Around Idaho: November 2016 Economic Activity

Information provided in this article is 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

Bonner County

  • Thorne Research – a Sandpoint-based nutritional supplement manufacturer – announced it is pulling out of northern Idaho. The company, which employs 270 people in the region, will build a new facility outside of Charleston, South Carolina. The new facility is expected to open in 2018. At that time Thorne plans to close all its northern Idaho operations. Source: Bonner County Daily Bee

Kootenai County

  • Kootenai County’s building division has hired two out-of-state companies to conduct and plan reviews in an attempt to work through a large backlog of building permits. Permit requests in the county are at an all-time high – even surpassing the boom of 2005-2007 – and the county’s building division lacks the staff to keep up with demand. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • A toxic blue-green algae outbreak has been detected in the chain lakes along the Coeur d’Alene River. Health advisories have been issued by the Panhandle Health District, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe encouraging people to avoid eating fish from the affected lakes and to avoid recreating near visibly polluted water. Source: Spokesman Review

Benewah County

  • Plummer residents approved a measure to replace and repair the city’s power grid. A $6.5 million bond will provide for the replacement of hundreds of structurally unsound power polls and new lines. Plummer’s electrical grid has not received any upgrades in more than 50 years. Source: St. Maries Gazette Record

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

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

Region

  • More than 60 11th-graders representing 15 area high schools participated in the 2016 “Dream It. Do It. HERE Youth Conference.” Clearwater Economic Development Association hosted the gathering this fall at Lewis-Clark State College Campus. It was part of an initiative by industry, education and economic development partners — including the Idaho Department of Labor — to encourage youth to prepare for meaningful careers in the region. Students learned about occupational opportunities in the area, while also providing to stakeholders at the event information about what would help keep young people in the region. The youth’s input will be used to design an event for all high school juniors in the region next fall at the University of Idaho. Source: Clearwater Progress
  • Avista Utilities decreased the price it charges in Idaho for natural gas 8.4 percent on Nov. 1. The Spokane-based utility company, which serves the 10 northern counties of Idaho, also slightly reduced electricity charges for its Idaho customers by 0.4 percent on Oct. 1. That means a little more disposable income for Idaho residents and reduced costs for manufacturers and other businesses. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Wheat prices bolstered the local economy in the early days of the slow recovery from the deep recession that began in 2007. Rising above $9 per bushel in late 2011, wheat prices boosted farm incomes and resulted in spending on farm equipment, motor vehicles and consumer goods by farmers. In the past two years, prices dropped below $5 a bushel, while $6 is the average break-even price for regional farmers. Now, they are hovering near $4. For a couple of years, record-high prices for cattle helped offset the drop in wheat prices for many farmers. But cattle prices have plummeted in the last year and a half, dropping from a range of $2.50 to $2.75 per pound in April 2015 to $1.10 to $1.30 per pound this November. Of the 2,686 farms in north central Idaho, 938 had cattle, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture. They had about 60,000 cattle and calves, with more than half located in Idaho County.
  • Clearwater Economic Development Association, north central Idaho’s economic development organization, was awarded a $75,000 Rural Community Development Initiative Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development in October. The group will use the funds to provide technical assistance to communities to develop and update their comprehensive plans and training for local officials on economic and community development concepts. Communities participating in the training are Cottonwood, Grangeville, Juliaetta, Kooskia, Nezperce, Riggins, Stites, White Bird and Winchester.

Clearwater County

  • The Idaho Department of Labor held a job fair at the former Orofino Junior High School Nov. 2. Its intent was help for job seekers, especially the 55 workers who lost jobs when Tri-Pro Cedar closed its mill near Orofino in early October, but it was also attended by job seekers throughout north central Idaho. People who were currently unemployed or underemployed met with 15 businesses and government agencies who had current jobs to fill in Orofino, Kamiah, Grangeville and the Lewiston area. Community resource providers were present to inform job seekers about health care, vocational, business and transportation services available. Lewis-Clark State College’s Workforce Training shared information about skill building and short-term training available through its Workforce Training Program.
  • Clearwater County Economic Development – a department of the county –  in the last month or so contacted two businesses that are interested in acquiring the former Tri-Pro mill, provided site information to two other businesses considering location in the county and assisted five local businesses working on expansion projects. It also kicked off Igniting Innovation, a quarterly informative networking session for county residents with business ideas, invention and/or new products. In early November, a representative attended the job fair at the Idaho Department of Labor to provide business start-up packets for people interested in working for themselves. Ongoing community development projects the group is working on include recreation developments, broadband expansion, road repair, fire station construction and museum grants. Source: Clearwater Tribune

Idaho and Lewis Counties

  • The Idaho County Airport in Grangeville reopened in mid-November following completion of a $4 million reconstruction project. The airport was closed to fixed-flight aircraft after June 6 when work began to relocate the 5,100-foot-long runway to move it further away from both the adjacent taxiway and Day Road and to address deterioration issues through an improved drainage system. Contractor Valley Paving of Cottonwood also rebuilt the taxiway. Ninety percent of the funding came from a Federal Aviation Administration grant, 7 percent came from Idaho County and 3 percent from the Idaho Division of Aeronautics. The U.S. Forest Service, the airport’s largest customer, used airports in Cottonwood and Grangeville for fixed-wing firefighting flights this summer. Now, it and other customers such as Flying B Ranch, Kamiah’s nationally known luxury hunting lodge, are back to normal operations at the airport. County commissioners emphasize the airport’s potential as an economic development engine. One of the county’s largest manufacturers, Anderson Aeromotive, employs more than 40 mechanics specializing in radial engine rebuilds and repairs at the airport. Source: Idaho County Free Press

Latah County

  • The new 54,000-square-foot, $10 million Gritman Medical Office Building in downtown Moscow recently welcomed the CHAS Latah Community Health clinic as its first tenant, which is moving from South Main Street to the first floor of the building. The new space will allow the clinic to expand services, including six dental bays. Oncology, cardiac rehabilitation, diabetes and clinical nutrition services will occupy the second floor in March. A café with a teaching kitchen will also go on the second level. A business has shown interest in occupying half of the third floor. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • With help from the Moscow Urban Renewal Agency and the city of Moscow, the hospital plans to make infrastructure improvements totaling $917,000 near the new building and the main hospital building. Planned improvements include street replacement, curbing, sidewalks, street trees, decorative lighting and public art installations along Main Street along with 92 parking spaces for staff and patients. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • Increasing statewide awareness of the University of Idaho could use a new strategy, according to a study conducted by an opinion research organization in May and released this fall. While participants’ perceptions consistently place Boise State University over the Moscow school in graduation rate, best faculty, best research program and providing the most opportunity for student research, those perceptions run contrary to the Carnegie Foundation, which regards UI as a higher-activity research institution. The Moscow school has the highest four- and six-year graduation rates in Idaho, with Boise State trailing by about 10 percent in both cases. People with more education regarded UI more favorably. See more about the survey online Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • The University of Idaho saw a 3.6 percent increase in enrollment for the 2016 academic year, with nearly all the increase from dual credit enrollments of high school students and from a change in the WWAMI Medical Education Program. (WWAMI is a partnership with the University of Washington School of Medicine to provide medical education to students from Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.) The Idaho State Legislature approved an additional five seats in the program. While WWAMI students previously attended courses on the UI campus for the first 18 months of their university career, a new option enabled the university to take on second-year students, adding an additional 40 medical students annually. Total undergraduate enrollment fell by 1.2 percent between October 2015 and this October, graduate enrollment dropped 4 percent and law school enrollment dropped 13.4 percent. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • Revival Construction, a Moscow-based construction company known for infill development in 2014 began transforming the alley between South Almon and Asbury streets in Moscow, which was lined with dilapidated houses and apartment buildings. The company built four duplexes and one single-family rental there, and two more duplexes are under construction. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • Construction of a three-story, mixed-use building in the high-traffic area between the University of Idaho and downtown Moscow will house Stax restaurant on its first floor and apartment units on its top two floors. Golis Construction expects to complete the project by the new year. Outside improvements to the Stax building including a parking lot and sidewalk will start after the city replaces sewer pipes on Sixth Street next summer. The Moscow Urban Renewal Agency plans another mixed-use development project in the area, as soon as the environmental remediation meets Idaho Department of Environmental Quality standards. The development to be located at Sixth and Jackson will contain the Sangria restaurant. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • Developer Eran Fields plans to start construction on The Identity on Main project in March and open for residents by the fall of 2018. The project on South Main Street across from Sweet Avenue includes 154 multi-family residential units and a 3,000-square-foot retail building with three tenant spaces. Fields said in June that his goal is to start construction in March and move residents in by the fall of 2018. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • A $200,000 project to build public restrooms in downtown Moscow began in early November. The facility, which should be completed in May, will be on the north end of the Jackson Street parking lot and directly west of Friendship Square. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Nez Perce and Asotin, Washington, Counties

  • Massive components for Clearwater Paper’s $160-million upgrade arrived at its Lewiston mill in November. The 13 sections for the new chip digester, which were made in Sweden then sent to China for initial assembly, arrived by barge and were hauled the last mile by truck. The largest was 200 feet long, 33 feet tall and 28 feet wide, while the smallest was 159 feet long, 14 feet high and 28 feet wide. Assembly of the sections will begin in December in a process expected go through March. The digester and other upgrades underway at the mill will increase its efficiency, helping to keep its 1,370 jobs in Lewiston. More than 50 contractors have been working on the construction project, which began in the fall of 2015. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The Nez Perce County Historical Society recently purchased the Lewiston Clarkston Transit Co.’s No. 8 trolley for $2,500 from a Lewiston Orchards resident. The 1922-vintage Birney streetcar shuttled passengers between Lewiston and Clarkston for six years until the streetcar company went out of business. After restoration, the trolley will sit in a shelter next to the museum. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The Port of Clarkston’s Turning Pointe Business Park recently signed up its second tenant. Naslund Disposal, which collects trash in unincorporated areas of Asotin County and much of Garfield County, will join LC Cannabis Sales at the park. This will allow the company to consolidate its Asotin County operations. Right now the business has three locations. Source: Lewiston Tribune

Openings

  • Virtual Fox Technology recently opened next to Presnell Gage on Mill Street in Grangeville. It offers computer repair, security and virus removal. It also repairs phones, tablets and gaming systems. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • Sauté on Sixth, a new upscale restaurant in downtown Clarkston. Source: Lewiston Tribune

Expansion

  • Weaponsmart recently opened on G Street in downtown Lewiston, selling ammunition, guns, gun parts and gun accessories, specializing in AR-15s. Owner Jay Plechner moved from the small store in his home 10 miles outside Orofino that he opened eight years ago. Source: Lewiston Tribune

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

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

Region

  • Alta Mesa, the Texas-based oil and gas company which has several wells in Payette County, picked up 209 leases —  or 93 percent of the total leases — that were auctioned off by the Idaho Department of Lands. The auction for oil and gas leases on 4,462 acres of state-owned mineral estates, took place in late October at the Department of Lands’ office in Boise. There were 225 leases auctioned off for acreage in several counties, with the second-most acreage in Payette County, which had 73 leases totaling 1,282 acres. Other counties that had land included in the auction were Canyon, Gem, Ada, Washington, Bonneville and Cassia. Alta Mesa won the bid for all but 16 of those leases. “Alta Mesa Idaho (AM Idaho, LLC) acquired 209 leases and paid $449.20 in bonus bids on two of those leases covering 11 acres,” according to a news release from the state agency. Source: Payette Independent-Enterprise
  • Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area will hire 500 workers for the ski season. A job fair was held Oct. 29 in the Simplot Lodge at the resort’s base area. This will be the 74th winter season for the nonprofit recreation area, which employs 37 year-round staff in addition to seasonal workers. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Voters in Ada and Canyon counties rejected a $180 million bond for the College of Western Idaho Nov. 9. With 97 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday morning, 57 percent of voters had approved the bond. In Canyon and Ada counties, a combined 139,271 people voted in favor of the bond, while 104,803 voted against it. It needed a two-thirds (66.7 percent) majority in order to pass. The general obligation bond would have financed the construction of new facilities at both the Nampa and Boise campuses. Planned facilities include a health science building, a student success center with a library and classrooms, and a central services building at the Canyon County campus. In Boise, CWI wants to build an academic professional center on a 600,000-square-foot campus at Main Street and Whitewater Boulevard. Sources: KTVB.com and Idaho Press-Tribune
  • The Idaho Public Utilities Commission in late October approved Idaho Power’s application for the 500-kilowatt solar project that would be the state’s first utility-owned solar power production facility. The so-called community solar project that can power about 730 homes aims to attract customers who cannot install solar panels on their homes because they rent, live in communities with rules prohibiting solar panels or have houses shaded by trees. Buying a subscription means they’re taking part in producing solar energy. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • First Interstate Bank has acquired Bank of the Cascades for $589 million worth of cash and stock. Bank of the Cascades has about $500 million in loans in Portland and Seattle. The deal will not be final until the third quarter of 2017. After the deal is finalized, the Billings, Montana, based bank will own 131 banking offices across South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Source: Idaho Business Review

Ada County

  • Construction has started on a second Luciano’s Italian Restaurant on the Boise River in Garden City.  The restaurant is expected to open in spring 2017. Source: BoiseDev.com
  • Boise developer David Hale broke ground recently on a nine-townhouse building and plans to build a second six-townhouse building on Idaho Street between 16th and 17th streets. Originally, the townhouses were priced at more than $400,000, but based on presale efforts, Hale scaled down the first group of homes, now offering 1,500-square-foot townhouses with two bedrooms and two bathrooms starting at $329,900. Hale said he hopes that the first nine townhouses will increase interest for higher-priced units he had originally planned and still seeks for the six-unit building. The original design had similar floor plans but had higher ceilings, security cameras, automated lights and other electronics, and costlier materials for outdoor patios and privacy walls. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • The Housing Company is building its 12th affordable housing project in the Treasure Valley in downtown Star. Construction on the 37-unit Moon Valley Apartments started in early September, and the first of six two-story residential structures should be ready for residents in March. The entire complex, including a clubhouse, is expected to be finished in June or July. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • WinCo Foods is expanding into two new states and opening another store in Oregon. The first Montana WinCo store will open in Helena. Another WinCo store is opening in Moore, Oklahoma, that is expected to open next summer. WinCo is working on a smaller-scale store – Waremart by WinCo – in Keizer, Oregon, with no scheduled opening date. The store will be about 40,000 square feet — roughly half the size of a typical WinCo. It will have the same selection and prices but won’t have full-scale deli and bakery offerings. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Starting June 4, 2017, one daily Alaska Airlines flight to Seattle will be in a mainline Boeing 737 jet rather than the smaller regional jets Alaska employs between Boise and Seattle, announced by Boise Airport officials in November. The Boeing 737 will replace a regional jet on the 3:40 p.m. flight to Seattle and the 12:15 p.m. Seattle to Boise flight, Boise Airport spokesman Sean Briggs said. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • A development team has been selected to build Boise’s first apartment complex for the chronically homeless at the corner of Fairview Avenue and 23rd Street in Boise. The public-private Housing First partnership selected Boise Pacific NIHC Associates to build the $7.33 million, four-story, 41-unit complex that will also include largely on-site support services such as health care, mental health counseling, case management, substance use treatment and financial counseling. The group anticipates starting construction next fall, with an opening date in fall 2018. Architects are DG Group Architecture of Eagle and Erstad Architects, and Pacific West Builders of Eagle is the general contractor. Construction is funded by a $5.83 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits awarded by Idaho Housing and Finance Association (IHFA); $500,000 in HOME funds from IHFA; and $1 million from the city of Boise. Support services will be funded with $500,000 in the first year supplied by Ada County ($250,000), St. Luke’s Health System ($100,000), Saint Alphonsus Health System ($100,000), United Way of Treasure Valley ($25,000) and the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation ($25,000). Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Toll Brothers, the No. 1 ranked homebuilder in the Fortune 500 has acquired Meridian luxury homebuilder Coleman Homes in a cash purchase for an undisclosed amount, according to a news release. Toll Brothers reports Coleman’s $40.8 million backlog includes 135 homes at an average price of $302,000. Coleman builds homes priced from $175,000 to $500,000. Source: Idaho Business Review

Canyon County

  • West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell opened its new MRI suite. The project renovated 700 square feet of existing space and added another 1,200 square feet. The new, state-of-the-art MRI machine cost the hospital $2 million, according to a West Valley press release, and uses GE Optima MR450w and PDC Caring MR Suite technology. According to West Valley officials, the PDC Caring MR Suite at West Valley is the only one of its kind in Idaho. It provides an environment that has been shown to significantly reduce patient anxiety, leading to less need for sedation, reduced patient movement and fewer failed scans. Source: Idaho Press-Tribune

Valley County

  • Midas Gold has filed its plan with the Payette National Forest to extract gold from the Stibnite area of Valley County. Midas Gold hope that the forest service will approve its plans to remove what the company thinks is four to five million ounces of gold and 100 million to 200 million pounds of antimony, a fire-retardant element, at the site over 12 years. The company predicts that up to 1,000 employees will work to build the mine over three years, after which an average of 600 people would work to remove the precious metals. Since 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. Source: McCall Star-News
  • The Tamarack Homeowners Association announced that its organization — Tamarack Homeowners Acquisition Company — had bought the land and buildings previously owned by New TR Acquisition Co., also known as NewTrac. Meanwhile, a subsidiary of the homeowners association will operate the ski area at the resort southwest of Donnelly this winter. That subsidiary, TMA Operating and Technology Company, will also operate the lodge, food and beverage services and summer operations, a news release said. Now that NewTrac is out of the picture, the homeowners intend to sell to a resort development group “as soon as possible,” a memo to the homeowners association said. “THAC is not a commercial investment company,” the memo said. “It has been formed as a defensive move to prevent the liquidation of all resort assets.” Source: McCall Star-News

Openings

  • The Grove Plaza in Boise reopened Nov. 11. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • com is opening a new office space in Boise in the Stevens Henegar building on Entertainment Avenue near I-84. Source: BoiseDev.com
  • Albertsons in Homedale has reopened after an extensive remodel of Paul’s Market, which was bought by Albertsons earlier this year. Source: Owyhee Avalanche
  • Four Rivers Crossfit gym in Fruitland opened in early December. Source: Payette Independent-Enterprise
  • Siam Thai in the Eastgate Shopping Center on Boise Ave. has closed. In its place, Asian Cuisine has opened, featuring Thai, Vietnamese and so-called Asian Fusion foods. Source: BoiseDev.com
  • Restaurant franchise Black Bear Diner is planning to open a location on State Street in Boise across from Wal-Mart in August 2017. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • The Griddle, a small Winnemucca, Nevada, based restaurant chain, is planning to open one location in McCall and a fifth location in Nampa. Source: McCall Star-News
  • Idaho’s first pelletizing hop mill is expected to open next year in Wilder. The facility, Mill 95, will encompass 63,000 square feet and will include a pilot brewery for brewers to test new hop varieties. Source: Idaho Press-Tribune

Closings

    • Syme Electric in Weiser has closed its doors. Source: Weiser Signal American
    • Horsewood’s Kitchen, a family-owned restaurant in Caldwell, closed in November. The owners will continue to operate Horsewood Catering and Personal Chef Services. Source: Idaho Statesman

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

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

Blaine County

  • Sun Valley Resort is celebrating the 80th anniversary of the day the resort opened its Lodge, Dec. 21, 1936. Sun Valley Company is marking the anniversary this Dec. 21 with an evening celebration at the lodge’s Duchin Lounge with music and dancing. Sun Valley was established as the first destination ski resort in the nation. Source:  Idaho Mountain Express
  • The Nature Conservancy purchased the Cenarrusa Ranch near Carey, Idaho, earlier this year to develop conservation easements. Now that they are in place, the large ranch will be sold with its watershed and habitat for indigenous sage grouse and pronghorn antelope preserved. The conservation easements will carry forward from owner to owner, but will likely reduce the market price. Profits will support future developments of conservation easements. There is a high likelihood of more properties carrying these easements in the future but typically not owned outright by the Nature Conservancy. Source: Times-News
  • The Wood River Land Trust and the city of Hailey have partnered to acquire a mile of Big Wood River access between Croy Canyon and Colorado Gulch. The 153 acres will augment land already included in a conservation easement and preserved for public access. The corridor is commonly referred to as the Hailey Greenway and will include conservation and restoration projects after the purchase from the Stevens Family Ranch LLC.  Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • Power Engineers was named one of the top 100 companies in Idaho. It continued its rank as 17th since 2014 among the 100 companies, a compilation published the Idaho Statesman annually. It made the list for the first time in 2006. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • The Limelight Hotel is pushing back its grand opening from December to January but still intends to have a soft opening Dec. 20 for guests to stay at the hotel and visit the restaurant. There are 55 workers hired, including 12 foreign visa workers. Room reservations are offered on the internet for January booking from $256 to $320 a night. The hotel is the tallest building in Ketchum. Source: Idaho Mountain Express
  • Sun Valley hosted its first TEDx event Nov. 30 featuring 14 local speakers at the Sun Valley Opera House. TEDx talks are smaller, more locally-focused events than the original TED talks. TED is a nonpartisan nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks on almost all topics – from science to business to global issues. Each talk at the Sun Valley event was 18 minutes. The event organizer, Aimee Christensen, is founder and CEO of Christensen Global Strategies. She spoke at a TEDx event in Santa Monica and felt compelled to bring it home. Source: Idaho Mountain Express

 Cassia/Minidoka County

  • In 2015, Amalgamated Sugar converted its plant in Paul from coal fired to natural gas. The Nampa plant was also converted to natural gas and between the two, carbon emissions have decreased by 75 percent, greenhouse gases have decreased by 49 percent and the use of fossil fuel has dropped by almost 30 percent. Source: Times-News
  • The Mini-Cassia Chamber of Commerce has unveiled a new pricing structure for its membership based on services desired rather than the number of employees at a business.  Chet Jeppeson, president of the chamber board, said the response he had heard from members has been all positive, especially because “the new system layout will really show members what they getting for their money.”  Kyla Sawyer, the chamber’s new CEO, said some of the new initiatives have been in the works since 2013.  Source: Times-News
  • The $13 million Buckhorn Pipeline, funded by 13 members of the 200-member Southwest Irrigation District, is part of the agreement to avoid curtailment of junior groundwater rights. The new pipeline consists of two 30-inch pipes that will carry irrigation water in the summer to the Oakley fan for growing purposes and is winterized to recharge wells in the winter. The water in the wells will be better quality due to added filtration along the route but also will replenish the Easter Snake Plain Aquifer delivering 120 acre-feet per day for injection into the wells. Source: Times-News
  • Pomerelle Mountain Resort said its prices will remain the same as last year. This comes after investment in a new chairlift in time for last year’s ski season, a new groomer and new kitchen equipment allowing for fresher menu offerings. The resort is planning to open in early December. Source: Times-News

Twin Falls County

  • The Boyd Company, a New Jersey site selector, recently released a report ranking Twin Falls as sixth of 24 locations nationally for affordable food processing operations, slightly lower than the fourth ranked Tri-Cities area of Washington. The cost of running a food manufacturing plant in Twin Falls was estimated at $37.6 million annually versus the least expensive operation in Ontario, Canada, at $30.3 million. The least affordable operations were in San Francisco, California, and Brooklyn, New York – both at more than $45 million and reflecting the high cost of real estate. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization was recognized for its effort to expand and develop food processing in the region by Expansion Solutions, a magazine for site selection consultants and corporate real estate brokers. SEIDO’s Award of Excellence was in the Agribusiness & Food Processing category. “With the region’s federal manufacturing community designation in food from the U.S. Department of Commerce and its growing sector in all things food, SIEDO and its regional partners have excelled in driving economic development success for Idaho,” Jeff Cornett, the magazine’s CEO and president said in a statement. Source: Times-News
  • St. Luke’s announced it will hire 100 new doctors, physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners over the next five years in Jerome, Ketchum and Twin Falls. This is double the historical hiring pace of 100 workers over the previous 10 years. The need is based primarily on forecast population growth in the area with 70 of the new hires dedicated to new positions and the remaining 30 replacing retirees. The regional hospital is fine tuning its recruitment plans to counter challenges of demand for workers outpacing supply nationally, and in drawing applicants to less densely populated areas. Source: Times-News
  • The College of Southern Idaho’s total enrollment as of Oct. 15 was 7,021, down eight percent from fall 2015. Full-time students numbered 3,518, a drop of five percent from the same semester last year. There was an increase of 1 to 2 percent in the number of freshmen who graduated from an Idaho high school within the last year. The professional-technical programs reported 754 students enrolled, a drop of eight percent. The dual credit program – where high school students can earn college credit at CSI – reported 2,444 students or 35 percent of CSI’s headcount.The unemployment rate for south central Idaho was three percent for October 2016.  This low unemployment means that employers are willing to pay more for employees, which may lure potential students away from studies. Source: Times-News
  • The U.S. Department of Labor, Idaho Department of Labor, Career and Technical Education, and the College of Southern Idaho collaborated to host a breakfast during Apprenticeship Week in November. A panel was organized consisting of two apprentices, an apprenticeship instructor and the USDOL representative that registers apprenticeships in Idaho. The Idaho Department of Labor has been awarded a $1.4 million grant to develop apprenticeships across the state, and this event was part of the kickoff with similar events occurring across the state. Source: Times-News
  • The Crisis Center of South Central Idaho held a soft opening in Twin Falls. The 24/7, 365-days-a-year facility doesn’t require an appointment and will not turn away anyone for inability to pay. The Idaho Legislature approved funding for three other facilities similar to this to handle behavioral health conditions. The facility has hired 20 staffers and will help law enforcement and the medical community with evaluations, interventions and referrals for those in crisis. Source: Times-News
  • The College of Southern Idaho installed two new wind turbines near the Applied Technology and Innovation Center. The turbines are a teaching tool but energy from one turbine will go directly into the energy grid for the college while the other turbine’s energy will go into a battery bank for testing by the students. The 50-foot turbines will be used by students in the Renewable Energy Systems Technology program who are earning either an associate’s degree or a technical certificate. The national median wage for jobs in this occupation is $24.55 per hour or $51,064 a year with a growth rate of 14 percent over the next 10 years, considered faster than average. CSI has students from other states enrolling in the program based on the curriculum and placement. Source: Times-News

Opening

  • Cheverrias, a Mexican restaurant and market featuring baked goods, meats and produce opened in Twin Falls. Source: Times-News

Closures

  • Kona Coffee and Cakes of Twin Falls announced it is closing its baking and catering business. Source: Times-News
  • Addison West Restaurant in Twin Falls. Source: Times-News
  • Ryder’s Second Hand closed its physical location in Twin Falls but will continue doing business online. Source: Times-News

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

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

Bannock County

  • Just two years after the Sears store in the Pine Ridge Mall closed its doors, Tim England and his father, Doug England who is the brother of Chubbuck Mayor Kevin England, are bringing the Sears name back to the Gate City. The soft opening and ribbon-cutting for a new Sears Store on Garrett Way was held this month; the hard opening is scheduled for Dec. 22, just in time for the holiday shopping craze. Source: Idaho State Journal

  • The new construction in the center of Freddy’s Steakburgers and Black Bear Diner in Chubbuck will one day be a Costa Vida, complete with a drive-thru. The Costa Vida currently located by Costco will move into the new building sometime in January. The move also means eight to 10 more employees will be needed to staff the drive-thru. Source: Idaho State Journal

  • The Fred Meyer in Pocatello officially unveiled its five-month, $9 million remodel on Nov. 18. The Pocatello Fred Meyer has rebuilt or replaced about 95 percent of the store’s fixtures. A bigger pharmacy, more organic foods, online grocery ordering and a new look are all included in the remodel. Source: Idaho State Journal

  • Idaho State University has launched a new master’s program in health informatics. Although the university has offered an undergraduate emphasis in health informatics since 2008, ISU began the master’s program this fall. It is the only university in Idaho to offer the master’s degree. The Master of Science in Health Informatics helps bridge the long-standing gap between doctor’s medical and administrative knowledge and the computer systems knowledge possessed by technologists. Source: Idaho State Journal

Bear Lake County

  • For the third time in two years, Bear Lake County residents voted against the construction of a new courthouse in Paris. The $4.1 million bond was rejected, with 1,797 voting in favor (60.94 percent) and 1,152 voting against. It required a two-thirds majority to pass. Two smaller bonds in the Bear Lake County city of Bloomington passed: the $430,000 water system facilities bond and a $230,000 sewer system bond. The water system facilities bond passed with 83 votes in favor and 33 against. The sewer bond passed with 89 votes in favor and 28 against. Source: Idaho State Journal

Bingham County

  • In honor of Veterans Day, Bingham County entered the first phase of dedication for its Patriot Field. Many people came out to witness the ceremony and ribbon-cutting. The second phase of the memorial will involve a sculpture and posting board. The fundraising goal is $110,000. So far, $65,000 have been raised. Source: KIDK
  • A $220,000 bond to improve the Bingham County city of Groveland’s water and sewer system passed with 61.94 percent voting in favor. There were 179 votes in favor and 110 votes against. Source: Idaho State Journal

Caribou County

  • The city of Soda Springs held a groundbreaking for a new hotel, Cobblestone Inn & Suites, in November. It will be the first Cobblestone Inn & Suites location in the state. The total cost of the 53-room hotel is about $5 million and is paid for by local investors. Construction is expected to be completed in seven to eight months. Source: KPVI
  • The $6.5 million bond to improve Tigert Middle School in Soda Springs failed to meet the required supermajority of 66.6 percent. There were 1,108 votes for (61.42 percent) and 696 votes against. Source: Idaho State Journal

Franklin County

  • A groundbreaking was held for Lewiston State Bank’s new branch in downtown Preston. This new branch will be the bank’s fifth location and the second Preston branch. It is expected to be open to the public by May 2017. Source: The Preston Citizen

Power County

  • A bond for Power County to buy water rights for $8 million passed with 80 percent of voters approving it. The water rights came from a potential fertilizer plant, Magnida, slated to be built outside of American Falls. While the official line is that Magnida is still looking for investors, the company has started to sell off its assets, and gave the county the first chance to buy its water rights, which is about 6,000 acre-feet of water. The county will soon pay $2 million from its own budget as a down payment on the water. The $15.25 million bond to improve the Power County Hospital district, however, was turned down. The bond needed a supermajority of 66.6 percent to pass but only got 60 percent of the votes. Source: Power County Press

Openings

  • Ideas on Wood, Pocatello
  • 13 Locks Escape Rooms, Pocatello
  • Oak Mountain Dental, Malad Geronimo’s Trampoline Park, Chubbuck

Esther.Eke@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 236-6710 ext. 4331

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

Region   

  • Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has begun a $10 million project to upgrade and expand its electrical test grid. INL has long hosted the test grid on its desert site, where utilities and researchers can try new electrical components and security features. The U.S. Department of Energy wanted to expand INL’s testing capability as the U.S. grid as a whole slowly modernizes to include more interconnected “smart grid” features, said Bradley Nelson, manager of INL’s smart grid communications team. Source: Post Register

Madison County

  • Ground was broken in late October for Fresco Kitchen and Grill, a new restaurant in Rexburg. General Manager Matt Pyles says construction has begun and the restaurant will be open early 2017. Source: Rexburg Standard Journal
  • Safe Haven Emergency Villages is moving to a new, larger location, which will allow the staff to better serve the community. It will house its new, expanded program in Rexburg. Source: Rexburg Standard Journal
  • The Upper Valley Association of Realtors (UVAR) received a $1,500 micro-grant from the National Association of Realtors earlier this year. UVAR will join with the city of Rexburg to install new benches at Park Street Park. Source: Rexburg Standard Journal

Bonneville County

  • Promark Research Call Center in Ammon has closed its doors, affecting 35-37 employees. The company’s Texas center will be absorbing the workload. Source: Idaho Department of Labor
  • East Idaho Credit Union will be opening another branch in Idaho Falls in December, bringing 20-40 new jobs into the area. These positions will range from part time to full time, year round and seasonal. Source: Idaho Department of Labor
  • The first Exodus Escape room is expected to open in Idaho Falls by the end of November. An escape room is a game in which players are locked in a room and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles and escape within a set time limit. Games are set in a variety of fictional locations, such as prison cells, dungeons and space stations, and are popular as team-building exercises. Source: Bizmojo
  • Work has finally started on converting the Rusio’s building on E. 17th Street in Idaho Falls to a Black Bear Diner. Permitting was issued for this remodel at the beginning of November.  Black Bear features a rustic motif with “over-the-top bear paraphernalia.” It is expected to bring 20-30 new part- and full-time jobs. Source: East Idaho News
  • City Bagel & Bakery is now open in downtown Idaho Falls, occupying the 101-year-old Shane building on Shoup Ave. The restaurant serves bagels and baked goods, is developing a menu for soups and sandwiches and waiting on a beer and wine license. Source: Post Register

Fremont County

  • Anytime Fitness has broken ground in St. Anthony this month with a quick grand opening planned for January 2017. Anytime Fitness franchisee Kendra McFarland plans to create a small and intimate environment to allow for personalized attention for all members, while still providing a fitness oasis for all the people of St. Anthony. Source: Bizmojo
  • The town of St. Anthony is celebrating the $2.5 million “Main Street Renovation Project.” The nearly decadelong project was completed in November. Source: Rexburg Standard Journal

Lemhi County

  • Preconstruction began in early November, on the Shoup Bridge, to replace the 50-year-old one-way access across the Salmon River. Source: The Recorder Herald

Hope.Morrow@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
Idaho Department of Labor
(208) 525-7268 ext. 4340