Wednesday, October 16, 2019

INL seeking non-profit economic development grant applicants

Idaho National Laboratory is taking applications from non-profit organizations interested in participating in its 2020 Technology-based Economic Development Campaign.

The TBED program’s mission is to stimulate economic development, support new technology, recruit new talent and encourage entrepreneurship throughout Idaho. To achieve these goals, grants for several different types of projects are being offered:

Projects that support INL missions related to energy, environment and national security.
Projects that could ultimately benefit INL and its ability to attract and maintain talent in Idaho.
Statewide projects that strengthen energy, advanced manufacturing and cybersecurity supply chains.

Organizations must be 501(c)(3) nonprofit entities. A copy of the IRS tax-exempt letter must accompany the form.

The deadline for 2020 donation requests is Nov. 15. Applications submitted after the deadline will not be included in the review process. Decisions will be made by Dec. 17. Notifications will be sent to requesting organizations informing them of funding awards. Funds will be for projects for the period of Jan. 1, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2020.

For full details on all programs, visit INL’s website, www.inl.gov. Links can be found by clicking on Partner With INL in the top right corner of the page, then choosing Economic and Workforce Development. This is also where the INL Tech-based Economic Development Request Form 2020 can be found.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

State of Idaho, Idaho National Laboratory celebrate opening of new buildings

Idaho National Laboratory, the Idaho State Board of Education, and the Idaho State Building Authority officially opened two brand-new buildings in Idaho Falls Monday: the Cybercore Integration Center (CIC) and the Collaborative Computing Center (C3).

Held at the C3 facility, the ribbon-cutting ceremony included remarks by INL Director Mark Peters; Robert Boston, manager of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho Operations Office; Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin; Idaho State Board of Education member Dave Hill; Idaho State University President Kevin Satterlee; University of Idaho President C. Scott Green; and V.L. “Bud” Tracey, chairman of the Idaho State Building Authority. Open houses and tours of both facilities were offered.

Totaling close to 150,000 square feet, the C3 and CIC buildings represent an endeavor by the state and INL to expand collaboration and employment opportunities for Idaho university students. Construction of the new buildings was financed by an almost $90 million bond approved by the Idaho Legislature in March 2017. INL and the state of Idaho have a long history of collaboration and partnership through joint research programs with Idaho’s three public universities – Idaho State University, Boise State University and University of Idaho – state agencies, and private industry. Like the nearby Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES), which opened in 2009, CIC and C3 are owned by the state and leased to INL.

The Cybercore Integration Center will serve as a research, education and training facility for cybersecurity work. The state-of-the-art collaboration facility brings together federal, state, academic and private industry representatives to jointly design and develop resilient infrastructure that can withstand current and future threats, ranging from cyberattacks to natural disasters. It contains reconfigurable and electronic laboratory space, training and demonstration areas, and office suites, all focused on securing the nation’s critical infrastructure control systems and related components.

The Collaborative Computing Center will soon be the new home of INL’s Falcon and Lemhi supercomputers, and next year will welcome Sawtooth, expected to be one of the most powerful supercomputers in the Pacific Northwest when it goes online. Students from across Idaho already access the modeling and simulation capabilities of Falcon and Lemhi through the Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON).

"These facilities not only will enhance INL's supercomputing and cybersecurity capabilities, but also serve Idaho's university students and faculty for decades to come," said INL Director Mark Peters. "All of us at INL are proud to partner with the state to educate and train our students for great career opportunities, and we're thankful to everyone who made this possible."

“The construction and opening of these facilities would never have happened had the leaders at the state of Idaho and INL not come together in partnership,” said Idaho State Board of Education member David Hill. “This really is a reimagining of higher education and the pooling of available resources within our state to build an integrated educational ecosystem for Idaho.”

Monday, October 14, 2019

Community invited to discussion about Chernobyl miniseries

Earlier this year, HBO released a five-part drama on the Chernobyl nuclear accident. The series has sparked public questions about the safety of nuclear energy, radiation risks and whether such an accident could happen in the United States.

As the nation’s nuclear energy research laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory has extensive experience developing, demonstrating and evaluating different reactor concepts; handling nuclear fuel and materials; conducting post-accident analyses; and keeping employees and the public safe from radiation exposure. INL experts understand nuclear energy and the events at Chernobyl and are eager to share what they know.

The lab has organized a series of expert panels to answer the public’s questions about Chernobyl, nuclear safety and radiation. Experts in reactor design, safe operational practices, radiation and the Chernobyl accident itself will be available for hour-long Q&As in both Idaho Falls and Pocatello.

All interested citizens are invited to attend. Bring your smartphone to participate in interactive polling about topics of interest. Attendees will be able to sign up for INL tours and can submit questions beforehand to nuclearquestions@inl.gov.

Here is a link to video from the first Chernobyl panel, held at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies: https://idahonationallaboratory.app.box.com/s/rp53axarnhzg578l5uxpvx42lqsyvelw

Locations, dates and times:

Tuesday, Oct. 15
1 p.m., College of Eastern Idaho, 1600 S. 25th E., Building 3, room 306, Idaho Falls
5 p.m., Art Museum of Eastern Idaho, 300 S. Capital Ave., Idaho Falls

Wednesday, Oct. 16
7 p.m., Art Museum of Eastern Idaho, 300 S. Capital Ave., Idaho Falls

Thursday, Oct. 17
7 p.m., ISU Physical Science Building, room 140, 921 S. 8th Ave. (corner of 8th and Carter), Pocatello

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Bank of Idaho Holding Co. stock now trading over the counter

Jeff Newgard
OTC Markets Group Inc. announced Oct. 2 that Bank of Idaho Holding Co. has qualified to trade on the OTCQX Best Market. Bank of Idaho Holding Co. was previously privately-held.

“We are pleased to welcome Bank of Idaho Holding Co., the first Idaho-based institution to join the OTCQX Best Market,” said Jason Paltrowitz, executive vice president of Corporate Services at OTC Markets Group. “Bank of Idaho Holding Co. is the fifteenth community bank to join the OTCQX market this year, to provide investors with greater transparency and more efficient trading. We look forward to supporting Bank of Idaho Holding Co. in the public market.”

Bank President and CEO, Jeff Newgard shared: “We are truly excited to be the first Idaho-based bank to join the OTCQX Best Market Group. As a bank, we are focused on supporting small business, the lifeblood of our economy in Idaho. By providing innovative tools and expert guidance, we seek to become the best community bank in the state. We're excited for the opportunities that lie ahead, and we have our sights set on a bright future for Bank of Idaho and the shareholders of Bank of Idaho Holding Co.”

Bank of Idaho Holding Co. was organized in 1997 as the parent company for Bank of Idaho, which received its state banking charter in September 1985. With total assets of $375 million and growing, the Idaho Falls-based bank presently has 9 full-service branches in operation across southern Idaho, with one additional location pending. In addition to retail and commercial banking, Bank of Idaho also offers a full spectrum of trust and investment services, along with mortgage lending.

Bank of Idaho Holding Co. is the sole owner of Bank of Idaho, a state-chartered commercial bank, and trades under the symbol BOID. U.S. investors can find financial disclosures and quotes for the company at www.otcmarkets.com. OTC Markets Group Inc. (OTCQX: OTCM) operates financial markets for 10,000 U.S. and global securities.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Guest Opinion: Rural electric coops need members to lobby for tax law change

Bryan Case
By Bryan Case, Fall River Electric Cooperative CEO

Electric cooperatives throughout rural America, including Fall River Rural Electric Cooperative, face a financial crisis inadvertently caused by Congress. And the weight of this crisis is made even more clear when electric cooperatives must face power restoration costs following natural disasters. If you receive power from Fall River Electric at your business, home or recreational property, this message is specifically for you.

If Fall River Electric, a not-for-profit company, accepted government grants to restore power in the wake of a local natural disaster such as an earthquake, flood, major winter storm or forest wildfire, we could lose our tax-exempt status and be forced to pay back a substantial chunk of that money to the government. A change to federal tax laws in 2017 targeted at for-profit companies has created a requirement for co-ops to count grants from federal, state or local governments as non-member revenue. For Fall River Electric to maintain its tax-exempt status, no more than 15 percent of the Co-op’s annual income can come from sources other than its owner-members.

Here are two examples of how government grants have been used by local electric cooperatives:

Our neighboring electric co-op, Lower Valley Energy in Jackson WY, has a pending multi-
million-dollar grant request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to pay for
the replacement of seventeen 75-foot power poles that were downed during a February 2017
winter storm.

Fall River Electric used a $3.2M grant in 2011 to install advanced metering infrastructure (AMI)
smart meters throughout our service territory as well funding a fiber optic backbone for communications.

Looking ahead to the future, a grant to cover natural disaster recovery or infrastructure improvements could push Fall River over the 15 percent revenue threshold with severe consequences.

This would leave Fall River with an unfair choice: do we take the government grant money we would
need to turn the lights back on after a disaster? Or do we turn down those grants, so we won’t have
to spend our members’ money paying taxes rather than improving service? And if we are forced to
pay taxes on a grant, would we have to increase rates to our members to cover that cost?

According to the Treasury Department, congressional action is the only way to address this issue.
Fortunately, key lawmakers recognize this is an unintended consequence of the 2017 tax bill and
they’re working together toward a solution before it hits home with their rural constituents.
The bipartisan RURAL Act, introduced by Reps. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) and Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) and Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.), will restore certainty and common sense. The bill ensures that co-ops do not jeopardize their tax-exempt status when they accept government grants.

Time is running out and lawmakers must pass legislation this year. Passage of the RURAL Act is
essential for America’s rural communities. I urge our owner-members to join this effort by writing to
your Congressional delegates. A draft letter can be found at www.action.coop which can be sent “as
is” to your representatives or used as a guide to draft your own letter.

Once on this website, click the link “Take Action” and follow the three easy steps. Time is of the
essence as this legislation needs to be passed soon so letters should be forwarded as soon as possible.

Bryan Case is CEO/General Manager of Fall River Rural Electric Cooperative, serving nearly
15,000 owner-members in east Idaho, southwest Montana and western Wyoming. Fall River
Electric is committed to safely and economically provide reliable energy and other services which
bring value to its membership.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Three-story office building planned for MK Simpson Boulevard

Looks like another new building will be going up on MK Simpson Boulevard, a three-story, 62,250-square-foot office building just east of Idaho National Laboratory’s Energy Systems Laboratory.

A permit application was filed Oct. 7 with the City of Idaho Falls Building Department by Voigt Consulting. The value of the project, at 650 MK Simpson Boulevard, is estimated at $7.5 million.

The building will be located on 4.5 acres, and be the next addition to a campus that is already booming. A ribbon cutting is planned for Monday at the Cybercore Integration Center (CIC) and Collaborative Computing Center (C3), projects funded by the State of Idaho that will house INL’s supercomputers and cyber-research.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Directors named for National Reactor Innovation Center

Dr. Ashley Finan
Following a nationwide search, Dr. Ashley Finan has been selected as director of the Idaho National Laboratory-based National Reactor Innovation Center, and Nicholas Smith has been selected to serve as deputy director. As NRIC directors, Finan and Smith will lead efforts to accelerate the testing, demonstration and commercialization of innovative reactor technologies in the United States.

"Building and operating advanced reactors is essential to U.S. leadership in nuclear energy, and these roles are essential to achieving that goal," said Dr. John Wagner, associate director of INL's Nuclear Science & Technology directorate. "Ashley has played a key role in the formation of the policy that made NRIC possible. She and Nicholas are ideally suited to develop and implement the NRIC vision."

Authorized by the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA), NRIC will provide resources to test, demonstrate, and assess performance of new nuclear technologies, critical steps that must be completed before they are available commercially. Through NRIC, developers will gain access to the strategic infrastructure and assets of the national laboratories. These capabilities will support a timely and cost-effective path to licensing and commercializing new nuclear systems, which will generate carbon-free electricity and contribute to the decarbonization of major economic sectors.

Nicholas Smith
Finan served most recently as executive director of the Nuclear Innovation Alliance, a non-profit think tank working to enable nuclear power as a global solution to mitigate climate change. Prior to her work with NIA, Finan led nuclear innovation programs at Clean Air Task Force. She holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in nuclear science and engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“NRIC will play a pivotal role in decarbonization by empowering trailblazing companies to demonstrate and commercialize the next generation of nuclear technologies,” Finan said. “I’m inspired by our innovators, labs, and policymakers and their commitment to tackling global challenges. I’m dedicated to leading NRIC to enable demonstration of advanced technology that will achieve our energy, security, and environmental goals, while sustaining the U.S. nuclear fleet’s tradition of excellence.”

Smith has worked with the research and development organization of Atlanta-based Southern Company since 2010, most recently as principal engineer. In this role, he oversaw a Generation IV nuclear reactor R&D program and was responsible for collaboration with reactor designers, national labs and policymakers, and early engagement with regulators. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from San Diego State University, a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and a master’s degree in nuclear engineering from North Carolina State University. 

“NRIC will provide on-the-ground capabilities to accelerate nuclear technology readiness from proof-of-concept through proof-of-operations,” said Wagner. “Ashley and Nicholas are the right team to lead NRIC and make advanced reactor demonstrations a reality.”

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

New recovery center opening in Idaho Falls

Brick House Recovery, a faith-based substance abuse treatment program, will be holding a grand opening Thursday afternoon of its new location in Idaho Falls, at 2020 Landbank Street.

The event will be from noon to 7 p.m., with tours of the building and refreshments. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will begin at 2 p.m.

"We'd like to invite everyone to join us and celebrate the grand opening! Our goal is to provide a house of healing and a gathering place for both the addicted and their family members in this area,” said Jason Coombs, who founded Brick House Recovery five years ago in Boise. Coombs said he was responding to an aching need for high-quality, private, faith-based addiction recovery.

“We chose the name ‘Brick House Recovery’ in order to reflect a specific idea,” he said. “We believe that a healthy, sober lifestyle is built much like a house: from the ground up. Both start with a strong foundation and a practical frame. Many people in recovery are eager for immediate, visible results. It’s as if they’re investing in the paint color and light fixtures when they haven’t yet built a strong foundation in the ground, let alone the framework.”

The Idaho Falls center will be the organization’s second facility. For more information, call (208) 650-7359.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

I.F.-based Bank of Idaho opens second Boise branch

Bank of Idaho continues its expansion in western Idaho today with its second Boise location, at 6981 W. Overland Road.

This newest Boise office will be the bank's ninth full-service branch. Bank of Idaho started as Bank of Eastern Idaho in 1985 and remains a community bank focused on the advancement of small businesses, providing tools and support that help build personal long-term relationships with their clients.

“We work hard to learn about our customers," Bank President and CEO Jeff Newgard said. "We strive to gain a deep understanding of their goals and aspirations, so we can anticipate their needs and give them the right tools to succeed. Pair that philosophy with decisions that are made right here at the local level, and it truly sets us apart from many of our competitors."

The Bank of Idaho Overland Branch team will be made up of some familiar faces from the area: Charlie Kouba, V.P. Commercial Banking Manager, Surbir Chadha, V.P. Commercial Loan Officer, Caroline Kennedy, Retail Branch Manager, Katelyn Shaw, Loan Assistant, and Lacy Beck, Universal Banking Associate.