Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Freddy's Frozen Custard coming in 2014

Mmm, mmm, mmm ... it's been a while since we've posted a juicy burger photo, but Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers is coming, so salivate away.
I wouldn't want to let 2013 slip away without getting one or two last licks in, so I'm happy to report that although my information is far from complete I have confirmation that Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers is coming to the area in 2014.

"The franchisee in the area confirms that he is negotiating a real estate deal in Idaho Falls. We will be happy to confirm the location when the parcel is under contract," said Sarah Salmon, communications director for the chain, which is based in Wichita, Kan.

By way of background, Freddy's was founded in 2002 by two brothers, Bill and Randy Simon, whose father, Freddy Simon, was the inspiration for the restaurant and obviously its namesake. The first franchise launched in Hutchinson, Kansas, in 2004 and by October 2013 the company had opened its 100th location, in Bowling Green, Ky. According to the Web site, Freddy's plans to open 400 more stores over the next 10 to 15 years.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Holiday ramblings from a flu-addled eggnoggin'

Hey Bizmojo people, I appreciate your patience and understanding. I have been laid out with the flu since Sunday, mostly in bed. Managed a modest Christmas with my family, which included a wonderful brunch of French toast made with challah from my friends Neccia and Betty at Buttercup Bakery and Bistro. Other than that, it's been kind of dodgy. On the bright side, I've lost five pounds -- take that New Year's resolutions! -- and managed to read all of Tune In: The Beatles All These Years, a veritable tome by Mark Lewisohn, who has made a career of chronicling the Fab Four. It's Volume One of a three-part epic and ends in 1962, right on the cusp of world conquest. I am a fiend for this stuff (although the existence of a "deluxe" 1,700-page edition gives even me pause; do I really need twice as many accounts of Pete Best's mediocrity as a drummer? No.)

From a business standpoint -- and this is a business blog; even on my meds I remember this -- the most interesting part was about how the Beatles finally got their foot in the door at EMI Abbey Road and what a dicey proposition it was.

Parlophone A&R chief George Martin (now Sir George Martin), contrary to legend, basically had the Beatles rammed down his throat by his boss, Sir Leonard Wood. Martin had been having an affair with his EMI assistant and Sir Leonard wanted to punish him. Two gents from Ardmore and Beechwood, EMI's music publishing arm, were interested to the rights to John and Paul's songwriting, and to get the rights they had to sign the Beatles and record them. Martin was told to do so if he wanted to keep his job.

At that point, the future Sir George didn't John and Paul's originals were that good, and gave the band a tune called "How Do You Do It?" which they grudgingly recorded. Its release got nixed, however, when the EMI brass told him it had to be a Lennon-McCartney song on the A-side. It ended up being "Love Me Do," which Martin did nothing to promote. The guys at Ardmore and Beechwood made a lot of calls, and that along with the big fan base in Liverpool propelled the record to a respectable position on the charts. That got them a fresh shot with Martin, who would have abandoned them if "Love Me Do" had stiffed. The rest is history. The next record, "Please Please Me," went to Number One and Martin got his revenge on Ardmore and Beechwood by pointing Brian Epstein, the Beatles' manager, to Dick James, with whom he set up Northern Songs and locked up the publishing.

Here's Sir Paul and his band doing "Please Please Me" a few years ago. Beatles Forever!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Idaho Falls places 22nd on list of 'most exciting' small cities

Click on the chart for a better view.
Oh my heck, here's another one of those lists of small cities in which Idaho Falls ranks somewhere near the top. In this case, it's Movato's list of "exciting" small cities, and we come in 22nd. Pocatello ranked 15th.

How times have changed! I remember the days in which respondents to the Post Register's Readers Choice poll routinely named "Home" as the top nightspot. Not anymore.

You can visit the link here, but if you don't want to make the effort these are the criteria that were used:

  • Nightlife per capita (bars, clubs, comedy, etc.)
  • Live music venues per capita
  • Active life options per capita (parks, outdoor activities, etc.)
  • Fast Food restaurants per capita (the fewer the better)
  • Percentage of restaurants that are fast food (the lower the better)
  • Percentage of young residents ages 20 to 34 (the higher the better)

Melaleuca employees donate food, presents for regional charity effort

The Christmas tree and donated presents at Melaleuca's Idaho Falls headquarters.
Melaleuca and hundreds of its employees have been making the season a little brighter for some eastern Idaho families in need, buying food for pantries and presents to go under Christmas trees.

After buying 12,500 pounds of food, Melaleuca identified and assisted several families from Ashton to Pocatello who are suffering extreme hardship. Each family received a three-month supply of non-perishable food, 40 pounds of meat, new clothing and toys for the children. The company also donated more than 1,000 cans of food to help the Idaho Falls Soup Kitchen.

Employees also helped by purchasing new toys for 300 children adopted through The Salvation Army’s Angel Giving Tree program. They donated new toys, books, video games, sporting equipment, gift certificates, art supplies, coats, snow boots, and other clothing for children ranging from infants to teen-agers.

Over the past six weeks, many employees in the Idaho Falls and Rexburg customer call centers opted to trade all or a portion of their incentive checks for presents going toward children who otherwise might not have had anything to open this Christmas.
This is the 12th year Melaleuca has participated in The Salvation Army’s Angel Giving Tree program. Salvation Army volunteers will wrap and distribute the gifts in the coming days.

“With the need greater than ever, we appreciate Melaleuca’s significant charitable contributions and its steady commitment to improving the Idaho Falls community,” said Maj. James Halverson of the Salvation Army's Idaho Falls office. “We appreciate Melaleuca’s mission of enhancing lives, which shows in its desire to help disadvantaged children smile a little brighter and receive a Christmas gift this year.”

Thursday, December 19, 2013

More details on the west side Walgreens

The northwest corner of West Broadway and Skyline Drive, where Walgreen Drug plans to build a new store.
Earlier this month we reported on Walgreen Drug's plan to build a new Idaho Falls store on the northwest corner of West Broadway and Skyline Drive. After a visit to the Idaho Falls Building Department, here is some more information about what we'll be seeing in 2014.

Walgreen's will be close to the corner, following the pattern the chain adopted for all its stores more than 10 years ago, guaranteeing that no customer will be parked too far from the main entrance. This will be the fourth store of its type in the Idaho Falls-Ammon area, and will replace the operation the company set up in the old Westgate Drug building.

Wells Fargo Bank, which has been near the corner of Broadway and Skyline, will move to north of the new Walgreen's store. The strip mall that is home to Walker's, Karnation, CoCo Beach, etc., will be torn down as will the old City Floral building and greenhouse. A new strip mall is being proposed for the area between Bank of Commerce and the new Walgreen's, said Reginald Fuller, the city's building official. "It's going to be pretty much a complete overhaul of that whole corner, he said.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bitrick Consulting Group open for business

Monica Bitrick
Monica Bitrick, active on the Idaho Falls business and non-profit scene for more than five years, has started her own company, Bitrick Consulting Group, aimed at helping large and small enterprises with customized business and management solutions.

Since coming from Boise in 2007, Bitrick has helped businesses in the area as director of human resources for Advantage Employer Solutions. Before that, she was employed with Manpower International and Workscape, Inc. in Boise. She holds a bachelor’s in business administration (general business administration and human resources management) from Boise State University.

“My career has always centered around helping businesses and organizations become better at what they do," she said. "It seems only logical that I create a business the focuses on just that.”

Bitrick also has volunteered her abilities to non-profit organizations, serving as treasurer of the Suicide Prevention Action Network of Idaho. She is a member of Idaho Falls Rotary, and serves as Bronco Contact for southeast Idaho with the Boise State Alumni Association.  Previously, she served as the chair of the Military Affairs Committee, Young Professionals Network, Distinguished Under 40 Awards Program, and the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce's Fourth of July Parade.  She participated in Dancing with the Idaho Falls Stars in 2013 to benefit the American Cancer Society. She is an active volunteer with EITC Foundation and Calvary Chapel Christian School.

Bitrick’s accolades include the “Accomplished Under 40 Award” from the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce, Service to Others Award from the Military Affairs Committee, and the POW-MIA Recognition Award from the Veterans for Foreign Wars.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (208) 932-8436. Bitrick Consulting Group can be found on Facebook with this link.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Watkins Distributing opens new warehouse

Tony Watkins, who with his brother, Mitch, owns Watkins Distributing, which opened a 100,000-square-foot warehouse south of Idaho Falls this past month.
Try to visualize 1.3 million cases of beer, wine, soda pop and bottled water and you'll get an idea of the volume that Watkins Distributing is doing out of its new warehouse on the south side of Idaho Falls.

Co-owners Tony and Mitch Watkins had been in Idaho Falls for more than a decade, operating out of the old B&F warehouse on Iona Road near U.S. Highway 20. The new 100,000-square-foot warehouse near I-15 Exit 113 offers many more advantages.

"Being close to the freeway was very important to us, with the inbound and outbound loads," Tony Watkins said.

Watkins was founded in Havre, Mont., in 1933, right after the repeal of Prohibition. It has warehouses in several location. This newest one, which opened in late November, serves 23 counties, distributing close to 430 different products.

The estimated cost of the warehouse is more than $8 million. Watkins said they don't plan to expand employment right now, but eventually the number of people working there will be between 40 and 45.

The building was built by Ryan Companies US, of Minneapolis, which specializes in tilt-up concrete buildings all over the world. Watkins said more than 80 percent of the work on the building was done by local subcontractors, however, and that the people from Ryan were impressed with the speed and quality of the local work.

Center for Aesthetics opening Jackson Hole office

The Center for Aesthetics' new office in Jackson, Wyo., at 3395 Pines Way North, Suite 102.
Dr. Catherine E. Durboraw
The Center for Aesthetics is planning a "Grand Opening and Cool Night Out" at its new office in Jackson, Wyo., this Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m.

The new office is in Teton Pines, at 3395 Pines Way North, Suite 102. In Idaho Falls, the Center is located at 2375 East Sunnyside Road, Suite G.

At Thursday's event in Jackson there will be free Coolsculpting consultations with the centers board certified providers, complimentary makeovers, wine and hors d'oeuvres. Seating is limited and must be reserved in advance by calling (208) 529-8232.

Coolscuplting, non-surgical fat reduction, on one of the services provided by the Center, founded in 1998 by Dr. Catherine E. Durboraw. A graduate of University of Tennessee Medical School, Durboraw studied ophthalmic plastic surgery at Albany Medical Center. A fellowship trained and board certified surgeon, she has performed more than 125,000 dermal filler and neurotoxin injections.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Reactor developer gets nod from DOE

The desert west of Idaho Falls was once home to 50 reactors. Those days are gone, but NuScale Power LLC has moved one step closer to its goal of building 12 small modular reactors generating 545 megawatts of power here by 2025.

NuScale announced Thursday that it has been selected as the winner of the second round of the U.S. Department of Energy’s competitively-bid, cost-sharing program to develop nuclear small modular reactor technology. As part of the award, NuScale will receive funding that will support the accelerated development of its NuScale Power Module™ SMR technology. NuScale will be required to match the Federal funds it receives, somewhere in the neighborhood of $226 million.

The regulatory hurdles are formidable and the permitting process alone will cost $1 billion, said Michael McGough, chief commercial officer for NuScale. A subsidiary of Fluor, NuScale has had a prototype small modular reactor in operation since 2003.

An artist's rendering of how NuScale's small modular reactor assembly would work. For a full story, visit this link: http://greenbuildingelements.com/2013/07/01/nuscale-powers-small-modular-reactor-chosen-as-preferred-technology-by-western-initiative-for-nuclear/
Compared to a typical pressurized water reactor of 1,000 megawatts, the  advantage to a small modular reactor of 45 megawatts is that it is a "plug and play" proposition, McGough said.

Fluor wants to market nuclear power plants to the world, which is why it bought NuScale in October 2011. "They want to build power plants around the world," he said.

It is possible that NuScale plants could be going online abroad sooner than they might in the United States. Now that this hurdle is cleared, they anticipate having their design certification application -- typically a document of around 10,000 pages -- submitted to the NRC in 2015. The review of that application would take 39 months, after which they need to get NRC permission to build.

"There's lots of things you have to do, and you have to do them right," McGough said.

Unlike traditional reactors, which rely on electric pumps to keep water on the fuel rods to keep them from melting, NuScale's self-contained, self-circulating reactors shut themselves down during a station blackout.

As for the selection of Idaho Falls, it's a case of going where you are wanted. "If the community won't support it, you just shouldn't try," he said.

The Western Governor's Association has had nuclear energy on its mind for the past three years. New hydro-electric projects aren't in the cards, and new coal-fired plants are out to the question. Wind and solar are intermittent sources and heavily subsidized. That leaves natural gas and nuclear for big baseline loads.

In June this year, at its conference in Park City, the Association released its "State of Energy in the West" report. One of the stated goals was to find ways to accelerate introduction of small modular reactors into Western states.

Shortly after that, NuScale announced the launch of the Western Initiative for Nuclear, a demonstration project in Idaho to be built and owned by a consortium of regional utilities including Energy Northwest and Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), the latter of which Idaho Falls Power is affiliated with.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Economic development, circa 1949

Click to read a more legible version of this letter.
I've been researching local historical figures for a book called "Legendary Locals of Idaho Falls," due out in 2014 from Arcadia Publishing. One secondary source with a lot of good information is "Proving the Principle," a history of the Idaho National Laboratory.

While looking through it, I was intrigued by this memo from D.V. Groberg, a local developer, to E.F. McDermott, publisher of the Post-Register, detailing what needed to be done to land the Atomic Energy Commission's offices for the National Reactor Testing Station.

Anyone who thinks parks and golf courses don't matter in the economic development game need to take a look at this. Groberg's memo doesn't even mention the airport, which at the time was a landing strip with two log buildings but still better that the competitors'.

Competition came from Arco and Blackfoot, both of whom were found to be too small and lacking in services, and Pocatello.

Idaho Falls ended up beating out the "Gate City" by putting on better parties, hosted by the most "winsome" young ladies the boosters could trot out for the visitors. Pocatello, on the other hand, offered an all-male delegation that seemed diffident if not outright stiff.

The biggest drawback for Idaho Falls was the lack of a paved road to the desert. To minimize this, attorney Bill Holden persuaded Mayor Tom Sutton to put road construction crews to work at the west end of Broadway, to give the appearance that road construction was already underway.

And, as we all know more than 60 years later, it worked. The AEC put its headquarters in Idaho Falls, pop. 19,000, and the city went on to become what it is today. Could anyone get away with this kind of stuff today? Probably not. Those were simpler times, and sure fun to read about.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Advertising Federation Holiday Mixer this Thursday

Are you thinking about your marketing budget? You might want consider the silent auction at the Idaho Falls Advertising Federation's annual Holiday Mixer and Auction, this Thursday at the Elks Lodge, 640 East Elva Ave.

Here's a partial list of all the items that will be up for bid starting at 6:30 p.m. All proceeds benefit the Advertising Federation, so you'll be doing them a service while quite possibly getting a great deal for yourself or your business.

  • Melaleuca, gift basket containing a fun assortment of Sei Bella cosmetics, skin care and hair care products, $150 value.
  • Melaleuca, Sei Bella Luxury Creme (competes against and outperforms US La Prarie® Skin Caviar Luxe Cream at $410), $300 value.
  • Bank of Commerce, gift basket, $75 value.
  • East Idaho State Fair, mystery concert package, pair of tickets to both concerts in 2014, value $90 per pair.
  • IE Productions, foursome of golf at Huntsman Springs in Driggs.  Value $1,000.
  • Thrifty Nickel, two half pages with full color, value $595 each.
  • Thrifty Nickel, one 3x5 ad for 4 consecutive weeks with full color, $720 value.
  • Rich Broadcasting, advertising package for $500 with festive holiday basket.
  • Pacific Empire, $500 Q1 package including both stations KSEI and KMGI.
  • Cable One & Jewelry TV, massive ring, $899 value.
  • Cable One, $500 advertising package, $500 value.
  • Headrick, 3 Month 8' x 24' billboard on St. Leon Rd, prod not incl, $1,200 value.
  • Lamar, 2 month poster, prod not incl., $1,300 value.
  • Alpha Graphics, $300 printing package
  • Fairfield Inn, (2) 1 night Deluxe Spa Suite, $199 value ea.
  • Johnny Carinos, $25 gift card.
  • MCS Advertising, $500 advertising package on Cable One.
  • Chukars seats book of 10 in the fancy paint, checking on value.
  • Post Register, subscription gift basket, value $75.
  • Buttercup Bakery & Bistro, lemon cheesecake with boozed blackberries, $40 value.
  • Sandhill Media, (2) pair of Big Sky lift tickets, value $99/ ticket.
  • Kraupp Inc., design of letterhead and business cards, $300 value.
  • Kraupp Inc., Facebook strategy & refresh, $300 value.
  • Kraupp Inc., PowerPoint presentation creation, $300 value.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Starbucks, Walgreen's plan new Idaho Falls stores

Looks like Idaho Falls has two new developments in the chute for 2014 already: a Walgreen's store on the northeast corner of West Broadway and Skyline, and a Starbuck's at 17th Street and Jennie Lee Drive.

Site plans for both projects were submitted in November to the city of Idaho Falls Planning and Building Departments. A site plan is the first step in any new development. People from different city departments examine the plans to make sure the details are in compliance with the city's codes and regulations. Once the plan is approved, a developer goes before the city planning and zoning commission, which makes a recommendation to the City Council. Once the City Council approves the plat, a building permit is issued and construction can begin.

The Walgreen's, which will be the fourth in the area, is going on 1.35 acres, where the shopping center housing Walker's, CoCo Beach, Karnation, etc. After demolition, the store that will be built is to be 14,490 square feet. Will it be different from the Walgreen's at 17th Street and Holmes Avenue, 17th and Ammon Road, First Street and Woodruff? I would be extremely surprised.

Starbuck's is planning a 2,852-square-foot shop on the corner where the vacant Los Albertos restaurant stands. The total area will be 22,753 square feet, with 19 parking stalls.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Power outages cost not only comfort, but big bucks

If you could hear over your chattering teeth, that was money that was going up the flue during Wednesday's power outage in eastern Idaho.

Outages caused by severe weather cost the U.S. economy an average of $18 billion to $33 billion a year, according to a White House report released last summer. The hits come from lost output and wages, spoiled inventory, delayed production and damage to the electric grid. In 2012, when 8.5 million people lost power due to Superstorm Sandy, those costs rose to as high as $52 billion.

The report argues for the need to update the nation's electric grid: high-voltage transmission lines connected to power plants, local distribution systems, and power management and control systems. Seventy percent of these transmission lines and power transformers are more than 25 years old.

"Developing a smarter, more resilient electric grid is one step that can be taken now to ensure the welfare of the millions of current and future Americans who depend on the grid for reliable power," the report said.

What happened Wednesday in eastern Idaho was caused by complications at Rocky Mountain Power's Goshen Substation near Firth. At 5:11 a.m., the utility was required to interrupt service to some 49,000 Idaho customers because a circuit breaker at the substation was out of service this week for critical maintenance. The cold that barreled in Tuesday night created conditions that could have caused an even larger and longer outage.

As a result, the Balancing Authority  -- which controls the electric grid that serves power providers in the area through the Goshen Substation -- ordered power interrupted until the system's stability could be assured. This was a precautionary measure. There was no overload condition.

Idaho Falls Power customers experienced scattered outages between 7:45 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. At the peak of the outage, around 9:45 a.m., the authority had instructed Idaho Falls Power to shed 35 megawatts, almost 30 percent of the electricity being used city-wide at the time. About 3,500 customers were affected, but it was necessary to keep the system from crashing when Rocky Mountain Power attempted to restore its service.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Meet Trader Joe's German brother, Aldi

While many of us continue to hanker for Trader Joe's, I'm suddenly interested in the German-chain Aldi, which has stores in 32 states and a common origin filled with sturm und drang. This story on Slate is a fascinating read, even if you are not obsessed with Teutonic efficiency.

Going by the map on the company's Web site, it looks like it might be a while before Aldi's trucks begin rolling into Idaho. So far, the chain has not come west of the Mississippi, but any student of history can tell you what happens when Germans decide to cross a border and occupy territory. They like to mach schnell. Whatever happens, you read about it here first.