Saturday, January 16, 2021

Hokkaido Ramen & Sushi Bar to open at Snake River Landing

A dish from the Hokkaido Ramen and Sushi Bar in Great Falls, Montana

Snake River Landing announced Friday that a new restaurant is coming to Idaho Falls. Hokkaido Ramen & Sushi Bar will open this summer at 901 Pier View Drive near Love at First Bite and Bill’s Bike & Run.

“Hokkaido Ramen has such an exciting and unique menu,” says Eric Isom, Chief Development Officer for Snake River Landing. “The new restaurant will be an excellent addition to Snake River Landing and Idaho Falls.”

“Our menu offers fresh, original dishes,” says Hokkaido manager John Schneider “We can’t wait to bring our authentic ramen and Japanese menu to Idaho Falls. We are unlike any other restaurant in the Idaho Falls area."

Hokkaido Ramen is a casual Japanese restaurant with locations in Helena, Bozeman and Great Falls, Montana. It is also opening at the Rail Crossings Shopping Center near Costco in Pocatello this summer. The Hokkaido menu offers a wide variety of authentic Japanese ramen dishes including traditional Japanese ramen, appetizers, fresh sushi, rice dishes, and bubble tea for full-service dining room or carry-out options. Once open, Hokkaido will operate seven days a week.

“Some people hear ‘ramen’ and think about some chicken bouillon package and some noodles, or anything like that," Schneider said. "We’re doing the real, authentic, traditional ramen out of Japan. We serve high quality, gourmet wheat noodles; not like the typical noodles you would get in Top Ramen in the store -- which we all lived on for about a year-and-a-half of college. To get the broth right is the trickiest part. It’s a process that lasts more than eight hours. It is the core foundation for really top quality, authentic, traditional ramen.”

Hokkaido’s most popular specialty menu selections include appetizers Gyoza and Bang Bang Shrimp, and a Tantanmen or the Spicy Beef Ramen. Thinly sliced "ramen eggs" and grilled pork "chashu" are signature accompaniments to any authentic Japanese ramen. "Chashu" is slow cooked and thinly sliced pork belly, from the same cut as American bacon. Hokkaido draws its name from the northernmost of Japan’s main islands; a place known for its volcanoes, natural hot springs, skiing, and as the birthplace of ramen.

Hokkaido also enjoys giving back to the communities in which they open, including offering discounts to first responders and healthcare workers. More information about Hokkaido Ramen is available at

Hokkaido Ramen & Sushi Bar menu

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Bank of Idaho preps for early PPP loan money disbursement

The Federal Government has announced that financial institutions with less than $1 billion in assets will get exclusive access to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) portal at least two days earlier than other lenders during the program's second round, which is expected to open this week. Bank of Idaho meets the early-participation criteria.

Jeff Newgard
"The extra time will definitely be an advantage for the small businesses we're working with," said Bank of Idaho President and CEO Jeff Newgard. "As a matter of fact, we rolled out a waitlist, where hundreds have already signed up to hold their place in line."

Newgard said that even people who used other lenders for the first round of PPP assistance may want to consider using Bank of Idaho for the upcoming iteration because of its impressive track record. During round one of the PPP initiative, with its staff working remotely and in many cases round-the-clock, the bank secured more than 1,000 loans for Idaho business owners under deadline pressure.

"While other lenders focused on big-ticket loans, we saw that there was a critical need for smaller amounts, so we've got plenty of PPP loans on the books for less than $20,000," Newgard said. "Navigating the process takes care and attention, and that's where we excel."

Businesses affected by the Coronavirus pandemic could be eligible to receive a low-interest-rate loans under this program and can learn more details at PPP loans may be eligible for full or partial forgiveness if the money is used for qualifying costs and depending on the specific rules of the program.

The SBA also added optional demographic reporting section to its round two application in the hopes that lenders will encourage borrowers to fill it out and bolster, "efforts to reach underserved, minority-owned, veteran-owned and women-owned businesses."

Macy's clearing out of Grand Teton Mall

Grand Teton Mall is looking at another empty anchor with the departure of Macy's. The company announced Jan. 6 it is closing the eastern Idaho store in March.

"This closure is part of the company’s strategy announced in early 2020,” Media Relations Director Emily Workman wrote. The department store chain announced in February it planned to cut 2,000 jobs nationwide and close one-fifth of its stores or roughly 125 locations by 2023. Macy’s shuttered approximately 30 stores in 2020. The Idaho Falls store is one of about 45 scheduled to be shuttered.

“Regular, non-seasonal colleagues who we are unable to place at nearby Macy’s stores will be eligible for severance, including outplacement resources,”  Workman said.

Macy’s first opened at the Grand Teton Mall in the early 2000s after purchasing the space formerly occupied by the Bon Marche. When the mall opened in 1984, there were four anchor tenants: JC Penney, ZCMI, Sears and the Bon Marche. Only JC Penney remains. Sears closed down in 2019 and ZCMI was replaced by Dillard's.

A clearance sale will begin at the Idaho Falls Macy's this month and run for 8 to 12 weeks. The store is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with a 9 p.m. closing time Friday and Saturday. It closes at 7 p.m. on Sunday.

Related: Bed Bath & Beyond closing more than 40 stores this year, but Idaho Falls store to remain open

DOE accepting comments on microreactor project proposed for INL

The MARVEL project is proposed for inside INL's Transient Reactor Test Facility (TREAT), which resumed operations in late 2017 after a 23-year hiatus.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced Monday the start of a 14-day public review and comment period on a draft environmental assessment for a proposal to construct the Microreactor Applications Research Validation & EvaLuation (MARVEL) project microreactor inside Idaho National Laboratory’s (INL’s) Transient Reactor Test Facility.

The MARVEL design is a sodium-potassium-cooled, thermal microreactor with a power level of less than 100 kilowatts of electricity using High-Assay, Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU).
“Nuclear energy has always been a reliable power source that doesn’t emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere,” said Idaho National Laboratory Director John Wagner. “MARVEL takes the next step. It will provide for prompt, small-scale demonstrations of several environmentally friendly technologies associated with advanced microreactors as well as larger reactors, which will benefit the nuclear energy industry and end-users.”

“MARVEL will be capable of testing power applications such as load-following electricity demand to complement intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. It will also test the use of nuclear energy for water purification, hydrogen production, and heat for chemical processing. It will additionally provide industry partners with the ability to test new microreactor-related technologies and will provide real-world, viewable examples of how commercial end-users could incorporate microreactors into their clean energy portfolios.”

Ever since the first useable amount of electricity generated by nuclear energy was demonstrated in 1951 at the Experimental Breeder Reactor-I in Idaho, nuclear power has played an essential role in U.S. electricity generation. Nuclear energy today generates nearly 20% of the nation’s electricity and about 55% of U.S. carbon-free electricity. That electricity is generated by large light-water reactors that each generate hundreds and sometimes thousands of megawatts of electricity, with each megawatt being enough to power about 1,000 homes.

International interest is now growing in microreactors: very small, factory fabricated, transportable reactors. Microreactors can be used in remote communities, industrial sites and defense bases, as well as for applications such as backup generation for power plants, humanitarian assistance, water purification, hydrogen production and disaster relief missions.  Just like large traditional reactors, microreactors also use fission to produce energy with no carbon emissions.

The DOE Microreactor Program supports research and development (R&D) of microreactor technologies. Led by INL, the program conducts both fundamental and applied R&D to reduce the risks associated with new technology performance and manufacturing readiness of microreactors. The intent is to ensure that microreactor concepts can be commercially licensed and deployed and to reinvigorate U.S. leadership in nuclear energy.

As part of the DOE Microreactor Program, INL is planning to develop MARVEL at INL to perform R&D on various operational features of microreactors to improve integration of microreactors with end-user applications. This will accelerate the development of commercial microreactors to provide essential electricity and energy-intensive services to power our lives.

The draft environmental assessment prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act is posted for public review at:

The 14-day public comment period on the draft environmental assessment will conclude on January 26, 2021. Comments can be submitted by mail to Garrett Kropp, 1955 Fremont Ave., 83415-1222 or by email to Paper copies of the document are available on request.

Friday, January 8, 2021

INL ranks #24 among best places to work for women, diverse managers

Ashley Finan
Diversity MBA, a national leadership organization that integrates diversity and inclusion with talent management, ranked Idaho National Laboratory #24 in the nation for Best Places to Work for Women & Diverse Managers and in the Top 10 Best in Class Categories for Recruitment, Workplace Inclusion and Accountability.

Companies recognized as Best in Class have demonstrated consistent and excellent practices, with metrics aligned to a strategy that results in impactful change. Diversity MBA’s methodology uses a multitiered process that involves primary and secondary research. The rankings are based on an extensive survey and statistical analysis performed by DePaul University, Chicago. Companies were selected based on scores in six categories: representation, board diversity, recruitment, workplace inclusion, retention, succession planning and accountability.

Richard Farrar

The recognitions were shared with the broader community via the Diversity MBA 2020 50 Out Front Magazine.“These recognitions demonstrate to themarketplace and business community that INL’s commitment to inclusive diversity is embedded as part of the lab’s culture, belief structure and values,” said Juan Alvarez, INL’s deputy laboratory director for Management and Operations and chief operations officer. “They are great motivation to keep the pedal to the floor and continue our positive momentum.”

In addition to the organization awards, Diversity MBA Magazine also named four INL leaders to their 2020 Top 100 Under 50 Executive and Emerging Leaders list. This recognition represents outstanding achievements in

Ning Kang
community, leadership and education. Each awardee must pass a rigorous screening process, have an advanced degree or certification, and can only receive the award once in a lifetime.

Awardees were recognized in the fall issue of Diversity MBA Magazine, which has over 1.9 million readers. Diversity MBA’s list includes both emerging and executive leaders.

Congratulations to INL’s Top 100 Under 50 Executive and Emerging Leader Award winners:

• Richard Farrar, M.S., Analytical Research Laboratories research manager

• Ashley Finan, Ph.D., National Reactor Innovation Center director

• Ning Kang, Ph.D., PE, Power & Energy Systems department manager

• Ryan Petersen, J.D., Labor and Employment Law senior counsel

Ryan Petersen
“This is an outstanding honor for our laboratory. Thank you all for helping INL increase its global visibility and reputation as an inclusively diverse employer of choice,“ said Alvarez.

Awardees were invited to attend the virtual Awards Gala during the Diversity MBA 14th Annual National Elite Business Leaders Conference.