Economic Activity in Idaho in January

Here is a roundup of economic news compiled by the Idaho Department of Labor in January:

NORTHERN IDAHO

Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai & Shoshone counties

Regional  Developments
  • North Idaho College was awarded a three-year $100,000 grant from Avista Utilities to offer an Integrated Business Entrepreneurship program. Students will learn how to evaluate their business concepts and start their own businesses. The program will also give them the background to evaluate whether they should buy specific businesses. After students earn their certificates, they will be eligible for business loans of up to $15,000 through the Avista Micro-Enterprise Loan Fund.
  • A $900,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will expand the number of medical residents in Spokane and help create a medical training clinic in Spokane’s University District. The federal funding will extend the program into its second year so that in 2015 there will be money supporting 12 residents for the clinic. There is a possible third year of funding if the program is successful.

County Developments

Bonner County

  • Coldwater Creek reported a loss of $23.8 million for third quarter 2013 on revenue of $154.5 million. The company closed one retail store, one factory store and one spa in the same quarter. It currently has 343 retail stores, 36 factory stores and seven spas.

Kootenai County

  • A new 39-lot, gated subdivision was approved in Coeur d’Alene. Active West Development sought $371,000 from the Lake City Development Corp. for infrastructure. Total property value would increase from $536,000 to $6.4 million. The tax revenue generated from that increase would be used to reimburse the developer for the infrastructure. The development corporation agreed to partner with the city of Coeur d’Alene and the Coeur d’Alene Downtown Association on a two-year $400,000 sidewalk repair program. The city will pay $300,000, the downtown association $30,000 and the development corporation $70,000 for the project.

Shoshone County

  • U.S. Silver & Gold Inc. has reached an agreement with the Mine Safety and Health Administration to modify a previously issued order and re-opened its Galena Mine Shaft #3, which is used for hoisting ore. The mine recalled employees impacted by the closure. The original federal order followed a routine inspection that found the need for repairs on the shaft between the 4,600-foot and 5,200-foot levels. The shaft was shut down pending an agreed plan to resolve pre-existing citations, which were unrelated to employee injury and did not allege imminent danger in the mine. The affected employees were temporarily sent home while the company worked to resolve the issues with the federal agency.
Openings & Expansions
  • Thrux Lawrence, a men’s clothing good store in Coeur d’Alene
  • Hanksters, a second-hand store in Coeur d’Alene
  • All About You Bridal & Prom in Coeur d’Alene
  • Urban Acupuncture and Therapeutic Massage in Coeur d’Alene
  • Asian Twist Restaurant in Coeur d’Alene
  • Huckleberry Thicket in Post Falls
  • Lover’s Getaway/Spiritual Retreat outside Sandpoint
  • Fibers First in Post Falls
  • H&E Equipment Services expansion in Post Falls
Closures
  • Coeur d’Alene Dog Co.
  • Brycie’s Cheesesteaks and Subs in Coeur d’Alene
  • The Beverage Shack in Coeur d’Alene

Alivia.Metts@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 769-1558 ext. 3486

NORTH CENTRAL IDAHO

Clearwater, Idaho, Latah, Lewis and Nez Perce counties

County Developments

Clearwater County

  • The city of Orofino issued a $2.16 million permit to Clearwater Valley Hospital and Clinics in December for a new 20,122-square-foot clinic. The hospital is looking for contractors for the project that is expected to be completed this fall.

Idaho and Lewis counties

  • Expansion at Evergreen Forest Products near New Meadows will return the mill to production levels not seen since 2000 and increase its employment there from 65 to 77. Some of Evergreen’s workers live in the Riggins area. Evergreen employs 25 at its planing mill in Kooskia. Wages range from $15 to $23 per hour. In the 1990s, the Kooskia operation included a sawmill and employed about 80 people. The sawmill closed in 2007, and employment at the planing operation fell below 10.
  • When Grangeville resident Orrin Webb died a year ago, he left his entire estate of $6.1 million to benefit the local community, and several building projects and community service enhancements have resulted. The city of Grangeville and Syringa Hospital each received 20 percent of the total, and another 20 percent was split among the Episcopal, Christian and United Methodist churches. Other recipients included the Shriners, University of Idaho, Elks Rehabilitation Center, Mountain View School District’s Webb Memorial Scholarship, Kids Klub Inc., Grangeville Elks and Mount Idaho Lodge.
  • Clearwater and Nez Perce National Forests will soon move their headquarters to Kamiah. The 3,475-square-mile Nez Perce National Forest has ranger stations in Grangeville, between Riggins and White Bird, Red River near Elk City and near Lowell and Syringa. The 2,813-square-mile Clearwater National Forest in parts of Idaho, Clearwater, Latah and Shoshone counties includes ranger districts in Kamiah, Kooskia, Orofino, Potlatch and Lolo. In 2008, the two forests took the first steps toward consolidation to save $2 million a year. The next year, they had a common supervisor, and in February 2013 the forests were officially consolidated as the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. The combined forests met the savings goals by reorganizing staff and eliminating duplicate positions through attrition as employees have retired or moved to other jobs. Now the Forest Service is preparing three buildings at the ranger station in Kamiah to accommodate 45 headquarters employees. Remodeling should be completed in February.

Latah County

  • The University of Idaho received Idaho State Board of Education approval in December to begin designing a new $1.3 million aquaculture facility on campus to replace the existing facility on Poultry Hill. It is less costly to build a new aquaculture center than bring the current one up to code. The facility includes tanks for fish rearing and laboratories for research to improve commercial aquaculture production and to restore native fish populations in the region.
  • Even during the recession, 100 percent of the students graduating from the University of Idaho Professional Golfers’ Association Golf Management program found jobs in their fields. The program is just one of 20 accredited programs at universities across the U.S. Since the five-year program began in 2002, all of its graduates have found work in the golf industry following graduation. While earning a business marketing degree, students also take courses in golf merchandising, turf grass management, player development and other golf-related subjects. They are required to have 16 months of internship experience. Three out of four students find a job working at a golf course as a professional handling the business side of things. Others work for publications that cover golf or manufacturers that make products for golfers.
  • Washington State University regents approved four construction projects on the Pullman campus totaling $7.65 million in November. They include $2 million for design and pre-construction of renovations to Troy Hall, which was built in the 1920s; $2.4 million to improve the women’s soccer field, which is to be completed in August; $1.65 million to renovate the Johnson Annex to provide spaces for the Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles program and $1.6 million to replace the roof on Johnson Hall this summer.
  • Two Genesee teachers won the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Two K-12 teachers are chosen from each state annually. This year, Idaho is the only state where both winners teach at the same school. Tauna Johnson, a fifth-grade science teacher, has partnered with the University of Idaho to write multiple science grants during her 24-year career. She enlists doctoral students to visit the classroom and spends time with university researchers in the field, which helps her develop new ideas for lessons and for student projects. Her students recently designed a recycling station for the school lunchroom. Donna Wommack, a fourth-grade math teacher, has spent her 19-year career trying to find creative ways for her students to apply their math skills. Instead of handing out worksheets for the students to complete, she prefers designing projects that involve problem-solving with numbers.
  • The University of Idaho provides considerable support to Idaho’s vineyards and wineries. Esmaeil Fallahi, the director of Pomology and Viticulture at the Parma Research and Extension Center, researched areas with microclimates warm enough to grow wine grapes and launched Idaho’s research on the subject. His research on 52 red and white wine grape varieties led to today’s 1,700 acres of wine grapes grown in Idaho. Architecture professor Wendy McClure and 16 students worked with Nez Perce County planners last year to consider whether new codes are needed for wineries re-emerging along the Snake and Clearwater rivers. The students also drafted site plans for three wineries, providing valuable insights. The local wine industry currently is waiting for word that 535 square miles in north central Idaho and southeast Washington will become Idaho’s second American Viticulture Area. That recognition gives wines a pedigree and makes them more marketable.

Nez Perce and Asotin counties

  • The region’s largest boat builder acquired a smaller builder in early January. Renaissance Marine Group – the Clarkston manufacturer of Northwest Boats, Weldcraft and Duckworth jet boats – acquired Hells Canyon Marine at the Port of Wilma just west of Clarkston. The port facility will give the company more space for expansion. The acquisition gives Renaissance a line of heavy-gauge aluminum river jet boats that can withstand extreme whitewater conditions. The 10 employees at Hells Canyon have been offered jobs with Renaissance. Its employment grew from 80 in 2012 to 100 in 2013, and more hiring is expected in the coming year. With American consumers increasing their spending after being skittish since the recession began, Renaissance currently has the largest backlog of orders ever.
  • Idaho Forest Group is making a multimillion-dollar investment at its Lewiston mill, installing the HewSaw – log-processing equipment built in Finland and shipped to Lewiston in eight pieces. Construction began in November on a new building for the sawing equipment and was completed at the beginning of January. Production starts in April and a merchandiser and log sorting systems will be constructed and should become operational in July.
  • The Port of Lewiston recently began using the 150-foot extension to its 120-foot dock. The $2.8 million expansion allows two barges at a time to load or unload more safely and efficiently. A bumper can be removed from one section of the dock, making it easier to remove huge objects from barges on trailers instead of hoisting them with a crane. To land $1.3 million in federal money for the dock upgrade, the port projected its business would increase from the present rate of 333 containers per month to 1,333 by 2023. That would create 48 jobs, according to port estimates. The port now is aggressively seeking new shippers.
  • Happy Day Corp. recently moved its headquarters to a facility twice as large in downtown Lewiston. Owned by Bruce and Joy Finch, it operates 12 restaurants in Lewiston, Clarkston and Moscow and a large catering business that also serves Washington State University. The restaurants include three Taco Times, two Arby’s, Tomato Brothers, Zany Graze, Main Street Grill and an A&W. Together, the corporation employs over 400. It just completed a $100,000 exterior renovation at Southway Pizzeria and is remodeling the former Sage Baking Co. space on Main Street. It will open in a few weeks as Mystic Café, featuring natural foods.
  • American Cruise Lines announced in December that it plans to build four new paddle wheelers, and the first two are already under construction. One will be used on the Columbia-Snake River system, traveling from Portland to Clarkston. When it is launched sometime between 2015 and 2017, it will be the first new cruise boat on the system in over 12 years. It will accommodate up to 200 guests and will be outfitted with luxury amenities including private balconies and fine art portraying the expeditions of Lewis and Clark. It will follow an itinerary similar to that of the company’s Queen of the West, which has been sailing the system since its renovation in 2010.
  • A Lewiston firm won the bid to build the first phase of the Port of Clarkston’s sustainable business park. Under the $2.13 million contract, Western Construction and its subcontractors will install roads, sewers and water lines for about half of the 100-acre park near Clarkston Heights. Port officials expect the project to be finished by June and hope to attract environmentally friendly companies such as jet boat manufacturers and suppliers.
  • Inland Auto Glass wants to build on Port of Lewiston property. It plans to pay $331,056 for 3.88 acres of land south of EKO and west of the transfer station. The business fabricates windows for public buildings such as schools and hospitals. A typical job runs anywhere from $1 million to $3 million. The 16,000-square-foot building it plans would allow it to stage projects for its out-of-town clients throughout the Pacific Northwest. Despite the distance to Seattle and Portland, the business can complete because the cost of doing business in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley is so much lower than in western Washington and Oregon. The company employs 25 to 50 employees, who can earn more than $50 per hour on some jobs.
  • The Asotin County Health District laid off two of its three nurses in December in response to a drop in federal, state and local funding. Only two people continue to work there. This year’s budget of $670,000 is half of the 2009 budget and $118,000 less than last year’s budget.
  • A forklift has been donated by Pape Machinery to Lewis-Clark State College’s professional-technical education program. The college’s previous forklift, acquired in the 1970s, no longer could be used because it did not comply with safety regulations. The new forklift, valued at $19,000, will be used in diesel technology, collision, automotive, welding, automated manufacturing and other programs where heavy lifting is needed. Lewis-Clark teaches a forklift certification class.
  • Bruneel Tire Factory closed its Clarkston store at the end of 2013. It is consolidating that operation with its Lewiston location to reduce business costs. The equipment and all of the employees not assigned to other Bruneel sites will be relocated to Lewiston. The store will be upgraded with improvements to the customer waiting room and the addition of wireless Internet. Boise-based Bruneel has eight other stores in Idaho.

Kathryn.Tacke@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 769-1558 ext. 3486

SOUTHWESTERN IDAHO

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

County developments

Ada County

  • New Industry Sector Grants from the Idaho Department of Labor have been awarded to Boise State University and Idaho State University. The largest at $1 million is going to Boise State to double the number of computer science graduates from 30 to 60 a year. The other at a little over a half of million dollars is going to Idaho State University to develop a new anatomy and physiology laboratory at its Meridian campus. The new grant required private sector contribution to total at least a quarter of the award amount.
  • Micron reached an agreement with Rambus Inc. in their patent dispute. The agreement will allow Micron to use any Rambus patent for making memory products and will cost the company $280 million over the next seven years. At the end of seven years, Micron has the option to extend the license.

Canyon County

  • Plexus is investing $3 million in its Nampa plant. The company is tripling the size of its cleanroom facility and upgrading manufacturing equipment. The project is expected to be completed in mid-2014.
  • The Micron foundation donated $380,000 to the new Nampa library. The money will be used to purchase an automated handling system along with other technology. The library is scheduled to be complete in early 2015.
  • Caldwell City Council passed an ordinance last month that limits the location where new payday loan and title lending business can open to areas zoned manufacturing or light industrial unless they apply and receive a special use permit.
  • The J.R. Simplot Co. will be laying off over 200 workers in its Caldwell potato processing plant. The layoffs come as the company shifts work to a new, more efficient plant also located in Caldwell.

Elmore County

  • In The Ditch, a Mountain home company that designs and manufactures products for the towing industry, announced plans to expand into a new, 20,000-square-foot building. The new building will house the company’s sales and marketing departments. The company also announced plans to add 20 employees in the next two years.

Payette County

  • The Payette County Chamber of Commerce voted to dissolve itself in December with 82 percent of the members present supporting dissolution.
Openings
  • Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Garden City
  • Bronco Motors Infiniti in Nampa
  • Saint Alphonsus Birkeland Maternity Center and Heart Center in Nampa
Closings
  • Old Spaghetti Factory in Boise
  • Good Samaritan thrift store in Boise

Andrew.Townsend@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 332-3570, ext. 3455

SOUTH CENTRAL IDAHO

Blaine, Camas, Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka and Twin Falls counties

County Developments

Blaine County

  • The Seagraves Family Foundation has donated $20,000 to the city of Hailey to improve Hop Porter Park. Janice Seagraves won a Powerball lottery on Christmas Day in 1996 and since has donated to organizations and projects across south central Idaho.
  • Lonely Planet heralded Sun Valley as ninth among its top U.S. travel destinations. Other top destinations included Yosemite National Park, the Hawaiian island of Lanai and the central coast of California.

Mini-Cassia Area

  • Stokes Fresh Food Market has acquired the Burley Albertsons store and its equipment, fixtures and inventory. Its existing store in Burley will eventually close after the new store is up and running, although there are plans to lease it to another retailer. The company will integrate a TruValue hardware store into the building but with a separate entrance. Stokes is the only market with a bakery creating items from scratch. It mills its own grains for breads, tortillas, donuts and other items and will have bulk, organic and international departments. Other Stoke’s Fresh Food Markets operate in Aberdeen, Preston and Salem, Utah.
  • The Department of Commerce-organized trade mission to Russia in late 2013 was deemed successful by the majority of participating businesses. Double L, a potato equipment manufacturer in Heyburn, expected to sell a piece of equipment by year-end that is valued at $145,000. This is a quick turnaround considering the trade mission occurred in mid-November. The company has provided bids for another $1.8 million in sales. The immediate access to high-level decision makers is what differentiates the trade mission from private marketing efforts.
  • The city of Rupert received a $4.65 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration to improve its truck route to reduce wear on roads that were never intended to handle the weight and high density traffic. All truck-trailer traffic will have to stay on Avenue A after it has been reconstructed except for deliveries. The city match for the grant was $350,000, and the project includes a new bridge over an irrigation canal, new curbs, gutters, sewer lines, water lines, storm drains, driveways and paving. The construction should be completed by fall of 2014.
  • In the process of repairing a broken pipe, Heyburn leaders have opted to expand sewer pipe capacity with money set aside for future needs. A larger diameter pipe will be installed by Meridian contractor Cascade Pipeline for $214,000. Leaders believe the project is a proactive approach to projected growth on the north side of Interstate 84.

Twin Falls County

  • Cargill has sold its bio-gas plant that converts dairy waste into methane gas used to generate 2.1 megawatts of power being sold to Idaho Power Co. That is enough electricity to power 500 average homes. London-based Camco Clean Energy bought the plant, which has a contract with Idaho Power through 2020. No changes are planned. The Bettencourt dairy will continue to provide the raw materials, and Cargill continues to operate its other facility in Jerome.
  • Goode Motor acquired the Con Paulos Volkswagen/ Mazda dealership in Twin Falls at the end of 2013. The company has been operating a Ford dealership in Burley since 1938. Goode also has a dealership in Hailey and will now manage approximately 80 employees in south central Idaho after taking on the 12 staffers from Con Paulos, who owned and operated the dealership for 15 years. The company plans to remodel the dealership this spring. It is one of only four Volkswagen dealerships in Idaho.
  • The Magic Valley Mall reported a strong Christmas season closing out 2013 with a 5 percent growth over the previous year. The mall’s 22 percent growth over the last three years is double the national retail pace, according to Brent White, General Manager, Woodbury Corporation
Openings
  • Papa Murphy’s Take ‘n Bake Pizza in Hailey
  • A renovated Blush Floral Boutique and Summer Brander Photography in downtown Twin Falls
Closures
  • Both Zulu’s Bagels and Wine Bar locations in Twin Falls
  • Jerome Cinema closed after 35 years of operation
  • Avid Sportsman in Buhl
Under Construction
  • Hailey Ice Rink

Jan.Roeser@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 735-2500 ext. 3639

SOUTHEASTERN IDAHO

Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Caribou, Franklin, Oneida & Power counties

County Developments

Bannock County

  • Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad and local union leaders have discussed the possibility of building a memorial to union workers representing firefighters, pipefitters, iron workers, electricians and transportation workers. Two possible locations for the memorial are Upper Ross Park and Optimists Park close to City Hall. Pocatello’s ties with organized labor run deep. The community has a long history with unions dating back to the days when the Union Pacific Railroad set up operations in the southeastern Idaho. The proposed memorial would recognize the contributions union members have made to the growth of Pocatello.
  • VisitPocatello.com has received a $100,000 tourism marketing grant from the Idaho Travel Council. The money will be used to encourage visitors to come to Pocatello, Chubbuck and Bannock County. VisitPocatello.com is only two years old. Tourism marketing grants from the Idaho Travel Council are funded by hotel and logging taxes to promote local tourism.

Dan.Cravens@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 236-6710 ext. 3713

EASTERN IDAHO

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

County Developments

Madison County

  • AvantGuard, a Utah-based security system monitoring center, has plans to expand. It moved to Rexburg in 2012 and recently moved from its original office space at City Hall to a 10,000-square-foot building. AvantGuard taps the large number of college students attending Brigham Young University-Idaho for its workforce. The business operates around the clock. Most of the workers are part-time but often stay with the company for up to two years. AvantGuard has plans to double its current staff of 50 to 60 over the next year.

Lemhi County

  • A 901,000-pound megaload made its way through eastern Idaho passing through Salmon. The Canada-bound load contains a water treatment system used in tar sand oil exploration. Salmon was the last major town in Idaho to see the load before it crossed into Montana.

Bonneville County

  • Officials at the Idaho National Laboratory hope the U.S. Department of Energy will restart the Lab’s Transient Reactor Facility. The facility was put on standby 20 years ago. Transient testing is used to analyze radiation effects on fuel or material. The Department of Energy is weighing the option of restarting the reactor in Idaho or building a new reactor at Sandia National Laboratory’s Annular Core Research Reactor in New Mexico. Public comments on the proposal were accepted through Jan. 10.
  • Road Island-based NanoSteel Co. was selected by Trimay Wear Plate Ltd. to provide wear protection for concrete slick line steel piping at an underground mine in Canada. Trimay said NanoSteel’s product provides 30 times the wear rate over others. The company was found by Daniel Brenagan, a former Idaho National Laboratory researcher and has two offices in Idaho Falls.
  • Oregon-based NuScale Power was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to receive $226 million to develop small modular nuclear reactors. NuScale is considering Idaho Falls and the Idaho National Laboratory as the site of the reactors. If all goes well, the company will have a reactor operating by 2025.

Teton County

  • Grand Targhee Resort might not be in Idaho, but many of its workers are, and a shuttle service between Idaho and the resort is proving successful. The shuttle had 14,438 riders this season compared to 3,819 in 2010 when the shuttle started.

Will.Jenson@labor.idaho.gov, Regional Economist
(208) 557-2500 ext. 3077

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