Around Idaho: Economic Activity in May 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

Region

  • According to a new report from the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, homelessness in the five northern counties increased by 5 percent from 2015, including a 35 percent increase in the number of homeless people without access to shelter. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press

Kootenai County

  • Coeur d’Alene was ranked “cleanest city” in America by the travel website Expedia. The rankings were based on thousands of reviews by tourists. The average review rated Coeur d’Alene 4.85 out of 5 stars on the cleanliness of the city and the local environment. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • The new Disability Action Center in Post Falls held a grand opening on May 19. The center promotes public and private initiatives to remove barriers for individuals in the workplace and in the community. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • Alliance Data opened a new customer care center in Coeur d’Alene. Long-term, the 75,000-square-foot facility is expected to accommodate 700 employees; 200 are expected to be hired by the end of 2016. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • Several changes are happening in the Plaza Shops in the resort area of downtown Coeur d’Alene. The shops, which are the shopping hub by the resort, will undergo a major reshuffling as several retailers expand into new spaces. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • Kootenai County’s food service and retail sectors continued to grow with seven new restaurants and five new retail spaces opening in Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • The city of Coeur d’Alene is moving forward with plans to de-annex 62 properties from urban renewal districts. The plan was approved unanimously by the city council, and the city will now work with Ignite CDA – the urban renewal agency – to prepare a formal proposal. If the de-annexation is eventually approved, it could return roughly $1.3 million to local taxing districts. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press

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

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

Lewis County

  • Blue North Forest Products Inc. sold its mill in Kamiah to Idaho Forest Group. IFG plans to dismantle the Kamiah mill and increase its capacity at existing mills in Lewiston and Grangeville. While this means that the 65 employees at the Kamiah mill will be laid off, IFG said that these workers can apply for new positions which will open at their other mills. Source: Lewiston Morning Tribute

Latah County

  • Logos School in Moscow will proceed with the construction of a new campus, following unanimous approval by the Moscow City Council voted to rezone a 30 acre parcel from agricultural forestry to residential. The private Christian school has been seeking room to build a larger facility to accommodate larger classes – 2016-2017 will be the fifth straight year of enrollment growth for the school. Source: Lewiston Morning Tribute
  • I-Minerals announced plans to mine for feldspar, quartz, kaolin and hallosyte in areas northwest of Bovill within two years. The company is currently working to secure $108 million in financing to get its new operation up and running. I-Minerals statements indicated that the company anticipates the operation will employ around 120 workers and will yield minerals averaging $316 per ton. The mine is expected to yield a total of 21.3 million tons of mineral resources. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Clearwater County

  • Clearwater Paper is moving ahead with a $160 million upgrade to its Lewiston plant now that a new pulp digester vessel passed technical specifications. The good news on the pulp digester, which is a key component in the upgrade, now has the company confident that the project will come in on time and under budget. Source: Lewiston Morning Tribute
  • Downtown Lewiston continues to build momentum with several businesses opening in May, including two new restaurants, an art gallery and a winery. Source: Lewiston Morning Tribute

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

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

Ada County

  • Teleperformance, a France and Salt Lake City-based call center in Boise, is planning to hire at least 300 workers in the next six months. New hires will earn between $9 and $11 an hour for taking inbound phone calls from customers regarding equipment issues. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • The city of Boise is looking for a development partner to create an intermodal rail facility with industrial and manufacturing tenants on 300 acres of city-owned land near Eisenman Road. The acreage wraps around two sides of the WinCo distribution center near Interstate 84 and Eisenman Road with nearly 9,000 linear feet of railroad track that the city owns running alongside the property. The rail is a continuation of the Union Pacific Railroad line that runs to Nampa. The city expects to sign an agreement in the coming weeks with a broker charged with finding a developing partner. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • A Seattle family who moved to Boise last year wants to construct a $3.5 million roller skating rink and 65-space parking lot on the corner of Franklin and Linder Roads in Meridian. If they secure investment soon and things go as planned, they could break ground on a 25,000-square-foot building this summer with an opening next winter. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • The Eagle Tennis Club is nearing completion of a 12-court, 91,000 square-foot indoor tennis facility. The facility is one piece of a 100-acre mixed use development planned by Eagle-based developer Pacific Companies, which will include retail, offices, apartments, senior housing and single-family homes as well as a potential hotel and YMCA. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • The city of Meridian has agreed to purchase the YMCA’s Homecourt facility near downtown Meridian for $4 million. As a result, the city will receive much-needed recreational facilities and the YMCA will use the money to fund a new, full-service YMCA in South Meridian near Amity and Eagle Roads. The agreement was approved by the Meridian City Council, but Homecourt will remain a YMCA membership facility until the South Meridian YMCA opens, which is projected for 2017, according to the news release. The city plans to add additional evening recreational opportunities at Homecourt beginning in the fall of 2016. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Boise Bicycle Project expects to start work in June on an expansion that will add about 2,000 square feet to its 3,000-square-foot workshop and offices near Boise State University on Lusk Street. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Franklin Building Supply is now 100 percent employee-owned. Employees will earn shares for each year they work at least 1,000 hours and will become fully vested after six years. About 400 of the company’s 440 employees are eligible for the stock option. President Rick Lierz and the company’s other owners have spent the past six months setting up a trust fund and selling their stock to the company. The company will slowly sell that stock into the fund where it will be distributed to employees. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Tractor Supply, a Brentwood, Tennessee – based rural lifestyle retail store, is expected to break ground by early June on a 21,000-square-foot store in Kuna with a potential opening in fall. Tractor Supply and a new 10,000-square-foot Dollar Tree are the first phase of a new 17-acre commercial development called Ensign Subdivision, which is being developed by Emmett Partners of Bountiful, Utah. Source: Idaho Business Review

Canyon County

  • American Food Equipment Co. has broken ground on a $7.7 million, 61,000-square-foot food manufacturing facility and 6,400-square-foot office building in Caldwell. The plant will be located on a 10-acre parcel in the Sky Ranch Business Center near the Caldwell Airport. The facility, which should be operational by late fall, will bring about 90 jobs with an average annual wage of almost $45,000 to Caldwell. The company was approved for an Idaho’s Tax Reimbursement Incentive, which will return 21 percent of the company’s income, payroll and sales tax over nine years if it meets job creation and wage thresholds. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Idaho Arts Charter School is building a second campus on what used to be the green and part of the fairway of hole No. 1 of the former Broadmore Golf Course, which closed in 2015. Construction started on the 36,995-square-foot, $4.365 million school in mid-March. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Saint Alphonsus plans to build a new 40,000-square-foot emergency medical plaza on 12th Avenue Road in Nampa. The new facility would be next to the existing Saint Alphonsus Nampa hospital, which Saint Alphonsus is in the process of replacing with a new hospital at Garrity Boulevard and Interstate 84. Source: Idaho Press-Tribune

Gem County

  • Emmett has started installing fiber optic cable to connect city facilities with broadband Internet services. Emmett so far has installed fiber optic cable to a few downtown blocks to link City Hall, the Public Safety Building, Emmett City Park (which now has free Wi-Fi) and the water tower. Public works will be hooked up in a few weeks and within nine months fiber optic should reach the fire department and library. Eventually, the city plans to extend fiber optic into the community and use the technology to recruit high-tech businesses. Source: Idaho Business Review

Valley County

  • Valley County and Meadows Valley economic development groups have been awarded $100,000 to implement The West Central Mountains Economic Development Strategy. The development strategy was among eight plans across the nation to advance to the next round of the America’s Best Communities competition. The eight finalists will compete for $6 million in prize money next year, including a $3 million prize for the winning economic development plan. About 350 communities registered to participate in the America’s Best Communities competition, and the field was narrowed to 50 quarterfinalists in April 2015. Next April, the top three communities showing the greatest results from the plans will be selected as the grand prize winners. Source: McCall Star-News
  • Potlatch Corp., a Spokane-based diversified forest products group, has sold 172,000 acres of timberland to Southern Pine Plantations, a private timberland investment company based in Macon, Georgia, for $114 million. Potlatch originally planned to develop some of that timberland, which it purchased in 2007, but the market downturn quashed any hopes of immediate development. Southern Pine Plantations is a timberland and real estate company specializing in rural land acquisitions and sales, primarily in the Southeast, according to the company’s website. Source: McCall Star-News
  • The McCall-Donnelly School Board of Trustees has approved a new building for Heartland High School, an alternative high school in McCall. Source: McCall Star-News

Openings

  • Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers on Broadway in Boise and, later in the summer, in Eagle
  • Boise Fry Co. in Downtown Nampa
  • Homedale Floral, a flower shop in Homedale
  • Owyhee Crossfit, a gym in Homedale
  • Element, a skateboard apparel company, is opening a community/creative center adjacent to Rhoades skate park in Downtown Boise.

Closings

  • Kindness Restaurant and Catering in Downtown Boise
  • Kind Cuisine Café on State Street in Boise
  • Leaf Greenhouse in South Boise
  • Hancock Fabrics on Cole and Ustick roads 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

Blaine County

  • Ketchum voters defeated a $23.1 million public facility bond to finance construction or improvements to city hall, fire station and police station. The vote tallied 181 for and 156 against. The bond would have cost property owners $50 per $100,000 assessment over 30 years. The high cost was cited by many citizens as the major deterrent. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • The abandoned Triumph Mine east of the Wood River Valley experienced its last mitigation activity in 2003. A plug was installed to hold back the tailings from silver, lead and zinc ore mining activities from 1852 to 1957. The acid mine has a million gallons of polluted water that is backed up behind the plug. A collapse of a mine tunnel behind the plug has made the Idaho State Department of Environmental Quality concerned so this new plug will be installed with a warranty of 1,000 years. Source: Idaho Mountain Express

Gooding County

  • Wendell School District patrons approved a two-year $600,000 supplemental levy that will be split between basic operating costs at $155,000 annually and $455,000 that will go toward facility projects. Similar bonds failed the previous four times presented on the ballot. The leaky roof of the high school will be replaced this summer using $445,000 from this bond. Source: Times-News

Jerome County

  • The Northside Military Museum will become a reality later this year thanks to many volunteers. The museum will house and showcase memories and memorabilia of veterans. It will be housed in the Pioneer Hall that was built in 1930 and will be staffed by volunteers. There are already 60 displays donated to the museum with more expected before its opening in November. Source: Times-News

Minidoka County

  • PerforMix held a grand opening for its newly constructed plant in Rupert. The plant plans to eventually hire almost 20 workers, and Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter was on hand to congratulate the crowd. The company commented on how quickly they were able to find the property with the help of local economic development professionals who also helped facilitate the city’s permitting process. The company manufactures livestock supplements and feed for operations such as feed lots, dairies, cow-calf and stock operations. This Idaho business, owned by Agri-Beef, was established in 1985, has production facilities in Nampa, Fruitland and Moses Lake, Washington.

Twin Falls County

  • Chobani held a celebration that included a signing of the beam that will go into its latest expansion. The international company is planning to invest another $100 million into its largest yogurt plant and hire another 100 workers. The company reports that with the new hires, they will employ just over1, 000 workers. Source: Times News
  • The Snake River chapter of the Society of Human Resource Management organized a conference on the topic of talent recruitment. Therese Seefeldt, a recruiter for the dairy industry from the Treasure Valley, was the keynote speaker and stressed using recruiters and networking among other companies to find the right candidate. A panel of millennial generation workers helped those in the audience understand their generation and what motivates them. Social media and its nuances was presented by Brandon Redmond and was the most comprehensive list of which social media outlets to use for which situation.
  • The new splash pad at First Federal Bank Park recently held its grand opening in Twin Falls. The 3,000-square-foot splash pad joins the 13,000 square-foot playground at First Federal Bank Park. It is the first park in Twin Falls that is accessible for those with disabilities so the surface is wheelchair friendly, includes a full body swing, a 10-foot slide and a roller. Source: Times News
  • Kimberly School District patrons approved a $14 million bond for a new elementary school, improvements to existing facilities and purchase of land for future growth by a 68 percent majority. The 10-year $300,000 annual supplemental levy came through with 70 percent approval. It is anticipated the $11 million elementary school construction will start the beginning of 2017. Source: Times-News
  • A partnership between ConAgra Foods and the Idaho Food Bank has opened up two new distribution centers based on a 2015 study from Feeding America that estimates 11,450 people in Twin Falls County are food insecure. Of those, 4,320 are children. The Boys and Girls Club in Buhl sends home a box of food weekly to kids at its club whose families are in need — an estimated 20-25 boxes weekly out of 100 club enrollees. The other venue is at the Robert Stuart Middle School, directly contacted by the Idaho Food Bank because of its high ratio of free and/or reduced lunches. Source: Times-News
  • Melissa Barry has been hired as executive director for Southern Idaho Tourism, replacing Debbie Dane who has marketed the area to visitors for the past 13 years. Source: Times-News

Openings

  • Ketchum Burrito is opening its second location in the former Downtown Ground Round.
  • Ashley Furniture is moving into the former Kings location.

Closures

  • Carey’s only grocery store, Adamson’s Market, has closed. The grocery business was subsidized by a fuel distribution ‘jobber’ business that lost half its clientele. There were no interested buyers in the grocery store that supported a community of 600.

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

  • A groundbreaking ceremony this month marked the start of construction on a new 23,300- square-foot Idaho State Police (ISP) complex in Pocatello. The Idaho Legislature authorized $6 million for the new complex which should be completed by July 2017. The complex, which is slated to serve all District 5 state police activities — including patrol, administration, forensics and investigations — will be the first new ISP complex built in the state since a District 3 headquarters opened in 2008. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • A planned $75 million solar farm on 120 acres outside the Pocatello Regional Airport has been cancelled. This cancellation, according to lease agreements, means an estimated average yearly loss of $100,000 in projected revenue for the city. The project became mired in the Federal Aviation Administration’s long environmental review process and was later stopped after it was discovered that deadlines set for the facility would not be met. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • An expansion of the Federal Bureau Investigation Center will mean a total of 300 new jobs in Pocatello. The 100,000-square-foot facility expansion will cost $10 million to complete, and will be funded by a federal allocation to the FBI. The development of the expansion will begin this summer and be completed by spring of next year. Source: KIDK Pocatello
  • Western States Cat has announced that its facility south of Pocatello will officially open for business on June 6. The 150,000-square-foot facility will retain an existing 115 employees and create at least 24 new jobs over the next five years. Source: Morning News

Bingham County

  • The Aberdeen School District’s request for an $11.85 million bond to build a new high school has been approved. There were 298 votes cast in favor of that bond and 146 against. Source: Idaho State Journal

Franklin County

  • Federal authorities have issued a final environmental impact statement recommending denial of a proposed dam in southeastern Idaho on the Bear River. The document has a staff recommendation to deny a plan by Twin Lakes Canal Company to build a 109-foot-high dam with a 10-megawatt powerhouse. The 362-acre reservoir would provide irrigation water to about 230 farmers and ranchers. It is not clear when the commission will make a final decision on the project. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Franklin County is offering two new free legal help programs for residents of Franklin County and the surrounding area. The ongoing programs began May 13. The new service will be much like similar programs that are offered in Bannock County. Source: Herald Journal

Openings

  • A Different Cup coffee shop has opened up on Main Street in Pocatello.
  • The mountain bike park at the Portneuf Wellness Complex in Pocatello celebrated its official opening this month. With this opening, the Portneuf Wellness Complex, which opened in last September, is finally complete.
  • RV park and parking lot opened at Memorial Fields park in Blackfoot.

Closings

  • As part of its announcement of bankruptcy filing, Aeropostale announced that it will be closing all of its Canada stores and 113 American stores including its Chubbuck and Twin Falls locations.

Esther.Eke@labor.idaho.gov, Regional Economist
(208) 557-2500 ext. 4331

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

Bonneville County

  • BMW is the latest Idaho Falls car dealer making the move to Sunnyside Road. BMW of Idaho Falls, part of the larger Ron Sayer Auto Group, has broken ground on a new $2.3 million dealership just east of Teton Volkswagen. Other dealers moving to the spacious farm fields off Sunnyside in recent years include Teton Toyota, Smith Chevrolet and Smith Honda. Source: Post Register
  • The city of Idaho Falls is considering options to provide fiber optic connection directly to homes in the area. In 2015 the city hired Finley Engineering and CCG Consulting to conduct a feasibility study to explore the cost of building a fiber network throughout the city, and to evaluate the costs of electronics and other assets needed to expand the city’s fiber network. A special consulting team will be presenting their findings to the area later this month. Source: Local New 8, Idaho Falls
  • The Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency recently met to discuss the plans they have to revitalize the downtown area. The redevelopment agency is looking to build on the old Kelsch property to attract more people downtown. The property is located at Broadway and Memorial on the site of the former Saving Center grocery store. Current plans call for the construction of two buildings that will include retail, residential and office spaces. Source: Local New 8, Idaho Falls
  • Idaho Falls has begun installing more than 140 new signs around town to help visitors make their way to city landmarks such as the Museum of Idaho, the Idaho Falls Zoo and the downtown area. The project is expected to cost $600,000 over two years, according to city spokeswoman Kerry McCullough. The program is designed to make the city more tourist-friendly. Idaho Falls’ restaurants and hotels get inundated with summer tourists on their way to Yellowstone National Park and other regional attractions. The new program is designed to help tourists easily discover other parts of the city in hopes of making Idaho Falls itself a destination. Source: Post Register
  • Thermo King Intermountain has opened a new shop in Idaho Falls. The company is the authorized distributor for the Thermo King Corp. in Idaho and Utah, and it has operated as a family business in the two states for over 40 years with dealerships in Salt Lake City and Boise. Thermo King sells and services transport refrigeration equipment and auxiliary power units to customers in the trucking and distribution industries. The new shop is located next to Love’s Truck Stop at 7011 S. 45th W. Source: Post Register
  • An opening date has been set for Ammon’s new splash pad — children will be able to cool off with the new attraction May 28. Splash pads are similar to standard playgrounds, except they allow children to play in aquatic features and fountains. The city of Ammon will received a $25,000 donation from Rockwell Homes to aid in the splash pad’s construction. The new “Ammon Splash Zone,” which is the second such facility built within the county in recent years, is located in McCowin Park. Source: Post Register
  • Construction of the new fire station in downtown Idaho Falls began earlier this month. The new station is expected to be completed in a year and will replace the current downtown station, which was built in the 1930s and has not held engines or other critical equipment since 2013 when structural problems were found in the engine bay. Morgan Construction is in charge of building the new station and has guaranteed the city a maximum price of $4.3 million for the 20,000-square-foot project. The new station will include four double bays that will allow the Idaho Falls Fire Department to house many pieces of critical firefighting equipment in a central location. Source: Post Register

Butte County

  • Battelle Energy Alliance will pay the federal government $60,000 after a close call last year where three workers were knocked down by an electrical explosion. The Idaho National Laboratory contractor this month agreed to pay the fine and complete a number of safety assessments following the April 23, 2015, incident. Source: Post Register
  • Changes in leadership and staffing are occurring rapidly on the U.S. Department of Energy’s desert site as new contractor Fluor Idaho prepares to step in. The new contractor team is on track to take over the five-year, $1.4 billion radioactive waste cleanup job June 1 from current contractors Idaho Treatment Group and CH2M-WG Idaho, DOE officials said. Fluor officials anticipate total staffing to hover around 1,700, which is roughly the combined staffing of the two current contractors. Source: Post Register
  • A Utah energy cooperative continues to narrow down sites on which to build a nuclear reactor in eastern Idaho. Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, or UAMPS, has identified four places to build the small modular power plant. The locations are scattered around the U.S. Department of Energy’s desert site. It expects DOE and Idaho National Laboratory to give feedback on those sites in by the end of the month. Officials with UAMPS and the company building the reactor, NuScale Power, have targeted 2024 to have the plant running. Source: Post Register

Fremont County

  • Two new state water projects will help slowly refill the depleted East Snake Plain Aquifer in the coming decades. In high water years, a recently completed $1 million canal in the Egin Bench area of Fremont County will funnel water from the Henry’s Fork to a porous basin where it will sink into the ground. The other major project was part of the $1.4 million construction project of new headgates for the Great Feeder Canal east of Ririe. The projects are part of a statewide effort by the Idaho Department of Water Resources to replenish the aquifer through managed recharge, a method of allowing surface water to seep through certain porous areas of ground and into the aquifer. The massive underground reservoir has been on the decline for decades and officials hope the new projects will help recharge the aquifer by as much as 250,000 acre feet annually. Source: Post Register

Madison County

  • The Rexburg City Council has approved a proposal to purchase the revenue stream of the “Zone” at a negotiated purchase price of around $40,000. The business is located in the former Hortense Hewitt Building at ARTCO. The Rexburg Recreation program will use the facility for its programs. Revenue from the business is expected to pay for most of its operating costs. The city is now negotiating a new lease with Development Workshop Inc. for use of the building itself. Source: Local New 8, Idaho Falls
  • As Brigham Young University-Idaho continues to grow, so does the need for more space and updated facilities. This fall, the university plans to dedicate three new facilities/buildings for use. The first is the updated university power plant, which now burns clean natural gas instead of coal. The new gas-fired power plant produces about 4.5 megawatts of power, which will provide around half of the campus’ electrical needs in the summer and most of its electrical needs in the winter. The plant also has a co-generation unit that allows the university to use the steam from the electrical generation to heat campus buildings. The other buildings expected to be dedicated this fall are the new state-of-the-art Science and Technology building on the south end of campus, and the Agricultural Center, or Ag Center, on the west side of town. Source: Local New 8, Idaho Falls
  • A new transportation service is now available in Rexburg. The company is called St. George Shuttle, and the service for Rexburg is called the Idaho-Utah-Nevada Connection. The new shuttle offers routes from Rexburg to Las Vegas and will offer free Wi-Fi. Source: Rexburg Standard Journal

Openings

  • Panera Bread, Idaho Falls
  • Thermo King, Idaho Falls
  • Salmon City Library, Salmon

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