Friday, January 18, 2019

Idaho Falls ShopKo store to continue operation as company pursues bankruptcy

The Idaho Falls ShopKo store appears to have escaped the bankruptcy axe.

The Green Bay, Wisc.-based retail chain announced this week it was closing more than 100 stores across the Midwest and West, including three in western Idaho and 13 in Utah. But the Idaho Falls store, at 800 East 17th Street, and its store in Pocatello, both of which date back to the mid-1980s, were not on the list of stores closing as part of the company's restructuring under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. (Link:

The stores remaining open are to be sold through a court-supervised auction process. Company spokeswoman Michelle Hansen said Thursday the retailer is exiting the pharmacy business and has already sold many of its pharmacies to Kroger, CVS and other buyers. The Idaho Falls and Pocatello locations were not included on the list of ShopKo pharmacies that have already changed hands.

Hansen said the pharmacies should remain open under Shopko until a buyer emerges. She said Shopko will post updates at She said Shopko will notify customers when a pharmacy will close and to where their prescriptions have been transferred.

Founded by a pharmacist in 1962, ShopKo went public in 1991. It was purchased by Sun Capital Partners, a private-equity firm, for about $1.1 billion in 2005. The company has operated 363 stores in 24 states, according to its website, and operates a regional distribution center on Gowen Road near Interstate 84 in southeast Boise.

"This decision is a difficult, but necessary one," Russ Steinhorst, Shopko's CEO, said in a press statement. "In a challenging retail environment, we have had to make some very tough choices, but we are confident that by operating a smaller and more focused store footprint, we will be able to build a stronger ShopKo that will better serve our customers, vendors, employees and other stakeholders through this process."

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Idaho Falls logs first commercial business permit application of 2019

The old Pizza Hut building on West Broadway
I've worked at many papers that had a "First Baby of the Year" promotion, in which the family of first baby born at the local hospital would receive all sorts of prizes from the hospital and local businesses. The family would get its photo on Page 1, and everyone would saw "Awwww ..."

Here's the BizMojo Idaho equivalent, albeit with no prize other than the incomparable value of publicity: The First Commercial Business Permit of 2019. And the winner is ...

Jeff Maier, who is undertaking an estimated $100,000 remodel of the Pizza Hut at 1970 West Broadway. The square footage is 2,674, and the contractor is Black Enterprises LLC of Boise. The only other detail is that the remodel is restaurant to retail.

The old Pizza Hut building in question has been empty since the business relocated to the nearby Iron Oak Retail Center. We'll keep you posted as we learn further developments.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Bank of Idaho opens Boise branch

Jeff Newgard
Bank of Idaho has expanded westward, opening its newest location, in downtown Boise's CenturyLink Building, Jan. 7.

This will be the bank's eighth full-service branch. Bank of Idaho started as Bank of Eastern Idaho with its first branch in Idaho Falls in 1985.

Adhering to the company's business model, the Boise branch will specialize in a consultative approach geared toward helping small businesses by building long-term, personal relationships.

“We work hard to learn about our customers," President and CEO Jeff Newgard said. "We strive to gain a deep understanding of their goals and aspirations so we can anticipate their needs and give them the right tools to succeed. Then we make decisions at a local level, which sets us apart from
large-scale institutions."

The Bank of Idaho Boise team will be made up of familiar faces from the area: Tony Vahsholtz, v.p.
area commercial manager; Melissa Montierth, retail branch manager; and Rob Cochems, credit
analyst. More hires are expected in the next month.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Ferrell's, which has been at the southwest corner of Broadway and Park Avenue since 1950, will be moving. Developers have announced plans to remodel the building, which was once the downtown JC Penney store. 
Ferrell’s Clothing, a downtown mainstay since 1950, is moving to 3194 S. 25th East, in the Sagewood shopping center next to Kiwi Loco, where David’s Bridal used to be. A moving sale is planned for this month.

The move itself has been in the works since Dana and Teneal Wright bought the business from Teneal’s father, Brent Tueller, in June 2018, according to an announcement from the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce, which has named Ferrell’s its January 2019 Business of the Month.

At 417 W. Broadway, Ferrell’s is where the parents of countless Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts and LDS Missionaries have gone shopping for their sons. Before Ferrell’s opened there is was the JC Penny store. Dave Anderson brought the business there, and in the 1980s Tueller bought the business from him.

“I’m grateful we could buy the business from my dad so that he can retire, but it’s still a little sad,” Teneal Wright told East Idaho News in November. “All the memories (of this location) will always be close to our hearts.”

“The building has been for sale since I started working here in 2004. We just never expected it to sell very fast,” Dana Wright said. “Some developers downtown bought this building several weeks ago and they’ll be restoring it.”

“Knowing they’re not going to just demolish it and tear it down — that makes me feel better,” Teneal says. “Now we can always drive by and say ‘That’s where Ferrell’s was.’ I know they’re going to make the building beautiful and it’ll be a good thing.”

In case you're wondering what happened to David's Bridal, the Pennsylvania-based company filed for bankruptcy in November 2018. In a classic case of "pump and dump" capitalism, a private equity firm bought the company in 2012 for more than $1 billion. The high level of debt the company had to take on under the deal left it little room to invest in its digital business or marketing. It missed its first interest payment in October 2018 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection owing between $500 million and $1 billion to creditors, according to court records.

“While David’s Bridal used to be the dominant force in bridal outfitting, it gradually became less relevant,” Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail, told CNN. ”David’s Bridal is a classic case of a retailer with too much debt and a challenged business model.”

Friday, December 28, 2018

Power positions announced for Idaho Falls utility director, city councilman

Bear Prairie
Bear Prairie, general manager of Idaho Falls Power, has been elected to serve as chairman of the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP), and City Councilman John Radford has been appointed as a member of the American Public Power Association’s (APPA) Policy Makers Council. Both will serve three year terms.

Prairie was elected by the representatives of the 34 participating UAMPS utilities and will serve as chair of the project committee that represents UAMPS participation in NuScale Power's small modular reactor (SMR) proposed for development on Idaho National Laboratory land west of Idaho Falls.

“This is an important time for Idaho Falls Power and for UAMPS,” he said. “The project is very important for us to be able to maintain our low-cost, carbon-free energy portfolio, not to mention what it means for SMR development and the nation’s ability to supply power clean, affordable energy throughout the world.”

John Radford
The committee leads the effort to oversee the SMR project as it relates to meeting key milestones for the project timeline and cost competitiveness with other generation resources, as well as key targets for success.  The committee ultimately determines whether or not UAMPS and its members proceed with participation in the project.

Radford, who sits on the Idaho Falls Power board, was selected by the APPA to serve on the Policy Maker’s Council (PMC), which is made up of 45 locally elected and appointed officials from public power entities across the country.

In this capacity, Radford will assist the APPA in promoting legislation that is important to public power communities across the nation. He will assist the PMC and APPA with legislative issues by attending key meetings for the group in Washington, D.C. along with representing and championing the value of locally owned power utilities at the federal level.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Councilman Radford to represent Idaho Falls on the PMC,” said Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper.  “John has worked very closely with Idaho Falls Power as their council liaison and will do an excellent job representing our city and region with the APPA.”

Blue Phoenix, Artcore Visual Studio announce merger

Blue Phoenix Branding, an eastern Idaho-based promotion and branding company, has merged with  Artcore Visual Studio, an Idaho Falls company that offers branding and logo development, print collateral, and commercial photography.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with Artcore Visual Studio for several years and am confident that our clients will love the exceptional design and marketing skills of their team led by creative director Dayne Dingman,” said Travis Powell, Blue Phoenix Branding's owner.

Artcore's branding clients have included Teton Toyota, Eastern Idaho Public Health, and the Rex & Tiffany Redden Foundation. Before starting the company, Dingman worked for Harris Publishing, where he designed publications for nearly 10 years and led the rebranding of Idaho Falls Magazine. “I’m excited to combine Travis’s undeniable skill in promotional product marketing and apparel with my passion for helping businesses succeed,” he said.

Blue Phoenix Branding has also added Michelle Ziel-Dingman as its new vice president of operations & marketing. Ziel-Dingman’s prior marketing experience has included Grand Teton Mall, Snake River Landing, and most recently FinFun. She also served as the executive director of the EITC Foundation (now the CEI Foundation) and as Artcore Visual Studio's CEO. “Blue Phoenix Branding is client-focused and poised to be the region’s premier branding firm, driven by top-notch customer service and unique marketing strategies that translate to our clients’ bottom lines,” she said.

Blue Phoenix Branding is a franchise of Proforma, an award-winning network of over 700 member offices providing printing, promotional products, eCommerce, marketing and packaging to approximately 60,000 clients around the globe. To learn more, visit To learn more, visit

Friday, December 21, 2018

DOE, UAMPS and Battelle Energy Alliance announce memorandum of understanding on small modular reactor project

Multiple NuScale small modular reactors could make up a plant (Image: NuScale)
The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy has issued a memorandum of understanding between itself, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) and Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) concerning a small modular reactor project planned for Idaho National Laboratory.

Announced Friday, the memorandum highlights DOE-NE's intent to use two of the modules in UAMPS’ Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP), envisioned for construction at INL in the mid-2020s.

The plan announced in the MOU is for one of the 60-megawatt modules to be designated as strictly for research activities (referred to as the Joint Use Modular Plant or JUMP program). The research is expected to focus on integrated energy systems that support the production of both electricity and non-electric energy products such as process heat.

“This agreement will allow DOE to meet its needs in the form of resilient power to a national security mission-based lab while drawing from our nation’s newest class of advanced reactors,” said Ed McGinnis, DOE-NE principal deputy assistant secretary. “The JUMP program provides a unique opportunity for the nation’s leading nuclear laboratory to conduct nuclear energy research and contribute to the successful commercialization of the nation’s first SMR.”

The other module may be used in a power purchase agreement with Idaho Power to provide electricity to INL's operations west of Idaho Falls. INL forecasts needing up to 70 megawatts of electricity between 2025 and 2030. Idaho Power currently supplies electricity to the site through its Scoville substation.

Design plans for the project are being reviewed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which in January ruled that the novel safety design approach eliminates the need for class 1E power. Currently, all nuclear plants in the U.S. are required to have class 1E power supplies to ensure safety. In its safety evaluation report, NRC approved NuScale Power’s “Safety Classification of Passive Nuclear Power Plant Electrical Systems” Licensing Topical Report, in which the company detailed how its design can be safe without reliance on safety-related electrical power.

For more information, visit FAQ: What is the Carbon Free Power Project?.