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


  • 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.: 

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.:

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


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.

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."