Friday, January 31, 2014

Countdown to destruction

With the lot fenced off and the equipment in place Friday afternoon, it's only a matter of time before the old Saving Center building on Memorial Drive is razed. The parking lot was closed at the end of October after the Downtown Development Corp., which had been managing it, announced the property owner, Vern Kelsch, would be tearing the building down this winter.

Center for Aesthetics honored

The Center for Aesthetics has been awarded Coolsculpting’s Premier Crystal Award, the highest level for Coolsculpting practices. The award goes to the Center's two board certified providers, Dr. Catherine Durboraw and Kierstin Nebeker.
Procedures that use lasers, sonic waves and surgery to remove fat can actually destroy other tissue in the process, requiring downtime for your body to heal. Developed by Harvard scientists, Coolsculpting is an FDA-cleared, patented procedure that uses a targeting cooling process to kill fat cells underneath the skin, literally freezing them to the point of elimination. Only fat cells are frozen.
Here's a YouTube video.
The Center for Aesthetics is at 2375 E Sunnyside Road. Call (208) 529-8232 for more information.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

TEDxAmmon plans first event Feb. 21

You've probably heard of TED and TED Talks, but you will have a chance to find out on a more local level as TEDxAmmon rolls out its first event Feb. 21 at Eastern Idaho Technical College.

For those of you who don't know, TED stands for "Technology, Entertainment, Design" and is a non-profit organization that started out with a conference in 1984. Since then its scope has become worldwide. Along with two annual conferences -- the TED Conference and TEDGlobal -- TED includes the award-winning TED Talks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.

TEDx is about local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At TEDxAmmon, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark discussion and connection in small groups. Presentations will be given from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., and the event will include a light dinner at 7 p.m. Seating is limited to 100 people, who will be selected through an application process.

“We are so excited to be hosting a slate of presenters with very exciting and innovative ideas,” said Brad Christensen, the organizer. “I think everyone who attends and tunes into the live broadcast on the web will be absolutely stunned by the caliber of people we have in this area and the captivating concepts they present.”

The speaker list will be released Feb. 3. For updates, information may be found at www.TEDxAmmon.com, on FaceBook at www.facebook.com/TEDxAmmon and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TEDxAmmon.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Who's feeling dread today?

Reporting is going to have to wait until later this afternoon. Meanwhile, here's a link from the Wall Street Journal to tide you over:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Developer to submit Ammon plats to planners for review Feb. 5

The ground at the corner of Hitt and Sunnyside Road.
It looks like things are beginning to move with the ground at the southeast corner of Hitt and Sunnyside Road, which is being offered by Ball Ventures and Woodbury Corp.

Ammon City Administrator Ron Folsom said that developer Ball Ventures will be asking the city's planning commission to review two plat proposals at its Feb. 5 meeting. After review, the commission votes on whether the plats should or should not be approved by the City Council, which meets the following night.

Folsom said he no information about who might be planning to build on the land, but said one of the lots being platted has already been sold. He said he has been told that three operators are ready to build as soon as the ground changes hands and the infrastructure is ready.

"I don't know if we're going to see anything going up this fall, but we're going to see things start to happen there this year," he said.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Finding the Right Person for the Job

Have you been one of the lucky business owners, managers, or supervisors in charge of a recruiting project recently?  If you have, you more than likely have sifted through numerous resumes, dodged candidate phone calls and sat through countless hours of interviews to settle on a candidate. Then, in a leap of faith, you hire the candidate and hope that he or she is the right choice.

For people involved in hiring and recruiting, it would seem like finding the right person shouldn’t be difficult, especially with unemployment rates staying steady over 5 percent at the state and national levels over the past few years.  Additionally, Baby Boomers are retiring, leaving positions open for the first time in decades.

So why is it so hard to find the right person? It has become increasingly important for businesses to look beyond a carefully crafted resume and well thought out responses in interviews.  In fact, even a perfect combination of education, experience and skills doesn’t guarantee a candidate will be selected even for an initial interview. 

Today’s businesses are concentrating their recruiting and hiring on finding the best fit.  This means going beyond the right fit on “paper” with the right combination of education, experience, knowledge, skill and ability. This is important because employee turnover is costly and can significantly hurt a company’s bottom line.

It doesn’t seem like it should make a huge difference with a person quitting here or there coupled with a termination or two, but it does make a huge difference.  Not only does a company face increased unemployment insurance rates with high turnover, but there is the time and resources it takes to recruit, hire and train replacements. This can amount to thousands of dollars.

Businesses have decided to get smart for the start about how they recruit. While they are still using traditional methods of recruiting -- newspaper classifieds, career fairs and postings on company Web sites -- recruiting efforts have expanded out to partnerships between management and marketing departments. Professionals and public relations campaigns are being used to match candidates to a company’s culture.

Businesses are going as far as creating mobile applications that send text messages to candidates the moment an opening is posted.  Social media have paved the way for real-time recruiting not only of potential candidates but also to a candidate’s center of influence.

On the outside, companies might seem to be overly selective in their recruiting and hiring efforts.  But these companies are paving the way for operating more efficiently, effectively, and in turn being more profitable, by taking the right steps to find the right people for the right workplace culture. Each company that chooses to recruit with this mindset is taking on a big challenge, but the dividend is huge -- employees that will stay on the job a long time and bring real value to the company.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Waiting for the layoff shoe to drop

When it comes to writing stories about layoffs, you won't find an older hand at it than me. In August 1980, I arrived in Jeffrey City, Wyo., to run the local newspaper. It was a uranium mining town that had boomed in the mid-'70s to nearly 4,500 people. Unfortunately, I caught it on the downturn. The lead story of my first edition, was "Western Nuclear announces 118 being laid off."

I spent a year there, but in June 1981 the other shoe dropped -- 244 lost their jobs at the mine and mill -- and I started looking for a new gig. After a brief layover in Laramie, where I was police reporter for the Daily Boomerang (greatest newspaper name ever), the then-hyphenated Post-Register hired me to be its central Idaho staff writer. I arrived in Challis in October 1981 to learn that Cyprus Mining Corp. would be laying off scores of people at its Thompson Creek molybdenum mine.

Here's the funny thing about layoffs and writing stories about them. Everyone knows they're coming, but corporations seem reluctant to make the news official in a timely way. Are they secretly humiliated or is their aim to torment reporters? Although I could be wrong, I don't think most corporations give reporters enough thought to want to torture them.

Nevertheless, when a layoff looms, we press people make our calls and visits and ask our questions. The supervisors and public affairs people say things like, "At the present time we have no current plans to lay anyone off." We wait and wait for official word before we file our stories. Then we're off to the races.

At present, I'm waiting for a piece of layoff news from a significant employer in Idaho Falls. From what I've heard, employees have already been told, but no press release or e-mail has been issued. It might come today; then again it might not.

Can you guess who I'm talking about? Feel free to weigh in. Let's put the magic off social media to work, people.

Alchemy Bistro brings continental cuisine to Capital Avenue

Chef Tim Leininger at Alchemy Bistro and Catering
I'd never eaten a hard-boiled quail egg for lunch before today, when I visited Alchemy Bistro and Catering at 552 North Capital Avenue, in the spot where That One Place used to be.

Chef Tim Leininger has been cooking there by himself since before Thanksgiving. Prior to that, he had been doing mainly catering from a kitchen in the Trackside Mall. When he saw the kitchen on North Capital had opened, he jumped at it.

A native of Pine Grove, Pa., near Hershey, Leininger grew up in a family of cooks. He worked at restaurants while attending college. After graduate work at Penn State, he came to Idaho in 1989 to work environmental safety and health at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. After leaving the site in 2006, he went to the French Culinary Institute in New York City.

Leininger said he has mixed feelings about the restaurant business because of all the waste he sees. "I don't like waste because of my French culinary background. The French, they use everything. They look at the whole chicken."

Though it has daytime hours -- 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday -- Alchemy is doing some special dinners in February and March. To learn more, visit alchemychef.com or the Facebook page. The phone number is 529-1032.

By the way, though it was the size of an olive the quail egg tasted like most of the hard-boiled eggs I've  eaten.

Melaleuca announces expansion into Mexico

Melaleuca, Inc., one of eastern Idaho's largest employers, announced today it has expanded into Mexico, its 17th market worldwide.

The company makes and distributes close to 350 health and wellness products through a network of "marketing executives" who earn commissions based on product purchases by customers they refer. The move into Mexico, which happened earlier in the month, has already yielded thousands of new customers, said Antonio Lima, spokesman for the company.

CEO Frank VanderSloot said Melaleuca held off on Mexico because the company wanted to first develop its Hispanic market in the United States. Developing a deep leadership team of Hispanic marketing executives has allowed them to enter Mexico with a high degree of confidence, since many of those people have strong personal connections in Mexico.

Israel Palafox, Melaleuca’s vice president of sales for Hispanic markets, believes the company’s success in Mexico will continue for years to come. “Thousands of Mexican families will benefit by taking advantage of the steady residual income that Melaleuca offers to those who refer our products,” he said.

Although the majority of Melaleuca’s business growth has been in the United States and Canada, sales from elsewhere accounted for 45 percent of the company's 2013 revenues. Melaleuca does business in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Alpine Dermatology opens Idaho Falls clinic

Cameron French
Dr. Dan Marshall of Rexburg has opened an second Alpine Dermatology Clinic, in Idaho Falls, with physician's assistant Cameron French joining the staff there. The location is 927 South Utah Avenue, Suite 200.

French grew up in Shelley and earned his undergraduate degree at Ricks College then Brigham Young University in Provo. He earned his P.A. degree from Des Moines University and has been practicing Dermatology in Rigby for the past 10 years.

Marshall said there is a particular need for dermatological services in Idaho Falls. Why? High altitude, a high propensity for outdoor recreation and an aging population that didn't practice sunscreening in its youth. The latest statistic is, one in five people will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

For more information about Alpine Dermatology's new Idaho Falls office, visit the link above or call (208) 881-5241.

Galusha Higgins & Galusha plans open house Friday

There will be a ribbon cutting and open house on Friday at Galusha, Higgins & Galusha’s new office in Snake River Landing. A regional CPA and advisory firm, Galusha, Higgins & Galusha officially opened its new office at 1220 Whitewater Drive earlier this month. It is located on Snake River Parkway, south of Potandon Produce.

The ribbon cutting with the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors will be at  3 p.m. The Open House will follow with a reception for clients and the public, ending at 6 p.m.

With more than 90 years of experience serving clients in the West, Galusha, Higgins & Galusha opened its Idaho Falls office in 1961. Learn more about the firm at www.ghg-cpa.com.

Idaho Falls seeks scholarship applicants

The city of Idaho Falls is seeking applicants for money from the Mayor's Scholarship Fund, established by former mayor Jared Fuhriman and local education foundations to provide financial assistance to Idaho Falls area students planning to pursue post-high school education within the state.

The deadline for applications is Feb. 7 at 4 p.m. Applications may be submitted to a high school guidance counselor or to the School District 91 or 93 offices.

The Promise Scholarship is for grades 8-11, and the award is $500. The Senior Scholarship is for current 12th graders and is a $1,500 award. At least twelve recipients from each category will be chosen.

The money comes from local business sponsors and private donors, and is targeted at students who are college-bound not qualified for other types of scholarships.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Equality in the workplace – is it really there?

Every Jan. 20 as a nation we celebrate and remember the life of Martin Luther King Jr. Most of us don’t need a history lesson to remember the passion, drive, and sacrifices that he made leading the civil rights movement. This movement changed our nation in every way, from everyday living, culture, laws and regulations and the way we do business.

Gone are the days of segregation and openly accepted discrimination – or are they? The laws and regulations passed and enacted since the mid-’60s -- the Title VII Civil Rights Act of 1967, Americans with Disabilities Act, and Age Discrimination in Employment Act to name a few -- have expanded protected classes to encompass everyone in the workplace. So the question remains is discrimination still a major issue in the workplace?

The answer should come as no surprise: yes. Discrimination cases extend to behavior that doesn’t involve just promotions or raises to members of a protected class. It can encompass even casual behavior in the workplace, like comments or jokes from co-worker to co-worker.  Over the past few years I have heard more times than I care to admit occasional jokes, comments and office banter that have made me cringe in fear that they were not isolated incidents.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, my experiences are most likely are not rare or isolated. The number of cases reviewed by the EEOC was down in 2013, 93,727 cases reviewed, compared to 97, 252 in 2012. The monetary benefits collected increased, however, with the EEOC collecting over $372 million – a new record for private sector enforcement.  Despite the decline in cases from one year to the next, employers are having to pay more money to settle cases.  Companies like JC Penney and KFC recently settled minor claims for $40,000 each respectively. Ruby Tuesdays forked out $575,000 in a recent class action case.

That money doesn’t account for the time and headache involved in fighting these cases either. In recent cases that I have fought alone for small businesses in southeast Idaho, the average time for an initial decision from the Idaho Human Rights Commission was in between a year to a year-and-a-half. Luckily these cases did not result in formal investigations by the Human Rights Commission or lawsuits by the claimants, which would have prolonged the time and resources even more.

Now more than ever, it is important for businesses to take compliance with discrimination and harassment seriously. From annual training to solid policies for reporting and investigating possibly discriminatory or harassing behavior, taking the time now could save your business thousands in the future, or maybe save your business altogether.

Monica Bitrick is CEO of Bitrick Consulting Group, a small business offering customized business and management solutions. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (208) 932-8436.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Site plan filed for West Broadway strip mall

The ground where  the strip mall is being proposed is to the right side of the photo, facing Broadway.
If you're wondering where Walker's, Coco Beach, Karanation, etc., may be headed when the shopping center on Skyline Drive is torn down to make way for Walgreen's, a site plan has been filed for a strip mall on West Broadway between Arby's and Los Alberto's.

City departments are reviewing the plans for a 13,650-square-foot structure with an address of 1525 West Broadway (the building to the west, which was originally Kmart then Ernst Home Center, has an address of 1545 West Broadway). The mall will be divided into six units.

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.

CORRECTION: Based on conversations with city building officials, we reported in late December that the plan was to build a strip mall on the site where City Floral was. No deal has been made on that land, we learned.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

How to stay out of e-mail trouble

It's early January, and thanks to some folks in the great state of New Jersey we've been hearing and reading a lot about e-mail and the trouble it can cause. Heads have rolled in the governor's office over e-mail messages sent months before.

It amazes me that anyone could think an e-mail with explosive contents could remain "personal and confidential." But the immediacy of e-mail, texts and social media messages make it hard to lay off the "send" button once you've put it in writing.

It's a good thing President Harry S Truman didn't have these things at his fingertips. Anytime he got hot under the collar about something (which was often), he would bang a letter out on his typewriter. He would then read it, fold it up and leave it in his desk overnight. If he felt the same way the next day he'd send it, but that usually didn't happen.

The interesting thing is that for all we've heard about social media and texting, e-mail is still the preferred means of communication in the business world. With that in mind, here are ten tips I've sifted from various sources as well as my own experience about e-mail etiquette and effective communication.

1. State what you have to say in the opening sentence. They taught you about topic sentences in grade school. I certainly learned about the "lede" in 25 years of daily journalism, and the best summation I've ever heard on that subject came from Richard Aregood, editorial writer for the Philadelphia Daily News. "If a train has crashed, you don't start the story with 'Engineer Jones was having a really bad day.'"

2. Always make the subject line something that will mean something to the recipient. Stay away from "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE," "URGENT" and "IMPORTANT."

3. DON'T OVERDO IT WITH THE CAPS LOCK BUTTON. It doesn't make what you're saying any more urgent, it's just annoying.

4. Stay away from exclamation points! Everything I post on Facebook tempts me to use exclamation points, and I hate myself for it. With e-mail, it ought to be easier to keep a more dispassionate tone.

5. Don't write an e-mail like ur writing a txt. Avoid such acronyms as PLZ, OMG and ROFL. Your recipient will wonder WUWT (what's up with that).

6. Be brief. Mark Twain once said, "I'd have written a shorter letter, but I didn't have the time." Most e-mails don't need to be more than three or four paragraphs long. If you have more to say, write a letter and make it an attachment.

7. Be courteous. If you're old enough, remember Captain Kangaroo's magic words. "Please" and "Thank you" still matter.

8. Give good contact information, e.g., name, business address and phone number. Your recipient might want to call you. He or she might even want to take you to lunch.

9. Edit and proofread your work. I know we live in an age where fewer and fewer people can spell, and don't even get me started on apostrophes, but do your best. If you have a grammar and spelling fanatic for a friend, ask for a consultation.

10. Respond to serious messages within 24 hours. I have been served notice by several people on this, including my priest, so it is my new year's resolution.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Snake River Landing awards $1k to Woodland Hills Elementary for food drive effort

Snake River Landing will be presenting a $1,000 check to Woodland Hills Elementary School at 10 a.m. Thursday for winning the Holiday Food Drive challenge.

In November, each school in the Idaho Falls area was asked to participate in the effort to collect food for the Community Food Bank. The school that brought in the greatest amount of food, by weight, would win $1,000 to benefit that school's educational efforts.

"Many of the schools in the area already were working on similar programs, but we had overwhelming support from a handful of our area schools, including Woodland Hills Elementary, Ucon Elementary and Discovery Elementary," said Liza Leonard, Snake River Landing's marketing director.

Overall, the drive brought in over 5,390 pounds of food, roughly equalling 4,300 meals for  families that would otherwise go without. This was 20 percent more than was collected the first time, in 2012. Donations collected per school: Woodland Hills Elementary (2,480 lbs.), Discovery Elementary (1,820 lbs.), and Ucon Elementary (1,090 lbs.)

For more information, please contact Liza Leonard, Marketing Manager for Snake River Landing, at 557-5300.

Woodland Hills Elementary is located at 4700 Sweetwater Way.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Idaho Falls declines to file motion on North Loop eminent domain decision

The city of Idaho Falls has no plans to abandon its North Loop electrical expansion project, but it will not be using powers of eminent domain to acquire land and rights of way.

Mayor Rebecca Casper announced late Monday that she and the City Council had decided not to file a motion for reconsideration with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. On Dec. 31, the court released a decision authored by Judge N. Randy Smith saying municipalities in Idaho do not have the power to exercise eminent domain outside city limits for the purpose of constructing electric transmission lines.

That ruling came after Idaho Falls appealed a decision by U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill in a case involving a group of landowners called the Alliance for Property Rights. Although Idaho Falls has not sought to acquire land outside city limits using eminent domain, the Alliance filed suit against the city seeking a decision that would limit the city's powers.

Eminent domain is a power given to governments that allows them to acquire property for a public purpose at a fair price. The deadline for filing the motion to reconsider was today.

“I believe that we have concluded appropriate legal action with regards to the use of eminent domain to obtain property outside city limits for the North Loop project. We respect the court’s ruling and look forward to continuing to negotiate with property owners,” Casper said in a news release.

Idaho Falls has been planning the North Loop expansion for more than 40 years, to meet the City’s continually growing electric needs and customers' expectation of reliable service.

New I.F. Panda Express set to open Jan. 22

There's still a lot of work to be done, but the word Tuesday from Panda Express' corporate headquarters in Rosemead, Calif., is that the new Idaho Falls restaurant, at 720 South Utah, will be opening Wednesday, Jan. 22.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bullying doesn't stop in school, it's becoming more of an issue in the workplace

Have you ever had that one co-worker or manager who is just a jerk?  He or she is the only person in the workplace who can’t seem to get along with more than a select few and even goes out of his or her way to make your life miserable?  As surprising as it may sound, you may be the subject of workplace bullying.

Over the past few years, bullying has become more and more of an issue with our children. It should come as no surprise that bullying does not stop in our schools or with our kids. In a survey conducted by the Society of Human Resources Management, 51 percent of organizations reported there had been incidents of bullying in their workplace.

Is this a big deal? Maybe the National Football League and the Miami Dolphins can best answer that question with a case that has impacted their organizations and been highly publicized. In 2013, offensive lineman Jonathan Martin left the Dolphins in mid-season, saying he was bullied and harassed by fellow teammates. According to news reports, teammates called Martin a “big weirdo,” pressured him to pay thousands of dollars for a Las Vegas trip he did not go on and had racial slurs directed towards him. All this has resulted in a player suspension, a major NFL investigation and the potential for future legal liabilities for both the team and the league.

Workplace bullying is a big deal and should be taken seriously by businesses and organizations of any size. It is the foundation of workplace discrimination, harassment, and even violence. On a basic level it can decrease employee morale, productivity, and trust between co-workers. It can increase stress levels and mental and emotional distress, absenteeism and turnover rates. On a higher level it can result in cases with the EEOC, lawsuits, and even death in the workplace.

Workplace bullying will continue to be a major issue in the workplace that likely will have an increasingly alarming impact on businesses and employees. Businesses should take the initiative now to protect their workplaces and their employees by implementing policies prohibiting workplace bullying and provide training to management and employees to educate and create awareness. This in turn will encourage employees to report behavior as it occurs and help stop workplace bullying before it goes too far.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A lost decade for real estate investment?

For the really big picture, look at this.
Here's some moderately good news, likely to be of interest to local real estate investors.

If you bought a $150,000 home in Idaho Falls ten years ago, it would have been worth $179,745 in the third quarter of 2013. That represents a gain in value of about 20 percent, or 2 percent annually. Not great, but a day in the park compared to Las Vegas.

Here's the bad news: If you bought a $150,000 home anytime between the spring 2006 and the end of 2010, you're still under what would be called the Mendoza Line in baseball. From then until now, it's been an up and down kind of thing.

I'm getting my numbers from the Federal Housing Finance Agency's House Price Index Calculator, a site on which I occasionally like to play. You can go there yourself to get more detailed numbers that might apply to you.

Quarter Q3 2013
Bought Value

Q1 2004 $179,745
Q2 2004 $176,410
Q3 2004 $170,310
Q4 2004 $169,274
Q1 2005 $169,180
Q2 2005 $162,540
Q3 2005 $156,332
Q4 2005 $154,324
Q1 2006 $151,306
Q2 2006 $146,195
Q3 2006 $143,170
Q4 2006 $139,966
Q1 2007 $135,232
Q2 2007 $133,875
Q3 2007 $131,120
Q4 2007 $131,541
Q1 2008 $129,634
Q2 2008 $129,830
Q3 2008 $134,277
Q4 2008 $130,892
Q1 2009 $130,482
Q2 2009 $132,997
Q3 2009 $137,535
Q4 2009 $138,328
Q1 2010 $144,454
Q2 2010 $142,679
Q3 2010 $143,076
Q4 2010 $144,731
Q1 2011 $152,002
Q2 2011 $155,027
Q3 2011 $149,823
Q4 2011 $150,975
Q1 2012 $151,306
Q2 2012 $152,965
Q3 2012 $154,511
Q4 2012 $149,591
Q1 2013 $151,032
Q2 2013 $153,763

Thursday, January 9, 2014

LaPray joins Mountain America team as adviser

David LaPray
David LaPray has joined Mountain America Credit Union and LPL Financial as a wealth adviser.

LaPray, who will work out of the credit union's Idaho Falls branch, is a Brigham Young University graduate with more than 10 years of experience as a financial adviser.

Investment representatives at Mountain America are jointly employed by the credit union and LPL Financial. Mountain America has 75 branches in five states, and provides access to more than 30,000 ATMs and 5,000 shared branching locations nationwide. It has more than $3.5 billion in assets and serves more than 420,000 members. LPL Financial is an independent broker-dealer with more than 12,000 financial advisers and 750 financial institutions.

For information about LPL Financial, visit www.macu.com/lpl-financial or contact LaPray at 403-9425.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2013 building permit numbers for Idaho Falls down from 2012, but still healthy

These building permit numbers are posted on the city of Idaho Falls' Web page every month, and there's usually a few things that jump out.

In the case of the year-end numbers, 2013 was a down year only by way of comparison with 2012. This is an instance were a big project can skew things in a big way. Say the Watkins Distributing warehouse or the new Smith Chevrolet/Honda had been in Idaho Falls rather than unincorporated Bonneville County. The total for 2013 might have been higher than 2012.

Also interesting, Idaho Falls permits for single family dwellings in 2012 and 2013 -- 279 total -- were not that far below the previous four years' cumulative total, 311. It could be some time before we get back to the boom numbers of 2005-2007, but that's necessarily a bad thing.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Wray joins Sperry Van Ness High Desert office

Greg Wray
Greg Wray has joined the Idaho Falls office of Sperry Van Ness as a commercial real estate adviser. Previously, Wray was a division director at the Idaho National Laboratory responsible for contracting, property management, logistics and supply management. Contractual commitments and acquisitions under his purview approached $400 million annually. He holds a Master of Supply Management degree, is a certified professional contract manager and has 22 years of progressive management experience.

Sperry Van Ness High Desert Commercial is an independently owned and operated office in Idaho Falls. For more information, visit www.svnhd.com.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Idaho Falls readies for 'changing of the guard'

Idaho Falls Mayor-elect Rebecca Casper
A farewell reception will be held in honor of Idaho Falls Mayor Jared Fuhriman and City Council members Ida Hardcastle, Karen Cornwell and Ken Taylor on Wednesday from 2 to 4 p.m.

The reception will be held at City Council Chambers in the annex building, at 680 Park Ave. The public is welcome to attend.

Mayor-elect Rebecca Casper, along with incoming City Council members Dee Whittier, Ed Marohn and Barbara Dee Ehardt will be sworn in at the City Council meeting Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The meeting will also be held in the City Council chambers in the annex building.

Those unable to attend the City Council meetingcan view the live or archived meeting at www.idahofallsidaho.gov.

With social media, the job you save may be your own

Holiday season is officially over!  That’s right -- for at least another 11 months, there are no holiday-themed company parties, open houses or gatherings with friends and family.

Looking back at your holiday season, how did it go? Did you celebrate throughout the season?  Did you take pictures? Maybe even post them on Facebook, Google Plus or Twitter? Now that you are back in the swing of things, has that impacted your job or business relationships?

You think to yourself, “Well no, and it shouldn’t; it’s what I did after hours.” But you might be surprised to know what we do after hours is starting to affect what, how and who we interact with during business hours -- from co-workers and bosses, to clients, vendors, suppliers and others you may have business relationships with.

Think about it this way: Facebook has more than 500 million users and LinkedIn has over 70 million users worldwide. This means there is access to public information about you worldwide and round the clock.

I understand there are privacy settings and different ways to try to block that information, but keep in mind that anything on the Internet can become public at any time in many various ways.

Again, the argument you hear is, “Well it’s my private profile; it doesn’t matter.” Actually, it does. There is a growing number of court cases involving employees terminated due to their social networking. For example, a flight attendant lost her job for posting a picture of herself online in her uniform. A producer for CNN was fired for blogging about work, even though he didn’t identify himself as a CNN employee. In a nationwide survey of human resources professionals it was found that 43 percent of respondents reported using social networking sites to gain information about job applicants. In turn, only 5 percent had a policy against allowing that practice.
You might ask, aren’t there any federal or state rules or regulations prohibiting the use of this information against individuals by employers or businesses? Not at this time. It has been recognized that action needs to be taken. In Congress and at the White House the topic has emerged as a leading technology issue. Bills have been introduced in Congressional committees, but are still in limbo.

Social media is becoming more of a driving force in business, especially when it comes to employment.  While your employer and those with whom you do business cannot control what you do or do not post on social media, it is best to keep in mind that someone may be always watching. Your personal actions in social media can have a profound professional impact on your career.
Monica Bitrick is CEO of Bitrick Consulting Group, a small business offering customized business and management solutions. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (208) 932-8436.

Friday, January 3, 2014

J-U-B Engineers opening Idaho Falls office

Mike Arneson
Mike Arneson has joined J-U-B Engineers and will be opening an Idaho Falls field office to further serve the eastern Idaho market. He will lead J-U-B’s federal markets group and assist with transportation and alternative delivery projects.

A University of Idaho graduate, Arneson has 21 years of professional engineering and management experience. Most recently, he was a vice president with the North Wind Group in Idaho Falls.

J-U-B Engineers was incorporated in 1954 in Nampa, performing civil engineering, surveying, planning and public facilitation for cities, counties, state and federal government agencies, highway districts and private industry.  

It now has 280 employees in 14 offices in five states: Idaho, Washington, Utah, Oregon, and Colorado. The company is 100 percent employee owned.

Entry deadline for GEM Awards is Tuesday

The Idaho Falls Advertising Federation's deadline for GEM Award entries is Tuesday at 5 p.m. This is for work published in 2013. For an entry packet, follow this link. Questions? Call or text Steve Fischbach at (208) 317-7723.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

RSVPs for chamber's networking lunch due by Friday.

Click here to link to the Chamber's page.

Site plan for new Starbucks Coffee filed

The site plan for the new Starbucks Coffee coming to Idaho Falls this year.
We made our first stop of 2014 at the Idaho Falls Building Department, to wish everyone happy new year but not expecting anything too exciting. One thing that jumped out, however, was the site plan for the new Starbuck's at the corner of 17th Street and Jennie Lee Drive. The 2,158-square-foot store is being built by Wadsworth Development of Draper, Utah.

Wadsworth has local involvement with Ball Ventures of Idaho Falls. In 2012 the two companies received the InterContinental Hotels Group Renovation Award for their work on the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Phoenix-Tempe, Ariz.

We are also bird-dogging MacKenzie River Pizza, which is slated to open at Snake River Landing in the beginning of March, according to spokeswoman in the chain's headquarters in Whitefish, Mont. If you can't wait that long, their store in Pocatello opened Monday.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New blog, The Local, covers events in area

Since she has been kind enough to plug BizMojo Idaho, I feel it's only fitting that I call your attention to The Local in Idaho Falls, a blog by my friend Amanda.

In addition to observations and photos, Amanda is putting together calendars and lists of links to help people explore the quality of life here. I encourage all you loyal readers to check her out and help her out with your comments and tips.

Public speaking essential to success in business

I've never had a problem with public speaking, but I know it's a widely held view that talking in front of people is something most folks would rather not do. The only thing worse for them I imagine would be singing, also something I don't have trouble doing.

Be that as it may, here is an interesting piece about how if you have any hope of succeeding in business public speaking is going to be part of it. The author is Martin Zwilling, CEO and founder of Startup Professionals, Inc.

I found this little tidbit the most interesting part: "(Being) able to speak in public is one of the five key business skills that can make or break your company, whether you are a new startup or an entrepreneur who's been around for many years. The other four are: new product development, writing, time management, and sales/marketing. Many would argue that Steve Jobs impact at Apple came more from his public speaking ability than the other four skills put together."

So if you're still looking for a new year's resolution, perhaps you might make it your mission to become more comfortable speaking to people.