The agricultural sector in Idaho plays a major role in the state economy, contributing $3 billion – about 5 percent of the total state gross domestic product.
Idaho is ranked first in the nation in the production of potatoes and barley – the state production accounts for more than 30 percent of the national production – and ranks fourth in the nation for milk and milk cow production. Farm productivity continues to advance and exports are increasing, yet farm income has fallen over the past several years. In the face of declining profit margins, low agriculture commodity prices and a farm labor supply shortage, the farmworker demographic is undergoing a change.
Agricultural Labor Worker Types
Source: Idaho Department of Labor
Agricultural labor estimates show a stable and consistent pattern of seasonal farm employment with peaks around October each year. In 2016, average annual employment was 51,240 with a peak employment of 61,100 in October 2016. Continue reading →
Several area ski resorts have begun their winter seasons. Lookout Pass opened the first weekend of November, while Silver Mountain and Schweitzer opened Thanksgiving weekend. Source: Spokane Journal of Business
Water Solutions Inc. is building an office building with an attached manufacturing space in Rathdrum. The company, which sells drinking water purification units, began as a sole proprietorship in 2001 in Rathdrum and anticipates a workforce expansion commensurate with their growing business and new facilities. Source: Spokane Journal of Business
The city of Hayden issued building permits for a $13.7 million, 96-unit apartment complex. The complex is the first phase in a larger development plan by Coeur d’Alene-based Hayden Village LLC, which will eventually develop 64.4 acres in Hayden. Source: Spokane Journal of Business
NORTH CENTRAL IDAHO – Clearwater, Idaho, Latah, Lewis and Nez Perce counties
Clearwater County’s retail sector is growing for the first time in years. It added about 60 jobs between 2016 and 2017, and Family Dollar Store held a hiring event Nov. 29 for the store it plans to open in January in the former King’s building in Orofino. Source: Clearwater Tribune
The Clearwater County Free Library at Weippe recently acquired a 3-D printer through an Idaho STEM Action Center grant. It will allow local youth to participate in FabSLAM — a national competition where youth show their digital fabrication and prototyping skills using 3-D design and 3-D printing. The public can use the printer for minimal fees to cover the cost of supplies. Source: Clearwater Tribune
Idaho and Lewis Counties
Idaho County will lose three banks in the next few months, as mobile banking is reducing the need for branches. Wells Fargo closed its Cottonwood branch Nov. 8. Umpqua Bank will close its Kooskia branch in January 2018 and Riggins branch in March. Cottonwood personnel now work at the Wells Fargo in Grangeville. Umpqua is closing 30 of its 300-plus branches in the Pacific Northwest. The closure will leave Kooskia without a bank, although Freedom Northwest Credit Union will remain. Umpqua’s Grangeville and McCall branches will remain open and can serve current customers. Source: Idaho County Free Press
Kids Klub broke ground Nov. 7 on a 4,016-square-foot building near Grangeville Elementary Middle School. Since 2002, Kids Klub, which provides care for children after school, has occupied two classrooms at the school. Now, it needs more space, and the school’s enrollment has risen enough that the district needs the classrooms back. Arnzen Building Construction of Cottonwood is the main contractor. Currently, there’s a long waiting list for Kids Klub slots. When the new building opens this spring, its maximum capacity will rise from 40 to 75. Source: Idaho County Free Press
Clearwater Valley Elementary School in Kooskia was one of only two schools in Idaho to be rewarded The National Title I Association Distinguished Schools Program Award for offering quality education to all of its students. The school used the $30,000 award to purchase 120 Chromebooks that students use to research, access math and reading programs, and write essays. A grant from the Nez Perce Tribe earlier this year had allowed the school to purchase 30 Chromebooks, so now there are 150 devices for 200 children. Currently, the school’s WiFI can’t support all of the devices, but the state is expected to upgrade it in the spring. Source: Idaho County Free Press
Washington State University (WSU) announced large budget cuts in October. To shave $10 million from an estimated $30 million in annual deficit spending, the school is eliminating WSU’s Performing Arts program and positions in several colleges. The cuts will affect Latah County, because many Idaho residents work at the university and jobs at retailers and service providers in Moscow partly rely on the spending by WSU personnel. Source: Spokesman-Review
Latah County Historical Society hopes to restore the McConnell Mansion in Moscow to its glory days in the next five to eight years. The mansion is one of the area’s major tourist attractions. William J. McConnell, a merchant who became a U.S. senator when Idaho became a state and later served as Idaho’s third governor, moved his family into the house in 1886. The restoration is expected to cost $180,000—about twice the society’s annual operating budget. The county will put a roofing project out to bid in a few months. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) continues to create jobs, both directly and indirectly, in Pullman. One of its suppliers, NIC Global Manufacturing Solutions based in Woodinville, Washington, opened a warehouse in Pullman at the end of October. Global Manufacturing Solutions says the facility will allow it to better serve SEL. The travel time between them will drop from six hours to eight minutes. Initially, the warehouse will employ four people. Over the next few years, the sheet metal manufacturer expects to add fabrication capabilities there. SEL — which invents and builds digital products and systems that protect power grids — says having those manufacturing services closer helps to reduce lead time. Source: Spokane Journal of Business
Voters in Deary — a city of 500 — passed a $2.8 million water revenue bond Nov. 7. The bond will fund improvements and additions to the city’s aging water infrastructure. The bonds will be funded solely by revenues generated by the water system. Source: Lewiston Tribune
Alaska Airlines announced it will offer additional flights from the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport during prime travel periods next year. It will add one afternoon/early evening round-trip flight from Jan. 6-9, March 8-10 and March 17-18. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
University of Idaho President Chuck Staben has set a long-term goal for the school to attain Research 1 university status in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Currently, it has Research 2 status. This year, the UI spent a record $109.5 million in research. That was up 7 percent from the year before at a time when many other universities are seeing declining expenditures in a tough federal funding environment, according to Staben. To achieve the goal, new faculty and staff hires will need to be capped between 5 and 10 percent. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
Nez Perce and Asotin, Washington, Counties
Vista Outdoor’s employment at its Lewiston ammunition-manufacturing facilities fell from 1,500 at the beginning of the year to about 1,330 in November. That remains above its level of 1,200 at the beginning of 2016. Demand for ammunition and related products plummeted after the presidential election eased gun owners’ fears of gun control restrictions. The company now is focusing more on independent retailers and e-commerce as it tries to thrive in a sluggish market for ammunition and related products. To strengthen its e-commerce, Vista is bolstering its “direct-to-consumer” options as it drives sales to big box stores and distributors that serve independent retailers. Vista’s new, 37,000-square-foot, $35 million rimfire ammunition plant near the airport has significantly reduced the time needed to complete an order. The company expects the market to return to growth over the next 18 months. Source: Lewiston Tribune
Umpqua Bank plans to close its branch in downtown Lewiston. Source: Lewiston Tribune
Clarkston’s $60.5 million school bond failed in the Nov. 7 election. While 50.63 percent of voters favored the bond, school bonds in Washington require a 60 percent supermajority to pass. The bond proposal called for replacing much of Clarkston High School and making improvements to other schools in the Clarkston School District Source: Lewiston Tribune
Marshalls, the off-price retailer, opened a 20,400-square-foot store at Moscow’s Palouse Mall. It hired about 60 workers.
Lavender and Thyme, a florist shop that also sell soaps and lotions, celebrated its grand opening at Eastside Marketplace in Moscow on Dec. 9.
Harbor Freight recently opened a store selling hand and power tools in part of the former North 40 Outfitters location in Lewiston.
Jimmy John’s, the sandwich chain, recently opened in Lewiston. It’s the anchor tenant of a new, small-scale shopping center near the Red Lion Hotel.
A fire destroyed Boggan’s Oasis, 13 miles southwest of Anatone, Nov. 19. The restaurant was a popular stop for anglers, rafters, motorcyclists and campers traveling Highway 129. It employed six people and is unlikely to reopen.
SOUTHWESTERN IDAHO – Ada, Adams, Boise, Canyon, Elmore, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, Valley & Washington counties
Football ticket revenue for Boise State University has decreased each of the past four years and is likely to do so again this season. In 2012, the Broncos brought in a record $7.57 million but that dropped to $6.81 million last season. The athletic budget is projected at $39.4 million for this fiscal year. Ticket sales represent 17 percent of athletic department’s revenue as it represents more than just football. One of the primary reasons for the lower ticket sales is the late kickoffs. Coming into the 2017 season, 17 of the previous 21 games played at home started at 7:30 p.m. or later. Declining attendance is a concern across the football bowl subdivision with home attendance dropping for the sixth consecutive year. The Mountain West Conference did experience an increase last year, up 1 percent, but was down 7.5 percent from 2013. Source: Idaho Statesman
Idaho officials have approved spending $3 million to help pay for a federal study to increase the height of three dams on the Boise River. The study will look at raising the Anderson Ranch Dam by 6 feet, Arrowrock Dam by 10 feet and Lucky Peak Dam by 4 foot. The increased height would result in an additional storage capacity of 60,000 acre-feet. Source: Spokesman Review
The Play Gym, a multipurpose toy designed to encourage learning at different stages in a child’s early development, was created by Lovevery, a Boise company with seven employees that works out of the Trailhead North offices downtown. The product is manufactured in Asia. The owner, Jessica Rolph, co-founded an organic baby food company that was sold to Groupe Danone in 2013. Source: Idaho Business Review
A small New York City accounting software company, Avant Garde Information Solutions, expanded to Boise and is doing business as aACE Software. It offers accounting software for companies between five and 30 employees. The company has 10 employees, three in Boise. The Boise office handles the technical aspects of the operation, including writing software, documentation, creating training videos and providing customer support. The company is looking for employees who want to move out of New York City. The company also wants to hire seasoned workers because the job requires about two years of training. Source: Idaho Business Review
Hendricks Commercial Properties of Beloit, Wisconsin, closed a $24 million deal to purchase the buildings that make up Downtown Boise’s BoDo commercial district. The district includes two buildings anchored by P.F. Chang’s and Edwards Boise Downtown theaters. It also includes ground-floor business sites under the public parking garage. Altogether, the buildings have 10 tenants. Hendricks liked the dynamics of the Boise market and wanted to have a larger presence in the West. BoDo was a pioneer in establishing diverse national retail in the downtown core. “Downtown Boise is at a crossroads, “according to Matt Rivers, developer and former owner of BoDo. “Retail is fading to more restaurants and shopping plazas. In downtown, we need to keep the character and culture of a dynamic urban hub. That means more retail, not less.” The new owners of BoDo want to give the downtown Boise commercial/office/movie complex more personality. So they are spending at least $3 million to dress up the exterior with historic detail between Broad and Front streets. Source: Idaho Statesman & Idaho Business Review
A new 81-apartment building under construction at Fifth and Idaho streets in Boise is hoping to set a new standard for creative neighborhood integration. The project includes ground-floor retail. The something extra is a pocket park. The intention is to have the park as a gathering place for “theatrical events, movies, music and other activities that work with the neighborhood. The 1,120-square-foot park will have artificial turf designed to reduce maintenance. The historic Davies Reid Building, designed by architect John C. Paulsen in 1892, is just west of the new apartments. The park will create an open airy space between the structures that allows people to see the old building’s Flemish romantic-style architecture from down the street. The apartments will be a mix of one and two bedrooms, and townhouse-style lofts that will range in size from 500 to 1,000 square feet. Other amenities include a rooftop deck with an outdoor kitchen and fire pit, and a dog-washing station. Construction should be completed by the fall of 2018. The apartments replace Gibson’s Funeral Home. Source: Idaho Statesman
Boise Mobile Equipment, a Boise company that makes fire trucks for urban and wildland firefighting, is expanding. The company acquired two new buildings and has grown from 28,000 square feet to 103,000 square feet of manufacturing space. The company is slated to produce 82 fire trucks this year, up from 18 in 2014. Source: Idaho Business Review
Guns & Oil is taking over the original Payette Brewing Company building in Garden City. The space will be the company’s first actual production facility. Founded in a southwest Austin garage in 2013, Guns & Oil has been hiring other breweries to make its line of lagers. The Garden City location should be able to brew about 5,000 barrels in its first year and will expand to 10,000. The brewery should be up and running by the end of the year with the taproom to open in January. Source: Idaho Statesman
ULedger, a Boise blockchain service provider, has grown from 3,200 clients in January 2017 to about 15,000 in November. The company uses blockchain technology to enable companies to create secure and unchangeable records for any logged records, including email and financial transactions. The technology breaks each record into a series of coded messages that are stored in disparate servers, meaning a single hack won’t yield all of the pieces. ULedger is positioned to become a leader in the growing cybersecurity industry. The company has six full-time employees as well as several contractors. Recruiting experienced blockchain developers is a challenge, but the company would like to expand and hire a dozen more next year along filling some marketing and development positions. Source: Idaho Business Review
The cost to park in any of the eight Capital City Development Corp. (CCDC) garages will increase in 2018. The new monthly parking fee will range from $100 to $220 depending on how close drivers want to get to the tallest towers. The hourly rate will increase from $2.50 to $3 with the $12 daily maximum increasing to $15. The 2018 rates will have three tiers to give drivers more options. The new rates reflect the supply and demand based on a parking survey done in August. CCDC currently has 1,744 monthly pass holders for 1,695 designated monthly parking spots, but only 70 to 75 percent of monthly parking sports are used during a typical weekday daytime. About 50 of the monthly passes are rarely used. The additional revenue generated from the new parking rates will be split between maintenance/operations and funding transportation options. Source: Idaho Business Review
Coldwell Banker Commercial Advisors have a new 4,080-square-foot Boise office. The new office is a major upgrade from the 800 square foot office that the 10 staff members have been working in since 2011. The company expects to add 10 to 12 agents to the current six Boise agents working in the next year. The current commission income in Boise is about $1.5 million but could reach $3 million to $4 million in the coming year. Source: Idaho Business Review
The City of Boise swore in 11 new police officers Nov. 20 and would like to hire 12 more in the next round. Currently the department has 290 sworn officers. There are 32 female officers, or 11 percent. Source: Idaho Statesman
Boise-based law firm Hawley Troxell hired Cathy Silak, a former judge on the Idaho Supreme Court and Court of Appeals to head up a new division to tackle appeals case. The idea of establishing an appellate division came to fruition after lawyers from another established Boise firm, Moffatt Thomas, closed their practice and joined Hawley Troxell. With the decision by Moffatt Thomas lawyers to join Hawley Troxell, the roster was boosted to 75 lawyers including 60 in Boise. Silak will oversee 15 lawyers who tackle cases that end up before the two courts where she sat and the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. Source: Idaho Statesman
CS Beef Packers in Kuna plans to use a $1 million Idaho Workforce Development Training Fund grant to hire about 700 new full-time workers. The average wage for the jobs will be $17.28 per hour plus employer assisted medical benefits. The jobs include production workers, drivers, safety technicians and supervisors. The company’s meat processing services include packing, rendering and tanning hides. Source: Idaho Department of Labor
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has signed off on a right-of-way that will allow Idaho Power to build a 293-mile transmission line from Oregon to Idaho. It is anticipated the construction project will create nearly 500 jobs. The line will stretch from just east of Boardman, Oregon, along the Columbia River, to a substation southwest of Boise. Construction will start in 2021 and takes two to three years to complete. Source: Idaho Business Review
Boise is a test market for the Little Caesars Pizza Portal, a self-service mobile pick-up station. Using the Little Caesars pizza app, a customer places the order, drives to the portal, enters a 3-digit PIN or scans a QR code. The compartment opens and the customer removes the order and leaves. Source: Idaho Statesman
Gem Prep Charter School will open two new schools in Nampa and Meridian. The Meridian school will be located at Eagle and Overland roads in an existing building that was previously used by Broadview University. Classes will be available for kindergarten through sixth grade. The Nampa school, which has been sharing a building with New Horizons, will move to its new campus on West Iowa Avenue in August 2018. The Meridian location will be the third in Idaho. Gem Prep also has a location in Pocatello. Gem Prep schools are expected to expand to eventually serve kindergarten through 12th grade. Source: Idaho Press Tribune
A project envisioned by students and faculty at Nampa’s Northwest Nazarene University resulted in a launch of Idaho’s first 3-D printed cube satellite – MakerSat-0 – into space Nov. 18 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. MakerSat is a 4-inch cube with an on-board computer and radio, which will gather and send information via satellite about the cube’s performance. The project is exploring how 3-D printer material will hold up in space. The project was made possible through funding by Idaho Space Grant Consortium and partnerships with made in Space, Near Space Launch, NASA, NanoRacks and Plexus. It will orbit around the earth’s poles 14 times a day at 17,000 mph for the next several years, sending back data on the robustness of various 3D printed polymers in the harsh space environment and measuring space radiation levels in the polar auroras. Caldwell High School students contributed a circuit board that will measure radiation in space. Source: Idaho Press Tribune
The Idaho Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has its first full-time CEO and president, Diane Bevan. The chamber is based at the Hispanic Cultural Center in Nampa with more than 80 members. The chamber’s mission is to promote, develop and help Hispanic-owned businesses succeed while actively promoting trade between the Hispanic-American business community and its international counterparts. The chamber’s strategic plan for 2018 is to provide more educational opportunities, leadership training and promoting advocacy at the state level. Source: Idaho Press Tribune
Karl Keeler, president of Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Nampa and Ontario, Oregon, is leaving to take a new position as president of Mercy Medical Center-Des Moines in Iowa. Keller has served as president since 2010. During his leadership Saint Alphonsus opened its new, five-story, 240,000-square-foot, $80 million hospital near Interstate 84 and Garrity Boulevard in the summer of 2017, replacing the hospital on 12th Avenue Road. A search committee comprised of Saint Al’s board of directors will select Keeler’s replacement. Source: Idaho Press Tribune
Amalgamated Sugar Company reported sugar yields are down 1 percent, revealing another casualty of last year’s harsh winter. The 2017 harvested tonnage per acre is roughly equal to the average, but the combination of a cold winter, late planting and unseasonably hot summer means harvested beets have a lower sugar content. That loss could mean up to a $35 million in lost revenue for the company, which just passed its 75th This year’s harvested sugar beets were only 17 percent sugar, not the 18 percent projected. The 2016 crop had a sugar content of 19 percent. Source: Idaho Press Tribune
Emmett Public Works Department reported it saved the city $1.3 million during fiscal year 2016-17 by not having to hire contractors for much of the work needed for roads, water, sewer, parks, cemetery, city hall and technical. Most of the cost savings came in road work. Some of the projects involved installing power lights and equipment on the snow plows. It was necessary to bring on some private contractors to help with the big projects. Source: Messenger Index
McCall is rebuilding streets and sidewalks around four blocks in downtown. Every spring, the freeze and thaw cycle cracks the streets, sending city crews rushing to patch up the pavement. The cycle dates back 50 or more years. The four-block area – First, Second, Park and Lenora – has broken sidewalks, no sidewalk, no curbs, wheelchair ramps that don’t meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and places where the street level has dropped below the curb. A $1.3 million local option tax funding will be used to fund the project. The first phase will be underground utility work from August to November 2018. The Second and Lenora work will take place in the spring through the fall of 2019. The third phase will be the work on Park in 2020. The final phase will be First Street in 2021-22. Source: Idaho Business Review
Northwest Passage Apartments, an $8 million, 35-unit apartment-complex, opened in Donnelly in mid-November. The complex is intended to make a dent in the affordable housing shortage in the city. Reduced rents are offered to individuals and families with qualifying incomes up to $36,000 per year. Rents will range from $422 to $725 per month for a one-bedroom apartment, $508 to $850 for a two-bedroom, and $660 to $950 for a three bedroom. Two units are fully accessible for tenants with disabilities and another is designed for tenants who are visually and hearing impaired. Source: The Star News
Ridley’s Family Markets is planning to build a new store next to Bi-Mart in Weiser. Ridley’s grocery store and pharmacy was forced to close last January after part of the roof collapsed from a record amount of snow. The store currently occupies the old King’s building with only 10,000 square feet, about one-fifth of the size of the new store and it will employ more people than the old one. The decision to build the new store was made based on the larger amount of space available. The new store will be built on a portion of six acres along East Sixth Street. Source: Weiser Signal America
Pantera Market, a Hispanic grocery store with two locations in Caldwell, is expanding to Nampa on North Franklin Boulevard near Interstate 84.
The Wylder, a new pizza restaurant, located on the ground floor of The Fowler apartment building in downtown Boise. Beside pizza, Wylder’s has daily supper specials, salads and craft beer on tap or bottle.
Caffé Luciano opened its second Treasure Valley location Dec. 1 on the Garden City side of Esther Simplot Park.
Gas Lantern Drinking Company located at Capital Boulevard and Fulton Street, offers two signature smoked drinks, beer, cocktails and other non-smoked drinks.
A second Black Bear Diner opened Nov. 13 in Boise’s North Pointe development.
A new Arby’s opened Nov. 29 in Eagle. This is the fifth Arby’s in the Treasure Valley and first in Eagle. It is the new modern ‘Inspire’ design with a fresh, new color palette and strong geometric shapes and elements.
Gaucho’s Mobile, a food truck, debuted in Caldwell Nov. 3. It serves food reflecting the owner’s Argentine heritage. The truck is located on Blaine Street.
See’s Candies will open a temporary candy shop in the Village at Meridian for the holiday season.
The new St. Luke’s hospital in Nampa opened Oct. 30.
Certified Inc. Rug & Furniture Cleaners in Boise’s Hyde Park closed after 67 years.
Bleubird in downtown Boise will close Jan. 28 as owners Dave Kelly and Sarah Kornfield move on to a new restaurant adventure.
Native Grill and Wings in Nampa closed after being open a year.
SOUTH CENTRAL IDAHO – Blaine, Camas, Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka and Twin Falls counties
Commercial Creamery, Glanbia Nutritionals and Hamilton Manufacturing traveled to Taiwan and Vietnam in November to establish and strengthen trade agreements. The products touted include cheese and cheese powders as well as erosion-control materials and insulation. Scott Bedke, House Speaker from Oakley, led the group with representation from the Idaho Departments of Agriculture and Commerce. In all, 21 Idaho organizations participated in the trip. Details on connections made will be released when available. Source: Times-News
Hemingway Elementary School in Ketchum, Jerome School District, Summit Elementary School in Jerome and Xavier Charter School in Twin Falls have received 3-D printer donations from the Idaho STEM Action Center. The schools will participate in FabSLAM, a digital fabrication competition for students in Idaho, Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Teachers will be coaches for the upcoming FabSLAM. Source: Times-News
Former executive director of Southern Idaho Tourism Debbie Dane received the 2017 Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award in the area of recreation and tourism. In her 15 years on the job, Dane coordinated the blending of regional tourist and recreation service providers into one group. She also worked to establish a master plan for the Snake River Canyon’s North Rim Park project — a continuing goal for the area. Source: Times-News
Sun Valley Resort opened its ski season on Thanksgiving Day. Source: Times-News
The Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley will be in a new 30,000-square-foot building next fall. The $13.3 million facility will have a 10,000-square-foot surgery center, an education barn and dog cabins instead of a conventional kennel. The architecture and design team are from Boulder, Colorado, and Ann Arbor, Michigan. McAlvain Construction of Boise serving as the general contractor. Established in 1982, the animal welfare center has outgrown its space with an estimated 655 adoptions in 2017. On average, there are 800 spays and neuters carried out annually. It was the first Idaho shelter to establish a ‘no kill’ policy in 1999. Source: Idaho Business Review
The Visit Sun Valley organization recently revised its membership dues resulting in 40 new memberships. A dedicated Local Option Tax funds the organization, so leadership decided to waive fees if a business is paying the tax. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
Year-to-date 2017, Hailey has seen a positive net change in new businesses opening. In the past couple of years, the number of closures has been almost double the openings. There have been 154 building permits issued so far in 2017 compared with 144 in 2016. The value of new building in Hailey is $23 million compared with $15 million last year. The anticipated new Marriott Hotel has yet to pull its $6 million permit. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
Year-over-year enplanements at Friedman Memorial Airport increased by 7.3 percent in June, 8.7 percent in July and 7.3 percent in August, according to a presentation from Visit Sun Valley in late November. In a survey among business owners, 52.8 percent reported they had a better summer in 2017 than last year, 38.9 percent reporting it was the same while 8.3 percent reported the summer was worse than in 2016. Hotel occupancy experienced a spike the weekend before the solar eclipse in correlation with a 97 percent increase in average daily rate compared to the same period in 2016. The hotel occupancy rate was 35 percent for the winter 2016-2017, jumping to 44 percent in the summer of 2017. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
The building that housed the former Blaine Manor will be razed in an effort to enhance the ground’s marketability. The Hailey property, owned by the county, is assessed at $3 million and of yet has not received an offer for this value. Mitigation must occur to remove asbestos and an underground fuel tank before full-on marketing of the parcel can take place.
Sun Valley voters approved a road bond with 235 for to 115 against for $17.5 million with work starting next year. The bond will finance repairs to roads, bike paths and bridges in the city over the next four years. The impact to property tax adds $277 annually to a $500,000 home for the next 20 years. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
Ketchum has been designated an International Dark Sky Community — there are only 16 in the world. This follows concerted efforts to reduce excess artificial light in the city. The Craters of the Moon National Monument is the other International Dark Sky Community in Idaho. Efforts are underway to name 1,400 square miles in central Idaho with the same designation — this would be the first large area so designated in the nation. Source: Washington Post
The Auberge Resort Sun Valley has started excavating its construction site after months of inactivity. The construction was to start spring of 2017, but was delayed a year and has scheduled pouring of concrete for this spring. The building permit expires the first part of 2019. Workforce housing accompanies the building of the luxury hotel and is in design stages. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
The Rupert Square will undergo a $2.7 million facelift next year financed by a combination of general obligation bond, community block grant, city, in-kind contributions and private donations. The degree of enhancement will depend on how favorable the bids come in. This long-term project follows on the heels of a presentation by Roger Brooks regarding the value of a downtown that has programmed activities and curb appeal with consistent hours held by a critical mass of retailers and eateries. Narrow streets and wide sidewalks are a design goal, but a plaza is the heart of the square. Source: Times-News
A machine operator apprenticeship at the high school level will start with students in the Minidoka School District and the Cassia Joint School District. Industry has been a driver in the development of curriculum, providing equipment and financing the instructor with Fabri-Kal, High Desert Milk and McCain Foods collaborating to develop this two-year program. Chet Jeppesen with Idaho Department of Labor spent two years working with the key players to ensure the students will be paid an increasing wage between $10 and $12 an hour after signing a contract to ensure they attended classes and showed up for work. The students will get one credit for the classroom work, but still working to ensure there is credit through the College of Southern Idaho. The low unemployment pushed all entities to agree that ”earning while learning” is the most efficient introduction to manufacturing. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has waived the 18 years-and-older requirement so the students can work in a manufacturing plant during the summer. Source: Times-News
Twin Falls County
Chobani hosted a ground-breaking ceremony for its Innovation and Community Center that will serve myriad needs including space for community events, a food processing incubator that will serve entrepreneurial needs and meeting rooms for the community. The space will be a cross between a commercial kitchen and a maker’s space with a little research and development and education tossed in the mix. Administrative staff will have offices in the 70,000-square-foot building. This follows five years of working out of modules while the plant expanded and added production lines to meet demand and growth projections. “This is epic for Idaho,” Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter said. “That office building says something very definite. The trailer houses move off, the permanency is in place.” The building will provide a wellness center for new mothers and a 2,000-square-foot employee fitness center is also included in the design. The estimated cost is around $14 million, coming after a $100 million expansion in 2016. “This place is going to be like a Silicon Valley of food innovation,” according to Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO and chairman of Chobani. Working together, Chobani and Twin Falls have helped to “reinvent rural,” according to Mayor Shawn Barigar. Source: Times-News
Serenity Healthcare skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility in Twin Falls.
The Chamber is opening up a part-time office in Ketchum, establishing space in the Ketchum Innovation Center. The full-time endeavors will continue to operate out of the Hailey Chamber office.
Kimi Recovery Center opened its doors in downtown Twin Falls offering mental health and substance abuse counseling services.
Yellow Brick café opened in downtown Twin Falls offering a farm-to-table menu.
The Dollar Store in Rupert.
Good Samaritan Clinic, a free clinic that has opened on a demand-driven basis in Shoshone. There are fewer than 15 free clinics in Idaho. The clinic will need volunteers to keep the doors open.
SOUTHEASTERN IDAHO – Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Caribou, Franklin, Oneida & Power counties
All across southeastern Idaho, multiple bonds and levies were up for vote last month. The election outcomes were as follows: Successful
A $3.7 million special revenue bond to improve sanitary sewer system facilities in Firth.
A $1.7 million special revenue bond for the connection of additional water sources to the water system in Franklin City.
Grace cemetery levy for $8,000 a year for two years.
Bancroft cemetery levy for $6,000 a year for two years.
A $16 million bond to expand the Bannock County jail in Pocatello and help fund crisis services.
A $5 million bond to extend the life of the Blackfoot indoor swimming pool.
A $750,000 school plant facilities reserve fund levy for Snake River School District.
A vote to add Bingham County to the College of Eastern Idaho’s community college district.
Thatcher cemetery levy for $2,500 a year for two years.
Source: Idaho State Journal, KIDK, Caribou County Sun
Idaho State University received a $1.3 million TRiO Veterans Upward Bound grant for a pre-college program to help veterans pursue higher education. The grant will focus on recruiting some of the approximately 16,000 veterans now living in Bannock, Bingham, Bonneville, Jefferson and Power counties and on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. The program’s goal is to begin serving participants by mid-January and have 125 veterans enrolled for fall 2018. Source: Idaho State University
Developers are moving forward with the Northgate project – a planned community – in Pocatello. They are in the process of annexing 296 acres into the city of Pocatello, just north of Chubbuck and east of Interstate 15. Source: KPVI
Portneuf Health Trust has purchased 20 acres of land for the future medical campus of the Northgate development in north Pocatello. The trust is currently working on a master plan of the campus. Construction is expected to start in the summer of 2018 and have some services operational next winter. Source: KPVI
Pocatello City Council voted Thursday to join Regional Economic Development for Eastern Idaho (REDI). The organization will help support the city’s new economic development program focusing on business recruitment, expansion and retention efforts. Source: KIDK
The new owners of Station Square apartments in Old Town Pocatello will be renovating and adding 22 new units. At least 10 units are expected to be completed in Station Square and ready for move-in by next summer. Source: KPVI
A new seven-plex movie theatre, the Blackfoot Movie Mill, will be opening in the old Blackfoot Motors building in Blackfoot. The theatre is expected to open in June 2018. Source: KIDK
The U.S. Forest Service has purchased about 60 acres of private land inside the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in eastern Idaho that contains key spawning habitat for Yellowstone cutthroat trout. The Nature Conservancy of Idaho assisted with the deal. Officials didn’t release the selling price. Source: Idaho Business Review
The Friends of the Soda Springs City Park broke ground on a new playground and splash pad this month. The total cost for both is $350,000. So far, $198,000 has been raised. The committee is confident it can raise the rest of the money by May 2018. Source: Caribou County Sun
The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality awarded a $2,249,500 low-interest drinking water construction loan to the city of Weston last month. The funding will be used to construct a new water storage tank, a new well, well house and transmission line. Source: The Preston Citizen
City officials broke ground for a new Wendy’s restaurant in Preston. The new store will be opening in the spring of 2018. Source: The Preston Citizen
John Irrigation Company has completed its $2.5 million pressurized pipeline project pending a final walk-through by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The first water sent into the pipeline was on June of this year, just in time for the farmers to begin irrigating their crops. Source: The Idaho Enterprise
The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality awarded the city of American Falls in Power County a $20,000 drinking water planning grant. The funds will be used to prepare a planning document to evaluate the water system’s deficiencies and identify necessary improvements. The total eligible cost of the project is $40,000. The remaining $20,000 will be funded by the city of American Falls. Source: KIDK
J.R. Simplot Co. plans to build a Simplot Grower Solutions retail facility with a 30,000-ton capacity outside of Aberdeen in Power County. Construction is expected to take 18 to 24 months to complete. Source: Idaho Business Review
Western Edge Saloon in Blackfoot.
Caribou Memorial Hospital Therapy Services Clinic in Soda Springs.
For the fifth consecutive year, Idaho National Laboratory (INL) officials have exceeded their goals to work with small businesses. INL contractor Battelle Energy Alliance spent $194,555,080 with small businesses during fiscal year 2017. That was 58.1 percent of the lab’s total business – about 7 percent more than required. Source: Post Register
INL’s Transient Reactor Test Facility (TREAT) is operational for the first time since 1994. TREAT, located at the U.S. Department of Energy desert site west of Idaho Falls, allows researchers to test nuclear fuels in extreme conditions. The steps to restart TREAT were put in motion following a congressional mandate to develop accident-tolerant nuclear fuels in response to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
In its 100-plus years, the block-long, two-story building that anchors the west end of downtown Salmon has been the site of an enduring retail store – McPherson’s Dry Goods Company. Now the imposing brick structure, built in 1902, is due to undergo yet another incarnation. Fred Snook, local attorney, historian and descendant of a pioneering Lemhi County ranch family, and his namesake son have undertaken an extensive restoration of the 19,000-square-foot building with an eye to leasing space to businesses such as Nature’s Pantry, the local health-food store. Source: Post Register
Jefferson County held its groundbreaking ceremony for its courthouse expansion in Rigby in November. The project is estimated to take 14 months to complete. The expansion will consolidate county offices that are currently scattered throughout Rigby and will include an assembly room and an unfinished basement for possible further expansion. Source: Post Register
The owners of the century-old Century Drug in Driggs have started construction on a second pharmacy 8 miles down the road in Victor. Victor Drug will likely have two or three employees and the building, a 1,000-square-foot store, is expected to open summer of 2018. Source: Idaho Business Review
Dutch Bros. Coffee will build its first store in Idaho Falls at the location of the former Sarah’s Candy Cottage. The company applied for a permit at the Idaho Falls Building Department for an 800-square-foot structure. Source: Bizmojo
Buttercup Bakery became Chapolera Coffee in mid -November. The timing worked out for both parties: Buttercup’s owner had been trying to sell the business for some time and Chapolera’s owners were ready to move out of the Idaho Innovation Center on North Yellowstone. Source: BizMojo
The Idaho Falls Zoo had its highest-ever attendance this year, according to a city of Idaho Falls news release. It said the zoo drew 158,534 visitors during the 2016-17 fiscal year, which ran from October 2016 to September 2017. It beat the previous record of 132,615, set in 2015-16. Source: Post Register
The Idaho Falls City Council voted to create an urban renewal district for the Jackson Hole Junction site off Sunnyside Road near Interstate 15. The 42-acre shopping center, being developed by Morgan Construction, is slated to be bordered by Teton Toyota, Sunnyside Road, I-15 and Pioneer Drive. The Jackson Hole Junction renewal district has a $4 million improvement cap over a 13-year span. Source: Post Register
City elected officials, philanthropists and other prominent local figures gathered this month for a groundbreaking ceremony to kick off a major expansion of the Museum of Idaho. The expansion will roughly double the size of the museum and allow it to remain open year-round. Funding for the $4 million expansion comes from a capital campaign the museum has actively pursued for well over a year, combined with a National Endowment for the Humanities grant with a three-to-one matching ratio.
Modern Home Furniture in Ammon.
Sip and Fizz Soda Shop in Idaho Falls.
Bill’s Bike &Run opened its third eastern Idaho location in Ammon’s Sandcreek Commons.
LunchboxWax plans to open in December in Ammon. It will be eastern Idaho’s first body-waxing salon.
Kmart in Ammon.
College of Southern Idaho satellite campus in Idaho Falls.
The Parks and Recreation Committee in Coeur d’Alene voted to ban offshore businesses in the city’s water corridor on Lake Coeur d’Alene. The decision will affect enterprises like the Hooligan Island jungle gym barge and boats that sell food. The committee sited the danger of motorized boat traffic near the beach, in water that is generally full of kayakers, paddle-boarders and swimmers in the summer. Source: Coeur D’Alene Press
Developers Philip Wirth and Rick Robinson have announced plans to create a 233-acre technology park on Highway 41 in Post Falls. The complex is being designed with technology and aerospace manufactures in mind, and the developers have specifically cited proximity to North Idaho College’s technical schools in Rathdrum as a draw to the location. Source: Coeur D’Alene Press
Alliance Data – citing strong growth in its Card Services division – announced plans to add 140 workers in Kootenai County by the end of 2017. This would raise the total employment at the company’s Coeur d’Alene complex to 750 employees, from 610 currently. A company spokesman said that Alliance anticipates a further expansion to between 800 and 850 employees in 2018. Source: Spokane Journal of Business
Viking Construction has begun work on the third and final phase of the Fieldstone Apartments project in Post Falls. This phase will add 64 units to the complex. Source: Spokane Journal of Business
Cascade Team Real Estate – a brokerage based in Issaquah, Washington – announced it plans to open a new office in Coeur d’Alene. Cascade Team focuses on residential real estate and does not provide commercial listings or property management services. Source: Spokane Journal of Business
SPi CRM, a Philippines-based call center, is remodeling the former Sports Authority space in the Silver Lake Mall in Coeur d’Alene to use as a new customer-service call center. SPi’s spokesman noted that the company anticipates total staffing of around 240 employees. Source: Spokane Journal of Business
A lumber mill in Athol owned by Vaagen Brothers Lumber suffered significant damage in an Aug. 9 fire. Although more than 50 percent of the facility was consumed, none of the mill’s employees were injured. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
The Post Falls City Council approved a new budget with no increase to property taxes and a fee increase which will affect water and wastewater fees. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
North Idaho College hosted the annual Art on the Green event. The art fair, which featured more than 160 artists, drew an estimated 50,000 patrons in its three-day run from Aug. 4-6. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
Sandpoint’s new fiber network has begun expanding to business, including Timberline Helicopters and Tamarack Aerospace. Fatbeam, the fiber provider, cited the projects as examples of how public/private partnerships can work, while Sandpoint city officials noted that the fiber will help companies in need of better connectivity to keep their headquarters in Sandpoint. Source: Bonner County Daily Bee
Idaho’s new business establishments have added more than 10,000 private sector jobs per year over the past two decades, accounting for between 20 to 30 percent of private sector gross job gains and nearly all net private sector job growth. Since the end of the last recession, the share of private sector new businesses in Idaho’s economy has risen faster than surrounding states and the nation as a whole, growing from 7 percent of all establishments in 2010 to more than 11 percent in 2016. Job creation by these private startup businesses, however, remains in decline.
Idaho startup rates and failure rates are higher than national averages
In Idaho, as with the rest of the nation, the rise in the number of businesses entering the economy was significantly stymied by the most recent recession that started in December 2007. At the end of the first quarter of 2010, the number of establishment entries in Idaho had sunk to less than 3,000 from its prerecession peak of 5,073. Since then, the downward trend reversed and establishment entries have returned to pre-recession levels.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistic – Business Employment Dynamics. Startups are establishments less than a year old and do not include non-employer establishments
Intermax Networks is now serving Sandpoint’s new city-owned fiber optic cable service. Access to the city’s cable allows Intermax to nearly double its service in Sandpoint and supports the city’s goals of expanding the availability of fiber. Source: Idaho Business Review
Construction on The Crossings – a new 37-acre business complex in Athol – began in June with the first work on a new Super 1 Foods grocery store. The complex is designed to serve the significant rural population of northern Kootenai County and may eventually include medical and financial service providers. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
The Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce has curtailed its financial support of the CDA Ironman competitions. After 14 years of full Ironman races, the city will instead begin hosting half-Ironman competitions beginning in 2018. Source: Spokesman Review
Silverwood Theme Park has fully ramped up for the summer season after opening its Boulder Beach water park. A representative from the park noted that sales of both season passes and individual tickets are up significantly from the previous year, when Canadian traffic dropped due to a weaker Canadian dollar. Season pass sales are up 23 percent over 2016, while individual ticket sales are up 20 percent. Source: Idaho Business Review
The city of Coeur d’Alene will postpone its planned widening and reconstruction of Government Way. The city received only one bid for the project, which was 34 percent higher than the city’s initial estimate. A city spokesman indicated that the narrow timeframe associated with the project was contributing to high costs, as the project would have required significant overtime work. Source: Spokesman Review