Tag Archives: Hope Morrow

Around Idaho: July 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

Region

  • Northern Idaho witnessed at least 21 reported wildfires in July. While the actions of the forest service and other authorities prevented any of the fires from forcing evacuations or threatening structures, the number of fires was above average for July. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press

Kootenai County:

  • Construction work began on a new commercial complex in Athol, which will eventually include the town’s first grocery store as well as a hardware store, a hotel and additional light industrial and commercial space. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • The Idaho Transportation Department and North Idaho College are partnering to offer a free three-week heavy equipment operator course, which aims both to fill labor needs in the construction industry and offer career opportunities to veterans, women and minorities. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press

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2017 Total Solar Eclipse: Infrastructure Challenge or Economic Windfall?

-Idaho Communities Prepare for Both Scenarios-

Nineteen Idaho counties – from Washington County in western Idaho to Teton County in eastern Idaho – are within the “path of totality” and are expected to see a large influx of visitors during this year’s total eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017.

Preparing for the total solar eclipse is taking center stage locally, regionally and nationally. Experts from Great American Eclipse.com anticipate anywhere from 93,000 to 370,000 visitors across the path of totality in Idaho, including Sun Valley, Stanley and Washington County. But the majority of visitors are expected in eastern Idaho, with NASA estimating upwards of 500,000 in eastern Idaho alone. Anyone trying to book a rental property in the region for that weekend using Airbnb will see a message that “2167 percent more people are looking for rental properties in Idaho Falls now (Aug 18-22) than on average.”

Image: Google

Eastern Idaho can provide roughly 8,000 units of rental sleeping spaces including hotels, motels, rental homes, lodges, campsites and RV parks. If each space is shared by an average of three people, the accommodation capacity is around 24,000 people – less than one half to one sixth of the visitor count expected to spend the night prior to eclipse day. Putting this into perspective, if 90 percent of the visitors are around only long enough to see the eclipse, using the region’s resources and infrastructure the economic benefits for the hotels, restaurants and retail outlets may be less than if they were to spend the night.

Regionally, eastern Idaho has approximately 222,432 people spread across more than 19,000 square miles – much of it vacant without roads and little access to emergency services. The area’s infrastructure – roadways, cell towers, sewer systems, hospitals, emergency teams and more – is engineered to serve the residential population with capacity for anticipated tourism and economic activity. If the number of visitors  for the eclipse are realized for a condensed period of time, as estimated by NASA, the infrastructure will experience up to three times the number of people it was built to support.

While late August is still part of the heavy tourist season, the eclipse attendance will be the largest concentration of visitors the region has ever seen. Travel accommodation businesses, retail businesses and restaurants may see increased foot traffic and higher purchasing volume, but according to department economists, the benefits may pale in comparison to the actual visitor count. The Idaho Transportation Department anticipates seeing roads that would normally carry 1,100 cars per hour, increased to 1,800 or 1,900 cars per hour around the eclipse date. With many visitors intending to leave directly after the eclipse, a heavy increase in traffic may dissuade drivers from spending additional time at local restaurants and shops.

The average hotel room rate in eastern Idaho was $123.97 per day in 2016. With the eclipse, hotel rates are expected to increase significantly depending on the demand. In this case, eastern Idaho travel accommodation businesses are advertising rental spaces for $350 to $2,500 per night. Airbnb claims to have less than 19 percent availability currently open in the area. This is likely comparable to camping and RV site reservations. With an estimate of more than 3,700 rooms total in the region, some hotels, motels, lodges and inns throughout the region are already booked.

In addition, due directly to the sheer volume of visitors expected, the infrastructure costs the region may incur may exceed the profit margins private leisure and hospitality businesses will see.

That’s why Idaho businesses and government agencies within the path are holding frequent meetings in their communities to prepare and create the best possible plans available to accommodate the increase of businesses and at the same time benefit from the event.

For example, with so many small towns right in the path of ideal viewing, the Idaho Department of Commerce is working with the state’s Office of Emergency Management, local law enforcement and area hospitals to ensure all are prepared for the influx of people. In addition to holding a series of workshops in June, with one hosted by Idaho Falls the department has launched a website to serve as an information hub for both communities and travelers.

The website also features resources for businesses, visitors, residents and links to other resources, as well as plans and resources created by the Bureau of Land Management, the Idaho Transportation Department, the US Forest Service and the Idaho Tax Commission.

A quick glimpse at the eclipse impact on the hotel and rental industries can be found below:

Source: Statistica 2017
**The data above represents national averages, in conjunction with Idaho hotel/rental pricing and occupancy estimates for Aug-17.

For more information on what Idaho businesses and government agencies are doing to prepare for the eclipse, visit the Idaho Office of Emergency Management Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/IdahoOEM/) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/IdahoOEM) accounts. Twitter users will find updates using the hashtag #IdahoEclipse2017.

Additional information can be found at these websites:

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

 

Around Idaho: June 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

Bonner County

  • Intermax Networks is now serving Sandpoint’s new city-owned fiber optic cable service. Access to the city’s cable allows Intermax to nearly double its service in Sandpoint and supports the city’s goals of expanding the availability of fiber. Source: Idaho Business Review

Kootenai County

  • Construction on The Crossings – a new 37-acre business complex in Athol – began in June with the first work on a new Super 1 Foods grocery store. The complex is designed to serve the significant rural population of northern Kootenai County and may eventually include medical and financial service providers. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • The Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce has curtailed its financial support of the CDA Ironman competitions. After 14 years of full Ironman races, the city will instead begin hosting half-Ironman competitions beginning in 2018. Source: Spokesman Review
  • Silverwood Theme Park has fully ramped up for the summer season after opening its Boulder Beach water park. A representative from the park noted that sales of both season passes and individual tickets are up significantly from the previous year, when Canadian traffic dropped due to a weaker Canadian dollar. Season pass sales are up 23 percent over 2016, while individual ticket sales are up 20 percent. Source: Idaho Business Review
  • The city of Coeur d’Alene will postpone its planned widening and reconstruction of Government Way. The city received only one bid for the project, which was 34 percent higher than the city’s initial estimate. A city spokesman indicated that the narrow timeframe associated with the project was contributing to high costs, as the project would have required significant overtime work. Source: Spokesman Review

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Community College to Impact Spending in Eastern Idaho

A community college can fill educational, community and social needs in a region. Spending the first two years of a four-year degree at a community college and increased educational attainment levels could add $5.2 million in annual spending to eastern Idaho’s regional economy.

In May, Bonneville County voters approved a tax measure allowing Eastern Idaho Technical College to become a community college. Continue reading

Around Idaho: May 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

Kootenai County

  • The city of Coeur d’Alene entered into an agreement to purchase 47 acres of waterfront property, which was vacated when Stimson Lumber closed its operations there in 2005. Several private sector efforts to develop the property have fallen through over the years due to ambiguity regarding the lot’s zoning and environmental cleanup requirements. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • The city of Post Falls plans to pursue an Idaho Community Development block grant to add additional parking in the city center. Inadequate public parking has led to a several cases of illegal parking and damage to private property. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • Kootenai County Commissioners approved several changes to the Citylink bus system, including new fares and reduced hours of operation. The changes reflect the need to pursue a more sustainable and effective public transportation service. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • The Innovation Collective plans to turn the historic Elks Building in downtown Coeur d’Alene into the “Innovation Den,” which will include office space, a coffee shop, meeting space and a private bar. Among the tenants already lined up are a robotics company, a venture capital firm and an intellectual property law firm. Source: Spokane-Kootenai Journal of Business

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Around Idaho: April 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

Kootenai County

  • North Idaho College received a $482,000 grant from the Idaho Department of Labor to train more than 200 workers in wood products manufacturing. The grant is a partnership with Lewis-Clark State College and a consortium of wood product manufacturers in northern Idaho. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • Work has begun on a $5.44 million revitalization of the Seltice Way arterial. The project – which is expected to continue into 2018 – will provide a new streetscape, roundabouts and bike lanes, as well as upgraded water and waste utilities. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press
  • Kootenai County continues to have a banner year for building permits in 2017. At the conclusion of the first quarter, the cities of Hayden, Rathdrum and Post Falls were all at or near record paces for issued building permits. Source: Coeur d’Alene Press

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Declining Rental Vacancies Put Pressure on Eastern Idaho

While demand for rental units in eastern Idaho has steadily increased since the 2008 recession, supply has not kept pace.

Leading into 2008, rental vacancies were at an all-time high peaking at roughly 10.5 percent across the nation (Figure 1). Although more vacancies frustrate landlords who are unable to fill rentals, it creates a preferable – or buyer’s – market for consumers. Before the recession there were abundant rental options, competitive prices and space for populations to expand.

Whenever the economy takes an economic downturn, especially a severe instance like 2008, there is a stagnation in construction. Rental property construction took a huge hit during this time and almost stopped completely. At the same time many people were losing their homes and being forced into rental units. Within the first few months of 2008, rental units became a hot commodity and, as shown in Figure 1, rental vacancies drastically declined.

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