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.