Around Idaho: August Economic Activity

Information provided in this article has been gathered from various sources throughout the state, including professional sources, news releases, weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.

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

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

Kootenai County

  • Hagadone Hospitality plans to build a 200-room hotel tower to adjoin with The Coeur d’Alene Resort. The new tower will bring total resort capacity above 500 rooms, which is considered a key number to book large conferences and events. (Source: Coeur d’Alene Press)
  • Viking Construction’s proposed construction of an 87-lot subdivision in Post Falls received city council approval. The new subdivision will consist of single family lots spanning 37 acres. (Source: Coeur d’Alene Press)
  • AccraFab, a Washington-based manufacturer, and North Idaho College failed to reach an agreement on the sale of 11.4 acres of land at the center of AccraFab’s effort to relocate to Coeur d’Alene. Negotiations ended after neither side was willing to concede on a $65,000 price difference. (Source: Coeur d’Alene Press)
  • The Avista Foundation awarded a $45,000 grant to Kootenai Health to expand the medical center. The grant will assist Kootenai Medical Center’s efforts to create a dedicated neonatal intensive care unit. (Source: Coeur d’Alene Press)

Bonner County

  • Bonner General Hospital opened its new Health Services Building adjoining the main hospital Aug. 22. The new building houses several clinics, including a wound care center, a women’s health center and physical therapy services. (Source: Bonner County Daily Bee)
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced plans to begin drafting Lake Pend Oreille. The corps will maintain a pool elevation of 2,061 feet until Sept. 21, then will begin reducing the elevation by about 10 feet. (Source: Bonner County Daily Bee)

Benewah County

  • The St. Maries City Council unanimously agreed to sell a 132-acre tract of timberland known as St. Joe East. The minimum price has been set at $900,000. The property will be sold at public auction. (Source: St. Maries Gazette Record)

Shoshone County

  • The Bunker Hill Mine announced a one-year deal to sell between 100 and 400 tons of high grade silver and lead per month to a foreign buyer. It is the mine’s first mill contract since 1990. The new deal is anticipated to sustain between 40 and 50 employees running a constant operation in the mine. (Source: Shoshone News Press)
  • McGillivray Environmental opted not to continue with Shoshone County’s recycling contract. Shoshone County will re-open bidding for the contract. (Source: Shoshone News Press)

 

Sam.Wolkenhauer@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 457-8789 ext 4451

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

Region

  • Throughout the region, yields of almost all crops were lower than normal. Idaho County’s commissioners declared a drought disaster Aug. 4, informing Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter that local crops – including hay, barley, canola and wheat – sustained heavy losses. Clearwater County declared an emergency because of extensive crop damage three weeks earlier. Yields in some areas were less than half of their normal levels, and the quality of crops were poorer than normal. Many long-time observers say this was the worst harvest since 1992. Harvest ended in the first week of August, about four weeks earlier than normal.

Clearwater County

  • The Bountiful Grain and Craig Mountain Railroad that runs from Lewiston to Kooskia is repairing the 30-mile line between Orofino and the former Jaype mill near Pierce, which was abandoned more than a decade ago. It hopes its train cars can begin hauling logs from Jaype to Lewiston in October. Idaho Forest Group, which operates lumber mills in Lewiston, Grangeville and the Idaho Panhandle asked the railroad to consider opening the line. It plans to operate a log landing at the Jaype site, whose mill closed in 2000. Once the rail line is operational, the forest products company will hire six to seven workers to maintain the rail and bridges and will ship logs from the Pierce area by rail, saving on transportation costs. County officials say the rail line will greatly reduce heavy truck traffic on Grangemont Road, making it safer and less expensive to maintain. It also will allow more loggers to continue working during spring break-up, when load limitations on trucks hamper logging. The reopening of the line also could make the Pierce area more attractive to potential manufacturers.
  • Shopko plans to build a store in downtown Orofino after it tears down an 80-year-old school building. Paul and Lee Ann Pippenger purchased the former junior high two years ago with the intention of turning it into a community center, but the addition of a sprinkler system and other required changes made that idea cost-prohibitive. The 1960’s era gymnasium and two classrooms will remain on the property. Construction is expected to start in a couple of months. The discount store is expected to employ more than 30 people.

Idaho and Lewis counties

  • Lewis County commissioners propose a $3.8 million budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, up from $2.9 million this year, with no increase in property taxes. The county’s nearly 40 employees will receive 3 percent pay raises. Idaho County’s budget for the 2016 fiscal year is $22.5 million, up from $18 million this year. About $3.3 million of the increase is from planned construction at the county airport in Grangeville. The levy amount will remain the same, and no property tax hikes are proposed. The county’s 121 employees will receive a 2 percent pay increase. Patrol deputies will see a five percent increase. Deputies currently start at $15.32 per hour. Clearwater County commissioners in Orofino approved a $13 million budget, up from a current budget of $12.9 million. The county’s 67 employees will receive pay raises around 3 percent.
  • The Idaho Department of Lands modified the Selway Salvage timber sale contract to allow helicopter logging. Owners of the forest road and others objected to use of the road for timber salvage because it is part of a Wild& Scenic River corridor. The extra cost from helicopter use will reduce the state’s gains from the sale from $2 million to about $600,000.

Latah County

  • Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, based in Pullman, donated $2 million to the University of Idaho’s College of Engineering to create an endowed chair in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The Schweitzer chair is intended to attract distinguished faculty to the university as well as continue the college’s mission of excellence in fundamental engineering education with real-world applications. SEL is the largest private-sector employer in Whitman and Latah counties.
  • The University of Idaho received an $825,000 grant in August from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention to develop techniques to save the lives of those working in the woods. Researchers from the College of Natural Resources will use the funds to install GPS technology on equipment used in logging. The technology will allow equipment operators to track the locations of fellow workers without leaving the equipment cab. More than 1,500 people work for Idaho logging companies.

Nez Perce and Asotin counties

  • Clearwater Canyon Cellars, a tenant of the Port of Lewiston’s incubator, was recently recognized as Idaho Winery of the Year from Wine Press Northwest. The company, started in 2004 by vintner Coco Umiker and her husband Karl, has played a leading role in the upcoming establishment of the Lewis-Clark American Viticulture Area, a designation that promotes a region as a producer of high-quality wines. Clearwater Canyon Cellars was the only winery in the Pacific Northwest to have two wines place in the top 25 with Great Wines Northwest in 2014 – the 2012 Phinny Hill Vineyard Carmenère and the 2012 Merlot. The winery sells out of the 3,000 cases it produces each year. Clearwater Canyon Cellars plans to break ground on a new winery adjacent to their vineyard on Gun Club Road next year.
  • Kiwi Air in Clarkston has added wine tours to the places its helicopters transport people in eastern Washington, north central Idaho and eastern Oregon. Customers now can fly to Lindsay Creek Vineyards in the Lewiston Orchards, spend 75 minutes at the winery and then fly back.
  • Printer’s Distillery celebrated its grand opening Aug. 1 at its spot in the Port of Lewiston’s business incubator. Currently, the distillery makes vodka. Over time it expects to add other products. Like the wine industry and brewpubs in the region, the distillery is a potential tourist draw.
  • Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories will open a medical clinic at its Lewiston plant in February to offer free care to its employees and their families. The clinic will be similar to the one at its Pullman headquarters that provides physical examinations, vaccinations, weight management, health screenings and laboratory services. The Lewiston plant currently employs 275 and probably will employ twice as many in five to six years.
  • Renaissance Marine Group, the region’s largest jet boat builder, is planning an expansion at the Port of Clarkston. It will move from its current facility near the Clarkston Heights into the 56,000-square-foot building on Port Drive.  Renaissance Marine Group currently employs about 125 people in Clarkston.

 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

Ada County

  • Construction on three new hotels should begin by the end of 2015 in downtown Boise. A 186-room Residence Inn will replace Dunkley Music, which is moving to a new store on Eagle Road. The hotel has passed the design review and the developer has submitted the building permit application. A 113-room Inn slated for the parking lot next to the Flicks on Capitol and Myrtle has passed the design review process. Finally, a 150-room Hyatt Place is proposed for the lot that contains the Boise Plaza parking area on Bannock and 11th. The hotel is currently in the design phase. (Source: Idaho Business Review and Statesman)
  • Gardiner Company has recently unveiled plans to build two hotels and a parking garage on the 5 acre parcel between Front and Myrtle streets across from the Simplot World Headquarters that is under construction. Combined the hotels would have 300 rooms. With the three hotels already slated for development, there would be about 750 new rooms coming online downtown in the next several years. (Source: Idaho Business Review and Idaho Statesman)
  • Along with several other residential projects in process, two new projects are in the works in Boise. A 323-unit mixed use development with 38,000 square feet of retail space has been proposed by Hawkins Companies for a 23.1 acre parcel on State and Gary streets. North Pointe will have no big box or anchor stores, with the largest stores reaching only 7,460 square feet. The development’s Kensington Apartments will offer everything from duplexes to townhomes to a 32-unit building. Another apartment project is in the works along the Boise River on 50th Street, a few near the Western Idaho Fair Grounds. The $12 million “50th Street Apartments” will include 108 one- and two bedroom units across five buildings. Construction is expected to finish in late 2016 or early 2017. (Source: Idaho Business Review)
  • Idaho’s largest law firm, Hawley Troxell, is expanding its presence in both Boise and eastern Idaho by acquiring the Idaho Falls firm Smith & Banks PLLC and hiring five new employees in the Boise office. The five attorneys were previously associated with Boise firm Carey Perkins LLP. The Idaho Statesman reports that, after the merger, Hawley Troxell will have 64 attorneys, 10 paralegals, five managers and 47 employees in support roles. (Source: Idaho Business Review and Idaho Statesman)
  • Supervalu, a past subsidiary of Alberstons, is cutting 115 finance shared-services jobs from its Boise office. The company will still have about 350 employees in Boise, according to a Supervalu spokesman. Supervalu has hired Cognizant, an IT and business services firm, to handle the shared-services work for the company. Cognizant will hire 54 people in Boise to work on the Supervalu contract. (Source: Idaho Statesman)
  • Simplot has applied for permits from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to increase the production of two French fry lines at its new Caldwell Plant. The permit allows the lines to increase total production from 1,320 to 1,610 tons per day. (Source: Idaho Statesman)
  • Macys.com has announced that it is doubling its Treasure Valley workforce from 30 to as many as 60. The company will primarily hire for positions related to software development. The announcement came shortly after Macys.com’s lease of 7,500 square feet in Downtown Boise’s US Bank Plaza. The company plans to make the move in September. (Source: Idaho Statesman)
  • Boise-based Micron Technology and Portland-based Intel have teamed up to develop a new type of memory—3D XPoint. Coming on the heels of Micron’s spring release of 3D NAND memory, which holds data by building memory layers up rather than just out, 3D XPoint is a new type of memory that changes the way data is retrieved from a storage chip. The chip will be manufactured in the two companies’ plant in Lehi, Utah. Following this development, Micron has announced plans for a $200 million R&D expansion at its Boise headquarters. The expansion will include 50,000 square feet of clean room space and is expected to be completed in the first half of 2017. (Source: Idaho Statesman)
  • The College of Western Idaho has pushed forward in its quest to develop a new Ada County campus on a 10-acre riverfront site on Main Street that was previously home to the Rice family Ford dealership. The school’s Board is moving forward with the conceptual design phase, and they still have until Oct. 20 to finalize the purchase. (Source: Idaho Business Review and Idaho Statesman)

 Openings

  • D & B Supply in September in Emmett
  • The Tractor Company in October in Emmett
  • Two Grocery Outlets in Boise and Caldwell
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill in Nampa
  • Dependable Automotive in Nampa
  • Fleet Feet Sports at the Village in Meridian
  • Anthropologie at the Village in Meridian
  • Victoria’s Secret in November at the Village in Meridian
  • Camille Beckman event center in October in Eagle
  • Alphonsus Health Plaza at Bown Crossing in Boise
  • Cinesational Video Productions in Boise
  • Josie Anne’s Boutique, a clothing store, in Downtown Boise
  • All About Socks (and more!) near the Boise Towne Square in Boise
  • Bella Ella Boutique in the Boise Towne Square in Boise
  • Walking Company in the Boise Towne Square in Boise

Closings

  • Patrick’s Pub in Payette
  • Mountain Gem Credit Union in Weiser
  • The Crazy Horse, a music venue, in Boise
  • Latta for the Home, a boutique furniture store, in Downtown Boise

 

  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

Blaine County

  • new officeIdaho Department of Labor has moved from Bellevue into an office at 141 Citation Way, Suite 7 in Hailey. Staff at the new office continue to offer Labor services to area businesses and job seekers, including training assistance and use of computers, printers and fax machines.
  • Smith Optics plans to maintain a presence in Ketchum through the end of the year with 35 employees. A potential sale of the 25,000-square-foot building to the Community School for use as a dorm to accommodate residential students will not affect the Smith employees.
  • City budgets are moving through the Blaine County approval process with first reads. Proposed budgets are:
    • Sun Valley $6.5 million budget.
    • Hailey $13.5 million budget.
    • Bellevue $3.5 million budget.
    • Ketchum $20.9 million budget.
  • Lava Lake Institute for Science & Conservation has taken on leadership to continue working to use nonlethal forms of livestock depredation deterrence, such as deterring wolves from preying on sheep. The local nonprofit was founded by owners of Lava Lake Land & Livestock. (Source: Idaho Mtn. Express)
  • The Cottages of Sun Valley, new assisted living and memory care facility, has broken ground in Hailey. The Cottages will open in 2016 with 32 beds offering an Alzheimer’s unit and employing 20 caregivers and additional support staff. (Source: Idaho Mtn. Express)

Cassia County

  • The second phase of Burley’s greenbelt project will be completed this year, part of a project started approximately 20 years ago. Easements have taken some time to obtain but new restrooms and irrigation system at the RV Park along with new walking and running paths are nearing completion. Construction of a new park with land donated by Idaho Central Credit Union will start this fall. Developing the downtown is next on the city’s list of priorities. (Source: Times News)

Jerome County

  • The city of Jerome is paying $86,000 for the 1,500 violations to the Clean Water Act in the operations of its wastewater treatment plant. The violations cited by the Environmental Protection Agency occurred during a period of time from 2007-2012, and the city has six years to rectify the issues. A $36 million upgrade to the treatment plant is in progress with debt approved by a judicial confirmation in 2013 after voters failed to approve the levy increase. (Source: Times News)
  • Jerome City Council has voted to increase employees’ pay by 3 percent starting the next fiscal year but do away with the 401(K) matching program. Mayor Dave Davis says the city’s contribution to the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho is the dominant retirement mechanism. (Source: Times News)
  • Watkins Distributing has broken ground on its new regional distribution center at Crossroads Point. The company established markets starting in south central Idaho 27 years ago then expanded to include the remainder of the state. The new facility is ideally located to take advantage of I-94 for east/west access and Highway 93 for north/ south. The company indicated they expect employment levels to remain stable at approximately 150 statewide. (Source: Times News)

Twin Falls County

  • Glanbia’s 22nd Annual Charity Golf Tournament has $160,000 slotted toward 10 charitable organizations in the Magic Valley. The Girl Scouts of Silver Sage Council received $15,000 toward training and development of troops and leaders impacting more than 400 girl scouts in the eight-county area. The Salvation Army received $20,000 toward remodeling its kitchen, which provides an estimated 25,000 meals annually to those in need. Then $40,000 is directed toward building a new triplex at Valley House shelter. (Source: Times News)
  • Glanbia is currently renovating space for the Glanbia Cheese Marketplace in downtown Twin Falls as its first retail outlet selling what is normally private-label cheese to the public. Offerings include mild and medium cheddar, Monterey jack, and pepper jack cheeses. The venue will have space for events and classes. A store clerk position is currently posted on its website. (Source: Times News)
  • Uber has started offering its service to the Twin Falls area helping drivers and riders match up. (Source: Times News)
  • Clif Bar’s band – Grove Valve Orchestra – played throughout southern Idaho kicking off the 37th annual Northwest Music Festival and donating the cover charge to Camp Rainbow Gold. The band was featured at Twin Fall’s Beer Festival, played on the lawn at Red Fish Lake Lodge and entertained the crowd at Whiskey Jacque’s Bar in Ketchum. The band consists primarily of professional musicians who work at Clif Bar. Fortune Magazine awarded the 11-piece orchestra Best Corporate Band in the country in 2012. (Source: Times News)

Openings

  • Omarcitto’s Mexican Restaurant in downtown Twin Falls.
  • Mountain America Credit Union in Twin Falls
  • Sonia’s Linens-N-More in Burley

Closures

  • Main Street Market in Ketchum

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

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

Bannock County

  • Lava Hot Springs hosted a production crew from the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures.” A local hotel in the community, the Lava Hot Springs Inn, is reportedly haunted. The inn once served as a hospital in the community.
  • Portneuf Medical Center (PMC) has earned a chest pain accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care. This is the second time PMC has been awarded this accreditation. The accreditation means the hospital is well qualified to help treat patients who are experiencing cardiac issues. The hospital also offers patients the services of a heart catheterization laboratory. Special treatment suites for heart attack patients are also on site at PMC.
  • Several new restaurants are coming to the Pocatello area in the coming months. A list of the new restaurants includes: Popeye’s Chicken, Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers, Red Robin, Panda Express, Panera Bread and Burger King.
  • Consul Celso Humberto Delgado-Ramirez from the Mexican Consulate in Boise visited southeast Idaho in August.  Herberto participated in a Spanish language economic development forum and met with members of the Shoshone-Bannock Festival.  A goal of the visit was to demonstrate the close economic ties between Mexico and southeast Idaho.
  • On Aug. 24, Pocatello rolled out a welcome to ISU’s students with the sixth annual Welcome Back Orange and Black celebration. The event, which is open to the entire community, featured music, games, and prizes. The event is organized by Old Town Pocatello as a way to introduce students and attract visitors to downtown businesses in the community.
  • Christopher Fasel, a patent attorney, has been hired as the new director of technology transfer for Idaho State University.  Fasel will be working with faculty, students and the business community to turn ISU’s basic research in STEM into commercial products and new businesses which can bolster the region’s economy.

Bingham County

  • Bingham Memorial Hospital celebrated its 65th anniversary on Aug. 19.  The hospital over the years has added many state of the art facilities, and receives patients from all over Eastern Idaho. The hospital is one of the largest employers in Bingham County.
  • On Aug. 8, hundreds of Native Americans representing tribes from across the western United States and Canada participated in the 52nd Annual Shoshone-Bannock Festival. The festival celebrates the dance, and the history and heritage of Native Americans. Over the decades the event has drawn into the Fort Hall area many hundreds of visitors. It provides an opportunity for the people of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe to highlight their recent achievements including the recently completed hotel and events center on the reservation.

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

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

Bonneville County

  • Construction Solutions announced plans to begin construction for its new office space in Ammon. The company will break ground on its new 8,000-square-foot building later this month and have construction completed in early 2016.
  • Eastern Idaho Technical College held its seventh-annual Amazing Race charity event earlier this month. More than 250 people participated in the event and raised nearly $40,000. All proceeds will help fund scholarships for the upcoming year.
  • Panera Bread announced plans to remodel and move into the vacant CD World building in Idaho Falls. An opening date has not yet been announced. The company is also planning to open new locations in Meridian, Twin Falls and Chubbuck.

Butte County

  • Chena Power, an Alaskan-based company, recently joined the Idaho National Laboratory’s Snake River Geothermal Consortium team. The Idaho team is competing for a U.S. Department of Energy contract that would fund the research and construction of a geothermal power plant called the Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy, or FORGE. If Idaho wins the contract, the plant is expected to be constructed on the INL’s desert site near Arco.

Fremont County

  • Walters Produce, a potato packing company located in Newdale, has filed a wastewater permit with the Idaho Dept. of Environmental Quality. The permit would allow the company to reroute potato wash water from the Newdale wastewater treatment plant and use the wastewater to help irrigate crops throughout the area. Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is expected to make a ruling on the proposal soon.

Jefferson County

  • Terreton Elementary School recently received a $5,000 grant from Rocky Mountain Power. The grant will be used to purchase new playground equipment and replace the aging playground at the school.

Lemhi County

  • S. Rare Earths, a Texas-based mining company, announced plans to begin mining near Lemhi Pass. After completing a two-year exploration project, the company found numerous veins of rare earth minerals. The company could begin mining by the end of the year.

Madison County

  • The Grove at Riverside, a multi-family housing apartment complex, recently finished construction in downtown Rexburg. The city has focused on renovating that area of town and projects have included a water park, office space, soccer fields and community playgrounds.
  • Rexburg City Council approved permits for a Motel 6 to be built later this year by a local developer that owns several motels in the region.

Teton County

  • Teton County recently awarded RAD Recycling an exclusive seven-year contract to offer curbside recycling and garbage pickup throughout the county.

 Openings

  • Westmark Credit Union in Idaho Falls
  • Tradehome Shoe Store in Idaho Falls
  • Hobby Lobby in Ammon
  • Spencer’s Clothing in Idaho Falls
  • New Star Restaurant in Ucon
  • Chuck’s Custom Pack in Rexburg

 Christopher.StJeor@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 557-2500 ext. 3077