Thursday, April 30, 2020

'Look, Ask, Share' plan for local businesses rolls out

In accordance with Idaho Governor Brad Little’s phased plan to safely reopen Idaho businesses, the cities of Ammon and Idaho Falls and Bonneville County have joined with officials from the Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce, the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corp. and the Better Business Bureau to unveil the “Look, Ask, Share” campaign.

"Look, Ask, Share" is being done in conjunction with U.S. Sen. Jim Risch’s "Support Local Gems" campaign and Governor Little’s "Idaho Rebounds" four-phase plan to reopen Idaho, said Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper. “We know businesses are eager to reopen. This is a way for them to show customers that they are opening responsibly and are thoughtful about providing for their health and safety in this era of COVID-19.”

Under Little’s phased plan, all businesses are asked to have plans to keep customers and employees safe. All businesses are supposed to follow general guidelines as outlined on the website rebound.idaho.gov.

Once a business has a plan and is ready to reopen, or even if is open already, it can visit www.eastidaholocalgems.com to verify it and download “Look, Ask, Share” materials.  They can also find links to the site on the city’s webpage as well as webpages of the other participating agencies.

Businesses will be able to access "Look, Ask, Share" materials that they can post online and in their places of business to show they have a plan. Customers are asked to share their experiences online, on Facebook, other social media or through word-of-mouth, about their experiences. They can provide the business a good review, say thanks, follow them online or recommend them to others.

“Our businesses are the lifeblood of our local economy,” Casper said. “We want to support them and recognize them. We want people to get back to work. 'Look, Ask, Share' is 100 percent designed to support that effort.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

INL opens Rapid Tech Deployment Program in response to pandemic

In response to President Trump’s declaration that the COVID-19 pandemic has become a national emergency, Idaho National Laboratory’s Technology Deployment organization has launched the Rapid Technology Deployment Program.

This program supports national relief efforts by transitioning INL innovations to industry as expeditiously as possible and removing possible delays or burdens on partners. Following the model of Sandia National Laboratories, which announced earlier this month that it would open its portfolio of technology patents for free licensing, INL will open a substantial portion of its unencumbered patent portfolio to any U.S. company that can use available inventions to help solve the current national crisis and drive strong economic development.

Under this program, any U.S. company will be able to obtain a term-limited, non-negotiable, royalty-free, non-exclusive license to any INL-owned U.S. patent not otherwise subject to a contractual obligation. The Rapid Technology Deployment Program initially makes nearly 140 pieces of intellectual property available for licensing, all of which would carry these favorable terms through the end of calendar year 2020.

“This program will accelerate the transition of premier national laboratory technologies to the private sector so innovative solutions can be leveraged to respond to the current crisis,” said Jason Stolworthy, director of Technology Deployment at INL. “We are making technology transfer as simple as possible. INL looks forward to partnering with industry in support of the national effort to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19.”

To browse INL’s portfolio of available technologies, visit its library of eligible intellectual property here and preview the license agreement here. For more information, visit inl.gov. If a technology of interest is identified, please email td@inl.gov and a Technology Deployment representative will contact you to discuss licensing opportunities.

Monday, April 27, 2020

A Taste of the South | Grandpa's Bar-B-Q

Lloyd and Loretta Westbrook
Lloyd and Loretta Westbrook have been serving east Idaho Southern soul food since 1995. After taking an early out from his job at the Idaho National Laboratory, Lloyd decided to pursue his dream of bringing Southern barbeque to east Idaho. Against all odds, their first location in Arco was a hit. Travelers would come long distances just to eat their food and word got around that they served the best barbeque in the state.

Unfortunately, in 2002 there was a devastating fire on the desert around Arco. It decimated the vegetation and as a result, the Idaho wind would whip up dust storms that were so severe it would close the highway. Arco businesses paid the toll, including Grandpa's Bar-B-Q. It was at this point that Lloyd and Loretta decided to move into Idaho Falls and re-open the restaurant there.

“You put a little love and special spices in there,” Lloyd says of making soul food. He says that he learned how to cook during his youth watching his family and helping. Although he left to serve in the Army and do some other work, the restaurant business lured him back in.



When Lloyd and Loretta speak of being minority business owners in Arco they said, “It's interesting.” Lloyd tells stories of local challenges as well as support. “It was the travelers that really supported us,” Lloyd said. “For all of us it was an experience,” Loretta said.

The Westbrooks did what they could to open up a dialogue around what everyone had in common rather than focus on the differences. Once they moved to Idaho Falls in 2002 they continued to face challenges, including having their building set on fire. “I think it opened people's eyes in the community,” Lloyd said. “Since then, there have been no other overt happenings like that.”

Despite the challenges of the stay-home order for the state because of the coronavirus, they have maintained business, although it's not as busy. They are open for curbside pickup and will do some delivery. “We had to be creative, we needed to cut hours,” Loretta said. They are hopeful going forward that business will come back and that diners will show up. “We've had to go into our savings to cover our expenses,” said Loretta.

Despite the challenges they have faced they remain committed to serving the residents of east Idaho and beyond with love and passion for the work. When asked about what advice they would have for future business owners, Lloyd said, “Have your ducks in a row.” They recommend having a plan and doing your homework before you go forward, to make sure you set yourself up for success. 


Information


For more information on Grandpa's Bar-B-Q check out their website at http://grandpassouthernbbq.com/.
Or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Grandpas-Southern-Bar-B-Q

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

INL transfers laptops to CEI for cybersecurity program


Reprinted from INL.gov

It may have to wait until the coronavirus subsides, but as it seeks to develop a new generation of cybersecurity professionals, Idaho National Laboratory is looking to the College of Eastern Idaho (CEI) as a natural source of homegrown talent.

This last winter, the lab arranged to transfer 30 laptop computers so CEI can set up a laboratory that mirrors INL’s own Security Operations Center. The college is establishing the computing lab inside of a 10,000-square-foot building CEI is leasing on South Yellowstone Highway.

“It’s one thing to learn in theory and another to learn in a real setting,” said CEI President Rick Aman.

When INL transitioned from Windows 7 to Windows 10 at the end of 2019, the lab found itself with spare laptops from its “loaner pool.” These were computers the lab loaned to employees on travel or remote assignments, said Dale Batt, cybersecurity analyst. They are serviceable, with years of life left on them, and hardware capable of handling the latest software.

The laptops were prepared and transferred to the college in March, coinciding with the shelter-in-place orders in response to the pandemic. Although they will eventually support CEI’s cyber program, all 30 laptops have been temporarily repurposed and given to CEI instructors for distance learning classes.

While INL has channels for disposing of surplus equipment, and procedures to be followed, it makes exceptions in the case of transfers to colleges and universities. INL’s relationship with CEI extends back to when it was Eastern Idaho Technical College. After voters approved the formation of CEI in 2017, the lab reached out to the school’s leadership about establishing a curriculum for a two-year associate degree in cybersecurity.

“As INL became more recognized for high-performance computing, we became aware that we needed to be involved at the entry level,” Aman said.

Cybersecurity talent is in demand nationwide, Batt said. “It’s a major challenge we have. At a certain point, we decided that we needed to start growing our own.”

INL already hires interns from CEI all year, so establishing a degree brings more formality to the existing relationship. Under the new curriculum, for the first year, students would take CEI’s networking classes. In the second year, the emphasis would shift to cybersecurity training.

“This is such a great career field,” Aman said. “And from where we are, if it works for the lab, 90% of it would work for any business, like health care or food processing. As you develop, simulations become more and more important. That’s why these computers are going to be so much help.”
Linda Montgomery, INL Knowledge Management director, has been designated the lab’s official liaison to CEI. She said the availability of the laptops couldn’t have been timed better. “We said, ‘Here’s a collision of two great opportunities.’” It gives INL a chance to do something meaningful for students in the area, and it provides a potential source of new talent.

There is a statewide push to bring more cybersecurity training to community colleges, Montgomery said. In fact, representatives from Idaho’s four community colleges met with INL experts at CEI on Feb. 17 to discuss how the lab’s resources might be leveraged statewide.

At INL’s Collaborative Computing Center, which opened in 2019, a server has been donated for knowledge sharing for Idaho colleges and community colleges to use through the Idaho Regional Optical Network (IRON), a dedicated high-speed fiber optic network that supports research, health care, education and government needs. CEI’s computing center is linked to IRON, creating what they call a “cyber sandbox.”

Once a student with a two-year degree is in the door at INL, the possibilities open up, Montgomery said. Lab employees at all levels are encouraged to continue their studies, seek degrees and pursue professional licensing and certification. To help make this possible, INL covers tuition and fees from accredited institutions.

This is not only good for participants, but also ensures continuity and stability for the lab. In 2019, the graduate retention rate for employee education recipients was 97%.

“They can learn on the job and work their way up to the research level,” Montgomery said. “We just have an incredible opportunity here.”

Monday, April 20, 2020

Resources for small businesses


Ken Poulsen
Many of us in small businesses are wondering what the new CARES Act is and what other financial assistance the Small Business Association may have available for us. According to Ken Poulsen, “SBA has a lot of resources for businesses right now.”

Poulsen is the senior loan officer for The Development Company located in Rexburg. TDC is a private non-profit created in 1974 to help small businesses with everything from business loans to workforce development. Poulsen's specialty is business loans.

This episode is dedicated to learning about the CARES Act, EIDL loans, and other resources that are available for small businesses as they navigate the coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic.



Key takeaways:
  • Prepare your financial statements, be ready with a profit and loss statement to provide to your financial institution.
  • Prepare to show your payroll for 2019.
  • Start completing SBA form 413.

There is additional information every day, so keep an eye out and stay in touch with your financial institution or TDC.

Resources

Disaster loan: https://www.sba.gov/page/disaster-loan-applications
PPP: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/paycheck-protection-program-ppp
Department of Labor: https://labor.idaho.gov/dnn
The Development Company: https://www.thedevco.net/
SBA for 413, financial statement: https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/forms/SBA_Form_413_7a-504-SBG.pdf

Monday, April 13, 2020

Idaho Business for Education launches drive for computers, Internet access

Idaho Business for Education (IBE), a statewide association of more than 230 employers that advocate for and support education in Idaho, has launched two initiatives to help schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. IBE reached out to district administrators about how it might help ensure ongoing learning for students across the state. Two high-priority needs were identified:

• Accumulate technology devices such as laptop computers and tablets that can facilitate continued learning from home.
• Get Internet connectivity for these devices, ultimately within each students’ home. 

Regional IBE steering committees are working directly with their local school districts and communities to achieve these goals. The Eastern Idaho Committee represents roughly 24 districts from Blackfoot, north to Fremont, east to Teton, and west to Challis and Salmon. It is chaired By Aaron Johnson of Bateman-Hall. Committee members include Mike Klingler, Access Computers; Rae Moss and Amy Lientz, Idaho National Laboratory; and Park Price, retired president of Bank of Idaho. Their most pressing need right now is getting students connected to the Internet, especially those in geographically remote areas.

Here is how you can support this effort:

• Donate a device – Functioning laptops, tablets, iPhone and Android phones and wireless hotspots. Devices will be cleaned, hard drives wiped, and set up for student use.
• Volunteer your time – You can help with picking up and distributing devices to school districts. All volunteer activities will be planned with protocols in place for social distancing and personal health safety.
• ­Donate funds – Funds will help build Internet connectivity where it is needed. There will be two options for donating funds. 1. You can donate to IBE’s statewide fund, which will available soon or 2. choose to sponsor specific area projects as needed.

If you are interesting in supporting any of these efforts, please contact Aaron Johnson at aaron.johnson@bateman-hall.com for specific details on how to donate or volunteer.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Darci Davis promoted to AmeriTitle state escrow manager

Darci Davis
Darci Davis has been promoted by AmeriTitle Idaho to the position of state escrow manager for AmeriTitle Idaho. In this role, she will work with escrow supervisors and escrow staff throughout the State of Idaho while working closely with the AmeriTitle Idaho's senior leadership team and corporate escrow group.

Davis started in escrow in 2003 and joined the AmeriTitle team in 2008. After a brief hiatus, she rejoined AmeriTitle in 2013 in a leadership role, serving most regional escrow manager for eastern Idaho. “I believe that team is the ultimate key to success," she said. "I have been extremely lucky to be surrounded by the very best in the industry and to have some amazing leaders to guide me.”

“Darci’s passion for developing a strong team and teaching others to be successful in the escrow industry has helped her earn a stellar reputation," said AmeriTitle Idaho VP and State Manager Richard Hajek. "I am excited to see how her passion and energy can help others in our industry across the great State of Idaho, and how she can contribute to AmeriTitle’s continued growth.”

Born and raised in Rexburg, Davis lives in Rigby with her husband, Eric Davis. She has three children and is thoroughly enjoying being a grandmother to a 1-year-old grandchild. She and her family enjoy camping, swimming, traveling, and fishing.