontario prison that offered $3.64 an hour more. The agency is happy to report they received 130 applications for correctional officers and several officers that planned to leave, opted to stay. Source: Idaho Press
  • Intermountain Healthcare, parent company of Saltzer Health, and SCL Health signed a letter of intent to merge under the name of Intermountain Healthcare, a nonprofit entity. The SCL Health’s Catholic hospitals will retain their names and operate according to existing standards. The move forms a system that covers six states, operates 33 hospitals and 365 clinics, and employs more than 58,000 caregivers. Both systems will pull from their leadership to form one board. The company’s headquarters, when the merger closes, will be in Salt Lake City. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Clearwater Analytics issued its Initial Public Offering starting at a base price of $18 per share, which grew by 32% to $23.75 at opening. The company is valued at $5.5 billion and raised $540 million after selling 30 million shares. Clearwater, headquartered in downtown Boise, is a software developer helping large institutions track their portfolios, and now trades under the ticker CWAN. The company employs about 652 workers in Boise with 1,259 employed outside of Idaho. Clearwater Analytics also carries a sizeable presence internationally. The majority owner is a private equity firm based out of New York City.  Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Treefort Music Festival limited attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring either proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before allowing entry to its music venues. Nearly 700 people were tested on-site resulting in 18 positive cases while 76 opted to be vaccinated. Attendance at the September festival was more than 15,000 compared with 25,000 in 2019 —down 40% in its ninth year. Source: 2 Idaho News

Canyon County

  • Mission Aviation Fellowship broke ground on a new hangar at its headquarters in Nampa. The 12,000-square-foot hangar is to accommodate its larger planes. The existing hangar will have space for training and offices. Source:  Idaho Press
  • Grapes for winemaking did not react well to the heat wave this past summer. The size of each grape is visually smaller, but difficult for vintners to quantify. Another factor contributing to a weaker harvest is the number of stems per vine. The yield from the vines is down about 25% to 30% across the board, with exceptions among Spanish/Portuguese varietals such as albarino and tempranillo, which can survive intensive heat. Grapes are a crop that can be drought tolerant and appreciate the heat, yet most grape vines still needed added irrigation during the extended heat of June and July with more than 15 days of 100+ temperatures. Source: Capital Press
  • Genesis Health and the Canyon County Community Clinic have merged to become Genesis Community Clinic of Caldwell. Both clinics attempt to meet the needs of an estimated 34,000 Treasure Valley residents who cannot pay for private insurance or meet the qualifications of Medicaid. The organization has one clinic in Garden City, open Monday through Friday, while the Caldwell office is looking for a larger building with its current schedule open two days a week. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Nampa wastewater rates are set to increase by 16.75% or about $6.02 monthly. The new rates will repay the $165 million bond approved by voters in 2018. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • The Boys & Girls Club of Nampa opened a Caldwell program that provides after-school activities for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. Program staff pick up the students from school, provides a substantive snack, fun exercise opportunities and time to complete homework for the next school day. The program is intended to be affordable, is located in the core of Caldwell and has capacity for 150 kids. Both the Nampa and Caldwell sites are hiring staff. Source: Idaho Press

Gem County

  • The Bureau of Land Management rounded up 88 mares, 78 stallions and 49 foals totaling 215 wild horses at its Four Mile Herd Management Area (18,800 acres of federal, state and private lands). Some of the mares are to receive a fertility control drug and then be released along with a similar number of stallions. This will occur after assessing the composition of the remaining herd. The allowed number ranges from 37 to 60. The wild horses are contained because of the damaging effect on the public grounds, some of which are leased annually for private grazing, and for the health of the horses, especially in drought conditions. Some of the wild horses will be available for sale to the public in October. As of late August, the Bureau of Land Management estimated 90,000 wild horses and burros live across the west – about three times the number that is deemed supportable. Source: Messenger-Index and the Bureau of Land Management website

Openings

  • Coa de Jima opened for dinner with plans for lunch offerings in October. It is a downtown sister restaurant to Barbacoa, offering upscale Mexican food. It remodeled the former Gallo Giro space, investing $1.5 million. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Wepa Café opened a restaurant in Garden City offering Puerto Rican cuisine — a melding of Spanish, Caribbean and African dishes. The proprietor/chef is known for his food popups around the Treasure Valley. Source: Idaho Statesman

Ground Breakings

  • Topgolf broke ground on its new facility at the 52-acre Eagle View Landing development. It is part of Phase 2 and includes a Hyatt hotel, 396 residential units and more business. The site was formerly home to the Farmstead corn maze. The first phase was a new office building that is home to Idaho Central Credit Union in Meridian. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • NeighborWorks broke ground on Cole Bluff Cottages at the site of the former Cole School. The 39 homes will include cottages, duplexes and town houses ranging from one to three stories with two to four bedrooms and 816 to 1,998 square feet. The developer is a nonprofit organization and pricing starts in the low $300,000 price point. Source: Idaho Statesman

 Closures/Cancellations

  • The Boise Philharmonic canceled its debut performance, after skipping the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. The cancellation was due to elevated levels of COVID-19 throughout the Treasure Valley. Source: Boise Weekly
  • Boise and Nampa School Districts are asking parents to consider substitute teaching to support classrooms experiencing staff shortages caused by COVID-19 cases and quarantines. Some schools have had to close for several days due to lack of staff or students. Southwestern Idaho schools that have temporarily closed for days include:
      • Pi STEM Academy, a Kuna charter school
      • Compass Charter School, Meridian
      • Snake River Elementary School, Nampa
      • Rimrock Jr.-Sr. High School, Bruneau-Grandview
      • Carberry Elementary, Emmett

Source: Idaho News 6, Idaho Statesman, Owyhee Avalanche

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

  • The city of Bellevue has voted to increase allowed building sizes from 28,000 to 36,000 square feet and to streamline the approval process. The city has also approved changes to the city code that allow for an unlimited number of housing units per acre in a new Business Core Residential Overlay District, with units as small as 350 square feet. These changes are intended to attract bigger housing projects. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • The city of Hailey has voted to reinstate the mask mandate this month. This new mandate is in effect for indoor and outdoor public places where distancing is not possible and will be reviewed after a month. –Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • Mountain Rides recently put into service four electric buses. The lithium battery buses have zero emissions and are expected to eliminate more than 1,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually. An E-Bus costs about twice as much as a diesel-fueled one at about $800,000 each, and the total cost of the electrical equipment to charge the buses was more than $600,000. The buses and equipment were purchased primarily through grant money. Source: Idaho Mountain Express

Twin Falls County

  • The Filer School District had a temporary closure recently due to an inadequate number of teachers and substitute teachers who were affected by COVID-19. The school district has about 1,600. Source: Times-News
  • The ongoing labor shortage has continued to impact multiple industries across the Magic Valley. The city of Twin Falls reported increased difficulties finding qualified candidates to fill their vacant positions, especially for the public safety department. The city noted that public safety positions are typically a harder to fill due to the employment requirements. Source: Times-News
  • The city of Twin Falls experienced a ransomware attack that caused computer issues for two weeks in August. The ransomware attack shut down the county’s internet and access to some computer systems, forcing many departments to subsequently operate on a limited basis. The county’s phone lines were also down for a few days. According to Comparitech, these kinds of attacks are increasingly happening. Nearly 250 ransomware attacks were carried out on government agencies of various levels from 2018 through 2020 resulting in an estimated $18.9 billion in downtime and recovery costs. Source: Times-News

Openings

    • McDonald’s – Blackfoot

Bonang.Seoel@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 332-3570 ext. 3820

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

Region

  • The intermodal rail terminal at the Union Pacific railyard in Pocatello held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate its completion on Sept. 1. The terminal is owned and operated by Savage Services of Midvale, Utah. Savage began work on the terminal in March. The target commodities for the terminal are agricultural products for trans-Pacific export out of ports in the Pacific Northwest. Before the terminal opened, Idaho ag products for export had to be shipped by truck to coastal ports like Seattle/Tacoma or to intermodal facilities in Salt Lake City. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Nearly 4 ½ years after planning began for a new Pocatello Idaho Temple, the finished temple’s doors were opened this month to the local media and dozens of people filed in for one of the first tours of the new building. The temple, which took more than two years from its groundbreaking in 2019 to construct, occupies 71,125 square feet of a nearly 11-acre property in the eastern foothills of Pocatello. The Pocatello Idaho Temple will be one of 170 operating temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the sixth temple in Idaho. Other temples are in Boise, Idaho Falls, Meridian, Rexburg and Twin Falls, and a seventh temple has been announced in Burley. Idaho is home to more than 460,000 Latter-day Saints. The Pocatello Idaho Temple will serve about 61,000 members from the area. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • Not being able to hold the 2020 Eastern Idaho State Fair motivated the fair team to make the 2021 event better than ever before. Two years of preparation went into the nine-day fair, which is the longest-running community event in southeastern Idaho. Nearly 250,000 people came through the fair gates, making it the most attended fair ever. Source: Eastern Idaho State Fair

Bannock County

  • Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 adopted a roadmap this month for the rest of the 2021-2022 school year. The roadmap prioritizes in-person, five days a week learning for the entire school year. The board also voted in a 3-2 decision to require masks/face coverings, effective Sept. 27 for all grades K-12. The mask/face covering requirement allows for a provision for individuals to opt-out for a legitimate medical exemption. Source: East Idaho News
  • Chubbuck Mayor Kevin England and Gov. Brad Little christened the opening of the new Chubbuck City Hall with a ribbon-cutting event this month. The ceremony signaled the completion of one part of a three-phase project totaling about $15.3 million that, in addition to the new 26,000-square-foot city hall, includes retrofitting the former city hall building into the Chubbuck Police Department and constructing a new animal control building. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • The grand opening of a new Chick-fil-A restaurant on the Idaho State University campus, originally scheduled for Sept. 15, has been delayed due to challenges in finding staffing. According to the press release, a new grand opening date will be announced soon. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • A discount retail store is expanding its footprint in eastern Idaho. Big Deal Outlet will be opening in mid-October in the former Shopko building next to the Pine Ridge Mall. Big Deal Outlet will be sharing the space with CAL Ranch, which recently bought the building and will be moving in sometime early next year. The discount food store will occupy about 30,000 square feet. Source: East Idaho News

Caribou County

  • The Soda Springs City Council approved the final plat for Phase 1 of the new Park Ridge Subdivision. The first homes will be three-bedroom, two bath structures, with an extended single car garage. Six town houses will be built in this phase. Source Caribou County Sun

Franklin County

  • Franklin County commissioners approved several subdivisions including the Riverdale Class 1 subdivision for four building lots, the Julie Riddle Class 1 subdivision for three lots, the Kendall Class 1 subdivision for two building lots and the Bill Anderson Class 1 subdivision on Cleveland Road for a 3.2 acre building lot. Source: The Preston Citizen

Oneida County

  • A new Splash pad opened in Malad City Park. The project was funded by a community development block grant and cost $150,000 to complete. The Idaho Enterprise

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

  • Yellowstone National Park set a record for visits in August. The park hosted 921,844 recreation visits in August, a 4.5% increase compared with August 2020. The previous record for August was set in 2017, when people flocked to Yellowstone to witness that year’s epic solar eclipse. Through the end of August this year, Yellowstone saw 3,590,904 visits and is on track for a yearly record and a 40% increase over 2020. Source: East Idaho News
  • Melaleuca has been recognized as one of America’s Best Employers for Women by Forbes. Out of America’s 7 million employers, this ranking named only 300 companies in America with Melaleuca the only Idaho-based company on the Forbes 2021 list. This achievement marks the third time in a year that the wellness company has been named by Forbes as a best employer. In February, Forbes named Melaleuca to the list of America’s Best Employers, and in September 2020, Melaleuca ranked on Forbes’ list of America’s Best Employers by State. Source: East Idaho News
  • ​The Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES) has announced the opening of its newest laboratory, the Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Simulator Laboratory, featuring NuScale Power’s Energy Exploration (E2) Center, at its Idaho Falls headquarters. The new lab features a virtual nuclear power plant control room that allows users to assume the role of operator to learn about NuScale’s SMR technology. CAES’s new laboratory is the result of a $286,000 award that CAES-affiliated University of Idaho professor Richard Christensen obtained in 2019 through the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy University Program. Source: Post Register
  • Airline travel in and out of Idaho Falls has boomed this summer after a year of lockdowns and limits on gatherings in many places throughout the country. The airport has surpassed the number of total passengers that came through the airport in the summer of 2019, which was a record-breaking year for the airport. In 2019, just more than 108,000 total passengers traveled through the airport during June, July and August. This year’s total passenger count climbed by 60% in June and 55% in July compared with 2019. Much of the passenger growth at the airport can be attributed to new flights the airport has added, offering five more destinations than it did in 2019. Source: Post Register

Bonneville County

  • Idaho Falls’ first splash pad had a soft opening this month to test the equipment and give residents a chance to see the new facility. A ribbon-cutting and grand opening of the facility will happen at the beginning of the summer season in 2022. The new splash pad was approved by the Idaho Falls City Council in August 2020. The city approved $300,000 dollars for the construction of the new splash park, as well as an additional $200,000 for new restrooms and the addition of a parking lot for residents. Source: East Idaho News

Madison County

  • Madison County showed the biggest change in population and housing in the state from 2010 to 2020. The county’s population grew 41% and housing units grew by 25.2%. The driving force behind the county’s growth is Idaho’s largest university, BYU-Idaho with a 2021 winter enrollment of 25,334. Source: Idaho Business Review and http://www.byui.edu
  • After five months of sitting vacant, the former Sears Hometown Store in Rexburg is getting a new tenant. The 9,500-square-foot building will soon be the home of Fit 1 Gym. Renovations are underway and the gym is scheduled to open this November. Source: East Idaho News

Openings

  • D’rock Wellness in Idaho Falls
  • Winnie & Mo’s Bookshop in Idaho Falls
  • Liljenquist & Redd Orthopedic Surgery in Idaho Falls
  • The Minky Supply Company, a fabric store in Idaho Falls
  • Cafe et Amour in Rigby
  • 9 Iron Grill in Rexburg

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