Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Two entertainment complexes planned for I.F.'s south end

It looks like it's going to be fun, fun, fun on the south end of Idaho Falls, with Jackson Hole Junction and Snake River Landing breaking ground this year on luxury entertainment complexes.

Dallas-based ShowBiz Cinemas will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking on its new Idaho Falls location at Jackson Hole Junction Thursday, followed by a reception with complimentary refreshments and raffle prize drawings. The event is open to the public and press.

The plan is for the company's Idaho Falls Bowling, Movies and More! entertainment center to feature the following:
  • 14 boutique bowling lanes
  • a lane-side cafĂ© with expansive food and drink options
  • a cutting-edge modern arcade and redemption center
  • multiple party rooms for every occasion
  • a full bar with beer, wine and cocktails
  • an ultra-modern concessions area
  • eight state-of the art movie auditoriums, all with luxury electric recliner seating
  • an SDX, Superior Digital Experience, auditorium featuring 4K digital laser projection, immersive Dolby Atmos surround sound and a wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor screen measuring four stories tall and 70 feet wide
The company's policies feature advance reserved seating, a free Star Rewards loyalty program, free movie admission for law enforcement officers and firefighters, and a variety of discount options for the value-conscious entertainment seeker, including $5 movie ticket pricing all day each Tuesday, discount bowling days and $1 hot dogs all day, every day.

Thursday's events start at 3 p.m. with a welcome address inside the heated event tent, followed at 3:30 with remarks from ShowBiz Cinemas CEO Kevin Mitchell and Matt Morgan, Jackson Hole Junction managing partner. The reception will be from 4 to 5 p.m.

Jackson Hole Junction is located on the east side of I-15 Exit 116.

As all of this takes place, Ball Ventures and the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies are planning a March groundbreaking on the Megaplex Theatre at Snake River Landing, which they announced in December.

Plans include 38,000 square feet of new construction, 10 screens and 975 all-luxury leather recliners. The cinemas are equipped with state-of-the-art sound and image technology, with the largest screen spanning 80 feet in length. Each cinema will also contain a quiet room to allow new parents and children a refuge to enjoy their film.

With the new “no lines” concept, the lobby turns its focus from waiting in ticket sales lines to creating a luxury lounging environment that offers patrons gourmet food and beverage options. The new lobby experience will incorporate technology, variable seating options, lighting and refined materials to enhance the user experience.

“We are excited to enter the Idaho Falls market,” said Blake Andersen, president of Larry H. Miller Megaplex Theatres. “Our construction team is diligently working on plans to bring a world-class building that will complement our Megaplex commitment to providing our customers with the best movie-viewing experience available.”

The project is projected to be complete in early 2021. For renderings of the site and theatre, visit: https://lhm.canto.com/b/PEOCN.

Idaho Falls ShopKo building being remodeled into indoor storage

The inside of iNdorStor's facility on North Yellowstone
The ShopKo building on East 17th Street is being repurposed. A building permit application was filed Feb. 18 with the Idaho Falls Building Department for an interior remodel of 90,500 square feet. The applicant is Construction Solutions Co. and the owner is listed as Steve Keim.

Keim is a local developer with a long history that includes the Utah Avenue Wal-Mart, the Fairfield Inn & Suites, but the lease for the ShopKo site is to iNdorStor, an indoor climate-controlled storage company already in operation at 1755 North Yellowstone (once the Yellowstone Mall).

According to the company's website, "iNdorStor offers a clean and simple alternative to traditional storage options in East Idaho. The exclusively indoor, climate controlled facility offers a clean and well-maintained environment that is best for protecting and preserving your most valuable possessions and memories. Complementary to the facility, iNdorStor customer's enjoy free onsite use of platform carts and hand carts, state-of-the-art security, and prompt, professional service."

Monday, February 24, 2020

The Business of Swag | Travis Powell, Blue Phoenix Branding

Travis Powell

We all love swag. “Nobody thanks you for a commercial that interrupts their favorite program, nobody thanks you for the billboard that interrupts [the scenery], but with swag they thank you every time, and not only that, they keep it. ... The return on investment blows most of the other marketing mediums out of the water,” says Travis Powell, founder and CEO of Blue Phoenix Branding.

Travis never saw himself being a swag dealer, but his career in sales took him to a print shop and during his time there he was approached to provide lip balm swag for a customer. Although this wasn't a service that the company provided, Travis made it happen. The same customer came back in a few weeks needing a reorder and he saw an opportunity that he was excited about. He grew that portion of the business, but had differing strategies and vision than his employer and they ended up parting ways.

“When I was let go, it was a low point of my life,” Travis said. Despite the traumatic separation, he still had a passion for promotional products and he decided to start his own business. After partnering with Proforma, he was ready to begin Blue Phoenix Branding. It wasn't that easy, however. “I had signed a non-compete a number of years prior.” Despite the common belief that non-compete agreements are difficult to enforce, Travis's experience was very different. Not having the depth of resources to argue the non-compete, he was forced to comply. This prevented him from doing business within a 60-mile radius of any of his former employer's locations. “I decided to stop,” he said.

“For a month I had no income, no revenue, and was spending $275 an hour on legal fees,” Travis said. He knew the largest trade show was coming up in the next couple of months and, knowing that he still wanted to pursue promotional products at some point in the future, he decided to go. While there, it was clear he was being ostracized by the vendors that used to do business with him. He was informed that his previous employer had contacted previous vendors and warned them not to do business with him due to the non-compete. “I recognize they were trying to protect their interest,” he said. “We went with a cloud of gloom hanging over us.”

Knowing that he had to do something, and that the non-compete prevented him from doing business all along the I-15 corridor, even into Utah, the closest place he could do business was Twin Falls, almost 200 miles from home. He hadn't done cold calls in many years and he admitted he was terrified. But when he joined the Twin Falls Chamber of Commerce, he found a family and an open, receptive audience that embraced him quickly.

When asked why he didn't just quit he replied, “I was mad. A chip on the shoulder can get you a long way. I feel like I have a gift for what I do and I wasn't going to leave that.” The non-compete was for a year.

“There's no way we should have survived that. We were house-poor, and I wasn't going to give someone the satisfaction of losing my house. It drove us. Anger is not sustainable to get you from point A to point B, but it might help you with a little burst when times are tough.” Reflecting on that time he says, “I had a choice it could have gone either way and it made me.”

Now, 2 years later, he has no trepidation approaching businesses and knocking on doors. “There are so many opportunities out there, you simply have to move forward and if the door won't open, kick it open,” he said.

He admits he was horribly unambitious as a youth and his drive and ambition took a while to blossom. His family has been patient with him, and several are working in the business. Travis has a lot of respect for his father, who showed great tenacity in his own career in banking and overcame many challenges. His father-in-law works in the business and covers southern Oregon.

For those interested in going into business for themselves Travis advises, “If you play the long game and realize that short-term pain will be severe, if you have faith in yourself, if you have faith in the business model, then you can 100% achieve your goal.”

Blue Phoenix Branding now has graphic design and marketing. (Link: Blue Phoenix, Artcore Visual Studio Announce Merger, BizMojo Idaho, Dec. 18, 2018). They offer print services as well as promotional items. Travis loves the work he's doing and envisions being able to do this for many years to come.


Thursday, February 20, 2020

INL to provide Oklo access to recovered fuel for microreactor demonstration project

A representation of what Oklo Inc.'s Aurora Powerhouse will look like
Idaho National Laboratory announced Wednesday it will provide Oklo Inc. with access to recovered fuel from nuclear waste materials to aid the company in its efforts to develop and demonstrate the Oklo Aurora – a small advanced fission technology that can be used in remote or off-grid locations to generate power.

The California-based company applied for access to the material through a competitive process INL launched earlier this year. Notifications of selection were made to applicants in December 2019. The goal is to accelerate deployment of commercially viable microreactors by providing developers with access to material needed to produce fuel for their reactors.

“We are excited to work with Oklo Inc. and support their needs related to fuel development and microreactor demonstration,” said Dr. John Wagner, associate laboratory director for INL’s Nuclear Science & Technology directorate.  “As the nation’s nuclear energy research laboratory, we are committed to working with private companies and others to develop the technologies that will provide clean energy to the world.”

Jacob DeWitte, Oklo co-founder and chief executive officer, said, “This award paves the way for an important demonstration of the first Oklo Aurora plant, as well as the ability of advanced reactors to convert used nuclear fuel, that would otherwise be treated for disposal, into clean energy.” Last month, Oklo announced it received a site use permit from the U.S. Department of Energy to build and demonstrate the Aurora technology at INL.

Uranium recovered from used fuel is being downblended to produce “high-assay, low-enriched uranium,” i.e., HALEU. HALEU is low-enriched uranium that contains over 5% and less than 20% uranium-235, the fissile isotope in nuclear fuel that produces energy during a fission chain reaction.

All 96 nuclear reactors currently operating in the U.S. use fuel enriched with less than 5% uranium-235.

Several U.S. companies are developing microreactor technologies that would use HALEU and need access to the fuel in order to demonstrate and prove out designs.

“Many of these designs call for fuels with higher levels of uranium-235 so the reactors can operate for years without having to be refueled,” Wagner said. “That is an important attribute since this technology is envisioned to be used in remote areas that can be difficult to access.”

However, there are no commercial facilities in the U.S. now capable of producing HALEU. 
To address this gap, DOE has established a capability at INL to produce HALEU by processing and treating used fuel from the now-decommissioned Experimental Breeder Reactor-II (the used fuel contains high concentrations of uranium-235 and was being treated and processed for disposal). With this supply, INL can produce up to 10 metric tons of HALEU for research, development and demonstration purposes.

DOE retains ownership of HALEU during and after use, and the material will stay on the INL Site. The finalization of access to the HALEU is pending the establishing a cooperative agreement between INL and Oklo on the use of the material for their microreactor demonstration.

“Building and operating advanced reactors is essential to restoring U.S. leadership in nuclear energy,” said Dr. Ashley Finan, director of the National Reactor Innovation Center. Led by INL, NRIC was established in August 2019 to provide access to resources to accelerate the demonstration of advanced nuclear technology concepts. “The NRIC team is committed to empowering innovators to move their projects from concept to reality. We look forward to working with Oklo on the fuel supply for their first unit and congratulate them on achieving this milestone.”

Reactor demonstration sites at the INL Site are available through a DOE site use permit or other facility use arrangements. INL has a well-developed infrastructure and a well-characterized site with existing facilities and a skilled workforce to support new reactor projects.

Wagner said those factors plus being able to supply HALEU enable INL to support Oklo and other entities developing new reactor technologies. He added that INL is continuing discussions with the other applicants to see how the lab can support their efforts.

“We are interested in receiving more proposals from the microreactor development community,” he said. “There is an additional quantity of HALEU available to support reactor demonstrations.

Monday, February 17, 2020

East Idaho Entrepreneurs: Cameron C. Taylor

NOTE: Each Monday BizMojo Idaho will feature a small business profile from East Idaho Entrepreneurs, Renae Oswald's podcast focused on local people in business. This week's profile is Cameron C. Taylor.

'How Long Until I'm the CEO?'

Cameron C. Taylor

When Cameron C. Taylor was looking for an internship he interviewed with FranklinCovey. During the interview he asked them, “How long until I'm the CEO? What do I have to do to be the CEO of the company?” He told them if he was working there, his goal would be to be the CEO. After learning that it would take 30 to 40 years, he decided the best way to get what he wanted was to have his own company.

While attending BYU, he listened to a lecture series where entrepreneurs explained their businesses and he was intrigued. He already had a side business and was making some money, so the thought of being an entrepreneur made him excited. The MBA program that he was enrolled in required him to sign an agreement that he would not have any side businesses or a job. That wasn't going to work for him, so he gave up the MBA and took a leap of faith.

He had no idea what he was going to do. Cameron admits that he is a natural visionary, “I've always had that sense … trying to envision what it will look like.” He knew he'd always been comfortable with sales, so he started a sales training and development company. One of his first big clients breached the contract and did not pay for tens of thousands of dollars of product.

“I had nothing, and all that was funded on credit cards,” he said. He didn't have the cash flow to save that business, so he had to walk away. He moved in with his brother and decided to start over.

At this point, he knew he needed to get a job. He had debt and no income. He had a wife and new expenses. Looking for a job, he went six months without any offers. “I graduated from the top of my class at business school,” he explained, “and no one wanted me.”

It was during this time where he said he started asking God for something different. He realized that he wasn't asking the right question when he was asking for God to help him find a job. Now he always asks, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” He realizes now that not getting a job was a blessing but it didn't feel like it at the time. The answer that God gave him was to start a business doing a lecture series on leadership and entrepreneurship for BYU.

He'd had some experience at the university and some contacts, so he pitched it and he was surprised when it was approved. One of the entrepreneurs that lectured during the series approached Cameron to implement an idea. The entrepreneur agreed to put up the money if Cameron would come and build the business. He believes he was guided and said, “when I tried to do what I wanted to do I can't get a $6/hr job, but when I do what God wants me to do it happens.” He and his partner built this company from negative cash flow the first year to multi-million dollar business where he was winning awards and getting recognition.

There were times that first year that he wondered if it was going to work. “I even looked at the job boards,” he said, “then I thought, 'I don't want a job.'” Even to this day, he has nightmares about working for someone else. He attributes his success to taking his guidance from God. His practice was to take his first hour of the day to meditate and pray. He says this is the secret to success

During this journey he has always felt led to write books. “I love that writing and creating of materials,” he says. He wrote a book when he was 23 and he also was a ghostwriter for another author. This experience was the foundation for writing the book, Does Your Bag Have Holes? 24 Truths That Lead to Financial and Spiritual Freedom. That was the beginning of his authoring and publishing multiple books, and he continues to write today. “Writing is a part of my ministry, it's part of my charitable efforts. I knew we were going to be giving a lot of these away.” Because of this, he started his own publishing company. It is his venue to share and teach

When giving advice to others who are thinking about going into business he encourages people to turn to God and see yourself as He sees you. He believes that even though he didn't always believe in himself, God did and he can put his faith and trust there. “This is where the confidence comes from,” he says.