Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Commonly misused phrases that will make you sound unprofessional

As someone who has read press releases and business communications for more than 35 years, I can tell you what words and phrases make me groan. For example, I don't need to be told you are "excited" or "thrilled" about the business you are opening or the person you are hiring. I assume you are those things. It would be news if you were apathetic or tentative.

Likewise, the word "robust" is becoming so overused that it's hard not to shut down whenever I see it.

As far as misuse of the English language, any person who writes "tow the line" rather than the correct "toe the line" is immediately docked. I can think of other examples, but it turns out I don't have to since I found this link on Twitter this morning:


I found some of the examples laughable, but others were close enough to home that they made me cringe. This is safe for work. You will be a better communicator if you review it.

I hope I have piqued (and not "peeked" or "peaked") your interest. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

Executive director named for Idaho Falls Mayor's Scholarship Fund

Leslie Pincock
Leslie Pincock has been selected as the new executive director of the Mayor’s Scholarship Fund. Started by former Idaho Falls Mayor Jared Fuhriman, the Mayor’s Scholarship Fund annually awards scholarships to Idaho Falls area students in grades 8-12. The program has awarded more than 375 scholarships, worth more than $375,000, to help Idaho Falls area students attend colleges in Idaho.

“Leslie has a genuine passion for this program and the benefits that accrue to the recipients of these scholarships,” said Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper, in a press release.

Pincock has been a volunteer of the Mayor’s Scholarship Fund since 2013. In those years 180 scholarships have been awarded. An important criterion for students receiving these scholarships is that they did not think a college education was within their reach. The scholarship provides the student with support and belief in themselves and their future.

“I know the impact this program has on students and families and it goes well beyond the monetary
investment,” Pincock said. “The Mayor’s Scholarship Fund empowers students to believe in themselves because we, as a community are demonstrating that we believe in them.”

Pincock received a degree in Literary Criticism from Brigham Young University in Provo. She and her husband, Layne, have four children and one daughter in-law and live in Idaho Falls. In her spare time, Pincock is a fitness instructor at Gold’s Gym in Ammon.

Applications for the Mayor’s Scholarship Fund will be available Monday, Dec. 4. Interested students can pick-up an application from their school’s counselors, or from School District 91 and District 93 offices. Scholarship applications will be due Feb. 7, 2018. The 2018 Mayor’s Scholarship Fund will present students with scholarships on March 28, 2018.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Idaho Falls to host discussion on 'brownfield' revitalization


This comes from the city of Toledo, Ohio, whose brownfield program has leveraged $14 million in grant money from federal, state, local and private funding sources for aiding development in five different locations.
The city of Idaho Falls is seeking to obtain a $600K grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a brownfield revitalization program. Residents, business owners, and community organization members are invited to attend a presentation this afternoon from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Idaho Falls Public Library. 

Brownfields are vacant, abandoned or underutilized properties that have real or perceived environmental complications. Remediation and reinvesting in these properties takes development pressures off of undeveloped open land (“greenfields”) and protects human health and the environment as well as prevents urban sprawl.

In a request for proposals dated Sept. 22, Idaho Falls describes a plan to team up with the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency and Bonneville Metropolitan Planning Organization, to address brownfield development opportunities.

The number and location of brownfields sites in Bonneville County is presently undetermined,
as well as the economic impact of these sites in depressing property values and hindering
redevelopment of high priority areas. One outcome of the U.S. EPA assessment grants, if
secured, will be to develop an inventory and other information related to these sites to allow
for more effective planning by the city and the coalition in furthering their assessment,
cleanup if necessary, and redevelopment.

EPA offers a sample analysis of a brownfield cleanup proposal that gives gives an "Anytown, U.S.A." example at this link: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-01/documents/abca_example_for_cleanup_proposals.pdf. Here's an excerpt:

b. Previous Site Use(s) and any previous cleanup/remediation

The Site was the former location of an automotive repair facility and scrap metal yard. The automotive repair facility was owned by Arnie’s Auto Repair and operated between 1957 to 1989 from an onsite 600 square foot, one story concrete building. Following the closure of the repair facility, the new owner, Marty’s Metals, used the northwest corner of the Site, an estimated ¼ acre area, as a scrap metal yard. Marty’s Metals operated until 1997, when it went bankrupt. All scrap metal was removed by Marty’s Metals at that time. In 2001, the Town of Smalltown (“the Town”) took ownership of the parcel due to unpaid taxes. The Town demolished the onsite building and secured the perimeter of the Site with 6-foot chain link fence in early 2003. An underground hydraulic lift used by the automotive repair facility was left in place at that time.

One small underground storage tank (UST), which previously housed hydraulic oil used to operate a hydraulic automobile lift, and the hydraulic lift were removed in fall of 2003 by the Town under state cleanup funds. The underground storage tank and hydraulic lift were steam cleaned and sent offsite for recycling at that time. Soils immediately surrounding the tank and lift were also excavated and transported offsite for disposal. At this time, the Site was entered into the state’s voluntary cleanup program and is tracked under State Tracking Number 123456. 

Discussion topics include:

  • What is a brownfield and where are they in Idaho Falls?
  • The impact brownfield sites have on the livelihood, health and welfare of our community.
  • Plans to transform blighted areas into healthy, viable spaces that enhance our neighborhoods and provide new employment opportunities.
  • How public involvement is key to the success of this program.
For more information, contact the Idaho Falls economic development coordinator, Dana Briggs, at (208) 612-8777 or email her at dbriggs@idahofallsidaho.gov.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Reinke named to bank board

Chris Reinke
Chris Reinke of Ashton has been named to the board of directors of the Bank of Idaho and Bank of Idaho Holding Co. Reinke is a third-generation owner and vice president of Reinke Grain, in Ashton.

“Chris’s years of quality experience as a business owner and his knowledge of local agriculture make him a great addition to the Bank of Idaho team,” said Jeff Newgard, the bank’s president and CEO.

Reinke is a graduate of the University of Memphis with a degree in business management. While there, he was captain and a four-year letterman in golf.

Other Bank of Idaho board members will welcome Reinke at their next regular meeting, Nov. 14.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Blasting to continue this week on Broadway excavation

An artist's rendition of what the Broadway will look like facing west.
Downtown Idaho Falls is going to be punctuated with the sound of blasting today through Thursday, as excavation work continues on The Broadway, the construction project under way at the corner of Broadway and Memorial.

Over the past couple of weeks, downtowners have heard – and felt – a number of explosions. This week's should be the last ones needed to facilitate groundwork on the development, according to Jeremy Malone, vice president of Oppenhemier Development Corp.

"We're shaking things up both literally and figuratively," he said. "We hope this will be a real catalyst project, something that will help energize the great things already happening in downtown Idaho Falls."

The Broadway is the Boise-based Oppenheimer Development’s first project in Idaho Falls. When finished, the project will be the site of two buildings housing approximately 35,000 square feet of retail and commercial business space; a public plaza featuring a fountain in the summer and potentially a skating rink in the winter; and approximately 71 public parking spaces with 49 below-ground and 22 ground-level spaces. Blasting was called for primarily because the below-ground parking spaces need to be hewed out of lava rock.

The list of new tenants currently includes Bank of Idaho, Lucy’s Pizzeria, Smokin Fins and Parsons Behle & Latimer. Currently, approximately two thirds of the rental space is spoken for.

From the project's inception, Oppenheimer Development has been working closely with the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency, the mayor's office and numerous city agencies to be certain that the finished site will be in keeping with the city's needs and vision.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Ammon Kmart store slated to close

Ammon's Kmart store, which will be closing by January.
The Ammon Kmart store, 3101 E. 17th St., will be one of 45 closing this winter, according to an announcement from Sears Holdings, Kmart’s parent company.

The statement said a total of 63 Sears and Kmart stores will close by late January 2018. The Idaho Falls Sears, in the Grand Teton Mall, was not on the list.

"Sears Holdings continues its strategic assessment of the producitvity of our Kmart and Sears store base and will continue to right size our store footprint in number and size," the statement read. "We will continue to close some unprofitable stores as we transform our business model so that our physical store footprint and our digital capabilities match the needs and preferences of our members.

The statement says that eligible employees working at these stores will receive severance and be given the opportunity to apply for open positions at nearby Kmart or Sears stores.

Liquidation sales will begin Nov. 9 at closing stores. This development is the latest in a long line of closings for Sears Holdings. The company announced in July it would be closing 43 stores; in August, another 28.

Here’s an observation, posted on Facebook by a loyal BizmojoIdaho reader, John R. Parsons:

"For years (honest), Clair and I have driven past the local, typically-deserted K-Mart and asked each other, "How does that store survive?" It's been at least a couple of years since we actually set foot in the store. Even two years ago, there was a real funeral home feeling to the place. It was kinda like going to visitation for the deceased and wondering where the casket was. Meanwhile, all the merchandise felt old and unwanted. It was kinda spooky, actually, so spooky that we decided not to go there any more.

Somehow, against all odds, it hung on for these past two years. Now the jig's up and all the deck chairs will be thrown off the ship between now and January. One wonders what's next for that cavernous building with one of the area's largest parking lots?

Alas, Poor Sears. Check out the Sears stock chart. Ten years ago on April 27, 2007, just before the housing bubble burst, Sears was flying high at $191.93 share. Today it's trading at $5.36 (not a typo).

It's kinda sad to see the slow-motion demise of what were once two of America's retail giants. We have very fond memories of the famous K-Mart "Blue Light Specials". Who else remembers those?

Speaking of distant memories, few of you probably remember that K-Mart was actually once S. S. Kresge. And, yes, I have fond memories of shopping in the Lafayette, Indiana S. S. Kresge back in the 1950's. Times....they are a changin'..."


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Chapolera Coffee opening shop on First Street

Buttercup Bakery, 335 First Street, is becoming Chapolera Coffee on Nov. 15. This is a great deal for both parties, as Buttercup’s owner, Neccia Hahn, has been trying to sell the business for some time and Chapolera’s owners, Art Baker and Jenny Bueno, have gotten enough of a foothold in the market to move out of the Idaho Innovation Center on North Yellowstone. The three became familiar with each other at the Farmer’s Market.

I know everyone is excited about Dutch Bros. Coffee coming to Idaho Falls (the article I posted yesterday got 43,000 page views, according to the dashboard page, which makes me wonder),  but if you want to know what real coffee tastes like you ought to try Chapolera Coffee.

Baker and Bueno set up shop as specialty coffee roasters in late 2016. Their goal was to bring fair trade values and personal passion to the process, providing high quality coffee that has come from people who have received a fair price for their efforts.


Baker, who has an engineering background, is a Michigan native and University of Michigan graduate. Bueno is a native of Colombia who grew up surrounded by coffee and its culture. The name Chapolera pays homage to the people, more specifically the women, who work on the coffee farms harvesting the coffee. For generations, Chapoleros and Chapoleras have harvested coffee from one farm or region to another, raising their families while on the road.

For more information, visit their web page at https://www.chapoleracoffee.com.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Dutch Bros. building Idaho Falls store on North Woodruff

This is what you can expect to see soon where Sarah's Candy Cottage used to be.
BizMojo Idaho has information from its impeccably reliable sources that Dutch Bros. Coffee will be building its first store in Idaho Falls at 221 N. Woodruff Avenue, where Sarah’s Candy Cottage was.

If you’ve driven on North Woodruff in the last week, you undoubtedly will have noticed that the quaint little building where Sarah’s used to be has been razed. A permit for an 800-square-foot structure has been applied for at the Idaho Falls Building Department.

Dutch Bros. currently has several stores in Idaho, in the Treasure Valley, the Panhandle and one in Twin Falls.

The company was founded in 1992 in Grants Pass, Ore., by Dane and Travis Boersma, who’d opened a coffee stand at Dutcher Creek Golf Course. Third-generation dairy farmers, the realities of that business forced them out, so they took their espresso machine and experimented with a hundred pounds of coffee in their empty milk house. After a month of handing out free samples to friends and family, the duo began serving up mochas and lattes at a pushcart set up in downtown Grants Pass. They named their company Dutch Bros., and over the next few years permanent kiosks opened in other parts of the city, including a coffeehouse a few blocks from the original stand.

Today, the company is the country’s largest, privately held drive-thru coffee company, with more than 260 locations in seven states and over 5,000 employees. Dutch Bros. still gives away drinks — now over one million each year — to further the company's mission of “spreading the Dutch Luv.” The company donates over $2 million a year to its local communities and non-profit organizations, including the Muscular Dystrophy Association, in honor of Dane Boersma, who passed away in 2009 after a four-year battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Monday, October 30, 2017

EIRMC names new assistant administrator

Nick Manning
Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center has named Nicholas Manning to the hospital’s administrative team. As an assistant administrator, Manning partners with EIRMC’s leadership in administering daily operations and directly leads several departments.

Manning comes to EIRMC from HCA’s (EIRMC’s parent company) Mountain Division, where he most recently served as senior director of operations improvement. Prior to that, he served as associate administrator at Odessa Regional Medical Center, a 225-bed facility in Odessa, Texas. He has also held positions at Ogden Regional Medical Center, a sister HCA hospital in Ogden, Utah, and a position as division director of support services at HCA’s Mountain Division.

Manning earned his bachelor's in health administrative services from Weber State University and his Masters of Business Administration in Healthcare Management from the University of Scranton. Manning is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Manning was born and raised in Ogden, Utah. He enjoys camping, hiking, skiing, and rock hounding. He is an avid supporter of the arts and is committed to building stronger communities through participant engagement and through fostering meaningful relationships with others.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Economic development in Idaho Falls is about more than big box stores

The INL development on Idaho Falls' north side is hugely important.
The election fuss about Idaho Falls “losing” business to Ammon and unincorporated Bonneville County only makes sense if you look at economic development in a “winners and losers” way. It’s a little early for a year-end economic roundup, but in light of the coming mayoral election let’s look at what’s been happening in Idaho Falls recently.

The Broadway at the corner of Broadway and Memorial promises to be a spectacular addition to downtown. Renovation of the Bonneville Hotel, the city’s crown jewel in 1927, is likely to start in the spring. Neither would have come about without the efforts of the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency, which had conducted a study analyzing demand for downtown housing. The report that followed estimated a demand for housing units between 455 to 502 units.

Studies are one thing, but I think the most significant thing to happen downtown was the success of the the lofts at 504 Shoup Avenue, in the old Montgomery Ward building, above Happy’s. Those eight units filled right up, demonstrating to everyone a desire for nice living space downtown.

Springhill Suites, Eagle Rock Indian Motorcycle and Culver's have gotten things moving at Taylor Crossing on the River, and the Waterfront at Snake River Landing has filled an important niche.

Apple Athletic owner Steve Vucovich is developing the 21,000 square feet near to Smith’s on Woodruff Avenue, which has been vacant since Curtiss-Wright Flow Control Scientech relocated its offices to Snake River Landing in 2014.

The biggest economic development of the past year was the Idaho Legislature’s  approval of $90 million in bonds to fund the construction of two new Idaho National Laboratory buildings: the Cybercore Integration Center and the Collaborative Computing Center. The first will serve as a research, education and training facility for cybersecurity work and the second will host a new supercomputer for modeling and simulation workloads. University partners in the state will also be able to use the supercomputer for their research and education efforts. The activities are expected to bring 500 high-paying tech jobs into the area, plus approximately 1,000 temporary construction jobs.

Personally, I’d like to know what’s up with electrical power development on the city’s north side. With all the high-tech development that has taken place, reliable electricity is absolutely essential. When the power glitches out at the Energy Innovation Laboratory or the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, it puts research and expensive equipment in jeopardy.

We haven't heard much about the North Loop Transmission Project. Considering all the bad press the previous administration got in 2012, my assumption is that Idaho Falls is working toward getting this issue resolved under the radar. I know the city has good relations with INL, pursuing a two-year, $1 million grid modernization collaboration to make the city’s municipal power distribution more dependable.

Overall, I think the present administration has shown a very thoughtful and measured approach to growth, not chasing after "bright shiny objects" but looking at development in a sensible and progressive way. Both Idaho Falls and Ammon have more important things to attend to than bragging about who got which big box store.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

INL exceeds small business procurement goal for fifth straight year

For the fifth consecutive year, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory has exceeded its small business procurement goal and the commitment it made to do business in the state of Idaho.

When fiscal year 2017 ended on Sept. 30, Battelle Energy Alliance, which has the INL management and operations contract with DOE, reported it had spent $194,555,080 with small business. That represents 58.1 percent of the business INL did overall and far surpasses the $150.7 million (51 percent) it agreed to at the beginning of the fiscal year.

INL spent 41.8 percent with small businesses in Idaho, far above the 30 percent attainment goal set for the year.

“We very much value our partnership with so many innovative Idaho businesses,” said Dennis Newby, INL chief financial officer. “We are fortunate to work with high-caliber businesses across Idaho that support our needs.”

In this last year, INL prioritized strengthening its partnership with small business, paying particular attention to businesses in Idaho. Small business goals are part of the DOE contract, and each year, new goals are negotiated to determine what percentage of procurement volume is to be set aside.

INL contracts with small businesses for materials and services that include consumables such as office supplies, fuels, and information technology equipment, as well as construction services and skilled expertise in key research areas.

INL has a long history of meeting DOE procurement goals, but this year it wanted to go beyond what was typical. The INL small business team travels throughout Idaho to share opportunities for contracting and partnering to do research, and shares information about proposal writing to increase a business’s chances of receiving an award. This effort paid off.

The national statutory requirement for small business procurement is 51 percent. In 2016 and 2015, INL hit 58.6 percent and 55.9 percent, respectively, so agreeing to the national requirement was a bar lab leadership felt it could clear easily. INL has worked hard to cultivate relationships with small businesses, especially ones in Idaho, said Stacey Francis, the lab’s Small Business Program manager.

“It is a win-win when we have local businesses able to supply us with what we need,” Francis said. “We recognize the benefit of partnering with small business for ease of use, the level of expertise available and exceptional customer service.”

Socioeconomic goals are also set for small, disadvantaged businesses, Historically Underutilized Business (HUBZone) businesses, firms owned by women and service-disabled veterans, and businesses in Idaho. In FY-17, INL also met its five socioeconomic procurement goals for the third straight year.

“I am proud of INL’s commitment to work with small business,” Francis said. “As the lab continues to grow, small business will continue to play a big part in our success.”

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Splash plans grand opening Saturday at new location

Splash has a new location on Cliff Street.
Splash Self-Serve Pet Spa will be having a grand opening Saturday at its new, larger location, at 330 Cliff Street.

There will be goodies for goodies for children and adults, an hourly raffle for free washes, discounted pet washes, $10 nail trimmings and pet food sales. The Snake River Animal Shelter will be on hand from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with adoptable animals looking for their “fur-ever” homes. Each animal adopted will also receive a free wash.

Bring your pet in costume, and if there are enough participants, there will be a “cutest costume” contest at noon.

Splash has been in downtown Idaho Falls since March 2014, when owner Tina Dixon opened next door to Chesbro Music. Dixon had moved from Bakersfield, Calif., and knew it was the small business idea she wanted to pursue. Splash has custom-built tubs that are big enough for large breeds but can be converted to handle little critters, with water temperatures regulated. For $15, you get access, shampoo, towels, ear wipes and a blow dryer. And no more cleaning dog hair out of the bathtub drain.

Since opening, Dixon has been expanding the line of toys, food and accessories for sale in the shop. She has been committed to everything in the shop being made in the United States, with special preference given to anything made locally. For more information, call (208) 881-1021.

Friday, October 20, 2017

INL erects new signs on U.S. 20

One of the new INL signs on U.S. Highway 20, in the Arco Desert.
If you've gone west on U.S. 20 recently, it's pretty hard not to notice that the Idaho National Laboratory desert site entrance signs -- billboards for decades -- have been upgraded to a much classier presentation.

At both ends of the site on the Arco Highway, INL Facilities & Site Services have erected large monument signs on concrete bases with rock faces at the bottom. Not only do the entrance signs help demarcate federal property boundaries, they serve as an important branding and advertising tool.

INL Director Mark Peters was a driving force behind replacing the varying and inconsistent previous signage.

“When presented with options to describe INL on the signs, I chose ‘Changing the World’s Energy Future,’ because we want everyone to be aware of our regional, national and international impact on energy security,” Peters said. “Virtually every nuclear reactor design in the world has been based on INL research and development, including those for submarines and aircraft carriers. It is imperative – for our economy, national security and to ensure safe and environmentally friendly energy systems around the globe – that INL continues to help our country lead the world.”

Debby Tate, Campus Development Office (CDO) director, said, “The new signs provide a sense of maturation and elegance to INL.” Remaining boundary, or “billboard,” signs on roadways at other Site entrances are scheduled for replacement in the coming months. The new signs, which had been in the planning stage for several years until funds became available, were designed by INL’s very own David Combs, INL art director and branding specialist, and constructed by YESCO Sign & Lighting Service of Idaho Falls.

“The vision for the monument signs was to create markers that not only showed the geographic boundaries, but that had significant impact and the gravity appropriate for an institution like our national laboratory,” Combs said.

INL dates back to 1949, when the Atomic Energy Commission selected the area that encompassed the old Naval Proving Ground and surrounding lands to build the National Reactor Testing Station (NRTS), whose mission was to develop and demonstrate peaceful uses of nuclear power. The name of the facility changed over the years: in 1974, it was named the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL) to encompass broader research missions; in 1997, it became the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) to reflect growing cleanup and waste management missions and research; in 2005, the INEEL became Idaho National Laboratory, which is under the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy. As names such as these have changed, INL entrance signs have reflected those changes over the decades.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Ann Marie Peters Joins College of Eastern Idaho

Ann Marie Peters recently joined the College of Eastern Idaho as the director of strategic partnerships.

Peters is the co-founder of Interview Savvy, a Chicago-based training and career skills firm. She has more 20 years of experience in behavioral coaching, strategic planning, consulting, and project management in the financial services and banking industry. She is credited with “writing, managing and launching a groundbreaking international management behavioral coaching program,” according to a biography provided by the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce. Peters’ human resources expertise includes incentive program development and management as well as employee recruitment and hiring. Her reputation as a start-up and turnaround expert resulted in her being the featured employee for HSBC in Working Mother Magazine’s Top 100 Companies, the biography said.

Peters received her bachelor's in behavioral sciences from the University of Chicago and her MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Update on Planet Fitness in Idaho Falls

Here's an update on the Planet Fitness story that ran Sept. 20. Apple Athletic Club owner Steve Vucovich, who applied Aug. 30 for a building permit with his partner, Keith Larsen, says he signed a lease on the property at 200 South Woodruff on Oct. 3.

North of Smith’s, the space has been empty since Curtiss-Wright Flow Control Scientech relocated its offices to Snake River Landing in 2014.

With more than 1,400 clubs in the United States, Planet Fitness is one of the largest fitness club franchises. The club's two membership levels are $10 and $19.99 per month. The $10 per month level includes access to cardio and strength equipment, unlimited group fitness instruction and pizza and bagels once a month. The $19.99 per month (“Black Card”) level allows members to bring one guest per day at no charge, access to all Planet Fitness locations, and access to extra amenities, such as tanning booths and massage chairs.

Although the city's building department website, trakit.idahofallsidaho.gov, reports the project is 240,000 square feet, the actual building space is 21,500 square feet.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Echelon Group hires Idaho Falls office manager

Jessica Weinrich
Echelon Group, an employee benefits and retirement plan provider, has hired Jessica Weinrich to manage its newly opened Idaho Falls office, at 1070 Riverwalk Drive, Suite 254. Weinrich comes from Development Workshop, the Idaho Falls non-profit community rehabilitation program, where she was director of administrative services.

Echelon Group’s corporate headquarters are in Boise. The firm provides customized employee benefits, group insurance, retirement plans/401Ks, financial planning and individual insurance and investment management services in Idaho. It was founded in 2004, but it dates back to 1981, when Donald L. Reiman, the company's president, entered the financial-services industry as an independent insurance contractor.

Friday, October 6, 2017

I.F. company MarCom LLC buys lab in Butte, Mont.

MarCom LLC, an Idaho Falls company, has finalized an agreement with E Capital Partners LLC to acquire the laboratory assets from MSE Inc. in Butte, Mont. It will reopen there as MarCom Laboratory Services on Nov. 1.

MarCom is an SBA-certified Native American-owned, 8(a), and woman-owned business that provides management, administrative, engineering, nuclear operations, information technology services, SCADA, and health and safety services to U.S. Department of Energy sites as well as commercial customers across the country, a news release from the company said.

The Butte, Mont., laboratory will provide analytical services for water and soil samples for public and private entities. “MarCom Laboratory Services is the newest addition to our growing portfolio of services, allowing us to become more diversified while continuing to grow,” said Marcella Medor, MarCom’s president, in the release.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

SpringHill Suites by Marriott holds grand opening

An artist's rendering of the new SpringHill Suites by Marriott hotel in Idaho Falls, by the Snake River.
The new SpringHill Suites by Marriott, just south of the Marriott Residence Inn, held its grand opening Monday, featuring a ribbon-cutting ceremony by the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber Ambassadors.

The hotel, at 665 Riverwalk Drive, was built by Woodbury Corp., a full-service real estate development and management company based in Salt Lake City, in partnership with McNeil Development, the company owned by brothers Rollie and Lorin Walker, developers of the Taylor Crossing on the River project.

The new 124-room hotel was designed for both business and leisure travelers, a Woodbury Corp. news release said. Amenities include business services, complimentary Wi-Fi, same-day dry cleaning, guest laundry facilities, an indoor swimming pool with whirlpool, an outdoor patio area with a fire pit and a fitness center.

The hotel also has two meeting rooms with more than 1,170 square feet to accommodate gatherings of up to 40 people, with catering available if needed, the release said.

Bjoern Jaeger is the hotel’s general manager.

The new hotel brings 40 full-time jobs and increased tourism opportunities to Idaho Falls, according to the news release. The project also included the installation of a new quarter-mile road along the Snake River through Taylor Crossing on the River, increasing accessibility to the city.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Permit applications filed for Broadway project

Artist's rendering of The Broadway in Idaho Falls
If you’ve been downtown lately you’ve probably noticed dirt being moved at the corner of Broadway and Memorial Drive, where Saving Center used to be. That’s the site of The Broadway, which we’ve reported on before.

Two permit applications for the project were filed Sept. 21 with the Idaho Falls Building Department. The applicant on both was Rory Heggie Architecture of Boise. The was for the retail building, job value estimated at $1.44 million. The second was for a 32,670-square-foot mixed use building, job value estimate at $4,085,000.

Overall, the development will consist of a 9,600-square-foot single story retail building and a three-story mixed-used building incorporating retail, restaurant and office space, with residential condominiums on the third story. Spaces are divisible up to 1,200 square feet. Between the two buildings there will be a plaza for food, music and entertainment.

The property was bought in 2015 by the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency, which had conducted a study analyzing demand for downtown housing. The report that followed estimated a demand for housing units between 455 to 502 units. The board also approved the purchase of an option on the Bonneville Hotel at Constitution Way and Park Avenue.

In February 2016, the Oppenheimer Development Corp. responded to the IFRA’s request for proposals on the .95-acre property.

Bank of Idaho, Parsons, Beahle & Latimer, Smokin Fins (a Colorado-based seafood restaurant chain), and Lucy’s Pizzeria have been listed as prospective tenants. Leasing arrangements are being handled by Thornton Oliver Keller. For more information, follow this link: The Broadway.

Friday, September 22, 2017

INL plans to host power grid integration demo next week

Researchers in INL's Real Time Power & Energy Systems Innovation Laboratory in Idaho Falls 
A team of researchers in the U.S. and Europe is poised to globally integrate electrical grids in a way that resonates with the creation of the internet more than 50 years ago.

The group convenes at Idaho National Laboratory Tuesday, Sept. 26, for a live demonstration of the Real-Time Super Lab (RT Super Lab) concept, which will study how electricity can be rerouted across vast distances to address disruptions. The team envisions that large-scale blackouts can be prevented by moving electricity intercontinentally, the same way utilities currently do regionally but at a much larger scale. Such global interaction can prepare America for next-generation power system challenges, reduce the cost of outages and make electrical power grids of the future more resilient.

The effort builds on work done between the U.S. Department of Energy’s INL and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories and five universities, two of them in Europe, have joined INL to explore the idea that electrons can be sent around the world the same way as digital packets of zeros and ones over the internet.

“This is more than computers talking to each other,” said Rob Hovsapian, INL’s Power and Energy Systems department manager. “We are developing capabilities for geographically distributed real-time grid simulation with shared assets at INL, other national labs, universities and utilities.”

In 2015, INL and NREL successfully demonstrated the capability to connect grid simulations at their two labs for real-time interaction over the internet. Both INL’s Power and Energy Real-Time Laboratory and NREL's Energy Systems Integration Facility have the capability to merge computer-based simulations of the power grid with actual hardware such as wind turbines, solar inverters, batteries and electric vehicles — a capability called "power hardware in the loop."


The two national laboratories were able to connect their Digital Real-Time Simulators and achieve grid simulation such that the hardware or software at one lab could directly interact with hardware or software at the other lab.

Leveraging assets and expertise at other national labs and academic institutions, the RT Super Lab concept brings more assets into the mix, with the following participants contributing specific capabilities:

  • Sandia National Laboratories’ Distributed Energy Technologies Laboratory
  • Colorado State University’s high-performance computer-based energy management system
  • Washington State University’s Smart Grid and Microgrid Laboratory
  • University of South Carolina College of Engineering and Computing’s Integrated Grids Laboratory
  • RWTH Aachen University’s co-simulation framework
  • Polytechnic University of Turin’s high-performance computer-based Energy Management System
  • 
NREL's Energy Systems Integration Facility
  • 
INL’s Power and Energy Real-Time Laboratory


"Joint collaboration via a Ph.D. researcher exchange between RWTH and INL was a key factor in creating scientific tools and techniques featured in this demonstration," said Manish Mohanpurkar, INL’s Power and Energy Systems group lead. “INL and NREL research also made the project possible by addressing data latency issues and improving available bandwidth.”

The Wide Area Network demonstrations that took place between INL and NREL showed that most data packets took less than 17 milliseconds to travel from point to point. To mitigate data latency issues (like those that create cellphone echoes and delays), researchers used advanced methods from the fields of signal processing, filtering theory and data compression.

Along with rapid strides in interconnecting grid laboratories globally, another active research approach will enable additional significant measurements to be exchanged between two connected real-time simulators. The preliminary results are promising and the method will be utilized for geographically distributed real-time simulations connecting laboratories all across the world.


Power systems around the world are undergoing fundamental transitions to achieve long-term sustainability, reliability and affordability. The RT-Super Lab allows simulation of large-scale systems, simultaneous development across different domains and a flexible collaboration that preserves the confidential details of individual groups.


The ability to move electricity around the globe rather than only within isolated networks holds the possibility of vast savings on infrastructure and energy consumption.


“It’s always easier and cheaper to transfer electrons than fuels,” Hovsapian said.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Apple Athletic owner files for Planet Fitness on Woodruff Avenue

The interior of a Planet Fitness gym somewhere in America. (Photo: Planet Fitness)
It looks like Apple Athletic Club owner Steve Vucovic could be expanding his fitness empire in Idaho Falls this fall. Vucovic and a partner, Keith Larsen, applied Aug. 30 to the city of Idaho Falls Building Department for a building permit for a 240,000-square-foot remodeling job at 200 South Woodruff Avenue, for a Planet Fitness Health Club. Vucovic said last week they were still negotiating a lease, but the building permit was issued Tuesday.

North of Smith’s, the space has been empty since Curtiss-Wright Flow Control Scientech relocated its offices to Snake River Landing in 2014.

With more than 1,400 clubs in the United States, Planet Fitness is one of the largest fitness club franchises. Based in Hampton, N.H., the company dates back to 1992. It opened its first franchised location in Florida in 2013, and in February 2016, the franchise was added to the Franchise Times "Fast and Serious" list of top franchises (No. 1). That same year, Forbes magazine ranked Planet Fitness No. 4, and the company ranked in the top 50 of the Entrepreneur magazine Franchise 500 in 2017.

The club's two membership levels are $10 and $19.99 per month: the $10 per month level includes access to cardio and strength equipment, unlimited group fitness instruction and pizza and bagels once a month; the $19.99 per month (“Black Card”) level allows members to bring one guest per day at no charge, access to all Planet Fitness locations, and access to extra amenities, such as tanning booths and massage chairs.

The company advertises "no judgment,” with "judgment free zone," signs plastered across its gyms and signs on the equipment reminding members that they "belong." Planet Fitness famously serves free pizza on the first Monday of the month and bagels on the second Tuesday of the month.

The target demographic is people who are just getting used to working out or people who really, really hate exercising. There are no classes, just two circuits, a 30-minute full-body circuit and a 12-minute ab circuit.

"We're going after the first-time exercises or casual user," CEO Chris Rondeau told Business Insider in 2015. "Gym intimidation is real."

Friday, September 15, 2017

DOE announce $19.7 million for tech commercialization, including INL work

Source: https://energy.gov/science-innovation/innovation/commercialization
Idaho National Laboratory had seven projects included on a list released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced $19.7 million in Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) projects, aimed at helping businesses move promising energy technologies from DOE’s national laboratories to the marketplace. This second department-wide round of funding through the Office of Technology Transition was in support of 54 projects across 12 national laboratories involving more than 30 private-sector partners.

The TCF works to expand the commercial impact of DOE’s portfolio of research, development,
demonstration, and deployment activities in two topic areas: Projects for which additional technology
maturation is needed to attract a private partner, and cooperative development projects between labs
and industry partners designed to bolster the commercial application of a lab developed technology.

The seven selections that involved Idaho National Laboratory included:

  • Event Model Risk Assessment using Linked Diagrams (EMRALD), $61,906
  • Produced Water Treatment using the Switchable Polarity Solvent Forward Osmosis (SPS FO) Process, $150,000
  • RAVEN Code Commercial Deployment for Industrial Related Applications, $250,000; Private Partner: FPoliSolutions, Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Integration of PHISICS into the AREVA reactor design suite for commercial application to High Temperature Reactors, $300,000; Private Partner: AREVA NP Inc., Lynchburg, Va.
  • Pathway to Commercialization of Weather Based Dynamic Line Rating with CFD using INL’s General Line Ampacity State Solver (GLASS) software $300,000; Private Partners: Schneider Electric, Burnsville, Minn.; WindSim Americas Inc., Westlake Village, Calif.
  • Seismic Isolation of Major Advanced Reactor Systems for Economic Improvement and Safety Assurance, $710,000; ; Private Partners: Southern Company Services Inc., Birmingham, Ala.; TerraPower, Bellevue, Wash.; X-energy, Greenbelt, Md.
  • Highly Scalable Computer-Based Procedure System for Field Workers, $750,000; Private Partner: NextAxiom Technology, San Francisco, Calif.

DOE’s national labs have supported critical research and development that has led to many technologies in the marketplace today, including the batteries powering electric vehicles, the foundation of Internet servers, and the optical digital recording technology behind DVDs.

“Accelerating the transition of energy technologies from the laboratory bench to the marketplace is an
important component of increasing America’s economic prosperity and energy security,” Perry said.
“This second round of TCF projects highlight the incredible value of DOE’s National Laboratories and the importance of bringing the Department’s technology transfer mission to the American people.”

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Taste of Downtown set for Friday

Taste of Downtown will be held Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. on the 300 block of Park Avenue, featuring ten local downtown restaurants, bars, and pubs. Arguably, Idaho Falls’ single-best food and beverage event, this is the fourth year for Taste of Downtown.

There will be live music provided by Liar & Dan. Guests can watch how different chefs, employees and owners bring everything together and enjoy food right on the spot, said Catherine Smith, executive director of the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation. “This event isn’t just entertaining and delicious, it also gives everyone a greater appreciation for our local cuisine and entrepreneurship right here in our own downtown,” she said.

Taste of Downtown tickets will be available at the event. Tickets are $1 each. Participating restaurants include: City Bagels & Bakery, BlackRock, A Street Soup Market, Villa Coffeehouse, SnakeBite, Pachangas, The Celt, Persnickety Lemon Deli, Diabala’s Kitchen, and Grandpa’s Southern BBQ. Each restaurant will set their “taste” amount, or ticket amount, for a variety of dishes available at each booth. Proceeds from this event go to the local nonprofit, CASA-Court Appointed Special Advocates.

Taste of Downtown is produced by Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation and Bank of Idaho. For more information, check out their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/IFDDC/, or visit www.downtownidahofalls.com.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Modern Home in Ammon to scheduled to open in November

An aerial view of the Modern Home store in Ammon, taken in late August. 
Here’s a little more information on the Modern Home store being built in Ammon, on Eagle Drive near Kohl’s.

“It’s a pretty new development for us,” said Alan Sparks, the owner. “It started in idea form in the fall of 2016.  My wife and I discovered Idaho Falls after a vacation and dropping our oldest son off at BYU-I. It was funny how fast we fell in love with the area and how we couldn’t get it out of our mind.”

Sparks has run two furniture stores in Arizona: Sparks Homestore in Thatcher Home Furnishings Direct in Cottonwood. “We have a great management team in place that are doing a great job running our Arizona stores,” Sparks said. “Being in the furniture business and still working for a living, we knew the only way to be able to move here was to open a new store in Idaho Falls. In June of this year that dream came true and boy do we love it!”

The name Modern Home represents a commitment they’ve made to keeping their inventory up to date, in style and current, “a place you can go to get inspired and find great deals as well,” he said. The store will open the first part of November, with hiring to begin in the first part of October.

The store is 25,000 square feet. Brands will include Tempurpedic, Sealy, Klaussner, Ashley, Benchcraft, Southern Motion, and more.

“Please wish us Arizona folks luck this winter,” Sparks said. “I am not sure we fully know what it means to go through an Idaho winter!”

Thursday, September 7, 2017

New furniture store being built on Eagle Drive

The artist's rendering on Modern Home's Facebook page.
We’ve had a few readers ask about the building going up in Ammon on Eagle Drive near Hillcrest High School and Kohl’s. While I haven’t had the time to visit the friendly people in the city of Ammon building department to look at the actual plans, I have learned that it will be a new mattress and furniture store called Modern Home.

For a look at the Facebook page, here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/modernhomeidaho/. There are 537 likes as I look at it right now. Let’s see where that number is at the end of the day, once BizMojo has written them up, ha ha!

According to the information there, they will be hiring in October. As soon as I hear back from Alan Sparks, the person on the Facebook page who appears to be answering all the questions, I will have a more detailed report.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

REDI names Dana Kirkham new STAR director

Dana Kirkham
REDI, eastern Idaho’s economic development organization, has named Dana Kirkham to be its Science Technology and Research (STAR) director. Currently serving as Mayor of Ammon, Kirkham will start part-time with REDI on Monday and take on full-time duties when she leaves office at the end of the year.

Jan Rogers, REDI’s CEO, cited Kirkham’s experience in local government, her background with the federal government, CIA and State Department, and her strong legislative experience. “Dana will bring impressive skills to support STAR efforts throughout the region,” she said.

REDI advertised in mid-July that it was creating a position for a person to focus on the region’s science, technology and research sector, on track to reach nearly $4.5 billion in capital investment. Support from Battelle Energy Alliance, the company running Idaho National Laboratory, and Fluor Idaho, the company in charge of cleanup work, and other high-tech industry partners made the position possible.

“Whether it is building our first-of-kind small modular reactor, expanding our work in cyber security, or strengthening our supplier and subcontract environment, the timing is right to find a STAR Director to advocate and champion our region both regionally and nationally,” INL Director Mark Peters said.

Kirkham said she will be focusing specifically on federal programs across the region. “Managing and expanding these key sectors will benefit the whole region by creating more STAR related opportunities,” she said.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

INL to demonstrate solar-powered battery system for cooling buses

Motor Coach Industries supplies buses to Idaho National Laboratory and collaborates on research to make them more efficient and environmentally friendly.
Idaho National Laboratory will demonstrate a new solar/battery-powered system for cooling motor coach buses Wednesday at 3 p.m. at the Energy Innovation Laboratory meeting center, 775 University Blvd.  The demonstration is being held in conjunction with a forum for industry leaders being held at INL.

The Motor Coach No-Idle Proof of Concept research initiative will demonstrate how a bus at standstill with the engine turned off – for example, waiting before loading passengers – can keep the passenger coach comfortable by drawing on solar-powered batteries to run the HVAC (heating-cooling) system.

The solar panel system charges the batteries to help power and increase the run time of the air-conditioning units. This reduces the amount of typical idle time needed by buses that run diesel-powered engines to cool the coach interiors when at standstill. The system addresses a growing challenge of federal and state regulations that require bus operators to reduce fuel emissions or face penalties.

With funding support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sustainability Performance Office, INL formed a research and development partnership with Bergstrom Inc., a prominent cab climate systems designer/builder, and leading bus manufacturer Motor Coach Industries (MCI) to design and modify a bus cooling-ventilating system to sharply reduce idle emissions.

Bank of Idaho to present endowment check to College of Eastern Idaho

Bank of Idaho will be presenting a check for $12,000 Thursday morning to the newly formed College of Eastern Idaho, to establish a scholarship endowment with the CEI Foundation.

The presentation will be at 11 a.m. at CEI’s main office, 1600 S. 25th East. Dignitaries expected to attend include Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper, Ammon Mayor Dana Kirkham, College of Eastern Idaho officials, foundation directors, and members of the Board of Trustees. An informal reception will follow.

Seeing the conversion of Eastern Idaho Technical College to a four-year community college is something Bank of Idaho has fully supported since the idea was first introduced several years
ago, said Jeff Newgard, the bank’s president and CEO. “We had great momentum with public interest in an affordable 4-year college,” he said. “We felt the timing was perfect, and by jumping in and establishing the fund and holding our first annual golf tournament, we know we can make a big difference for students who need some help pursuing a college education.”

To benefit CEI, Bank of Idaho held its first ”Swing for the Green” golf tournament in late June, with 25 teams participating. It was co-hosted by three LPGA Professionals who have committed to returning next year.

“We know that the ripple effect of a four-year community college will benefit every small business in our community in a big way,” Newgard said. “We hope to get the word out about the endowment fund because we aren’t stopping here. Bank of Idaho is proud to support CEI and the pursuit of educational excellence in our community.”

For details on how you can join Bank of Idaho in contributing to the Endowment Fund for Higher
Education, contact Bank of Idaho’s vice president of market development, Jarod Phillips, at 208-524- 5500 or via email at j.phillips@bankofidaho.net.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Get Your Business Online workshop set Tuesday at Snake River Landing

Ball Ventures is hosting an all-day Get Your Business Online workshop Tuesday at Snake River Landing. Experts from Google will be on hand to show business owners how to add or update information on Google Search and Maps, optimize and promote their websites and more.

The free workshop will start at 8:30 a.m. at The Waterfront at Snake River Landing, 1220 Event Center Drive. Register online at https://events.gybo.com/events/261/register.

Here is the agenda for the day:

8:30 a.m.: 
Check-in and registration



9 a.m.: GROW YOUR BUSINESS ONLINE

  • Learn the basics of how customers find your business online.
  • Learn how to promote your online presence with methods like search engine optimization (SEO) and online advertising.
  • 
We also introduce tools to help you run your business online, including Google Analytics and Google Apps for Work.


10:30 a.m.: 
GET FOUND on SEARCH and MAPS

Want to get found on Google Search and Maps? Learn the easiest way to help your business be found online.
 This presentation introduces Google My Business, a free tool to manage your business information across Google.

Following the morning workshops, Zions Bank and Snake River Landing invite you to an afternoon of special programming designed to help you better understand the local small business economy.

It will feature some of eastern Idaho's most successful entrepreneurs.
 Complimentary lunch and refreshments will be served.



12:15 p.m.: Lunch with Robert Spendlove
Spendlove, Zions Bank senior vice president of economic and public policy, will give a talk about eastern Idaho's economy.



1 p.m.:
 IDAHO SMALL BUSINESS RESOURCE PANEL

Moderated by Katie Sewell, State Director, Idaho SBDC 
Hear about resources in Idaho that can help your business grow.
 Panelists are Bryant Searle, Zions Bank Business Development Expert; Dave Noack, SBDC Eastern Idaho Regional Director; Bill Woods, SCORE Chapter Chair



2 p.m.: SMALL BUSINESS GROWTH PANEL

Hear from a panel of CEOs that grew their businesses from a local favorite to national or international success. Panelists are Steve Browning, CFO, FinFun (SBA Idaho Small Biz of the Year 2017); Kade Kraus, CFO, KLIM; Jeff Krantz, Timberline Chainsaw Sharpener LLC (Idaho SBDC Success Story 2013)
; Sarah Marshall, Off The Grid Investigations LLC (Idaho SBDC Success Story 2017)



3 p.m.
: NETWORKING RECEPTION

Enjoy complimentary refreshments and treats courtesy of Snake River Landing while networking with 
panelists, business leaders, and other entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Sarah's Candy Cottage closing after 19 years in business

Add caption
If you’re planning to say goodbye to Sarah’s Candy Cottage you have until Saturday at 6 p.m. Idaho Falls’ top purveyor of sweets is closing its doors for good after nearly 20 years in business. The fixtures are being sold off next week, and according to East Idaho News the building, at 221 N. Woodruff Avenue, is slated to be torn down.

Mike Swendsen and his daughter, Liz Yasaitis, opened Sarah’s in 1998 at 1503 E. 17th Street, where Great Harvest Bread Co. still is. They moved to their own store on Woodruff a few years later.

According to their Facebook page, the store is being “retired.” Twenty years for a small business like Sarah’s is a great run. Times change, people's lives change and the world moves on.

If you're curious, here is the business profile I wrote about them for the Post Register in July 1999:

For those people whose knowledge of licorice extends only so far as Twizzlers in the candy machine, Michael Swendsen has a message he wants to impart: There is a whole world' s worth of licorice to be experienced.

The same goes for chocolates and fudge. Swendsen, owner of Sarah' s Candy Cottage in Idaho Falls, is ready to give anyone who walks in his door a sample of what' s available. It may be from England, Germany or Australia, or it might be from his kitchen. All Swendsen wants it to be is special.

"We felt like there was an opportunity to open an old-time candy store, with toffee, peanut brittle, scratch made fudges and truffles," he said. "We cater to a little different customer."

The shop, named after Swendsen' s daughter, Sarah, now 28, is located in the same 17th Street building as Great Harvest Bread Co. This is a fortunate arrangement, because the people who are looking for specialty baked goods are likely to be the same people inclined to buy specialty candies.

Swendsen is generous with his samples and estimates that 15 to 20 percent of his gross is given away. "Feed them on their way through and get them to buy on the way out," he said.

The store has only been in operation for a year, so there is a great deal to be done to raise public awareness. But Swendsen is hoping the national trends are on his side. In the past 15 years, candy consumption in the United States has increased dramatically, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce. In 1984, the average American ate 18.9 pounds of candy. In 1997, the last year for which figures were available, the number was 24.9 pounds.

Likewise, candy sales in 1984 were $6.6 billion. In 1997, that number was more than double, $13.3 billion. Total candy consumption in 1997 was 7.1 billion pounds, of which 3.1 billion pounds was chocolate.

Swendsen first got interested in candy when he had the Helmsman restaurant in downtown Idaho Falls, then the Bylander, a combination delicatessen and bakery. "I've always been interested in the making of candy," he said.

Since 1978, Swendsen has run Phase Applications, a company that services substations for rural electrification associations and utilities. But that business wanes in the winter, exactly the opposite of candy making operations, which have their busiest time from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Three years ago he bought Candyland, in the Teton Plaza. But that store didn' t have a kitchen, dealing only in commercial candies. "My interest was really in making candy," he said.

Swendsen has two candy makers working for him, Ray Franco and Eva Niederer. He makes items himself, but admits he is "very young in the craft."

"It's a trade, like a butcher," said Bill Mundy, of Schurra' s Candy Factory in San Jose, Calif., a business that has been around since 1912. "There are good butchers and bad butchers. How good do you want to be? How much pride do you take in your work?"

In a major metropolitan area, with competition from 15 See's Candy stores, Mundy relies on customer loyalty and promotions to give him visibility. When the symphony has a fund-raiser, he puts chocolates on the tables in exchange for an ad in the program.

Said Swendsen, "There are people who have a passion about what they do. I do this because I love it. It's an expression of something I really enjoy." To make good candy, getting good ingredients are important.

Swendsen buys the best he can find, which might mean buying a quart of Amaretti vanilla for $120. The shop also has factory-made candy for sale, and a large selection of sugar-free candies for diabetics. He said there has been a significant number of customers from Jackson, Wyo., who tend to come in on Saturday.

"People are longing for skillfully produced goods and services, and presentation beyond mass merchandising. We really want to make people feel welcome."

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Home prices up, sales times down, for first seven months of 2017

Source: Snake River MLS

Here’s a little snapshot of the real estate market for the first seven months of this year. The numbers show a little bit of a slowdown from last year in terms of homes sold and new listings. That said, homes are selling faster and for significantly more.

From the investment standpoint, real estate is looking really good — depending of course on when you got in. The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s HPI-Calculator shows that if you bought a $100,000 home in Idaho Falls in Q2 1987 — 30 years ago — that property would be worth $247,505 today. That’s a climb back from the dip it took in 2011, when it went down to $193,564 in the second quarter, from its previous high in Q2 2008 of $232,923. The good news is that you were never underwater, provided that you didn’t do anything silly.

If you bought a $100,000 home in Q2 2007, it would be worth $109,554 in Q2 2017, according to the calculator. If you bought it in Q2 2012, it would be worth $126,374.

Good news for everyone. Just remember, however, numbers are numbers, and real worth depends completely on the money someone is willing to hand you.

To look at the HPI-Calculator, here's the link: https://www.fhfa.gov/DataTools/Tools/Pages/HPI-Calculator.aspx

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

INL accepting applications for community giving, economic development grants

Battelle Energy Alliance, which manages Idaho National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy, announced Monday that it is accepting applications for the fiscal year 2018 Community Giving and Technology-based Economic Development campaigns. Each program focuses on a distinct audience and purpose. Applications for charitable or philanthropic donations for both programs will be accepted through Oct. 16.

Fiscal Year 2018 Community Giving Campaign


The INL Community Giving program provides BEA corporate-funded donations in select areas, such as human services, health, environment, arts and civic projects.


“The Community Giving program is focused on eastern Idaho, where INL’s employees live and work, and prioritizes organizations that support children and people in need,” said Lori Priest, contributions administrator. “That includes efforts to feed the hungry, provide basic shelter to those without, and improve quality of life."

Since 2005, the program has provided support for a variety of outreach efforts.


“It is our responsibility to be good neighbors and make a positive contribution to our community,” said Amy Lientz, director of INL’s Partnerships team. “It’s also a privilege for those of us fortunate enough to work at INL to help our friends and neighbors in need.”


Fiscal Year 2018 Technology-based Economic Development Campaign

The INL Technology-based Economic Development program targets projects aimed at spurring regional economic development, technology-based economic development, talent pipeline and entrepreneurship in the area.


“We enjoyed great success in 2017, supporting projects throughout Idaho: in the Panhandle, Sun Valley, north-central Idaho, and Butte County,” said Stephanie Cook of INL’s Economic and Workforce Development team. “Our goal is to continue investing in creative projects that support INL’s research priorities, grow the talent pipeline, and enhance the regional and state economies.”

Eligibility criteria: Organizations must be 501(c)(3) nonprofit entities. A copy of the IRS tax-exempt letter must accompany the form. INL’s charitable donation program does not fund political or religious organizations, emergency response, courtesy advertisements, athletic programs or events, individuals, contests or extracurricular school activities. This funding does not include requests for K-12 education donations.


For further information on K-12 science, technology, engineering and math educational funding requests and grant cycles, contact Brenda Greenhalgh (brenda.greenhalgh@inl.gov).

Applications submitted after the Oct. 16 deadline will not be included in the review process. Decisions about 2018 contributions will be made by Dec. 15. Notifications will be sent to requesting organizations informing them of funding awards. Funds will be for projects for the period of Oct. 1, 2017, to Sept. 30, 2018.

For full details on both programs, or to download the 2018 request for donation form, visit INL’s website at www.inl.gov. From there, select Menu on the top right, then choose Partner with INL, then choose either Community and Education Outreach or Economic and Workforce Development.

Monday, August 14, 2017

INL names two new distinguished postdoctoral appointees

Dr. Thomas V. Holschuh II
Idaho National Laboratory has named Dr. Thomas V. Holschuh II and Abdalla Abou Jaoude as its first two Deslonde de Boisblanc Distinguished Postdoctoral appointees.

The appointments are designed for early career scientists and engineers to perform leading-edge research and development for advanced power reactor design and development, and to support ongoing studies at INL research reactor facilities. It is named in honor of Deslonde de Boisblanc, best known for designing the Advanced Test Reactor’s famous clover-leaf core, which allows multiple nuclear fuels and materials to be tested at the same time in the same reactor at different power levels.

“The arrival of the first two Deslonde de Boisblanc Distinguished Postdoctoral appointments will help inspire our research and bring fresh perspectives to INL – something that will leave a lasting impact,” said Dr. Kelly Beierschmitt, INL deputy laboratory director for science and technology and chief research officer. “Without de Boisblanc’s inspiration, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

Holschuh graduated from Oregon State University with a doctorate in nuclear engineering in June 2017. His doctoral research evaluated using a new detecting method, the Cherenkov Radiation Assay for Nuclear Kinetics (CRANK) system, to accurately determine reactor kinetics parameters. Holschuh will be using the same technique to perform observations of INL’s Transient Reactor Test Facility (TREAT) under the guidance of his future mentor, Dan Wachs, who leads the transient testing experimental program.

Abdalla Abou Jaoude
“We've been working with Tommy for several years and are looking forward to his return to INL,” said Dr. David Chichester, an INL directorate fellow and Holschuh’s mentor during his graduate internship. “With key skills in reactor physics and radiation science, he's going to be making important contributions to our nuclear energy and nuclear nonproliferation research programs.”

The second appointee, Abdalla Abou Jaoude, is scheduled to begin his appointment in January 2018, following the completion of his doctorate in December 2017. Abou Jaoude is currently a postdoctoral candidate in nuclear and radiological engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His postdoctoral research focus is neutronics, core design, simulation methods and nuclear nonproliferation. When his appointment begins, he will work with mentor Gilles Youinou on the design and evaluation of a mixed-spectrum molten chloride test reactor.


"Abdalla has an exceptional ability to see the big picture when it comes to a reactor design. He has all it takes – motivation, scholarship and talent – to become a leader in advanced reactor development," said Dr. Anna Erickson, Abou Jaoude’s supervising professor at GIT.

INL’s first distinguished postdoctoral appointee, Dr. Cheng Sun, was named to the Russell L. Heath distinguished postdoctoral appointment in October 2016.

“Appointing two excellent researchers to the first de Boisblanc postdoc positions reflects on the high caliber of the applicants in a very competitive selection process. These individuals will help define a new standard of excellence in advanced reactor design and application at INL,” said Dr. Sean O’Kelly, associate laboratory director for the Advanced Test Reactor.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Ground broken on new development at Memorial and Broadway

An artist's representation of what The Broadway will look like
With the ceremonial spading of dirt by city officials and business leaders, work got underway Monday on The Broadway on the site of the old Saving Center at Broadway and Memorial Drive.

The complex will consist of a 9,600-square-foot single story retail building and a three-story mixed-used building incorporating retail, restaurant and office space, with residential condominiums on the third story. Spaces are divisible up to 1,200 square feet. Between the two buildings there will be a plaza for food, music and entertainment.

The property was bought in 2015 by the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency, which had conducted a study analyzing demand for downtown housing estimating demand for housing units between 455 to 502 units. The board also approved the purchase of an option on the Bonneville Hotel at Constitution Way and Park Avenue.

In February 2016, the Oppenheimer Development Corp. responded to the IFRA’s request for proposals on the .95-acre property.

Bank of Idaho, Parsons, Beahle & Latimer, Smokin Fins (a Colorado-based seafood restaurant chain), and Lucy’s Pizzeria have been listed as prospective tenants. Leasing arrangements are being handled by Thornton Oliver Keller. For more information, follow this link: The Broadway.