Friday, January 31, 2020

Bonneville Hotel in downtown Idaho Falls officially open

The facade of the Bonneville Hotel, in downtown Idaho Falls. The roof deck at the second level will be accessible to both commercial and residential occupants and will include landscaping and exterior amenities for dining, events and relaxation.
The kitchen in one of the apartments
The newly renovated Bonneville Hotel at Park Avenue and Constitution Way held a ribbon-cutting and open house Thursday, showing off an urban renewal project years in the making.

If you want to rent an apartment there you’re probably going to have to wait. All but three of the building’s 34 units — one studio apartment and two one-bedroom apartments — had been rented, said Amy Raymond, resident manager for The Housing Co.

Raymond said rent for a studio is $515/month, $606 for a one-bedroom and $708 for a two-bedroom unit. “We have such a great mix of people, from young people to retirees,” she said.

The project was announced by the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency, which administers money collected from the city’s urban renewal districts. IFRA put out a request for proposals in early 2016 and selected developers later that year. The winning proposal, from THC, called for a mixed-use development with commercial, retail, restaurant and residential spaces. THC was responsible for the restoration of the Whitman Hotel in Pocatello, and manages more than 1,500 units, currently assessed at over $48 million.

The cost of the project was estimated at $10 million. Approximately $440,000 will be funded by the agency, while the majority of the funding is coming from housing and historic preservation tax credits.

Built in 1927 by a group of community investors, the Bonneville was once the crown jewel of downtown Idaho Falls, but had fallen into disrepair by the turn of the millennium. The renovation required the removal of all existing plumbing and delivery lines and soil lines, down to the basement and from the basement to the street’s main discharge line. All electrical wiring and fixtures were removed and discarded except for any fixtures with historical value, which were sent out for repair and rewiring.

Lee Radford, chairman of the Redevelopment Agency, said they are very pleased with the results. “It’s what we were looking for,” he said. “It’s hard to say how long we’ve been talking about this.”

Time was of the essence, because the urban renewal district that made it possible was phased out in the fall of 2018. Idaho’s urban renewal law allows for tax increment financing in areas that wouldn’t otherwise lend themselves to economically feasible development. Basically, a property owner pays normal taxes on unimproved property, but taxes on any improvements are diverted to the redevelopment agency and the city to pay for infrastructure, e.g. curb and gutter, water and sewer, and electrical. Tax increment financing has help boost projects such as Snake River Landing and Taylor Crossing on the River, as well as the hotels on Lindsay Boulevard.

“We were always getting input from the community that they want us to do this,” Radford said. “If you have a strong center, everybody benefits from it.”

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

INL receives high Corporate Equality Index score

Idaho National Laboratory received a score of 95% on the 2020 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), the nation's premier benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) workplace equality, administered by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation. This is five points higher than the 2019 score and makes INL once again the highest scoring business in Idaho. INL’s score reflects a commitment to LGBTQ workplace equality through tangible policies, benefits and practices.

“The impact of the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index over its 18-year history is profound. In this time, the corporate community has worked with us to adopt LGBTQ-inclusive policies, practices and benefits,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “These companies know that protecting their LGBTQ employees and customers from discrimination is not just the right thing to do -- it is also the best business decision.”  

Key policies that earned INL a top score include:
  • Support an inclusive culture for everyone.
  • Offer equitable benefits for LGBTQ employees and their families including transgender-inclusive health-care coverage.
  • Aligned philanthropic grant process with our business strategy that charitable organizations receiving INL grants must be inclusive of all people.
  • Provided vendors the option to self-identify as an LGBTQ-owned business.
  • Updated relocation policy to encompass immediate family, which includes domestic partners.
“I’m proud that the Corporate Equality Index has once again recognized INL as a top inclusive employer. We’re dedicated to ensuring workplace equality for everyone and being a vocal advocate for equality inside and outside the laboratory by aligning our community giving and outreach to our business values,” said Juan Alvarez, INL deputy laboratory director for Management and Operations and chief operating officer.

The 2020 CEI evaluates LGBTQ-related policies and practices including nondiscrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health-care benefits, competency programs, and public engagement with the LGBTQ community. For more information on the 2020 Corporate Equality Index, or to download a free copy of the report, visit www.hrc.org/cei.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Idaho Falls Regional Airport hits record numbers in 2019

The Idaho Falls Regional Airport (IDA) continues to break passenger records, with 30,093 more people using the airport in 2019 over 2018.

The 2019 passenger count total for IDA was 352,093, which broke the previous record of 328,364, set in 2014. The 2019 numbers are the highest numbers in the airport’s history.

The total number of enplanements -- passengers getting on flights -- in 2019 was 177,168, up from 161,019 in 2018.

“These are all numbers we have received from the air carriers that serve the airport,” said IDA Director Rick Cloutier. “These will be reported to the FAA by the airlines and are the numbers used by the FAA to categorize airports and help determine the levels of federal funding available to us.”

Those numbers represent a 9% increase in air travelers going through IDA in 2019. That is on top of an additional 9% increase that the airport saw from 2017 to 2018.

“A lot of factors go into accounting for those increased numbers,” said Cloutier. “Overall, this just demonstrates that we have a very healthy amount of business and leisure travel going on here. I think that we can continue to expect those numbers to get even better with the recent changes we’ve implemented and the improvements that we’ll continue to see here over the next few years.”

The airport recently added new restaurant services and will also begin construction soon on a terminal expansion. This expansion will add a three new gates and added area in the security screening and gate areas. The airport also recently opened its brand new and upgraded baggage claim and improved airport security service with the TSA Pre Check line for approved passengers.

In addition, IDA recently announced that United Airlines will begin providing a fifth daily flight to Denver for the first time in the airport’s history. United has also announced that they are increasing the size of the aircraft for two of those daily flights, adding 102 new seats daily, or 50 percent more capacity to the Denver destination. The new, larger aircraft also will add a first class seating section that has not previously been available.

“The more people using the airport, the more services airlines are inclined to offer in terms of plane size, destinations and pricing,” Cloutier said. “As they see the growth here they want to provide more services and more destinations.  That will mean a lot more options for east Idaho and the surrounding region.”

Monday, January 27, 2020

New to BizMojo Idaho: East Idaho Entrepreneurs

This week I'm happy to announce a new relationship with East Idaho Entrepreneurs, a podcast started in 2018 by Renae Oswald. I was not aware of the work she has been doing until a few weeks ago, when I saw a link on Facebook. When I saw it, it reminded me of the weekly business profiles I did for the Post Register when I was the business reporter, albeit on a 21st century platform. When I reached out to her to compliment her on her work, we decided that we might be able to help each other.

As a result, I'm going to be reprinting her content weekly and posting links to her website in hopes of getting her more recognition. From my end, good, original content is like gold, so this is something that will add value to BizMojo Idaho.

Here is EIE's most recent posting, about Logan and Bobby Thomas of High Country Cleaning. The link to the podcast is at the bottom, or you can go to it here.

Born to Create

Logan and Bobby Thomas
Both Logan and Bobby Thomas started their entrepreneurial journey when they were preteens. Logan had a lawn care business and Bobby raised chickens and sold their eggs. When they found each other while attending college, they knew they were the perfect fit and could see their lives being that of an entrepreneurial couple.

Logan started High Caliber Cleaning while attending college. At that time it was a mobile car cleaning service and Bobby said, “he had a vacuum and a sponge, that's all he had. He'd do details for people and go to school.” At the same time, Bobby was a financial advisor and really loved her job. After they got married they realized that their careers were taking them opposite directions and so Bobby decided to quit her job and join the business full-time

“I was all about the datasheets and the finances and the money and the business aspect,” Bobby said, “(Logan's) always been a big risk-taker.” Ever since they've combined their efforts they have grown the business and see how they are creating their future together. She shared that making the sacrifice to give up her career track was worth it. “I feel like millenials have big dreams and aspirations, what sets us apart is that we are serious about our success.”

“Entrepreneurship is something you are born with ... you don't learn how to never give up. That's something you are born with,” Bobby said. Both Logan and Bobby were raised by parents who taught them how to work and if they wanted something that they needed to go get it. Bobby feels that helps to make them the perfect match and set them up for success. “They were creating these powerhouses,” she said.

Working together as a couple has presented it's own challenges, but Bobby and Logan feel that they are good complements to each other. Bobby admits that she looks at things very different from Logan but they are able to balance each other out. “The first year … that was tough,” she said, “I think it made us stronger and it keeps building.” Bobby feels that being humble and vulnerable together has helped them be successful.

Watching other couples and their success in the 9 to 5 sometimes makes them wonder if entrepreneurship was the right decision. She admits the security would be nice at times but says, “the more secure you are the less opportunity you have. There's so much opportunity out there, that opportunity would be capped if I was working a 9 to 5.

High Caliber Cleaning is looking to expand to Boise and Bobby and Logan see their future in real estate. The future is bright for them and their determination feels like it will fuel them to their next big steps

For more information on High Caliber Cleaning go to https://www.idahofallscardetailing.com/.
Thank you to Disruptive Productions for editing the show. Check them out at https://disruptiveproductions.com/.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Bank of Idaho names interim Trust and Wealth manager

Jeremy Parkinson
Jeremy Parkinson has been named Bank of Idaho's interim Trust and Wealth Department Manager. He assumed responsibilities Jan. 6.

Parkinson takes over for Hal Peterson, who will retire on April 30. During the interim, Peterson will assist in the transition.

Parkinson began work at Bank of Idaho in March. He came aboard as part of the bank's expansion into the Treasure Valley, and is located at their downtown Boise office.

Bank President and CEO Jeff Newgard said that from the start, he could see Parkinson's potential as a team leader. "He's a very knowledgeable, dynamic trust officer. But beyond that, you don't have to spend long with the guy to realize that his passion for his work is intense," Newgard said.

Parkinson has instituted a slate of internal upgrades to help the trust department be more closely attuned to clients' needs. "The trust department is at a point where we can take things to the next level," he said. "Internally, we're going to implement some new technology and efficiency measures that'll help us serve our clients better."

Peterson has been at the helm of the bank's trust department since its inception in 1999. He plans to spend his retirement with his family on the trails and waterways near his cabin in Island Park.

Bank of Idaho, established in 1985, has seen strong recent growth. The Idaho Falls-based bank has broadened its footprint to include community banking in the Treasure Valley, where two full-service branches and one loan production office have been established within the past year. The company recently completed a capital campaign to support more anticipated growth and began
listing its stock for public trade on the OTC-QX market under the symbol BOID.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Longhorn Steakhouse planned for former Famous Dave's location

Famous Dave's on West Broadway is now just a memory.
We've had a few questions about Famous Dave's on West Broadway, which is undergoing a remodel and will no longer be Famous Dave's. Before long, it will be a Longhorn Steakhouse.

Famous Dave's closed its doors in September 2019. On Jan. 13 this year the city of Idaho Falls approved the building permit application filed on behalf of Jim Powell Darden Restaurants of Orlando, Fla., which also owns the Olive Garden and Red Lobster chains. The remodel value is estimated at $1.25 million.

While you were chowing down on ribs and cornbread at Famous Dave's, the company was in trouble. In 2017, with profits sliding and five CEOs in as many years, the Minneapolis-based chain announced plans to refranchise its entire company footprint. It trimmed corporate stores from 35 to 16, and had just 17 at the end of fiscal 2018. “We intend to strategically refresh the stores in these markets and believe that higher efficiencies at these locations will result in higher cash flows from previous levels while under franchise ownership,” CEO Jeff Crivello said in a press release.

More information can be found at this link: https://www.fsrmagazine.com/chain-restaurants/famous-daves-buys-back-stores-profit-slips.

In June last year, the company announced a partnership with Beyond Meat and plans to launch a test of plant-based protein menu items in Colorado and Minnesota.

Longhorn Steakhouse currently has one restaurant in Boise.

Thanks to BizMojoIdaho reader Brent Colborn for this heads up and also reports that the old Puerto Vallarta on Hitt Road is being remodeled into Cosmo Professional Beauty Supply.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

INL to set up commercialization center, 'Trailhead East,' in Idaho Falls

By Sharon Fisher
Reprinted from Idaho Business Review

Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has received a one-year grant to set up a center to facilitate the creation of commercial products from technologies developed from research at the lab, modeled after and partnering with Boise’s Trailhead incubator space.

In homage, the space will be called Trailhead East @ Idaho National Lab.

“There’s not a huge innovation ecosystem in Idaho Falls,” said Jim Keating, commercialization and entrepreneurial programs manager for INL. “We want to play an integral role.”

How the project came about
The project is receiving funding through Practices to Accelerate the Commercialization of Technology (PACT) from the Department of Energy’s Office of Technology Transitions, after a call for proposals about six months ago. The project received $175,000 from PACT, plus INL and Trailhead are contributing $96,000 of in-kind contributions, for a total budget of $271,000.

While the grant will last for only this year, the lab is looking on this as a pilot in the hopes that it will attract industry partners and become self-sustaining, Keating said, adding that it was the only project of its kind to receive PACT funding.

The initial cohort – for which the lab is now taking applications – will be five teams, each of which will receive $15,000 to begin to identify customers or industrial partners, Keating said. That amount largely pays for the staffers’ time to be away from the lab to conduct customer interviews and refine their business model, using the Stanford University Lean Launchpad method, he said.

“It’s a really effective approach,” he said. “Instead of spending millions to develop technology, first you validate that there’s a market.”

The program itself is considered a continuation of the Energy Innovation Corps. (I-Corps.), a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy that is intended to help engineers and scientists from national labs commercialize technologies they have developed, Keating said.

Of the five cohorts, two teams will be chosen, each of which will receive $28,000 to continue the process of developing a market for the technology. Part of that process will be to attend a pitch competition in Boise in early December.

“We’re hoping with one of the two teams that at least one will land an industrial partner,” Keating said.

Teams could also attend Boise Startup Week, he added.

Dana Briggs
Effect on Idaho Falls
Keating said the center is also expected to help expand Idaho Falls’ economic development opportunities.

Dana Briggs, economic development director for Idaho Falls, said she is happy that INL received grant funding “to move forward projects that help the technologies developed at INL serve market needs.”

“I personally have been impressed with the work Trailhead Boise does and am excited that Idaho National Laboratory will be partnering with them to foster our local innovation ecosystem,” she said in an email message.

While Idaho Falls already has the Idaho Innovation Center, which is currently in the process of raising money to construct a new building, this project is different and complementary, Keating said.

“This isn’t done in exclusion,” he said. “Any time you’re building an ecosystem, the more the merrier. We need all efforts.”

Keating also noted that the INL workers intended to be participating in Trailhead East are different.

“These are not your typical entrepreneur who can quit their job and start a company,” he said.
Much of the work they will be doing at Trailhead East will be customer validation and interviews with people from industry.

“A lot of technology requires considerable effort transferring it from the lab to business,” he said.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Local home prices increase, outpacing national numbers

The Idaho Falls Metropolitan Statistic Area shows normal valuation on CoreLogic's map.
Looking at the CoreLogic HPI report for November 2019 and comparing it with data from the Snake River Multiple Listing Service, home prices in Bonneville County increased at nearly three times the national rate.

CoreLogic, out of Irvine, Calif., reported home prices increased for the year by 3.7%. Snake River MLS’s marketing statistics show the median home price in Bonneville County through November was $221,050, up from $196,820 — an increase of 12.31%.

Idaho ranked first in home price change, registering 10.2%. And while Bonneville County showed up on the map, the hottest market in the state remains Treasure Valley. To the south, Utah showed an increase of 6.7%

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates that home prices will increase by 5.3% on a year-over-year basis from November 2019 to November 2020. On a month-over-month basis, home prices are expected to increase by 0.2% from November 2019 to December 2019. The CoreLogic HPI Forecast is a projection of home prices using the CoreLogic HPI and other economic variables. Values are derived from state-level forecasts by weighting indices according to the number of owner-occupied households for each state.

During the second quarter of 2019, CoreLogic, together with RTi Research of Norwalk, Connecticut, conducted an extensive survey measuring consumer-housing sentiment among millennials. The study showed that a significant number of older millennials (ages 30-38) are strongly considering moving within the next 12 months, with 64% of this cohort expecting to purchase a home, reinforcing this group’s interest in the housing market. Meanwhile, 57% of younger millennials (ages 21-29) plan on renting their next home. Despite the purchase intent among older millennials, nearly half (43%) still view homeownership as unaffordable and out of reach.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Commercial real estate firm TOK launches rebranding

Signs around town on properties listed by Thornton Oliver Keller, the Boise-based commercial real estate firm, are going to be getting a new look soon. The 29-year old firm announced Thursday that it is rebranding, shortening its name to TOK and changing its logo.

The firm has enjoyed rapid expansion over the last several years and is positioning itself for further growth with the new look, a company press release said. The aim of the rebranding is to eliminate complexity and dated iconography and offer TOK a fresh identity for its signage, advertising, websites and social media channels.

“It seemed like a logical time to take this step. We wanted to have a branding platform that was able to reflect our growing size and scale,” said TOK Managing Partner Michael Ballantyne. “Thornton Oliver Keller’s name and logo has long enjoyed tremendous brand recognition and value, but increasingly has served as a source of confusion, as we are now most commonly referred to as TOK.”

While still in the beginning stages of the rollout, thus far TOK has shared key pieces of information about the repositioning effort through a dedicated website, an internal email campaign, and its social media channels and hashtag (#ItsTOK).

From tenant and landlord representation to acquisitions, property management, and advisory services, TOK brokerage and property management teams operate out of Boise, Idaho Falls and Twin Falls and serve clients in several western states, including Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Nevada and Utah.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

First 2020 building permit, site plans filed in Idaho Falls

Back in the day, newspapers made a big deal over the first baby born in the new year, with local merchants contributing useful and playful things to help the parents welcome their new offspring into the world.

We have no gifts, but in the same spirit BizMojo Idaho is happy to present the first Idaho Falls building permit application of 2020. Named Permit #COM20-0001, it is for remodeling of the Teton Home Health Wellness Center at 2470 Jafer Court, off 25th East, just north of MorningStar Senior Living of Idaho Falls. The application was made Jan. 2 at 12:47 p.m.

Based on square footage, the job value is estimated at $500,000. Total fees amount to $5,339.12. The owner is listed as Hansen and Harper LLC of Ammon, and the remodel is being done by Tallman Construction and Design, also of Ammon.

Teton Home Health has been around since February 1993, when it was certified as a Medicare and Medicaid services provider. Its Medicare certified services include nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology and home health aides.

The first site plan of 2020 was filed Jan. 3 by OE Connect Engineering of Idaho Falls for Freeman Apartments. The owner is listed as Teton Vista Homes of Eagle, Idaho. The complex is planned for the property south of Bowl-ero Lanes and Planet Doom and east of the U.S. Post Office on Fourth Street. The plan shows six buildings, each roughly 4,725 square feet in size and containing eight units.

So there you have it. It's a new decade. Best wishes for a prosperous and exciting 2020.