Around Idaho: Economic Activity in March 2016

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
Eastern Idaho

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

Kootenai County

  • Summit Cancer Centers, a national cancer-care chain of clinics, announced the opening of its newest clinic in Post Falls. The 11,000 square foot clinic is located on the campus of Northwest Specialty Hospital and will offer local residents access to cutting-edge and personalized oncology. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • Kootenai Medical Center opened a 100,000 square foot expansion on March 15. The new wing includes additional patient rooms, a family birthing center and neonatal care unit. The hospital has already announced an additional phase of expansion, which will expand the emergency department and offer more room to support departments to accommodate an increasing rising number of patient visits. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press

  • Empire Aerospace has moved forward to obtain approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to service jet engine aircraft. Empire is an aerospace servicing company that has previously serviced turboprop airplanes and anticipates that diversifying to jet aircraft could more than double its operating size. Source: Idaho Business Review

Bonner County

  • The planned expansion of the Alpine Cedar saw mill in Bonner County may be delayed by a legal challenge. Though the Bonner County Planning and Zoning Commission approved an expansion permit last fall, neighboring landowners have filed for judicial review in the 1st district court. The plaintiffs have claimed a nuisance from the mill’s noise, traffic and emissions. Source: Bonner County Daily Bee

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

  • Tony and Dana Boccasini recently purchased the White Pine Motel in Orofino. They plan to renovate the 18-room facility a little at a time. They also plan to add a fish cleaning station for anglers, who make up a large percentage of guests. Source: Clearwater Tribune
  • The town of Pierce more than doubled in population on March 5 as more than 700 family members came to visit cadets at the Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy. The three motels in Pierce were booked solid for the weekend, while many visitors stayed in Orofino. Restaurants and grocery stores also enjoyed a profitable weekend. Besides creating nearly 50 jobs in Pierce, the academy also impacts the local economy in other ways. Source: Clearwater Tribune
  • Voters in the Orofino School District approved a two-year, $2.68 million levy, with 1,037 votes in favor and 698 against. The levy included a $400,000 increase to pay for roofs at Orofino High School and Timberline School. Source: Clearwater Tribune

Idaho and Lewis Counties

  • One local school district rejected a levy, and another passed a levy in March. Kamiah School District voters narrowly rejected a $135,000 facilities levy, which requires a supermajority of 55 percent. The levy would have replaced the roof at Kamiah Middle School. Its estimated rate of 67 cents per $1,000 of taxable value would have put the cost for property valued at $100,000 after the homeowner’s exemption at about $67 for the year. The Mountain View School District — including Grangeville, Kooskia and Elk City — passed a one-year, $2.66 million levy. Source: Lewiston Tribune

Latah County

  • The Moscow farmers market made more than $1.17 million in sales in 2015, more than double the $563,000 it raised in 2013. The American Farmland Trust voted the Moscow market the No. 1 farmers market in Idaho for the fifth year in a row. Farmers’ markets provide locals with relatively inexpensive, locally grown foods and provides farmers, gardeners and local artisans markets for their wares. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • Voters in the Kendrick, Potlatch and Genesee school districts passed levies in March. Kendrick’s school district raised its one-year supplemental levy from $850,000 to $860,000 this year, while the other districts kept the same levels as last time. The Potlatch School District approved a one-year levy for $1.39 million, and Genesee a one-year, levy for $935,000. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Nez Perce and Asotin Counties

  • The American Pride, a 150-passenger cruise boat, is scheduled to begin traveling the Columbia-Snake river system this summer. It will alternate weeks with the 142-passenger Queen of the West, visiting Clarkston from April through August. Three other boats bring passengers to Clarkston. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and barging advocates scored a sweeping victory Feb. 9 when a federal judge ruled the agency’s 2015 dredging program on the lower Snake and Clearwater rivers did not violate environmental laws, and that the agency was not required to complete a cost-benefit analysis as plaintiffs had charged. The judge’s ruling said the plaintiffs, which included Idaho Rivers United, the Nez Perce Tribe and Friends of the Clearwater, not only were wrong on the merits but lacked standing, their complaints were moot and not ripe for a decision. The plaintiffs had charged in a lawsuit filed in December 2014 that dredging posed a threat to salmon, steelhead and Pacific lamprey and was not economically justified. Source: Lewiston Tribune

Nez Perce and Asotin, Washington, Counties

  • Rising sales of jet boats for ocean use has led Renaissance Marine Group to purchase the 65,000-square-foot building on Clarkston’s Port Drive that formerly housed Grassland West, so it can move from its current sites in Clarkston and the Port of Wilma with 40,000 square feet combined. Renaissance plans to move its 100 employees to Port Drive in June. With demand remaining high, Renaissance expects to hire more workers over the next few years. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Patrons of the Culdesac School District voted 122 to 58 to approve a two-year, $250,000 levy. The levy’s estimated rate will cost the owner of a home with a taxable value of $100,000 about $462 per year. The district is small — about 90 students — with declining enrollment over the long term. Twelve years ago, its enrollment was more twice its current level. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Funding for a new community recovery center in Lewiston was included in the final appropriations bill of the session. Dollars also were appropriated for recovery centers in Coeur d’Alene, Bannock and Bonneville counties. The centers provide a safe, supportive environment for people who are recovering from substance abuse and behavioral issues. Source: Lewiston Tribune

Openings

  • All About Tuxedos, 0wned by David Knittel, at Mall 21 on Lewiston’s 21st Street.
  • Rants & Raves Brewery and Grill in downtown Moscow, serving beers brewed in the Pacific Northwest.
  • RaloSolar recently opened an office in Grangeville, offering residential and commercial custom solar solutions for home owners, farms and businesses.

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

  • Wal-Mart’s nationwide push to increase wages affected 7,000 Idaho Wal-Mart workers, who received pay raises in their March 10 paychecks. Of those 7,000, 2,700 of those workers were in the Treasure Valley. The raises are part of a two-year, $2.7 billion investment nationwide to raise wages and provide better training and long-term career opportunities at the retail giant. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Cascadia Healthcare, an Eagle healthcare provider and developer, is proposing two new 99-bed skilled nursing facilities near the Saint Alphonsus hospitals in Boise and Nampa. Each facility is expected to have a staff of 120 with 80 nurses. Construction is expected to start in July. Between Weiser and Mountain Home, the Treasure Valley has 26 long-term care/skilled nursing facilities with 2,214 beds licensed by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Maverik Inc., the Utah-based convenience store and gas station chain, will invest $50 million in the Treasure Valley over the next several years. The company will build four new stores — two in Boise, one in Meridian and one in Nampa — by the end of 2017. It is also planning to rebuild two stores and remodel a third in Boise within the next two years. Source: Idaho Statesman

Ada County

  • MWI Animal Health has acquired St. Francis Group, an animal health buying group in the United Kingdom, to expand its presence in foreign markets. MWI was acquired by the large pharmaceutical company AmerisourceBergen in February 2015 in a deal that MWI hopes will leave it better positioned to enter new markets. The company is especially interested in distributing its products in new countries. AmerisourceBergen distributes to 52 countries. The acquisition is the company’s third in the United Kingdom. MWI Animal Health acquired the veterinary support service provider Vetswest Limited in August 2015 and the veterinary product wholesaler and distributor Centaur Services in 2010. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Instead of a hotel, as originally planned, Gardner Company has proposed a seven-story 145,000 square-foot office building and a four-level parking garage on Parcel B, the dirt parking area across from the new Simplot Headquarters on 11th Street between Front and Myrtle streets. In addition to the main office building and parking garage, Gardner now plans a small, 5,000-square foot building fronted by a small plaza that could be a restaurant or café. Construction should start on the $60-65 million project by the end of 2016. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Brighton Corporation, a Boise-based residential real estate developer, has announced plans to build three office buildings with 42,255 square feet of space and a 162-unit luxury apartment community on Barber Valley Drive, just across the Boise River from Bown Crossing. CEO David Turnbull said that Brighton has one tenant that will occupy up to 21,000 square feet. He expects construction to be completed by the end of 2016 or early 2017. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Southern California developer Eran Fields has proposed a student housing project near Boise State University at the corner of Boise Avenue and Beacon Street at the south end of campus. The 98-unit complex will have four stories of housing, with students making up about 80 percent of the tenants, the developer estimates. It is unclear whether the structure will be more than four stories tall. If all goes as planned, construction should start early in 2017, with units ready by fall 2018. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • WestVet Emergency & Specialty Center has started construction on a two-story, 32,000-square-foot new small animal hospital at Chinden Road and 50th Street in Garden City next to its existing hospital. The new hospital will have five operating rooms, 16 exam rooms and an intensive care unit designed for pets and their visiting owners. Vet surgeon and WestVet founder Jeff Brourman expects to increase the number of staff from 115 to about 200 after the new facility is complete. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • The Capital City Development Corp. will reimburse up to $452,000 in streetscape costs for the new 150-room Hyatt Place that PEG Development is building at 10th and Bannock streets in downtown Boise. Construction on the $24 million Hyatt Place started in early January with an expected opening in March 2017. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Plans are underway to start the state’s first medical school, the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine on Idaho State University’s Meridian campus. The private, for-profit college is supported by Gov. Butch Otter and approved by the Idaho State Board of Education. Officials say private investors will pay $110 million to $125 million to start the college, which expects to have the capacity for up to 150 students a year starting in 2018. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Primary Health Medical Group plans to replace the local family care/urgent care chain’s first clinic with a new Meridian clinic at Meridian Road and Cherry Lane, the company announced. The new Meridian clinic will have 6,310 square feet, the same as the Primary Health clinic that opened Feb. 29 at Chinden Boulevard and Linder Road in Meridian. Construction will start in May with the new clinic expected to open in late 2016. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Boise-based Albertsons LLC is seeking U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval to purchase 29 Haggen supermarkets, mostly in northwestern Washington and in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, for $106 million, according to documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Fourteen of these stores involve Albertsons reacquiring stores that were Albertsons as recently as one year ago. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • The Tavern at Bown Crossing is expanding into The Owyhee, a recently renovated downtown hotel. The new Owyhee Tavern will occupy a 5,550- square-foot ground-floor space that once held the Gamekeeper restaurant. The new Tavern is expected to open in late July 2016. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Chef Richard Langston of North End staple Richard’s Café Vicino, is relocating his popular Italian restaurant to the Inn at 500 Capitol. The six-story, 112-room boutique hotel is currently under construction at Capitol Boulevard and Myrtle Street in the parking lot adjacent to The Flicks theater. Obie Development Partners LLC, which owns a similar hotel in Eugene, Oregon, broke ground on the property last October. Source: Boise Weekly
  • The Boise Co-op laid off 24 employees due to lower-than-expected sales at its new Meridian location. The layoffs included 18 workers from the Meridian store and six from the original north end store. The layoffs represent about 9 percent of the Co-op’s total workforce. Source: Idaho Statesman

Canyon County

  • The demand for Idaho wine has outstripped the supply of grapes in the state, prompting three new vineyards to open in the Sunnyslope region of southwestern Idaho. The new vineyards will add about 136 new acres of grapes by 2022. That’s about 11 percent of the current 1,200 planted acres in the state currently. The new players come from different backgrounds: Micron vice president Jay Hawkins, the crop-farming Weitz family and the Williamsons, a respected grape-growing family. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Mussel Construction in Nampa is proposing to turn a half-block of downtown Nampa into a mixed commercial, pedestrian friendly development that would complement Nampa’s Library Square. It will be up to the Nampa Development Corporation, the city’s urban renewal agency that owns the half-block, to determine whether or not to move forward with Mussell’s proposal. This is the second proposal that Mussel Construction has submitted. The first was rejected by the NDC in November 2015. Source: Idaho Press-Tribune
  • The Vallivue school district broke ground for its seventh elementary school in early April. The new school’s funding comes primarily from a $28 million bond passed in March 2015, which will also provide funding for Ridgevue High School, opening August 2016. Of that bond, $17.5 million is for the new elementary school. Source: Idaho Press-Tribune

Gem County

  • Construction has started on a new 2,800-square-foot Clarity Credit Union branch in Emmett. The Nampa-based credit union has branches in Nampa, Meridian, Middleton, Caldwell, at the Canyon County Courthouse in Caldwell, Emmett and Horseshoe Bend. The new Emmett branch will be the credit union’s third largest. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Faced with a low number of committed horses and the potential to lose as much as $30,000 from its operating budget, the Gem County Fair Board has voted to cancel spring horse-racing dates at the Emmett racing track. The lack of racing at the Les Bois race track in Boise also played a major role in the decision to cancel the races. Source: Gem Messenger-Index

Malheur County, Oregon

  • Mountain Home Auto Ranch has purchased Hanigan Chrysler and Dodge dealership in Ontario, Oregon.  Mike Hanigan, who owned the Ontario dealership for 16 years, said he had talked about selling to Auto Ranch Owner Todd McCurry for several years before announcing the deal March 3. Hanigan still owns a Chevrolet dealership in Payette that has been in his family since 1925 and a used car dealership in Emmett. Source: Idaho Business Review

Valley County

  • Midas Gold Inc. will receive a cash infusion of $41.5 million from New York City investment management firm Paulson and Co. Inc. to continue its quest to pull millions of ounces of gold from the ground at the Stibnite mine outside of Yellow Pine. Since it first started work in 2009, Midas Gold has invested $137 million into the Stibnite Gold Project, $100 million of which has been spent in Idaho, according to figures from the company. The company has 22 employees in Idaho, six of whom work at the company’s office north of Donnelly. The company also has an office in Boise. Source: McCall Star-News
  • Contractors continue work on the Cascade Aquatic and Fitness Center, which is set to open by late summer. The $2 million center is located on Main Street adjacent to Kelly’s Whitewater Park. Source: McCall Star-News

Openings

  • FitMania, a fitness center, on McMillan Road in Meridian
  • Primary Health Clinic, on Linder Road and Chinden Boulevard, in Meridian
  • Lost Grove Brewing, on Lusk Street near Boise State University, in Boise
  • Oak Barrel of Eagle, a restaurant and lounge, in Eagle
  • Slow by Slow, a multi-roaster coffeehouse, at BoDo in Boise
  • Bodovino at the Village in Meridian
  • Ulta Beauty at the Village in Meridian
  • Hope Avenue at the Village in Meridian
  • Athleta at the Village in Meridian

Closures

  • Three Maverik convenience stores in Boise, as part of a larger expansion effort across the Treasure Valley
  • Twin Dragon, a Chinese restaurant, in 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

Regional

  • The Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization hired Jeff Hough as Executive Director to replace Jan Rogers who moved on last fall to head an economic organization in eastern Idaho. Hough was formerly working at Idaho State University as director of workforce.

Cassia County

  • Voters in the Cassia County Joint School District rejected a $14.9 million school construction bond, lacking the super-majority needed to past. School officials say they intend to make do with the $36.95 million approved in the last levy vote by value engineering and stalling some of the intended projects that had higher bids than originally anticipated. Source: Times News
  • A new kosher beef processing plant is starting operations in the former Bryant Packing Plant.

Jerome County

  • Hilex Poly has completed its $6.5 million expansion, and operations are expected to start anytime with new hires of approximately 45 already in place.

Twin Falls County

  • Chobani has announced an expansion that will result in new construction, new hires and a new product line of dips and drinkable Greek yogurt. The existing building and equipment is estimated at $550 million while the company intends to add another $100 million when it expands to meet the needs of McDonald’s restaurants and new markets in Mexico and Puerto Rico.  The company has already hired about 100 new workers with a potential doubling of that. The new construction will include office space, an employee cafeteria, and a research and development maker space. The existing footprint takes up only 22 acres and currently employs more than 1,000 workers. Source: Times News
  • The Twin Falls County Fair Foundation has proposed building a $30 million event center based on a feasibility report prepared by AECOM. An earlier concept was rejected by voters prior to the Great Recession but the fair board believes it was not broad based enough and the new indoor event center will avoid the dirt floors that narrowed its scope. The project hopes to capture leakage of consumers traveling to Boise or Salt Lake City for entertainment.  A firm plan for funding is next on the to-do list. Source: Times News
  • ConAgra Foods will halt one of its potato processing lines by September, affecting 120 workers. However, alternative jobs are available at the other five lines in Twin Falls so layoffs are not anticipated. Source: Idaho Business Review

Openings

  • Popeye’s in Twin Falls
  • Thousand Springs Winery tasting room in Hagerman

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

  • Construction has begun on the Mountain View Event Center in Pocatello. The new event MEC will have a 28,000-square-foot open span floor to accommodate a variety of activities, including indoor sports, trade shows, concerts and community events. It will also house three full-sized basketball courts, locker and restrooms, a concessions area and medical rooms. Source: Idaho State Journal
  •  The former Hoku polysilicon plant on the north side of Pocatello could soon have a new owner. The current owner, JH Kelly of Pocatello, is finalizing plans with the plant’s potential, undisclosed new buyer, according to Mark Fleischauer senior vice president Source: KPVI News Pocatello
  • More than 200 female students from grades nine through 12 recently attended the 16th Annual Women and Work Conference at Idaho State University in Pocatello. The conference highlighted STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – related careers that women don’t usually choose, but are financially rewarding. Source: KPVI News Pocatello
  • Idaho State University officials recently announced a proposed 2.5 percent tuition increase. If the hike is approved by the State Board of Education, the increase would bring the per semester tuition and fees cost for full time students to about $3,478 dollars. Source: KPVI News Pocatello
  • Chubbuck, specifically the area around the Interstate 86 interchange, will be welcoming several new businesses in the coming months. The area has already attracted national fast food chains Panera Bread and Freddy’s Frozen Custard, which have opened locations in the past few months. More recently, AutoZone has opened its doors and in a few weeks, Black Bear Diner will be officially opened. Next door to Black Bear Diner, Fuji — a Japanese hibachi and sushi bar — is under construction. Popeye’s Chicken and Red Robin are also scheduled to open new locations in the area. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • AMC Theaters plans to purchase Carmike Cinemas, which includes the Carmike Pine Ridge 11 in Chubbuck. The deal will combine the 5,426 AMC screens with Carmike’s 2,954 screens with a combined 600 theatre locations in 45 states and the District of Columbia. AMC will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Carmike for $30 per share in cash. The transaction is valued at approximately $1.1 billion. Source: Idaho State Journal

Bingham County

  • Bingham Memorial Hospital has broken ground on a new dialysis center in Blackfoot across the street from the hospital and just north of the Bingham Memorial Medical Plaza. The new center is a partnership between Bingham Memorial and the Idaho Kidney Institute and will have doctors who specialize in all aspects of kidney health, including kidney stones, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, dialysis treatment and kidney transplants. The new treatment center is intended to better help those with kidney transplants and offer patients access to home dialysis treatment, pediatric care and — with 8,000 square feet dedicated to dialysis treatment — provide twice as much space for patients in need of treatment. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • Idaho Science & Technology Charter School in Blackfoot has been recommended for accreditation by an AdvancED review team that visited the school. The middle school is now expected to become fully accredited in June. The charter school began the accreditation process in Sept. 2015. AdvancED is a nonprofit that conducts independent reviews of K-12 schools for accreditation purposes, and also provides services to help schools improve. Idaho Science & Technology Charter School opened in August 2009 and serves students from fourth to eighth grade. It’s currently accepting enrollment applications for the 2016-17 school year. Source: Post Register
  • Basic American Potato Company Inc. has applied for a wastewater reuse permit renewal with The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality in Bingham County. The permit authorizes the company to continue operating a wastewater treatment facility and reuse system for another six years that allows treated wastewater to be used for irrigating crops during growing and non-growing seasons. Source: Morning News

 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

  • Advanced Ceramic Fibers LLC, a small technology-based business in Idaho Falls, has received a $469,282 Phase II Small Business Innovative Research award from the Office of Naval Research. The award is for a project to continue development of Advanced Ceramic Fibers’ trademarked “Fi-Bar” fiber ceramic matrix composite materials applicable to advanced components for turbine engines. The award follows the successful completion of the Phase I Small Business Innovative Research project in September. Source: Post Register
  • An Idaho Falls bottled water startup called Divinia took high honors Feb. 27 at the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. The company is headed by Steven Sedlmayr, who has been using well water from the Roberts area but is moving his operation to a location on Whittier Street and will be using Idaho Falls water once in operation. Sedlmayr has built a patented purifier that removes such contaminants as arsenic, chlorine, fluoride, lead, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and antibiotics. The process uses 14 stages of filtration, taking more than eight hours to purify three gallons of water. Source: Post Register
  • A community college in eastern Idaho is now one step closer to becoming a reality. A bill recently passed the Senate floor creates a $5 million fund that will help pave the way for a community college in eastern Idaho. Before any state funds are used, local voters have to approve the creation of a taxing district to fund the community college. Source: Post Register
  • Boise-based Thornton Oliver Keller Commercial Real Estate, Idaho’s largest full-service commercial real estate firm, is opening an office in Idaho Falls at a location yet to be announced. The company is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and has experienced considerable growth, completing more than 40 percent of the commercial real estate transactions in the Boise market over the past 10 years. Thornton Oliver Keller is independently owned by 14 members of the firm and was selected in 2015 by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a winner in the annual Blue Ribbon Small Business Awards program that recognizes companies for their success and innovation as well as contributions to economic growth and free enterprise. Source: Post Register
  • Scholarships totaling $40,000 were recently awarded to the “forgotten middle” of Bonneville County’s students at the annual Mayor’s Scholarship Fund ceremony in March. The 40 scholarship recipients reside within District 91 and 93 boundaries and will use the funds for tuition at post-secondary educational institutions in Idaho. The Mayor’s Scholarship Fund was established in 2006 by previous Idaho Falls Mayor Jared Fuhriman in collaboration with the District 91 and District 93 Education Foundations. Since its inception, the fund has provided about 340 scholarships worth more than $330,000, the release said. Source: Post Register
  • Bruce Patterson, Ammon’s technology director, will participate in the Digital Northwest Regional Broadband Summit in Seattle. Patterson will share a panel with technology officials from various municipalities and answer questions about cost, installation and other logistics related to Ammon’s fledgling fiber optic Internet network. Patterson pioneered Ammon’s network, which has garnered national attention for its innovative model. Ammon’s network differs from others in part because the city installed the infrastructure, instead of an Internet service provider and is meant to foster competition between area providers, driving down the cost for consumers. Fiber users can also switch ISPs on the fly if they find service unsatisfactory instead of undergoing a lengthy cancellation and initiation process. Source: Post Register

Butte County

  • Idaho National Laboratory is offering financial assistance via two federal programs for small businesses interested in developing clean energy and other technology innovations. In one program, the U.S. Department of Energy offers several small business vouchers valued between $50,000 and $300,000, which can then be exchanged for technical assistance at INL, a news release said. Eligible businesses must have no more than 500 employees. The other financial assistance program is through the U.S. Department of Commerce, which offers grant funding for up to $100,000 for six months of research and development at INL in several technology areas. Research areas eligible for funding include advanced sensing for manufacturing, bio-manufacturing, cryptography and privacy, cyber-physical systems, lab to market, materials genome and quantum-based sensors and measurements. The deadline for submissions is April 14. Information on the program is at http://tinyurl.com/z9dm3sg. Source: Post Register
  • Spent nuclear fuel from an Illinois reactor will not be traveling to Idaho National Laboratory any time soon. U.S. Department of Energy officials and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden could not reach an agreement before a March 11 deadline that would have allowed the DOE to ship the 25 fuel rods in June. Now, the soonest the DOE could ship the radioactive material to Idaho is December, further setting back a research project that originally was scheduled to begin last year. The decision to delay the controversial shipment from the Byron Nuclear Generating Station in Illinois comes after another potential INL spent nuclear fuel shipment, from the North Anna Nuclear Power Station in Virginia, was called off by the DOE in October. That shipment was eventually rerouted to Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The fuel shipments have been banned from INL because Wasden and the DOE have not been able to agree on a solution to resolve the DOE’s continued noncompliance with the 1995 Settlement Agreement. Source: Post Register

Fremont County

  • Anthony’s 12-block-long West Main Street is scheduled to get a complete makeover. According to city officials the estimated $3 million project has been in the works since at least 2008. The project will include a reconstructed street, curbs and gutters, sidewalks, signs, lighting and utilities upgrades. An approach to a canal bridge near 12th West will also be straightened in order to make the street safer. Source: Post Register
  • Keller engineers are suggesting a massive and expensive upgrade of Ashton’s wastewater plant can be avoided by creating winter storage tanks for treated irrigation water, following a $75,000 grant that allowed the company to look for ways to improve the plant. The current wastewater plant was built in the 1960s and is no longer able to meet established ammonia limits due to stricter requirements approved by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2014. Source: Rexburg Standard Journal

Madison County

  • Construction of the Thornton Interchange (overpass) on U.S. Highway 20 north of Thornton is well underway. This new interchange will make the U.S. 20 highway between Idaho Falls and Sugar City a full access control divided highway, aiming to improve safety and traffic flow. The Idaho Transportation Department plans to have the Thornton Interchange project finished by winter and estimate it will cost $14 million. Source: Rexburg Standard Journal
  • Homestead Assisted Living owner David Thueson plans to build 13 cottages in Rexburg to give elderly residents a place to live independently while receiving help when necessary. Each condo will be 1,000 square feet and come with two bedrooms, kitchen and bath. Thueson is also building an assisted living facility for seniors on 408 W. Main St. The assisted living facility will include a movie room, billiards, fitness center, library, salon and ice cream parlor. Source: Rexburg Standard Journal

Openings

  • Ace Hardware, Idaho Falls
  • Marketplace Home Furnishings, Idaho Falls
  • Tai-Pan Trading, Idaho Falls

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