August Economic Activity Around Idaho

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

STATEWIDE DEVELOPMENTS

  • An $88,000 state Agriculture Department grant will allow the Idaho Wine Commission to  expand its marketing and outreach efforts in the coming year. The commission will provide $40,000 in matching funds toward the goal of increasing demand for Idaho wine and improving in-state market share while exposing consumers in other states to Idaho wine. Nearly 180,000 gallons of Idaho wine were sold in the state in 2013. The commission wants to reach 200,000 gallons in 2015 by overcoming a perception that Idaho makes sub-par wine. The commission will develop creative advertising for specific outlets and a public relations campaign for the state’s two pending American Viticultural Area designations.
  • Liquor licenses issued by the state for $750 were resold for more than $300,000 in just two years. State law grants each municipality two liquor licenses or one license for every 1,500 residents, whichever is greater. Some Idaho business owners say they believe state laws limiting the number of liquor licenses stunt local economic growth and drive up the price for existing licenses to exorbitant levels. Idaho Falls businessman Eric Isom says the lack of licenses deters national restaurant chains. Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis says while the current regulation causes problems, there is not enough support to change the law.
  • The Idaho Department of Transportation temporarily suspended bidding for future road projects in mid-May in anticipation of a possible disruption in federal funding but Congress approved and President Obama signed a stop-gap $10.8 billion injection of cash into the Highway Trust Fund, which finances 55 percent of Idaho’s $571.4 million annual roads budget. Congress has until next May to agree on a longer-term solution for highway funding.

  • Idaho spent $4,891 per inmate on prison health care in 2011, an 8 percent increase from five years earlier, according to a national report. Idaho spent about $25.2 million on prison health care in 2011, a 17 percent increase over five years, the report said. Idaho’s total prison health-care spending has risen faster than the national average. At the same time, Idaho’s average daily prison population rose 9 percent, to 5,159 in 2011.

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

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

Regional Developments

  • Spokane-based Avista Corp. has reached a settlement with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to keep its base rates for Idaho customers unchanged through the end of 2015.
  • Avista Corp. has ramped up its student and postgraduate engineering development programs in the past few years, enabling students and graduates to experience working in different engineering departments before settling on a specific job.
  • Work has begun on a $19.2 million expansion and remodel at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children’s Hospital’s adult cardiac intensive care unit in Spokane. It should be finished by spring of 2016. The project will add 12 critical-care beds and upgrade the existing 22 beds.
  • Key Tronic Corp., the Spokane Valley-based provider of electronic manufacturing services, has agreed to acquire CDR Manufacturing Inc. for $46.9 million. CDR is a Louisville, Ky.-based company doing business as Ayrshire Electronics, which provides printed circuit board assembly and other manufacturing services. CDR currently employs about 750. With the acquisition, Key Tronic will have 3,300 employees.
  • Vivint, a Utah company, repaid $150,000 in Washington incentives it received to start a call center in Liberty Lake that it closed within a year. The company sells home automation, energy and security systems and was expected to employ 400 at the Liberty Lake location.

County Developments

Benewah County

  • Benewah Community Hospital board members named Jim Broyles, formerly the director of nursing, as interim lead administrator for the county-owned hospital. Broyles will also retain his duties as the director of nursing. He replaces Brenda Parnell, who served as chief executive officer since January.
  • Stimson Lumber Co recently received the Governor’s 2014 State of Idaho Award for Excellence in Industrial Energy Efficiency. In 2013, Stimson Lumber completed a chip-conveyor system conversion and waste management system upgrade. The plant also had the lighting retrofitted to cut electricity costs. The retrofits saved the plant 980,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity and created a safer lumber mill.

Bonner County

  • Columbia Banking System in Tacoma, Wash.,  acquired Sandpoint-based Intermountain Community Bancorp, the third-largest community bank headquartered in Idaho. The merger is a stock-and-cash deal worth about $121.5 million, or about $18.22 per share, at Columbia’s current stock price. Intermountain has four divisions with 19 branches. It operates as Panhandle State Bank, Intermountain Community Bank, Intermountain Community Bank Washington and Magic Valley Bank, with branches throughout Idaho, in Spokane and Spokane Valley and in Ontario, Ore. Columbia has more than 130 branches in Washington and Oregon, most concentrated near Seattle and Portland. It has one branch in Spokane.

Kootenai County

  • The Kootenai Health Foundation has received a $4,500 grant from the Ironman Foundation to support the Safe Kids Kootenai County traumatic injury prevention program, which is dedicated to eliminating unintentional injury and death to children. Safe Kids Kootenai County’s goal is to reduce the number of child injuries and deaths by providing year-round injury prevention programming. In conjunction with the 2014 Ironman Coeur d’Alene event, the Ironman Foundation Community Fund distributed $70,000 in grants to local nonprofit groups to support their volunteer programs. Since the first Ironman Coeur d’Alene event in 2003, donations totaling $575,000 have been provided by the Ironman Foundation.
  • Monte Vista Villas, a California-based contractor and real estate developer,  obtained building permits for 20 duplexes valued at $2.6 million in north Coeur d’Alene. The project will target tenants age 55 and older. ML Architect & Associates Inc. of Post Falls designed the development. The project is expected to be completed next spring.
  • The Hayden Area Regional Sewer Board has started on the first phase of improvements to its wastewater treatment plant on the Rathdrum Prairie. The $14.5 million project, scheduled for completion by fall 2015, would bring the region into compliance with new federal pollution standards,
  • CityLink, operated by Kootenai County and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe,  purchased two lots at Coeur d’Alene’s Riverstone development for $1.7 million for a permanent bus transfer center.
  • The Innovation Collective is eyeing a new innovation center in Coeur d’Alene. The collective wants to develop a “creative-class” culture that would help lure high-tech entrepreneurs to Coeur d’Alene. The program allows businesses to receive a small amount of startup capital and the assistance of mentors in exchange for some equity in their companies. Once a company payroll hits 25 employees it will graduate out of the center and relocate to a space somewhere in the community. Seven private tech companies are already lined up to lease space in the center.
  • Mountain West Bank has given $100,000 to the Kootenai Health Foundation for expansion at Kootenai Health. Set to open in 2016, the three-story, 100,000 square-foot building will adjoin the existing hospital. Its first two floors will include a family birthing center, neonatal intensive care unit, private patient rooms, a new hospital entrance and registration area and expanded visitor waiting areas. The third floor will remain unfinished to accommodate future growth and more patients.

Shoshone County

  • Hecla Mining Co. increased silver production 278 percent from the second quarter 2013. The Lucky Friday mine produced 700,000 ounces of silver in the first quarter—up from 120,000 ounces the first quarter 2013. Lucky Friday re-opened in February 2013 and has now reached full production levels. The $215 million project on the No. 4 Shaft is 68 percent complete and is expected to be finished in the third quarter 2016.
  • The Spokane Mobile Vet Center visited Osburn to assist veterans in the Silver Valley as part of an outreach program. Information was available on a variety of benefits and services, and presentations were given on helping veterans adjust back to the civilian lifestyle. Veterans Administration representatives were on hand to answer questions.

Openings

  • Jeffrey’s Restaurant in Coeur d’Alene
  • Kyle Rutley Fitness in Coeur d’Alene
  • Chief Architect moves into Riverstone
  • Lyle’s Fabric in Post Falls
  • Fortus Realty in Coeur d’Alene
  • Pretty Angel Botanicals in Coeur d’Alene
  • Embers by the Lake on Hauser Lake
  • Gizmo-CdA, a creative maker space involving 3-D printing, robotics, welding, clay, wood, metals and computers, in Coeur d’Alene
  • DogHouse, a winery and pub, in Coeur d’Alene
  • Hayden Cars in Hayden
  • Clearwater Properties of Idaho in Coeur d’Alene
  • Animal Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene
  • Paris in Bleu in Hayden
  • Undercuts Salon in Post Falls
  • Galaxy Gaming in Coeur d’Alene
  • Buffalo Wild Wings in Coeur d’Alene with 150 employees

Closure

  • Coeur d’Alene Yarn and Fiber in Coeur d’Alene

Alivia.Metts@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 457-8789 ext 3486

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

Regional Developments

  • Hot weather pushed this year’s harvest about two weeks ahead of normal. Yields at lower elevations, where harvest is complete, were lower than normal, but yields at higher elevations have been above normal. Wheat prices are disappointing – falling 23 percent between late April and early August. Prices for soft white wheat are running around $7.30 in the Pacific Northwest, about 50 cents below last August. Growing conditions for the corn crop in the Midwest and South, which are the primary areas for feed grain, seemed ideal, pushing down corn, soybean and wheat prices.

Nez Perce Tribe

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave the Nez Perce Tribe a $22,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant in July to provide federal contracting certification training and business assistance for small businesses.

County Developments

Clearwater County

  • For the past 53 years, soon-to-be sixth graders in Clearwater County have learned about forest management and logging at a three-day camp. This year’s forestry tour ran July 8 to 10. Participants spent the nights at the headquarters of the Clearwater-Potlatch Timber Protective Association. They learned about the role of nature in the local economy, careers in forestry, fish hatcheries, geology, fire suppression and water, soil, wildlife and range management. A new stop on the tour was the Deyo Reservoir, where they learned about reservoir management, salmon migration and native people’s use of natural resources.
  • School District No. 171, based in Orofino, received notice in August that the Idaho Department of Education would provide a Healthy Schools Program grant of $40,000 a year. The grant, which will allow the district to hire a nurse, is renewable for four years. Funding cuts recently forced the county health department to discontinue the part-time nurse who served the county’s schools.

Idaho and Lewis Counties

  • The Idaho County Airport hosted its third annual Warbird Weekend in July. An estimated 2,500 people came to see the fly-in of warbird-era planes such as Corsairs, P-51s and Bearcats. Developed by the airport and Ida-Lew Economic Development, the event showcases the airport as a place for business development and as the recreational gateway to north central Idaho’s back country wilderness. The airport’s largest user is the Forest Service, which runs smokejumping operations there. Businesses at the airport include Anderson Aeromotive, the world’s largest overhauler of cylinders for Pratt & Whitney and Curtiss-Wright engines. It employs more than 30 mechanics.
  • The North Idaho Correctional Institution, a minimum-security state prison near Cottonwood, celebrated its 40th anniversary Aug. 7. The prison employs about 60. It focuses on preparing inmates for the labor force. Every year, it issues about 300 General Educational Development (GED) certificates a year.
  • Logging halted for a week on the Little Slate Project in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest because of a temporary restraining order in response to complaints from environmental groups. Timber cutting resumed Aug. 4 after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied an injunction that would have stopped logging activities pending an appeal of the case by Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Clearwater against the U.S. Forest Service. The project is expected to yield about 40 million board feet of timber and restore and rehabilitate fish habitat. Last November, U.S. Magistrate Mikel Williams rejected a lawsuit filed by environmental groups that charged the Forest Service violated the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to adequately analyze the effect of logging on habitat for threatened Canada lynx and on species like the goshawk and pileated woodpecker.

Latah County

  • Since Bailey’s Bar closed more than a year ago, Bovill, a logging town of 260, has not had a business operating in its city limits. That soon will change when Bradley Dammerman and Don Martin plan Elk Saloon on Main Street. The century-old building first housed the First State Bank then became a bar in the 1940s. Local residents hope the opening is just the first step in revitalizing the town. Bovill was founded in 1901 as a resort. After the arrival of the railroad in 1907, the town grew rapidly. It has been fading since the 1930s. The Bovill Improvement Group is making progress toward restoring the Bovill Opera House, which was the town’s movie theater when it closed in the early 1960s.
  • The University of Idaho is spending about $70 million on construction projects, starting with the Integrated Research Innovation Center, which will allow researchers from multiple disciplines to work together on projects. The university expects to open the $49-million building by fall 2016. The College of Education Building is being gutted and renovated for modern educational technology when it reopens in May 2016. The university also made pedestrian- and traffic-safety enhancements around the Student Union Building and Vandal Store. Agricultural Science Room 106, which holds 360 students, will receive a complete renovation and technology upgrade this summer at the cost of about $680,000. Construction on gateways near three intersections along Idaho Highway 8 began in June.

Nez Perce and Asotin Counties

  • Riverport Brewing Co. in Clarkston won a silver medal for its Bedrock Bock at the Washington Brewers Festival in July. Last year it produced 1,000 31-gallon barrels which sold at restaurants and bars throughout southeastern Washington and north central Idaho. Over the next few years, the brewery hopes to expand to 3,000 barrels and enter the Spokane, Tri-Cities and Coeur d’Alene markets.
  • Clearwater Paper, Nez Perce County’s largest employer with 1,370 workers, is doing well this year. The pulp and paperboard division benefited from restaurants and espresso places switching from plastic and foam to paper in an effort to be more environmentally friendly. Rising demand as the economic recovery led to more products that need containers, pushed paperboard prices to $1,018 per ton, up 7.5 percent from the same time last year. The company is spending $4.5 million to add 40,000 square feet to a Lewiston warehouse and shipping facility for paperboard. Lydig Construction of Spokane Valley, the contractor, should finish the project by the end of the year. The added space will not lead to additional hiring. It will increase the efficiency of truck loading while limiting damage caused by moving the product.

Opening

  • Krafty D’s, selling gifts, fabric, craft supplies and Christmas items, on Main Street in Riggins.

Closings

  • Firehouse Grill and Pub near the Palouse Mall in Moscow.
  • Rowdy’s Texas Steakhouse & Saloon in Lewiston, which employed 24 people.

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

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

Regional Developments

  • Health care employment is up 50 percent since 2001 in the Boise metropolitan area. A report from Economic Modeling Specialists International found health care jobs have grown in most areas of the United States. The finding comes from EMSI’s community college report, which says ambulatory health care services added more jobs than any other industry sector between 2001 and 2012. Many fast-growing industries providing health care jobs are outside hospital settings. They include services for the elderly and persons with disabilities and offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists.
  • Communities in Motion 2040, the long-range transportation plan for Ada and Canyon counties, has been approved by the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho board of directors. The plan assumes the population of the two counties will reach a total of 1 million residents with 462,000 jobs. Unlike past versions of Communities in Motion, the 2040 plan goes beyond transportation and land use to explore transportation and community infrastructure issues involving housing, economic development, farmland, open space and health. The plan identifies future transportation needs and a transportation funding shortfall of $159 million per year between now and 2040, according to COMPASS executive director Matt Stoll. The plan can be viewed online at compassidaho.org.
  • Idaho State Schools Superintendent Tom Luna announced 15 schools throughout Idaho will share $3 million in technology grants appropriated by the Idaho Legislature. There were six recipients from southwestern Idaho who received a total of over $1.4 million.
    • Cascade Jr. Sr. High School, Cascade School District: $38,094
    • Fruitland Elementary, Fruitland School District: $345,230
    • Idaho Arts Charter located in Nampa: $205,604
    • Meridian Technical Charter High School, located in Meridian: $14,825
    • South Middle School, Nampa School District: $516,619
    • Vallivue Middle School, Vallivue School District: $328,470

County Developments

Ada County

  • Apple has purchased a Boise-based company that analyzes the language of books and classifies it based on pace, style and content. The software, called BookLamp, can be used to suggest books based on readers’ preferences much as Pandora suggests music to listeners. The company sold for between $10 million and $15 million, a source told TechCrunch, an industry website. Little else is known because of the strict confidentiality agreements signed by founder Aaron Stanton and BookLamp employees and investors.
  • The Boise Co-op is opening a second location at the Village at Meridian.
  • The Boise Airport is replacing almost all of its eateries and shops for the first time in a decade. The $5.6 million project – paid for by the concession owners – will start this fall and will take about eight months to complete. Local businesses represented at the airport will include Bardenay Restaurant and Distillery, Parilla Grill, 13th Street Grill and Big City Coffee.
  • PCS Edventures!.com Inc., a Boise education company, has received a $1 million contract for STEM education courses in Saudi Arabia. PCS will develop and deliver a learning framework for nonformal STEM education. The contract between T4EDU and PCS is the fourth for PCS. All are related to a Saudi national education initiative called the King Abdullah Project for the Development of Public Education.
  • Dennis Gilles has succeeded founder Daniel Kunz as U.S. Geothermal’s chief executive and plans to build U.S. Geothermal into a large-scale power company. The company reported a $4.1 million profit in 2013 after having lost $20 million since 2010 developing power plants near Vale, Ore., and San Emidio in northern Nevada. Those plants, which together cost $172 million to build, are now making money. Sales nearly tripled to $27.4 million last year as Idaho Power began buying power from the Oregon plant. The company is developing additional projects including one in Northern California and another in Guatemala that could become its best producer.
  • A new survey says most voters agree improving Idaho’s transportation system should be a top priority, but they do not want to pay for it. The survey comes after several attempts by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and some lawmakers to increase revenues to pay for maintenance of the state’s aging highways and bridges. According to the study, the majority of the voters polled say they believe Idaho’s roads won’t be adequate in 10 years. They also agree the state’s economy is influenced by a safe and strong transportation system. A 2010 gubernatorial panel recommended that Idaho spend $262 million per year to keep up with the state’s transportation maintenance, but lawmakers have yet to approve the funds.
  • The research group IBISWorld says the food truck industry has not only survived the worst of the recession due to its lean business model, but it is actually expected to continue growing at an annualized rate of 4.2 percent to 2019. The National Restaurant Association said food trucks generate about $650 million in revenue, about 1 percent of total U.S. restaurant sales. The research group, Emergent Research, expects that share to grow to between 3 percent and 4 percent of total restaurant revenue, about $2.7 billion by 2017. The city of Boise recently leased land to a company that opened a food truck park on Fairview Avenue between 24th and 25th streets.
  • The newly renovated Owyhee Hotel has opened. Los Angeles-based developers Mike Brown and Casey Lynch partnered with Boise developer Clay Carley to renovate the Owyhee top-to-bottom. Hotel rooms were replaced with office and banquet space and a common area on the first floor. Boise tech firm Metageek plans to move to the fifth floor in late summer. The connected building just west of the historic hotel has 36 studio and one-bedroom apartments. The least expensive studio will rent for $700. The one-bedroom apartments with the best view of the Foothills will rent for as much as $1,240 per month.
  • The Boise Planning and Zoning Commission approved a revised plan for 312 apartments and 70,000 square feet of commercial development in northwest Boise. The commissioners’ decision reversed their May 12 denial of the same project’s first version, which proposed 320 apartments and some 170,000 square feet of commercial space. The developers, Hawkins Companies and Bach Homes, want to start building the apartments by the end of this year and finish them within two years.
  • Los Angeles developer Glenn Levie is constructing an upscale mixed-use apartment development in downtown Boise. The development will have four stories, 68 apartments, 4,000 square feet of retail space and several live-work spaces where people can rent apartments that are connected to business spaces. The project should be completed next summer.

Canyon County

  • The College of Idaho has dedicated the Marty Holly Athletics Center – its first new campus building in more than a decade.
  • The Melba Joint School District will receive an $8,000 grant from Monsanto to support the high school agriculture education fund.
  • Canyon County is well-positioned for strong commercial real estate activity in the last half of the year, according to Thornton Oliver Keller’s midyear Market Watch report. The commercial real estate firm says the dwindling supply of industrial space in Ada County is generating interest in Canyon County. Large tenants have options available in Nampa and Caldwell, and vacancy is expected to steadily decrease. Office vacancy in Nampa has fallen below 10 percent for the first time since the recession. Over the past 12 months, expansions made up 57 percent of commercial real estate transactions in the county. Thirty percent of the transactions involved businesses changing locations and 13 percent involved new businesses. Vacancy rates are down across the board in Canyon County for the year and for the quarter over last year.
  • Nampa residents will soon have a new downtown library now that Canyon County staff and elected officials have moved out of the courthouse to a new administration building in Caldwell. Both projects were financed with urban renewal funds – a mechanism that local economic development directors say is an important tool for recruiting business and encouraging development. The library and administration building along with Nampa’s Hugh Nichols Public Safety Building and Ford Idaho Center are some of the more visible, albeit controversial, uses of urban renewal funds in Canyon County. But urban renewal funding has also been used for sewer upgrades, parks and school property.
  • Motion Industries plans to relocate from Boise to a new distribution center in Caldwell this September. The industrial parts distributor with more than 550 locations in North America has annual sales of $4.5 billion. Rulon Ramsey, vice president general manager for the Mountain Division of Motion Industries, said Caldwell is a good central location for its customer base. It also has large commercial customers in Caldwell including Simplot, which was a big factor in the move, he said.
  • D.L. Evans Bank will open its first branch in Caldwell this fall. The new branch will be led by vice president branch manager Jim Thommsen and operations officer Michelle Gamble.
  • The search for President Marvin Henberg’s replacement is underway at The College of Idaho. Applications close Sept. 2, and the school hopes a new president is in office by January. It wants a president with an understanding and knowledge of the challenges facing leaders in higher education, particularly at small liberal arts colleges. Henberg will work with the new president until his retirement in mid-May. Under Henberg’s leadership since July 2009, enrollment hit a record 1,122 in fall 2013 while student diversity has increased. By 2015, two initiatives of his presidency – the master’s program in physician assistant studies and the return of the college’s football team – will be established.
  • West Valley Medical Center has named Jennifer Opsut as its new chief operating officer. “Jennifer has a rare ability to combine a keen attention to detail with a strong strategic perspective and big picture mentality,” Chief Executive Betsy Hunsicker said in a statement. Opsut will assume a greater role on the hospital’s administrative team. She will be responsible for supporting quality improvement initiatives and controlling costs among other duties.

Elmore County

  • Construction has begun on a new 3,700-square-foot animal shelter in Mountain Home.
  • The construction of a new emergency room at St. Luke’s Elmore County hospital has been approved. The project is estimated to up to two years. The hospital is on track to receive 10,000 emergency room visits this year.

Gem County

  • Emmett School District has received $20,000 through a Healthy Schools Program grant to hire a school nurse.
  • Gem Forest Products in Emmett plans to begin operations in September. The company has purchased six hundred log-loads and expects 700 more to be delivered before the opening. This would fill the six-million board-foot capacity at the plant. The company plans to open with 35 employees and expects to employ about 50 people by October.
  • The Gem Economic Development Association is offering another free class for business owners on business marketing techniques. It will be held Sept. 11 at the U.S. Department of Agriculture building.
  • Western Rubber Products in Emmett was sold to Mirae VC Co. LTD. Western Rubber Products manufactures air brake diaphragms. The new owner will retain the 16 employees at the same location, operating under the Western Rubber Products name.
  • The 2.5 mile section of Highway 16 across the Boise River linking Gem and Canyon counties with Ada County has opened. The $111 million project was financed with GARVEE bonds.

Owyhee County

  • The Bureau of Land Management wants to change the classification of 560 acres under the 1999 Owyhee Resource Management Plan so it can consolidate its land ownership in wilderness areas. The BLM said the planned consolidation minimizes land use conflicts and facilitates land management in the six Owyhee Canyonland wilderness areas.
  • Construction has begun on a new Emergency Operations center in Bruneau.
  • According to the Owyhee Avalanche, grazing fees paid to graze on state land were the fifth-highest revenue source for the State Endowment Fund in fiscal year 2014, bringing in $2.16 million. After grazing program expenses were paid, the state netted $775,041, the bulk of which went to public education programs throughout the state.
  • In a federal district court earlier this summer, ranchers won their second legal battle over curtailed grazing permits. A judge found that the Bureau of Land Management did not comply with federal environmental regulations when assessing grazing on 68 allotments in Owyhee County.
  • Property values in Owyhee County rose 1.3 percent for residential and agricultural properties and 3.2 percent for commercial properties.

Payette County

  • Alta Mesa Holdings showed off its new natural gas treatment facility on Highway 30 to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter. Vice President of Operations Dale Hayes said the company is still interested in tapping into any potential natural gas in Canyon County. The Highway 30 Treating Facility is expected to process as much as 20 million cubic feet of natural gas a day once it is at full production. Operations should begin in early November once the pipeline Alta Mesa is installing from the facility to the five drilling locations in Payette County is complete. All the work to get the natural gas operations underway is employing up to 200 people, Hayes said. Many are Alta Mesa employees from the company’s headquarters in Texas, but Alta Mesa also contracted local construction companies to help with the work.
  • The new St. Luke’s 24-hour Emergency Department in Fruitland held its grand opening in July.
  • The Idaho Transportation Department is rehabilitating and resurfacing the railroad overpass on Highway 52 in Payette. The contractor for the project is Braun-Jenson Inc. of Payette. The estimated cost of the project is $1.3 million.
  • The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public comment on proposed oil and gas leases in Payette County adjacent to the Willow Natural Gas Field that is currently under development.

Valley County

  • New TR Acquisition Co., the new owners of Tamarack Resort, will spend some money this year to shine up the resort, a spokesman for the new owners said. “They are smaller projects that won’t necessarily be that obvious individually but collectively will improve the guest experience,” said David Papiez, who was the sole employee of Tamarack Resort LLC during the final years of foreclosure proceedings. Papiez declined to reveal how much money would be spent on the improvements.
  • The State Land Board approved the auction of 36 parcels of state land around Payette Lake. Thirty of the lots are currently leased to people who hope to retain them in the auction, and six are not leased. In previous auctions, 34 parcels were sold for about $12 million.
  • An online survey of McCall is being undertaken to gauge resident opinion on raising the sales tax 1 percent in the city to repair city streets and sewer lines. If approved, the tax is estimated to raise $1 million per year.
  • The new Payette National Forest supervisor’s office opened July 29. The Forest Services awarded a $3.48 million contract to Kriezenbeck Construction of Boise for the 13,500-square-foot building. Work began last fall.

Washington County

The city of Weiser has begun work to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant. Funding was provided through grants from the USDA Rural Development Program and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. Contractors Northwest with offices in Coeur d’Alene and Boise will complete the $5.4 million project.

Ethan.Mansfield@labor.idaho.gov, Regional Economist
(208) 332-3570 ext. 3455

SOUTH CENTRAL IDAHO – Blaine, Camas, Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka and Twin Falls counties

Twin Falls County

  • Construction of the 200,000-square-foot mall on the Snake River Canyon rim has been delayed by a lack of tenant commitments, but Idaho Central Credit Union opened at the site in June, and Dick’s Sporting Goods intends to locate there next year, taking advantage of a retail hub that serves a quarter million consumers.
  • Construction is underway on a new Denny’s restaurant in Twin Falls, owned by the same partnership as the Denny’s in Burley. The 24-hour restaurant should open in October.
  • Fifth District Judge Richard Bevins has been selected as a 2014 Henry Toll Fellow by the Council of State Governments and will attend its six-day leadership development seminar. The nonprofit council sees leadership as an important element in shaping public policy. In chose 48 other fellows from around the nation.
  • “Big Ed” Beckley has shut down his motorcycle jump over the Snake River Canyon after losing sponsorship from Fox Broadcasting Network. The state of Idaho will keep the non-refundable $943,000 that Beckley paid to lease the landing site in Jerome County. Stuntman Eddie Braun and rocket builder Scott Truax, son of Evil Knievel’s rocket designer Bob Truax, postponed their Sept. 7 jump over the canyon from Jerome County to Twin Falls County. Braun will go back to his stuntman contacts and garner broadcasting and media support and donations. This duo said the jump will happen eventually.
  • The Orpheum Theatre in downtown Twin Falls has been purchased and will be refurbished, while the character of the building will be kept intact. The new owners will update electrical, HVAC and plumbing in anticipation of attracting more live theatrical productions. Some independent, cult and silent films will also be offered.
  • Liyah Babayan is the newest member of the Twin Falls School Board, replacing Dan King who resigned. The newly selected trustee has lived in Twin Falls for 19 years, running a retail business in the downtown area.
  • Grace Assisted Living has hired K-2 Construction who is currently working on infrastructure and ground preparation for a new facility near the hospital. This is the second announcement in just four months of plans for a retirement facility in the same area. The first property will provide for greater care and is estimated to cost $10 million for construction. This latest is a two-story complex, which cost approximately $8 million with 85 studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedroom apartments totaling 78,000 square feet. There will be a need for 50 to 55 workers next year when it’s ready for occupancy, joining a network of 17 assisted living properties scattered across the Northwest and operated by the managing member of the limited liability corporation, Linda Hines.
  • The Twin Falls Urban Renewal Agency has approved an almost $300,000 contract with Otak, Inc. to redesign Main Avenue in downtown Twin Falls, improving water and sewerage along with street design. The $17 million renovation should be complete by May 2015.

Mini-Cassia Area

  • Construction of the Mini-Cassia Animal and Food Science building is completed, but donations are still needed to equip the building. Laboratory equipment is a top priority. The 9,000-square-foot building will house a classroom and wet lab for dissecting full-size animals. It was built with private donations but will meet the high school needs, and industry and post-secondary institutions may use it for presentations and conferences.
  • Construction has begun on the 7 Brothers beef slaughter operation in Cassia County. Projected completion is spring 2015.

Jerome County

  • Davisco Foods International, parent company of Jerome Cheese, sold its cheese and dairy-food-ingredient business to Agropur, Canada’s largest dairy cooperative. Davisco, a privately held business owned by the Davis family and headquartered in Le Sueur, Minn., had been in business for 71 years. Management and daily operations will continue as normal at the Jerome facility. “It’s an opportunity to partner with someone we feel is a lot like us – a big company that acts like a small company,” said Davisco CEO Jon Davis, grandson of Davisco founder Stanley Davis. Davisco processes 3.8 billion pounds of milk and produces more than 375 million pounds of cheese and 180 million pounds of whey ingredients annually, about half at its plant in Jerome. It has 900 employees – about 300 at the Jerome plant. The transaction, combined with the most recent ones in Canada, will increase Agropur’s sales to over $5.4 billion annually, and the company should reach 12.1 billion pounds of milk processed each year in 41 plants across North America, the company said.

Camas County

  • Magic Reservoir was at 3 percent capacity on July 19 when irrigation was shut off. The lack of snowfall the previous winter impacted the availability of water as runoff fills the Big Wood River, which in turn fills the reservoir. The reservoir has 191,500 feet of water capacity but the last couple of years have seen the Big Wood Canal Company cut off water users as early as June 28 last year. In addition there have been only two cuttings of alfalfa the past couple of years compared with three or four cuttings during normal water years. Crops were steered more toward grains and alfalfa versus later harvest and water hogging crops such as potatoes, corn and sugar beets.

Blaine County

  • A $4 million gift to the Hailey Ice Rink will help fund construction of an indoor rink. Wood River Valley resident Lynn Campion-Waddell said the gift comes from the Campion family foundation, the Deer Creek Fund of the Denver-based Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation. The outdoor rink is currently under construction.
  • Elks Rehabilitation Services announced it will close its clinics at the end of September. The Ketchum and Hailey offices employ 18 workers. St. Luke’s Wood River Valley announced it will absorb most of those workers providing the clinical services so the area won’t be without rehabilitation services.

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

SOUTHEASTERN & EASTERN IDAHO – Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Bonneville, Butte, Caribou, Clark, Custer, Franklin, Fremont, Jefferson, Lemhi, Madison, Oneida,  & Teton counties

County Developments

Bannock County

  • After eight years Mecinna Price has received her patent for her DripStik – a device that holds two sizes of Popsicles or an ice cream cone with an attachment to make Popsicles. Price says she spent several thousand dollars to get the patent and estimates she has lost up to $12 million due to unlicensed knock-offs of her invention during the lengthy time it took for the government to issue the patent.
  • Students age 6 to 15 were encouraged to “imagine it, build it, make it go” at an annual robotics camp hosted by Holy Spirit Catholic Grade School in Pocatello. The camp exposed the children to the world of robotics to show them science is interesting and something  they can pursue.
  • Idaho State University’s Idaho Accelerator Center has received a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to produce isotopes. The school will tackle isotope copper-67, which will be used in a linear accelerator to target and kill cancer cells. There are no plans to start work on other isotopes, but the license could have other applications in the future.

Jefferson County

  • Kettle Butte Dairy in Roberts wants to expand from 5,000 to 18,000 cows.  The proposal, which is subject to approval of the Planning and Zoning Board, would also increase the dairy’s payroll. Three years ago Kettle Butte expanded from 3,000 to 5,000 head.

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