The city of Rathdrum has announced plans to form an urban renewal agency. The goal of the agency will be the development of Rathdrum’s large vacant areas which are currently zoned for light industrial. Rathdrum is home to two technical schools, and city officials expressed hope that development of the industrial areas will help keep graduates from these schools working in the city. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
Empire Unmanned – a northern Idaho manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles – has announced that it will offer a certification course for commercial drone pilots. The company’s sales tripled in 2016 as commercial uses for drones have proliferated. The certification course, which will be offered at North Idaho College, will reflect the evolving regulatory requirements promulgated by the Federal Aviation Administration. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
The Coeur d’Alene school board voted in favor of a $35.5 million bond measure and a $32 million operating levy, both of which will be put before votes in March. The measures come amid rapid enrollment growth which has left Coeur d’Alene schools significantly overcrowded. Due to rising assessed property values, tax rates would not increase even if both the bond and the levy are approved. Source: Spokesman Review
Only a few weeks into 2017 and it is already looking like big change for eastern Idaho. As 2016 came to a close a hefty number of building plans were solidified and in 2017 they will come to life. As the construction industry and housing markets are still recovering from the 2008 recession, eastern Idaho is seeing an unfamiliar jump in infrastructure expected in the next few years. While home building permit approvals are sky rocketing around the region, regional expansion is not stopping at residential building. Public and private entities alike are bringing big changes to the area. More than $22 million in commercial building permits were approved for eastern Idaho in 2016. Continue reading →
Idaho is comprised of 44 counties – seven urban and 37 rural – as classified by the Idaho Department of Labor. Idaho fits snugly between economic urban powerhouse states Washington and Oregon and more rural neighbors Montana and Wyoming. The geographic placement of Idaho creates a unique situation.
The broad county categories of urban and rural are based mostly on population density. Though a simple classification system, it may have some significant restrictions. As time passes more people are leaving rural areas out of economic necessity such as seeking better job opportunities, education access and health care amenities. Migration out-flow data shows that rural counties like Madison and Clark have the highest rates of out-migration – up to 17 percent annually. Meanwhile, only Canyon and Ada counties have experienced an annual out-migration of only 3 to 6 percent. Though these changes mimic national trends, rural communities throughout Idaho are still active and pushing to thrive. Besides population density, there are many characteristics that separate a rural area from an urban one.
STCU credit union opened a new branch in downtown Coeur d’Alene after remodeling a former Bank of America Location. The new location, which offers business services and consumer and commercial lending, is STCU’s 20th branch overall and its third in northern Idaho. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
The Coeur d’Alene Planning Commission approved a permit for Lake Drive Apartments to build a 30-unit, five-story apartment complex in the underdeveloped East Sherman neighborhood. Lake Drive expressed hopes that construction could be completed in the summer of 2017. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
The city of Coeur d’Alene relaxed its rules governing child care business licenses and will now grant licenses to applicants with marijuana charges more than five years old. The change was made to address a serious local shortage of child care providers. The city expressed optimism that the relaxed rules will help address the shortage. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
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’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
Northwest Specialty Hospital in Post Falls announced the opening of a new digestive surgery center. The new center – formally called the Northwest Institute for Digestive Surgery – will give patients the ability to receive all their digestive consultations, diagnostics and treatment options in one location. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
The Post Falls Outlet Mall – which was formerly mostly vacant – continued its streak of new openings over the last month. Escape Adventures, SNR Costume Rentals and Ace Industrial Supply recently opened in the outlet mall. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
Wilderness recreation areas across Northern Idaho are still obstructed due to both wildfires and prescribed burns. Several wildfires – some of which began as long ago as July – are still burning in Bonner and Kootenai counties. Crews have also begun prescribed burns to clear away fuel in all five northern counties. Source: Bonner County Daily Bee, Coeur d’Alene Press, Spokesman Review
After officer resignations left the city police department shorthanded, St. Maries signed an agreement with the Benewah County Sheriff’s Office to provide policing for the city. The agreement formalizes the role of the sheriff’s deputies in policing the city and places the city police under sheriff’s supervision. Source: St. Maries Gazette Record