Around Idaho: March 2017 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

Boundary County

  • A large mudslide derailed a Union Pacific train near Moyie Springs on March 15. No injuries were reported, though 12 railroad cars loaded with grain were involved in the derailment. Due to the steep terrain in the area, it was not immediately possible to bring in equipment to move the derailed cars. Multiple mudslides and floods have been reported since then, leading to a state of emergency declared by Boundary County and the city of Bonners Ferry. Source: Bonner County Daily Bee

Kootenai County

  • The city of Post Falls will use an Idaho Transportation Department grant to improve pedestrian pathways and trails and construct new pathways in the city center.
  • Kootenai County declared a state of emergency on March 16 in response to extensive flooding caused by heavy rain and melting snow pack. Areas affected by flooding include Cataldo, Fernan Lake Village, Hayden and Rathdrum.
  • School levies around Kootenai County were successful in March. Plummer-Worley, Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene and Lakeland school districts all passed their respective levies.

Source for all: Coeur d’Alene Press

Shoshone County

  • After months of negotiation, the United Steelworkers Union chapter representing the workers at Hecla Mining Co.’s Lucky Friday Mine voted to reject Hecla’s self-described “final offer” and strike. The union voted in favor of the strike 230 – 2. This is the first strike at the Lucky Friday Mine since 1981. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press

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

Clearwater County

  • The Idaho Legislature appropriated $687,000 from the Permanent Building Fund for roof repairs at the Idaho National Guard Youth Challenge program in Pierce. Currently, the school’s roof is not insulated, which is causing problems in the winter. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • King’s Variety Stores, based in Burley, announced Feb. 21 that it plans to close all its stores including the Orofino location later this year. In a press release, the company’s owners said, “It was our grandfather’s and father’s desire to provide everyday products to small communities that did not have access to reasonably priced goods. That business model allowed us to build a number of successful stores throughout the Intermountain West over a long period of time.” The company said increasing competition from big-box stores and the internet have made their stores unprofitable. The King’s Discount Store in Orofino opened its doors in 2002. The store employs about eight people. Source: Clearwater Tribune
  • For the ninth year in a row, Best Western Hotels and Resorts recognized Lodge At River’s Edge in Orofino for its high levels of quality service and guest satisfaction. Only 31 of 2,500 Best Western inns received that recognition. The Orofino lodge is a flagship operation for the county’s tourism industry, driven by the county’s history, scenery, boating at Dworshak Reservoir and hunting and fishing opportunities. Source: Clearwater Tribune
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Feb. 27 that Dworshak Dam is now ranked at low risk of failure. In 2007, the dam was rated at high risk of failure, because of water leaking through and under the dam that could have undermined the 45-year-old structure. The corps took action to mitigate the leaks and better monitor uplift pressure on the structure. A recent study confirmed the 700-foot-high dam likely would withstand an earthquake and prompted the latest safety upgrade. Source: Lewiston Tribune

Idaho and Lewis Counties

  • The King’s Variety Store closures later this year will also affect its 15-employee store in Grangeville. The loss of a major retailer may result in fewer people purchasing goods locally and more traveling to Lewiston, Clarkston (Washington) and beyond to shop. Ida-Lew Economic Development hopes to find another retailer to fill the gap. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • Killgore Adventures in Riggins will begin offering high mountain RZR trips into the mountains and whitewater rafting on the Salmon River. RZRs are two-person, four-wheel all-terrain machines in which the occupants sit side-by-side. Killgore Adventures already offers jet boat trips and guided hunting and fishing trips in Hells Canyon. It also operates helicopter tours and owns a small motel near White Bird. Its busy season runs from May through October. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • In early March in Grangeville, Clearwater Economic Development Association held the first of 10 “listening sessions” scheduled throughout the region about tourism in north central Idaho. The meetings, which will be held through April, also are sponsored by North Central Idaho Travel Association. Local tourism businesses — inns, outfitters and guides, companies that serve hunters and anglers, museums, casinos, whitewater raft operators, retail stores and interested parties such as chambers of commerce and local banks — are invited to participate in the discussion of problems and opportunities faced by the tourism industry. Participants spoke about the importance of training their employees in how to provide information to tourists about local attractions and developing ways to increase transportation options for tourists. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • Syringa Hospital, a critical access hospital in Grangeville, has agreed to affiliate with Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene. The affiliation will give the smaller hospital access to the larger medical center’s resources including purchasing, education programs for doctors and hospital staff, help dealing with insurance issues and assistance recruiting doctors. Education and training resources might allow hospital staff the ability to learn more procedures and therefore offer patients care in Idaho County rather than having them go elsewhere. The chair of Syringa’s board, Al Bolden of White Bird said, “Small independent critical access hospitals across the nation have been failing. Those who are surviving are the ones who have affiliated with larger hospitals.” The Syringa board will still manage the hospital. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • Judging by the increase in reservations, tourist facilities in the Lowell/Syringa area along U.S. Highway 12 could bustle with visitors this summer. River Dance Lodge, an upscale rustic lodge, and its sister company River Odysseys West – which offers whitewater rafting, fishing and exploring historic locations – opened for the season in March. Wilderness Inn and Cougar Canyon now are both open throughout the day. Although cold, rainy weather has kept some visitors away in the past few weeks, Three River Resort – which includes a motel, cabins, RV spaces and rafting – is expecting a busy season. Source: Idaho County Free Press
  • Voters in the Craigmont-based Highland School District approved a $499,000 supplemental levy for one year and a $50,000 plant facilities levy for five years March 14. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Voters in the Mountain View School District, which includes schools in Grangeville, Kooskia and Elk City, approved a one-year, $2.6 million supplemental levy March 14. The levy is the same amount as approved in the previous two elections. Source: Idaho County Free Press

 Latah County

  • Colter’s Creek Winery plans to transform the former Red Door Restaurant in downtown Moscow into a tasting room, possibly opening in November. The new location is intended to complement but not replace the Colter’s Creek’s winery and tasting room in Juliaetta. The Moscow operation will feature a bar, kitchen where appetizers will be made, dining room and outdoor patio area. The area also will be used as a venue for winery events or rented out to private parties of up to 100 people. Eventually, winemaker Melissa Sanborn says the upper story of the 120-year-old building may be turned into a small boutique hotel, offices or apartments. Sanborn worked with vintners in Asotin (Washington) and Nez Perce counties to establish the region as an American Viticulture Area. Her vineyard, nestled along the Potlatch River near its confluence with the Clearwater River, benefits from the cooling effect from the river and low elevation ranging from 800 to 1,200 feet above sea level. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • The Latah County Commissioners declared a county disaster emergency March 15 because of flooding and severe damage caused by rain and snow. A rise in the Palouse River caused flooding in the Potlatch area. Genesee’s newest water reservoir sustained $110,000 in damage from the cold winter. The city could potentially receive financial help from the state to repair the water reservoir because of the disaster declaration. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • Latah County’s largest manufacturer has been named U.S. Senate Small Business of the Month in February. “Bennett Lumber epitomizes the entrepreneurial spirit of Idaho,” said U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, who nominated Bennett Lumber for the honor. The family owned company headquartered in Princeton employs more than 150 people there. It also operates a mill with more 60 employees at the Port of Wilma near Clarkston, Washington. In addition, it owns and manages approximately 70,000 acres of forest lands throughout the Northwest. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • Voters approved levies requested by the Genesee, Kendrick and Potlatch school districts in the March election. Supplemental levies are used to make up the difference between what the state provides for local school districts and what the districts spend on personnel, routine maintenance and other operational expenses, while plant levies concern infrastructure expenditures. In the Genesee School District, voters passed a one-year, $935,000 supplemental levy. Patrons in the Kendrick School District approved a one-year supplemental levy for $860,000. The Potlatch School District’s one-year $1.9 million supplemental levy passed. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • Lots of construction upgrades are underway at the Palouse Mall, Moscow’s largest shopping area. After the former Jo Ann Fabric’s space is remodeled, Ulta Beauty, a beauty and cosmetics store, will open in June. Its storefront and those of Michael’s and Rite Aid will undergo a remodel in the next couple of months. When it’s finished in May or June, Dave’s Bistro will open in the space that used to belong to the Side Bar and Grill. It will serve organic, grass-fed burgers, sandwiches, soups, salads, espresso and frozen yogurt. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News
  • A new website provides information on available guesthouses and bed and breakfasts of Latah and Whitman (Washington) counties. It provides detailed information, maps and an up-to-date availability calendar at www.stayonthepalouse.com. Source: Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Nez Perce and Asotin (Washington) Counties

  • Since Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories opened its plant in Lewiston five years ago, employment there has risen to 380. The maker of high-tech equipment for electrical transmission and distribution currently is hiring 100 assemblers — about half will work in Pullman and the other half will work in Lewiston. Entry-level pay is $13.50 plus benefits. Lewiston is playing an increasingly important role in SEL’s operations, and the company expects Lewiston’s output of digital protective relays to surpass Pullman’s within a couple of years. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Demand for ammunition plummeted after the presidential election and people are now buying in smaller quantities than they did in the prior eight years. In February, Vista Outdoor shed 10 employees through attrition, bringing its employment to 1,480. In early March, Vista Outdoor furloughed 100 employees until March 30, as it adjusted its inventory. Despite the drop in demand, the company still plans to build a $70 million rimfire ammunition plant near the Lewiston airport. The new plant is expected to make the company’s operations more efficient. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Lewiston Independent School District will build a new high school after 75 percent of voters approved a bond proposal in the March 14 election. A high number of citizens – 66 percent of all potential voters – supported the nearly $60 million project that will replace the existing high school on Normal Hill with a new one in the Orchards. School bond measures in Idaho require a 66.67 percent supermajority to pass, and earlier attempts at a bond failed in 2010 and 2011. A 2016 study showed that renovating the current building that opened in 1928 would cost $35 million more than building a new school. Unlike the current school, the new high school would include ninth-graders. Several major employers voiced strong support for the new high school especially its career-technical center. Currently, the high school’s career-technical programs are spread over several buildings. The new high school will include a 34,000-square-foot career technical training center. Improved training could make it easier for businesses to find skilled, interested workers, and an improved high school atmosphere may make it easier for businesses to recruit professionals including doctors and engineers to the area. In the long run, the school district hopes to train students from neighboring districts as well. Source: Lewiston Tribune
  • Lewis-Clark State College plans to build a career-technical education center next to the new high school and move all its career-technical programs there. Both the college and high school will be building on 310 acres jointly owned by the city of Lewiston, the college and the school district on Warner Avenue,  about three miles from the current high school and the college’s campus. The college’s center would cover at least 100,000 square feet and is expected to cost $20 million with half coming from the state’s Permanent Building Fund and the rest from school reserves, grants and local industry. The college and high school would work together to develop career-technical opportunities. “President Fernandez and I started talking about how powerful it would be to have a seamless opportunity for (high school) students to complete an associates or baccalaureate degree without having to leave the property,” said Bob Donaldson, superintendent of the Lewiston Independent School District. 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

Ada County

  • Developer Scott Noriyuki and his company Northside Management plan to build 28 townhomes on 1.78 acres west of Bogart Lane and north of State Street. Noriyuki, a veteran of this type of infill residential project, is proposing water conservation measures for the project, including a storm water retention system. This project is the latest in a series of recent housing development in Boise’s northwest corner. In November, the city council approved a 154-townhome project on about 17 acres slightly east of Noriyuki’s project. A 180-unit apartment project was recently built in that area, and a 300-unit apartment complex with commercial space is under construction near the corner of State Street and Gary Lane. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • The board of Ada County Commissioners approved Boise Hunter Homes’  development of more than 1,800 homes on 1,400 acres between Hidden Springs and Shadow Valley Golf Course in Boise. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Developer Ron Beckman is building the 26-unit North Hill townhomes on the former site of the North End Organic Nursery on Hill Road in Boise. Construction started on the first eight townhomes in November with completion expected in April. How those units sell will determine whether the remaining 17 units will be phased in or built at one time, said Jared Cozby, an agent at Front Street Brokers, which is representing the property. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Cradlepoint CEO George Mulhern said the Boise tech company is positioned to keep its fast-paced growth after securing an $89 million venture capital investment. The company, which began by making mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, now makes wireless routers and cloud-based services for businesses and government. It has hired more than 400 people in the past four years, bringing total employment to 450, including 350 in Boise. With help from the investment recently announced, Cradlepoint is on its way toward hiring 100 employees in 2017. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Paylocity, a payroll and human resources company based in Illinois, has changed its expansion plans, choosing Meridian over Boise as its Idaho home. The company plans to join Brighton Corp. and AmeriBen at TM Crossing, a business campus under construction northeast of the Ten Mile Road interchange with I-84. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • TSheets, the Eagle digital time-sheet company, says it is hiring continuously and doubling annual growth as it prepares to move into larger headquarters. TSheets plans to start moving into 42,000 square feet in the first two stories of its new building in the coming months. The software engineering team and some in the administration team will move into the first floor in mid-May, CEO Matt Rissell said. The sales, customer experience and marketing teams will move into the second floor about a month later. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Trailhead, a start-up hub for entrepreneurs, has expanded into a space above Bodovino in Boise’s BoDo area. Trailhead North’s glassed-in offices are available to Trailhead members for $400 to $600 per month with month-to-month leases, a good fit for startups that are past the concept phase, have started adding employees and need a quieter, more private space. Open-office desks where members can work or leave their monitors are also available to rent for $129 per month. As of late March about 10 of the 30 desks were still available. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Meridian businessman Josh Evarts has won permission to redevelop two properties on Main Street in downtown Meridian now occupied by a children’s theater and a meeting and creativity center operated by the Meridian Library District. Evarts and his wife, Lori, submitted a proposal last fall to the Meridian Development Corp., the city’s urban renewal agency. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • Idaho Youth Ranch (IYR) is the third tenant announced for the 84,000-square-foot former Kmart building on Fairview Avenue. The IYR thrift store, Johnny’s Fit Club Fitness and Vector Christian Center will each occupy 12,600 square feet in 60-by-210-foot sections that span the length of the store. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Albertsons plans to build a 35,000-square-foot store at Parkcenter Boulevard and Warm Springs Avenue in Boise. The store is smaller than many existing locations and would be nearly half the size of the planned two-story building in the works at Broadway Avenue and Beacon Street. The store would leave room for another 22,000 square feet of future expansion space, which would host a large grassy area designed for a farmer’s market in the interim. Source: BoiseDev.com
  • WinCo Foods expects to construction soon on a second Meridian store on Overland Road between Eagle and Locust Grove roads. WinCo purchased 35 acres in November. The Boise-based grocery company intends to build the 85,000-square-foot store at the freeway end and to build smaller retail buildings along Overland. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Northwest Neurobehavioral Health is building a new office at the Gramercy District in Meridian. Construction started at the end of February. The Meridian multi-disciplinary diagnostic and treatment center has expanded several times in existing space at the nearby Goldstone Center since 11 clinicians founded the clinic in 2010. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area plans to spend nearly $4.3 million in the next five months to turn the nonprofit ski area into a multi-season destination. It would include a mountain coaster, summer tubing, more mountain biking, a climbing wall and a lawn-and-patio setup for socializing in the summer sun or winter snow. Source: Idaho Statesman
  • The Wassmuth Center for Human Rights in Boise will break ground in August for a new outdoor community classroom. The building project will complete the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial site near the Greenbelt and the main branch of the Boise Public Library. The open-air classroom, designed by Boise firm Erstad Architects, will be visually similar to the existing stone elements at the memorial and will provide permanent seating for 30 to 35 people. Source: Idaho Statesman

Canyon County

  • A Boise-based developer is hoping to begin construction this summer on a 21-acre project near the College of Idaho that will feature an assisted living center and retail shopping space. Ben Zamzow, vice president of real estate development for Rocky Mountain Companies, said the assisted living center — an independent, high-end residential community — will be the first piece of the College Marketplace. The company that will run the living center, Grace Assisted Living, operates five locations across the Treasure Valley, including one in Nampa. Source: Idaho Press-Tribune

Openings and Expected Openings

  • Fort Street Station, a new bar, is opening near the Boise Co-op.
  • Cinnaholic, a vegan bakery, is opening at the Village in Meridian.
  • Camel’s Crossing, an eatery with extensive beer and wine options, is opening in Hyde Park.
  • Handlebar, a cycling-themed bar, is opening on Main Street in downtown Boise.
  • The STIL ice cream parlor will open this June on Broad Street in downtown Boise.
  • Urban Duo, a boutique furniture and home store, has opened on Main Street in downtown Boise.
  • Black Rock Coffee Bar plans to build a drive-through coffee kiosk on Fairview Avenue in Meridian.
  • Jersey Mike’s Subs, a franchise chain based in New Jersey, will open its second Boise store on Broadway Avenue in Boise.
  • Barley Pub is opening in the former Brews Brothers in Boise’s Northgate Shopping Center.
  • The LongHorn Steakhouse restaurant chain will replace the Chili’s Grill & Bar at Franklin Road and Milwaukee Street in Boise.
  • 208 Pho & Vegan will open its second location in Vista Village in Boise.
  • Meridian-based Soda Stop, a soda bar and grill, is expanding with a second location on Birch Lane near the College of Western Idaho in Nampa.
  • Quality Alignment and Mechanical will celebrate its opening at a newly constructed building in downtown Nampa.

Closings and Expected Closings

  • Family Christian is closing all of its 240 stores nationwide, including one in Boise.
  • Chico’s has closed its store on Idaho Street in downtown Boise.
  • Two Radio Shack stores in the Treasure Valley are closing – one on Broadway Avenue in Boise and one on Cleveland Boulevard in Caldwell.
  • Omaha, Nebraska-based Gordmans Stores Inc. announced in March it will liquidate all its stores through Chapter 11 U.S. Bankruptcy Code provisions. Gordmans has three stores in Idaho, all in the Treasure Valley.
  • Mark and Jerri Lisk will close their Gallery Five18 on Americana Boulevard in Boise at the end of May.
  • A Cupcake Paradise closed its storefront on West Bannock Street in Boise in late February.
  • U.S. Bank is closing in Grand View.

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

Regional

  • Canal companies and irrigation managers presented flood damage images and video to the Idaho Legislature to bring the representatives up to speed on the scope of damages resulting from heavy snowfall accumulation, abrupt change in temperatures and frozen ground. Repair to the damaged infrastructure is estimated in the millions of dollars. “The district has 635 miles of roads and at one time one-third of them were closed because of damage. Some washouts were four to five feet deep. Cost estimates for county highways stand at around $2 million,” Minidoka Highway District Manager Jesse Miller said. Source: Times-News
  • Five south central Idaho counties declared a state of emergency earlier this year due to flooding as assessed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA agents and county officials will prepare a presentation for review by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter who will send the request for federal assistance on to President Trump for approval. Source: KMVT

Blaine County

  • Sun Valley Resort announced plans to renovate the Sun Valley Inn, reducing upper level guest rooms from 22 to 17, adding meeting rooms and updating the Bald Mountain Pizza restaurant and its outdoor dining. The footprint will expand by 17,000 square feet. Construction will start in September and be completed by June 2018. Source:  Idaho Statesman
  • Ketchum City Council unanimously approved a resolution that marks it a welcoming city. The resolution stated “since the founding of Ketchum, the community has welcomed miners, sheepherders and ski enthusiasts from all over the world…..and foreign-born Ketchum residents are a vital part of our community, bringing fresh perspectives and new ideas, starting businesses and contributing to the vibrant diverse community that we all value.”  The city is not eligible to be a sanctuary city because it does not have its own law enforcement services.  Source: Idaho Mountain Express

Camas County

  • Voters approved a two-year $250,000 annual supplemental levy that will subsidize operating expenses of all district schools. In conjunction, voters approved a two-year levy totaling $100,000 to pay for continuing the school’s fine arts program. Source: Times-News

Cassia County

  • Burley reported only three new home permits were pulled between October 2016 and February 2017. There were 31 new single-family building permits pulled in 2015-2016 over the same timeframe. The River Run Estates Subdivision experienced a construction run last year but this year the cold weather slowed building. There have been five permits issued so far in March. Source: Times-News

Minidoka County

  • Rupert has seen some activity in the single family home permitting. From October 2016 to February 2017 there were six permits pulled compared to four from the previous year for the same time frame. The bulk of the permits have been for the Mountain View Subdivision. Source: Times-News

Twin Falls County

  • The Magic Valley Mall announced the commitment of two new national retailers: Sephora will operate within the existing JC Penney store and Torrid, a plus-size clothing and fashion retailer, will hang its shingle. Source: Times-News
  • The College of Southern Idaho (CSI) released its spring semester enrollment, the official count provided to the State Board of Education:
    • Close to half of the CSI spring semester students are actually in high schools throughout the state for a total of 3,874 dual credit students or just over 48 percent of the total headcount.
    • The school’s total headcount is 7,975 students, up 14 percent from last year.
    • Students taking dual credit classes this spring at CSI is up nearly 38 percent over this same time last year.
    • The number of students taking classes at CSI campuses in Twin Falls, Burley, Hailey, Gooding and Idaho Falls has decreased from 3,193 last spring to 2,856 this spring, a drop of nearly 12 percent.
    • The number of students enrolled in CSI’s technical programs has decreased from 773 last year to 741 this year, a drop of more than four percent.

Source: Times-News

  • The Twin Falls Old Town area is slated for potential opportunities to set up small manufacturing operations. A team will review the 23 warehouses, circa 1915-1923, in June. Twin Falls was among three other communities awarded free technical assistance from Smart Growth America, a U.S. Economic Development Administration program. The other three communities were Knoxville, Tennessee; Lowell, Massachusetts; and the Youngstown-Warren region of Ohio. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • The city of Hansen hosted Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s 99th Capital for a Day. Area flooding, education and infrastructure investment occupied most of the discussion. Source: KMVT
  • Putters Mini Golf and Hawaiian Shave Ice will open an 18-hole course on Memorial Day in Twin Falls. The course will feature various landmarks represented from around south central Idaho including the Perrine Bridge, Balance Rock and the Evil Knievel jump site. The course will be accessible for those with disabilities for 10 of the 18 holes. Source: Times-News
  • Shoshone Falls volume is an estimated five times larger than average water flows for this time of year. The city usually waits until April to begin charging to enter the park, which features walking paths and lakes with swimming in the summer. With high flows and long lines of traffic to enter the canyon, the city started collecting fares early this season with proceeds going toward park maintenance and lifeguard wages. As of March 29, the flows were at 19,000 cubic-feet-per-second (cfs) with the potential to increase within the next few weeks. The record was set in 1997 at 27,000 cfs. Source: Times-News

Closures

  • Snow’s Antiques is closing after 26 years in Twin Falls, most of its time spent in the downtown core.
  • JC Penney announced the closure of its store in Burley, liquidating merchandise with an anticipated shuttering in June.

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

Region

  • Voters in six southeastern Idaho counties approved several issues regarding area schools in mid-March. Citizens of Power County approved a 20-year, $8.95 million bond to build a new intermediate school in American Falls. Ten other levies on southeastern Idaho ballots were also approved. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • Burley-based King’s Variety Stores has announced it will close all of its stores this year. The company operates 19 stores in the Intermountain West, including Driggs, Afton, Rigby, Shelley, Preston, Montpelier, Salmon, Rupert and Burley. Source: KIFI/KIDK

Bannock County

  • Voters in Bannock County approved the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District supplemental levy by 2,260 to 637. The levy is for $9.25 million per year for two years. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • State budget writers unanimously approved a $10 million line-item Thursday for Idaho State University’s proposed $12 million Gale Life Sciences Building renovation project. ISU has indicated that the other $2 million for the tentative Gale project would come from university financial resources. Source: Idaho News Service
  • The Idaho Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee approved a budget for Idaho’s four-year colleges that included a $1.8 million line-item request for ISU’s proposed Polytechnic project. The potential Polytechnic Institute, designated as an ISU collaboration with the Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls, would create 13 new ISU jobs, including nine new faculty positions and four new support jobs. Source: Idaho News Service
  • A ribbon-cutting marked the grand opening of Idaho State University College of Business’s new Student Community Center in the Business Administration building. Complete with four individually reserved study rooms, a student organization boardroom and storage area, students will now have an innovative and comfortable space to work. The college of business hosted a series of events to introduce the space’s accommodations to students, supporters and friends. Source: Idaho State University
  • More than 200 high school students from around southeastern Idaho recently attended ISU College of Education’s second annual Future Educators Day. The goal of event is to help put more students through the college of education to help bolster the teaching workforce. Idaho currently ranks second in the country in the number of teacher shortage areas reported to the U.S. Department of Education. Also, a recent ISU study showed more than 80 percent of Idaho school districts reported inadequate hiring pools for open teaching positions. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • The return of the third daily flight to Pocatello Regional Airport officially reached its first anniversary on March 2 and with its help, the airport is showing another significant increase in passenger numbers for the transportation hub. For the 12 months stretching from March 1, 2016, to Feb. 28, 2017, the passenger count was up 45 percent from the same time frame the previous year. Source: City of Pocatello

Bear Lake County

  • The Bear Lake School District supplemental levy for $750,000 per year for two years passed by 520 votes to 184. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • The Bear Lake community health center last month held a grand opening for its newest clinic in Montpelier. The new outpatient clinic is a remodel of the former ALCO store next to Broulims. In addition to a pharmacy, the new clinic boasts primary care, family practice, behavioral health and Idaho health insurance assistance. Dentistry is a planned addition for the future. Source: The News Examiner

Bingham County

  • In Blackfoot, electors approved the supplemental levy of $2.15 million for two years and a $600,000 plant levy for 10 years in Blackfoot School District 55. Electors also approved the $750,000 supplemental levy requested in Snake River School District 52. The number of registered voters in the Blackfoot and Snake River School Districts totaled 12,117. In both school districts, 12.9 percent cast their ballots in March. Two years ago, the percentage of voters who cast their ballots was 17 percent. Source: Morning News
  • The Basalt City Council application for a $350,000 Community Development Block Grant has advanced to the next step. The city also has been approved for $700,000 in loans from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality. Basalt City needs approximately $900,000 for new manholes and to fix or replace 5,500 feet of crumbling and failing concrete pipes of the old wastewater collection system. Source: The Shelley Pioneer
  • A $10.3 million line-item appropriation for Idaho psychiatric hospital construction projects — approved by the legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee — included $936,500 for converting an adolescent patient unit at Blackfoot’s State Hospital South into a high-risk adult 20-bed psychiatric unit. Source: Idaho News Service

Caribou County

  • Voters passed both levies for the Grace School District — a $150,000 plant facility reserve fund levy and a $300,000 supplemental levy. Voters also passed a Soda Springs School District supplemental levy for $728,000. Source: Idaho State Journal

Franklin County

  • Voters approved a $90,000 supplemental levy for West Side School District. Source: Idaho State Journal
  • The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has been recommended to receive $2.5 million in Clean Air Act Targeted Air Shed grant funds to help improve air quality in southeastern Idaho’s Cache Valley, as announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Cache Valley air shed includes the city of Preston and parts of Franklin County, as well as Logan, Utah, and parts of Cache County, Utah. Source: Caribou County Sun

Power County

  • Voters approved a 20-year, $8.95 million bond for a new intermediate school in American Falls. The bond required a supermajority of 66.6 percent to pass, and it received 69 percent. In addition, voters also approved a supplemental levy of $2.45 million per year for two years for the American Falls Joint School District. Source: Idaho State Journal

Openings

  • Bear lake Community Health Center, Montpelier
  • Costa Vida restaurant in Chubbuck

Closing

  • Vanity stores at Pine Ridge Mall in Pocatello

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

  • The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) began a year-long process to retrieve a highly radioactive waste known as calcine from storage facilities at the Idaho National Laboratory desert site. The first stage of the project will cost DOE nearly $50 million over the next five years. The first phase involves transferring 220 cubic meters of calcine stored in the oldest No. 1 bin set storage facility into a newer No. 6 bin set nearby then cleaning up and closing the No. 1 storage facility. Source: Post Register
  • A project to retrieve radioactive waste from the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment facility near Idaho Falls has been completed. The project, underway since 2003, involved removing 65,000 cubic meters of transuranic waste stored in hundreds of thousands of containers — wooden boxes and metal drums in varying states of degradation — in a seven-acre hangar-like storage building at the AMWTP facility. The storage facility was built around a 35-foot tall earthen berm deployed years before to protect the containers. The retrieved waste will be treated at the plant, sorted, compacted and shipped to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico. Source: Post Register
  • The design application for a small modular nuclear reactor at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho desert site at Idaho National Laboratory was accepted by federal regulators. The U.S. National Regulatory Commission likely will spend 40 months reviewing the application filed by NuScale Power, which will build the reactor, slated for completion in 2026. Source: Post Register
  • The M.H. King Company announced in early March that King’s Variety Stores’ 21 locations will close. The Burley-based company has stores in Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Montana and Oregon. Idaho is home to 13 of the store’s locations, including locations in Driggs, Rigby, Salmon and Shelley. These closures will affect four counties in eastern Idaho alone. Source: Post Register

Bonneville County

  • The Idaho Falls City Council unanimously voted to accept a $500,000 donation from William J. Maeck to go toward the construction of a new Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park education center. The center will be called The William J. Maeck Education Center in honor of the donation. Source: Post Register
  • The Idaho Legislature approved line item funding of $1.8 million for a polytechnic institute in Idaho Falls. The proposal was submitted by representatives of Idaho State University, Eastern Idaho Technical College and Idaho National Laboratory (INL). The institute would be housed at University Place in an area that was formerly used as the INL’s technical library. That area already has been renovated and turned into classrooms and faculty office space. In a separate proposal from INL, the legislature approved $90 million in state bonds to be issued for two new education and research buildings at INL. Source: Post Register
  • Voters in Idaho Falls School District 91 approved the renewal of a yearly $6,800,000 supplemental levy in March. Of 1,882 voters, 1,581 – or 84.01 percent, voted in favor of the levy. Source: Post Register
  • In Bonneville Joint School District 93, 75.91 percent of voters voted in favor of a $5.8 million two-year supplemental levy in March. Of 1,914 voters, 1,453 voted in favor of the levy. Source: Post Register

Madison County

  • The Rexburg City Council voted to allow short-term temporary housing for Great American Eclipse in late summer. The change means that residents living in low impact zones where homeowners will be allowed to rent space to visitors for up to two weeks. It is currently against city ordinance to provide such lodging in these zones. Source: Rexburg Standard Journal

 Custer County

  • Challis School District is dealing with a school bus driver shortage due to retirements and a lack of applicants. The ongoing shortage is nearing a critical point that may lead to cancellations of sports events and other extracurricular activities. The school district is looking into increasing salaries, paying for commercial driver training, offering retention bonuses and benefits for all drivers plus annual step increases to solve the shortage. Source: Post Register

Lemhi County

  • The Salmon City swimming pool is in major need of an estimated $80,000 in repairs before it can open for use this summer. The city’s financial team is still determining funding sources. Source: Post Register

Jefferson County

  • In the Ririe Joint School District 252, 76.92 percent of voters approved an $825,000 bond and 75.73 percent were in favor of a $220,000 supplemental levy. Source: Post Register

Fremont County

  • Voters in Fremont County extended a two-year, $3 million supplemental levy with 82 percent support. Source: Post Register

Closures

  • Abbott’s Variety and Crafts, a fixture on Main Street in Rigby for 40 years, will close its doors in May. Owner Steve Abbott has sold the property. Source: Rexburg Standard Journal
  • Gearhead, a Rexburg aftermarket motorcycle replacement parts store, has closed its doors. Just under 20 employees were affected by this closure. Source: Rexburg Standard Journal

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

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