Around Idaho: November Economic Activity

Information provided in this article is gathered from professional sources, news releases, weekly and daily newspapers, television and other media.

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

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

Kootenai County

  • Kootenai County has proposed to implement a permitting system to help track and regulate short-term vacation rentals. The issue arose over concerns that the short-term rental of homes to vacationers violates zoning laws by turning residential properties into de-facto hotels. The proposed regulations will aim to level the playing field between homeowners and traditional hotels and bed and breakfasts. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • A massive windstorm in November felled hundreds of trees and left 8,300 residents of Kootenai County without power, on top of 113,000 without power in Spokane. The widespread outages across the region strained the ability of utility companies to quickly restore power, even after mobilizing all their available line crews. The Kootenai County Board of Commissioners issued a declaration of disaster, authorizing local authorities to spend whatever they deem necessary to deal with the effects of the storm. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press

Benewah County

  • The St. Maries City Council will reassess its plans to sell a 132-acre parcel of land after the initial asking price of $900,000 failed to attract any offers. The parcel was originally put up for sale to augment the city’s revenue stream in preparation for anticipated infrastructure spending. Source: St. Maries Gazette Record

Bonner County

  • Bonner County Commissioners will hold a public hearing to evaluate the hours of operation for the Alpine Cedar sawmill. The mill’s former permits set no time constraints on hours of operation, which has led to opposition from neighboring landowners who cited obnoxious noise, light and emissions. Source: Bonner County Daily Bee

Openings – Coeur d’Alene

  • Strada Coffee
  • Gaiwan Tea House
  • The Growler Guys sports bar
  • China Inn

Under Construction – Coeur d’Alene

  • Chipotle Mexican Grill
  • Anthony’s, a regional seafood chain

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

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

Clearwater County

  • Charlie and Jesh Hopper have started a restaurant chain. Three years ago, they opened a pizza restaurant in Grangeville It was such a success they opened a second restaurant on Thain in Lewiston a year later. Two months ago, they opened Hopper’s Pizza on Highway 12 in Orofino. Source: Clearwater Tribune

Idaho and Lewis Counties

  • A fire destroyed the WaterOz mineral water plant in Stites, 17 miles northeast of Grangeville on Oct. 30. About 10 people worked in the 56,000-square-foot building. There were no reported injuries. WaterOz’s management plans to continue production. Source: Idaho County Free Press; Lewiston Tribune
  • Idaho-Lewis County Economic Development hosted the third annual career expo at the Idaho County Fairgrounds in Cottonwood in October. About 480 students from middle and high schools throughout the two counties came to learn about jobs. More than 30 exhibitors attended the event showcasing local job opportunities in a variety of industries. Among the popular hands-on exhibits were the Idaho Transportation Department’s snow plow simulator, a Waratah feller head simulator (modern forestry tool), law enforcement tactical gear, a National Guard Humvee and currency counters. Clearwater Economic Development Association sponsored a session on local careers in modern manufacturing. Source: Idaho County Free Press; Cottonwood Chronicle
  • School enrollments are on the rise in Idaho County suggesting that more families are moving into the county than moving out. Mountain View School District 244 — including schools in Grangeville, Kooskia and Elk City — enrolled 59 more students this fall than last fall, while the Cottonwood Joint School District 242 enrolled 19 more. Salmon River Joint School District 243, based in Riggins, had a total of 104 students in kindergarten through 12th grade during the last school year. This year, it has 114 students. Source: Idaho County Free Press

Latah County

  • The University of Idaho’s enrollment fell 1.4 percent between the fall of 2014 and the fall of 2015. Most of the decreases came at the branch campus. On the Moscow campus, increases of in-state freshman and international students helped offset a reduction of transfers from community colleges. This fall, the university welcomed 1,160 in-state freshmen, up 1.2 percent from the year before. The number of international undergraduates increased 45.9 percent to 766 students. The university is continuing to work toward increased enrollment through the VandaLink agreement with community colleges to simplify enrollment for transfer students. At the suggestion of university president Chuck Staben, the Idaho State Board of Education started the Direct Enrollment initiative, which will automatically inform high school seniors of their preliminary acceptance to Idaho colleges and universities. The first-year student retention rate is 80 percent, an increase of more than 2 percent from fall 2014. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News; Lewiston Tribune
  • University of Idaho and Boise State University researchers will share a $240,000 grant aimed at improving fire prevention efforts in wildland urban interfaces, where pockets of developments are mixed with undeveloped forests and rangeland. Over the next three years, law, architecture and community planning experts will assess wildfire preparation in communities around the state and then develop strategies that communities can use to bolster those preparations. The researchers will host workshops for both professional and volunteer firefighters, land planners and local government officials. Source: Lewiston Tribune

Nez Perce and Asotin Counties

  • Jetco Machine & Fabrication, an aluminum jet boat manufacturer based in Asotin, purchased Nick’s Welding in Lewiston. All six Nick’s Welding employees will keep their jobs. In addition, Jetco hired six employees from the recently closed Precision Machine & Supply. Now Jetco employs 22 full-time employees in Asotin in addition to its new employees in Lewiston. Source: Valley Vision news alert
  • The Port of Whitman County plans to make $1.2 million in improvements to railroad access at the Port of Wilma, which is just across the Snake River from Clarkston. The contractor is Railworks of Airway Heights, Wash., for the project that will replace 1,200 railroad ties, upgrade crossings and extend the lead spur allowing access to the main line from either end of the lead. The rail project will allow CHS Primeland and Hinrichs Trading Co. to expand operations at the port. CHS Primeland – a farmers’ cooperative that stores and sells fertilizers, seeds, and fuels, as well as markets agricultural crops –is in the middle of construction on a state-of-the-art agronomy hub plant there. When it’s completed in the summer of 2016, it will have a capacity of 24,000 tons of dry fertilizer, 2.5 million gallons of liquid fertilizer and a massive crop protection product warehouse, making it the largest such operation in the Inland Northwest. Hinrichs Trading is an exporter of specialty crops such as garbanzo beans, whole and split green and yellow peas, lentils, canola, popcorn, bird feed and feed bi-products. Source: Port of Whitman County
  • For the first time in more than six months, containerized shipping is happening at the Port of Lewiston. Since overseas shipping lines stopped calling at the Port of Portland, containers have not traveled along the Snake-Columbia river system. Now, Northwest Container Services and transport company Tidewater are picking up containers at the Port of Lewiston and taking them by barge to Boardman, Oregon, where they are moved onto rail cars and then taken to Washington ports. The great bulk of containers shipped from Lewiston contain dried peas and lentils. The service is starting on a small scale, with only 18 to 20 containers making the trip every other week. In the past, barges carried 80 to 100 containers four times a month. As Northwest Container Services gets more rail cars that can handle fully loaded containers, it will increase the number of containers it carries. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Lewis-Clark State College’s enrollment grew about 2 percent to 3,633 between fall 2014 and fall 2015. New entering students were up 8.8 percent. About 68.8 percent of its student body are first-generation college students. The enrollment increase comes after LCSC set records for both graduates and degrees awarded at spring commencement. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • R’n’R RV Center plans to build a $2 million, eight-bay service center next to its sales center along U.S. Highway 95 in North Lewiston. Construction should begin in the next few weeks and be completed in April. The addition will improve R’nR RV Center’s ability to do work on motor homes. In April, the company will close its service and parts office on Bridge Street in Clarkston. It will also increase the number of camper trailers and motor homes it keeps in stock in Lewiston from 150 to 200. (Source: Lewiston Tribune)
  • Dr. David Leach, the owner of ClearView Eye Clinic that employs 36 people in Moscow, invested $2.2 million to construct a 10,000-square-foot clinic and surgery center on 23rd Ave. in Lewiston. The new center opened in November. Source: Lewiston Tribune

Openings

  • Maryann and Michael Gulotta opened The Village Shoppe Nov. 1 in a mini-mall on Main Street in Grangeville. It sells food items, toys, games, gifts, towels, and kitchenware. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • Randy and Jolene Daugherty, owners of 3-D Video, recently opened a new Verizon store in Kamiah. Source: Clearwater Progress

 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

Treasure Valley

  • Alaska Airlines began offering nonstop air service from Boise to Reno Nov. 5. Boise has not had a nonstop flight to Reno since 2012. With the addition of the Reno flight, the Boise airport will have 19 nonstop destinations, including all the larger cities in the Northwest and Southwest. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Athlos Academies has begun construction on the former Macy’s building in downtown Boise, which has been empty since 2010. The building will serve as the company’s headquarters. Athlos Academies is a charter school company that designs sports-themed curriculum for the 13 schools the company has outfitted in four states since opening in 2008. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • The historic Perrault-Fritchman building in downtown Boise has been sold to Jay Story, principal at Story Commercial in Boise. The building is the oldest commercial building remaining downtown. This is the first time the building has passed out of the Fritchman family since it was built in 1897. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • The Treasure Valley YMCA has bought the Nelson School Supply building across the street from the YMCA’s downtown location. Rick Nelson, the former owner of Nelson School Supply, sold the building to the YMCA without listing it publicly. The YMCA will perform Americans with Disabilities Act, heating and cooling upgrades. It hopes to open the building in early 2016. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • A new Maverik convenience store and gas station with a pedestrian-friendly, urban design is slated for construction on the corner of Orchard Street and Franklin Road in summer 2016. The company is complying with the Boise Planning and Development Services, who are promoting the urban design style at mixed-use activity centers around the city. The company is seeking LEED certification for the building, which will increase energy efficiency and create cost savings. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Developer Rick Neser has submitted plans to build a four-story, 16,581-square-foot mixed-used building on the corner of 13th and River in downtown Boise. The development would have college-style apartments on the third and fourth floors and office and retail space on the first two. Neser said he would like to complete the building before Boise State University’s fall 2016 semester. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • The Education Management Corporation, operator of Brown Mackie College in Boise, agreed to forgive $504,000 of student loans to 519 former Idaho students after the Idaho Office of the Attorney General alleged that the school had engaged in “unfair and deceptive recruitment and enrollment practices.” The EDMC has agreed to forgive over $102 million of debt nationwide. Source: Boise Weekly
  • The Melba School District has broken ground on a new elementary school on the site of the old school district maintenance shop. The new school will be 62,000 square feet with 24 classrooms. Source: Owyhee Avalanche

Elmore County

  • The Western Elmore County Recreation Districts suspended plans to build a recreation center operated by the YMCA in Mountain Home. The decision came after two new members were elected to the district’s board. The plans will be reviewed in January when the board members officially take their positions. Both members indicated during their campaigns that they were interested in cancelling the project outright. Source: Mountain Home News

Valley County

  • The state of Idaho auctioned off 20 Payette Lake Cabin lots that netted the Department of Lands $6.98 million. Most of the lots had privately owned cabins on them. Typically these lots are sold to the owners of the cabins. Source: Idaho Business Review

Openings

  • Prime Lending, a national mortgage brokerage, in McCall
  • Wild Root Café and Market in downtown Boise
  • The Grub Hut, a food stand, in Nampa
  • Delights Country Treasures, an antique store, in downtown Caldwell

Closings

  • SkyVue Grill in Boise
  • Subway 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

Twin Falls County

  • AWOL Adventure Sports was awarded the water sports concession by the Twin Falls County Commissions, pending legal review. AWOL or ‘A Way of Life’ has proposed to provide kayaking, canoeing and paddle board equipment at Centennial Park in Twin Falls. The bid came with a payment of $15,000 for the year plus $1,200 worth of dock maintenance and river cleanup as well as $800 in kayak rental gift certificates to the county.  Source: Times News
  • Kimberly voters rejected a proposal to build a wastewater plant with more than 79 percent casting ballots against it. The hefty price tag of $23 million distributed over the 3,500 residents was considered a factor. Currently, Twin Falls provides wastewater treatment for the city of Kimberly. Source: Times News
  • Magic Valley Brewing is starting a brew-pub in Buhl anticipating a March 2016 opening. The restaurant and craft brewery will be managed and operated by a husband-wife team with 20 years of experience in home brewing and another five years of professional brewing in California. Source: Times News
  • Buhl voters passed a two-year, $400,000 supplemental levy. The school district uses the funds to ensure operations are carried out and the budget balanced in doing so. Another 12 school districts regionally had to rely on supplemental levies and the understanding of tax payers that the burden has shifted from the state to the local government. Source: Times News
  • Twin Falls Healthcare, the family practice division of Psychiatric Services Behavioral Health Clinic, Inc. is now a contractor for military veterans who need counseling and is providing walk-in services. It is another treatment option to Veterans Affairs Outpatient clinic for close to 1,100 military veterans in Twin Falls, Jerome, Minidoka and Cassia counties. Source: Times News

Blaine County

  • Delta Airlines has added a new weekly nonstop flight between Los Angeles and Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey for the upcoming winter season, Fly Sun Valley Alliance Director Carol Waller announced Tuesday. The Saturday flight will bring southern California skiers up for the week from mid-February to April 2. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • With the arrival of Village Markets in the former Main Street Market location in Ketchum, plans for a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s in the light industrial park have been shelved.
  • Community School sealed the deal on the former Smith Sport Optics building which will be retrofitted as a dorm for those 20 students that use residential housing. The school’s enrollment has grown by 21 percent since 2011. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • Sun Valley Juice Company has been temporarily shut down as a federal agency investigates its observance of food safety guidelines. The company produces chemical-free orange juice and has been in business since 1990. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • The Wood River Valley has seen a 17 percent increase in visitors after a new local option tax doubled the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance’s marketing budget. The alliance’s marketing budget was raised for the last fiscal year to $2 million, using the extra money to extend its brand to new markets. “We have airline contracts that bring direct flights to our airports from Las Angeles and Seattle and we recently added San Francisco and Denver,” said Arlene Schieven, president of the Marketing Alliance. “We want to make sure those seats are full so we have made those cities’ targets.” Source: Idaho Mountain Express

Minidoka-Cassia Counties

  • Library staff at both Burley and Rupert locations have been trained on operations and how to maintain and troubleshoot the new 3-D printers that are available for patrons’ use. The 3-D printers are part of the ‘Makerspace” initiative that has enriched Idaho’s library system. For more information see http://libraries.idaho.gov/make-it-at-the-library and www.facebook.com/MakeItIdaho.

Openings

  • Campion Ice House hosted a ribbon cutting and offered free skating on this new ice rink in Hailey.
  • Taco Johns opened its doors in Twin Falls.
  • Dominoes Pizza, Jimmy John’s and Panda Express are all opening in Burley before the holiday rush.

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

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

Bannock County

  • Life Flight Network, Pocatello Fire Department and Pocatello Police Department recently announced the creation of a new 1st Responder Academy at the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25. The new 1st Responder Academy is the second in Idaho and will be available to all Pocatello/Chubbuck School District #25 students and encompasses education in Law Enforcement, Firefighting and Emergency Medical Services. Goals of the Academy are to give students the opportunity to be National Registry certified in EMT-B and/or IFSAC certified in FF1 at or around the time of graduation. All classes are held in the Pocatello High School Technical Building. For more information please contact your high school counselor or contact Mark Brood at broodma@sd25.us. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • The Farmers Insurance service center in Pocatello will close in about 14 months, according to company officials. The closure will impact approximately 200 employees at the Pocatello office. The Pocatello service center has operated in Pocatello since 1953. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • Tia Lloyd has been named the new general manager of the Pine Ridge Mall in Chubbuck. Lloyd will oversee the management of the approximately 600,000-square-foot retail property, as well as all tenant relations, client relations, budget development, financial reporting and lease administration for the property. Before joining Pine Ridge Mall, Lloyd served as a property manager for two large luxury housing communities in Rexburg. Source: Idaho State Journal

Bingham County

  • Bingham County police department recently purchased high-definition body cameras for all officers and detectives working in the county. The cameras were purchased through Homeland Security funding in an effort to provide indisputable records of interactions between police and citizens as national attention has increased regarding officer shootings. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • Bingham Academy, a Blackfoot-based public charter high school, failed a second accreditation readiness visit in September. As a result state officials have said that the school’s future is uncertain. Passing the visits are required for a school to advance to candidacy status, a step in which most schools reach their first year of operations. Because it failed to reach candidacy status in its first year, credits earned by the roughly 66 high school students enrolled that year are considered to be from a non-accredited institution. If the school closes or a student transfers out, those credits will not count toward graduation at other institutions. If the school fails to reach candidacy status by June, credits earned this current year also will not transfer. Source: Post Register
  • The North Bingham County District Library announced the purchase of two 3-D printers available for public use at the Shelly public library. The printers were purchased as part of the Make It Idaho initiative, which supports the creation of maker spaces in state libraries. The library is not currently charging people to use the printers, but it will likely add a fee in the future to help cover the cost of materials. Anyone interested in using or learning more about the printers and how they operate can contact the library at (208) 357-7801 for more information. Source: Idaho State Journal

Closure

  • Farmers Insurance in Pocatello

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

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

Bonneville County

  • Melaleuca showed its appreciation to longtime employees Tuesday by handing out longevity bonuses. In all, the company gave some 197 employees a total of $2.3 million. Since the company instituted the bonus system in 2007, $17.6 million in bonuses have been paid to more than 1,000 employees. Melaleuca is a health and wellness company that sells hundreds of household products across the world, including detergents, lotions, food, drinks and health supplements. Source: Post Register
  • Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center has finished renovations on its Behavioral Health Center. The recent upgrades are aimed at making the experience less traumatic and a lot more comforting for the more than 1,000 people admitted to the psychiatric hospital each year. The project totaled a little more than $600,000 and took just over a year to complete. The 74-bed center is the only inpatient facility of its kind in eastern Idaho. The center admitted more than 1,300 patients from around the region in 2014. Source: Post Register 2015
  • Advanced Ceramic Fivers, located in Idaho Falls, was awarded the top prize at the Idaho Innovation Awards in Boise. The Idaho Falls company is a spinoff from the Idaho National Laboratory that has developed a ceramic fiber invention to help make metal such as steel and aluminum stronger, lighter and more durable. The company’s product has broad application and can be used in industries such as aerospace, infrastructure, trucking, energy and defense. Source: Post Register

Butte County

  • The U.S. Department of Energy has selected the Idaho National Laboratory to play a key role in a new initiative intended to lead to the building of new or advanced nuclear reactor designs that can be brought to the commercial market. The Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear, called GAIN, will offer innovators and entrepreneurs in private industry and public institutions through the Idaho National Laboratory a single point of access to federal experts and facilities. The announcement was made as part of the Obama administration’s goal of reducing carbon emissions. Source: Post Register
  • After continued setbacks at the INL’s Integrated Waste Treatment Facility, the U.S. Department of Energy announced it will examine alternative treatment methods for the 900,000 gallons of liquid radioactive waste that remains stored in aging steel tanks west of Idaho Falls. The facility has been unable to pass initial testing and is hundreds of millions of dollars over the original estimate. The INL plans to run another round of testing this month, but due to the continued setbacks, alternative options are being considered. Source: Post Register, 2015

Fremont County

  • Yellowstone National Park saw more than a quarter million visitors in October, smashing the previous record for that month, set last year, by nearly 30 percent. The October attendance numbers sent Yellowstone over the 4 million visitor mark for the year. The previous record for most visitors to the park for a full season was set in 2010, when about 3.6 million people traveled through the park’s five entrances. But this year, Yellowstone had already surpassed that mark after September. Source: Post Register

Madison County

  • A public hearing was recently held addressing approval to create a North Interchange Urban Renewal Project in Rexburg that would help fund various infrastructure improvements. The project is aimed to facilitate economic growth and commercial development in conjunction with the construction of a new Super Walmart. The project includes redevelopment and infrastructure improvements for approximately 679 acres, including U.S. Highway 20 and North Second East interchange bounded on the south by East Moran Road and on the east by South Railroad. Source: Standard Journal

Clark County

  • Lendy Ross Elementary was awarded a $5,000 grant as part of the Idaho Commission for Libraries School Library Access Mini-Grant program. The grant will be used to increase access to books and better meet the needs of beginning readers. Source: Post Register 2015

Madison County

  • Madison Memorial Hospital can now offer emergent behavioral health assessments for its patients under a partnership with the Eastern Idaho Regional Behavioral Health Center. This will be provided through a process called Tele-Mental health – a new service that connects physicians in the Emergency Department to the Behavioral Health Center directly by teleconference. Source: Standard Journal 2015

Openings

  • Farmer’s Bakery in Rexburg
  • Abracadabra Restaurant in Idaho Falls
  • Romeo’s Bakery in Idaho Falls

Closures

  • Renew For Life in Rigby

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