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Red Sky PR opens San Francisco office

Stephanie Worrell

Boise-based Red Sky Public Relations has opened a branch in San Francisco. The branch is Red Sky’s second location.

“We’re going to continue to keep Boise our hub,” said Stephanie Worrell, co-owner and co-founder of Red Sky. “Jess Flynn and I are not moving.” Jessica Flynn is Red Sky’s other co-owner and co-founder.

“We knew we needed to expand somewhere,” Worrell said. The firm looked at several large cities, but San Francisco stood out for several reasons. Worrell said the firm has many clients in California, San Francisco’s economy has recovered quickly compared to other large cities and direct Boise-to-Oakland flights each day make it easy to get to the Bay Area. “It just made sense.”

Worrell emphasized the firm has no plans to leave Boise. Overhead for the business is low, and she enjoys living in Boise, she said. “We love Boise. … I want to raise my kids in Boise.”

Red Sky’s landlord at its Boise location, Ephraim Greenwall, was instrumental in helping the firm expand to San Francisco, Worrell said. The San Francisco location is also housed in one of Greenwall’s properties, and he helped Red Sky find a location that suited the firm’s budget.

“Without him, we would not be in San Francisco,” Worrell said. “He made it instant.”

Worrell said the San Francisco branch had a “soft” opening about three months ago, with Boise employees traveling back and forth to get the branch running. She said the firm will hire new employees from the Bay Area or transfer employees from Boise, depending on whether anyone is interested in transferring.

Cady McGovern

Coeur d’Alene Mines executive resigns, $60 million deal closes

Randy Buffington, principal operating officer for Coeur d’Alene Mining Corporation, resigned Jan. 17. Chief Financial Officer Frank L. Hanagarne, Jr. has taken over Buffington’s role.

The northern Idaho company also announced it bought Mirasol Argentina in South America for $60 million in cash and stock. The purchase gives Coeur full ownership of a silver and gold project called Joaquin. Coeur and Mirasol started the joint venture in Joaquin in Nov. 2006.

Coeur also announced preliminary estimates for the fourth quarter and full year 2012. The company produced 3.8 million ounces of silver and 60,775 ounces of gold during the fourth quarter. Results for the full year are 18 million ounces of silver and 226,491 ounces of gold. Coeur expects 2012 metal sales to range from $890 million to $900 million, according to a news release.

The Company also wholly owns projects in Bolivia and Mexico in Latin America as well as Alaska and Nevada in the United States. In Australia, Coeur has a non-operating interest in a silver-base metal mine.

Calls to the company were not returned.

By Scott Ki

BLM crew positions go unfilled

The Bureau of Land Management has not been able to fill 20 positions to for “fuels crews” that mitigate fire danger across the state.

The agency had advertised it would be hiring experienced people to fill the available, full-time positions that are ensured for 13 months, but could extend to up to four years.

In a news release Jan. 17, the BLM stated the deadline for applications is Jan. 25, but it hasn’t received enough applications to fill the spots.

The crews work to either remove fire-conducive vegetation, treat other plants and build fire breaks in risky areas. The crews also assist firefighters when blazes break out.

The work is seasonal, a guaranteed six months per year, but crews are often given assignments during the winter months to continue work.

By Sean Olson

Downtown Boise’s See Jane Run closing

See Jane Run, a women’s athletic retail store in downtown Boise, is closing Jan. 19. The store, which opened in 2007, has survived through a difficult economic stretch, but store owner Lori Shannon said she hasn’t been getting enough business.

“We were not experiencing profits,” Shannon said. “It got to a point where we couldn’t do that forever.”

See Jane Run will continue to operate its online store as well as three stores in California. The store-sponsored women’s half marathon and five kilometer race in June will continue. The store had six employees, one of whom worked full-time, according to Shannon.

Brad Iverson-Long

Micron to buy all of Taiwanese company’s memory products

Micron Technology Inc. has changed its purchase agreements with two Taiwan-based companies, Nanya Technology Corp. and Inotera Memories Inc.  Beginning in early 2013, Boise-based Micron will buy all the DRAM memory chips produced by Inotera.

Micron will pay market-based prices for these chips, according to a news release. Under previous agreements, Micron and Nanya split Inotera’s output evenly and paid a price based on a “margin-sharing arrangement.”

Mike Howard, an analyst at market research firm IHS iSuppli, said, “The key thing is Micron is getting access to 65,000 more wafers per month for not a lot of capital expenditure.”

Inotera produces 130,000 silicon wafers a month.  These wafers are used to make memory products.

In 2008, Micron agreed to pay $400 million to take an ownership stake in Inotera.  The Boise company owns about 49 percent of Inotera’s shares. Nanya owns 29 percent. Nanya or its affiliated companies will likely increase their stake in Inotera over the next year, according to the release.

Scott Ki

Ann Taylor leaving Boise Towne Square Mall

The Boise Towne Square Mall will have about 4,500 square feet of retail space available when Anne Taylor leaves this year.

The spot may not be vacant for long. In the coming year, the mall has several new retailers arriving, said marketing manager Tina Kierce. Kierce wouldn’t identify those retailers, but said some of them are still in the process of choosing what space they will occupy in the mall. The Ann Taylor space will be an option. Kierce said Ann Taylor is expected to remain at Boise Towne Square Mall through January.

An employee at Ann Taylor said it is unclear whether the store will be moving to a different location. Ann Taylor’s district manager and corporate office did not returned phone or email messages Idaho Business Review left Jan. 16.

By Cady McGovern

Food, retail and cinema to inhabit Village at Meridian

Several food and retail businesses, along with a movie theater, are set to move into The Village at Meridian in 2013.

Mexican restaurant Chipotle, Toys R Us and Babies R Us are slated to open in the spring, according to Courtney Fieder of Adrian Sabine, who does public relations work for The Village.

Businesses slated to open in the fall include Idaho’s first Kona Grill, Idaho’s first Settebello Pizzeria, frozen yogurt shop U-Swirl, the Village 15 movie theater, Toby Keith I Love This Bar and Grill, and Twig’s Bistro and Martini Bar. Those businesses are expected to open before The Village’s Oct. 13 grand opening.

Located at the northeast corner of Fairview Avenue and Eagle Road, The Village at Meridian includes a shopping center with more than 500,000 square feet of space and the 60-acre Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park. CenterCal is the developer.

By Cady McGovern

Idaho First ends year in the black

Idaho First Bank recorded its first full year of profitability in 2012. The McCall commercial bank had net income of $262,000 for the year, compared with a loss of $143,000 in 2011. The institution has had six consecutive quarters of profits instead of losses.

Chief Financial Officer Don Madsen said in a phone interview that interest from loans was the major factor in the profitability. Loans were up 19 percent in 2012 compared with 2011.

The state-chartered bank opened for business in October 2005 and lost money every year until 2012. Idaho First reported losses of $1.3 million in 2006, $1.4 million in 2007, $2 million in 2008, $2.3 million in 2009, and $2 million in 2010.

In 2010, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation warned bank officials they needed to raise additional capital from investors. The FDIC lifted its notice Jan. 2011 after bank officials raised $2.7 million. The bank, though, remains under an FCIC order to raise its level of capital assets from 6 percent. Efforts in this area continue, according to Madsen.

At the end of 2012, Idaho First had total assets of $83.1 million. The bank also has a loan production office in Boise.

By Scott Ki

Boise startup develops new iPhone app

Two Boise companies have launched an interactive crime scene game for smartphones Jan. 14. Bobec Apps LLC created the game, “Dark Side Investigator – The Case of the Missing Boss,” in partnership with Borderline Publishing.

Players visit local “crime scenes” and collect clues with Bobec’s “Hot or Cold Investigator” mobile application. Kristen Muchow, a co-founder of Bobec, said, “The clues are QR codes on posters or on postcards that you ask for. Then you scan it within the location and it will unlock specific evidence.”

The story line is based on a new novel by Raymond Davis called “Dark Side of Justice” published by Borderline. The Boise company helps authors self-publish.

Players have a chance to win a Kindle if they correctly guess who committed the crime. The game will run at least through January.

Bobec was the first startup funded by the Boise Young Professionals, a program of the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce. BYP invested $10,000 in Bobec in Sept. 2010. Since then BYP, formally named its startup program, b|launched, and invests in companies every year. Hot or Cold Investigator has been downloaded 1,214 times.

By Scott Ki

Idaho bank holding company trades on Nasdaq

Intermountain Community Bancorp has started listing its shares on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the ticker symbol “IMCB.”

The Sandpoint-based holding company owns Panhandle State Bank in northern Idaho. Divisions of Panhandle also run branches in southern Idaho, eastern Washington, and eastern Oregon.

CEO Curt Hecker said the Nasdaq listing will likely benefit shareholders as it increases the liquidity of the stock. That means selling and buying the stock is easier on a publicly traded exchange than an unlisted or, over-the-counter stock, sold through broker-dealers.

The Nasdaq listing also helps companies raise money and acquire other assets using stock instead of cash, said Keith Harvey, finance professor at Boise State University. He said major drawbacks include additional regulatory and financial reporting costs.

Although bank executives have no immediate plans for an additional stock offering or acquisition, Hecker said his bank decided to pursue the listing for those benefits as well.

Divisions of Panhandle operate as Intermountain Community Banks in southeastern Idaho, eastern Oregon, and eastern Washington. Magic Valley Bank is also a division of Panhandle with branches in Twin Falls and Gooding.

By Scott Ki

Allstate to open roadside service center in Chubbuck

Allstate Insurance Company will add a roadside assistance division to its existing call center in Chubbuck. The new division will handle customer calls from across the United States.

Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and local officials joined Allstate executives for the announcement Jan. 17.

Shauna McBride, a company spokeswoman, said they chose to expand in Chubbuck partly due to the area’s stable employee base and attractive cost of living. She said Allstate plans to hire about 225 employees for the new division.

The existing 75,000 square-foot call center cost the company $21.9 million to build. The new division will be absorbed into the existing building.

Chubbuck Mayor Steven M. England alluded to the expansion in his State of the City speech in the second week of January. “Allstate continues to be a tremendous addition to the economic wellbeing of Chubbuck as well as a significant impact on our entire community. In addition to the anticipated projects that this center provides to their parent company, they are currently preparing to house a road side assistance division in the service center,” he said in his prepared remarks.

Allstate will also hire another 200 or so employees this year to supplement the 250 workers at its call center, according to McBride. That means nearly 700 employees will work at the facility when it’s fully staffed.

By Scott Ki

Wine bar coming to BoDo

A wine bar will move into about 4,000 square feet of space in BoDo formerly inhabited by Shoez and Mr. Peabody’s, according to Ephraim Greenwall of 8th Street Marketplace.

“I’m excited to have a place that’s just not another bar, but a more elegant place in BoDo for the demographic that’s not being served,” Greenwall said. He said the wine bar will be an answer to downtown bars that cater mainly to the university crowd, an “alternative place for people who really like wine.”

Keith Weeks, of BoDoVino, signed the lease. Lynn Perraud, a retail leasing specialist and tenant representative in Boise, facilitated the transaction. The official name of the wine bar, which will serve bistro food but have no kitchen, is yet to be determined, Greenwall said.

Weeks said he did not have time Jan. 16 to talk about the project.

Cady McGovern

Former Idaho dairy worker pleads guilty to animal cruelty

A former employee at a south-central Idaho dairy has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal abuse after an undercover video shot by an animal rights group showed workers stomping, dragging and beating cows inside a milking barn.

The Times-News reports Jesus Garza, 25, pleaded guilty Jan. 16 in 5th District Court. A jury was being selected when Garza entered the plea.

Two other former workers seen in the video shot at Bettencourt Dairies’ Dry Creek Dairy in Hansen, Javier Victor Rojas-Loayza and Jose Acensio, both have warrants out for their arrest on animal cruelty charges.

The video was shot using a hidden camera by a member of Mercy for Animals who got a job at Dry Creek Dairy for a few weeks last summer. Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs said he filed misdemeanor animal cruelty charges in late August after an investigation that was prompted by the video.

The Associated Press

New modernized bankruptcy forms proposed

The Judicial Conference is proposing the first set of revised bankruptcy forms for individual filers in more than two decades.

The conference is seeking public comments on the newly revised forms, including the fee waiver and installment fee forms, income and expense forms and means test forms, which will replace the existing documents used by filers.

Conference officials said the proposed revisions are meant to take into account how most people file individual petitions for bankruptcy, usually involving personal or consumer debt.

“We recognized that the debtors filing as individuals may not have the assistance of a lawyer, and they may not be as sophisticated about finances as, for example, a large corporate debtor,” said Oregon-based Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris, who heads an ad hoc group created by the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules. “Our goal was to make the official bankruptcy forms more user-friendly and less error-prone.”

The revised forms have a more intuitive layout and feel, according to court officials. They feature clearer instructions, explanations of the filing process, prompts and checklists, as well as more explanatory instruction sheets. They also state clearly that the information will be needed for completion at the outset, and the forms underscore the complexities of filing for bankruptcy.

After the comment period, the forms will be fine-tuned based on the public’s feedback, court officials said. Comments may be submitted to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts via email at Rules_Comments@ao.uscourts.gov.

The ad hoc committee is now drafting new forms for non-individual filers.

Dolan Media Newswires

Idaho company recalling beef, pork and chicken

A southwestern Idaho company is recalling 33,500 pounds of fully cooked meat and poultry products because of possible bacterial contamination.

The United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service announced Dec. 19 that Boise-based B and D Foods is recalling a variety of meat products that could be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes, an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections.

Five different products containing beef, pork or chicken are being recalled. California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Montana, Arizona and Ohio have received some of the products.

The agency says the problem was discovered by the company through microbiological testing. The agency says no illnesses have been reported.

The Associated Press

Albertson Foundation threatens to withhold $4.5M

The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation is threatening to withhold $4.5 million it’s promised to Idaho next year for a computer program to track student progress.

The foundation in Boise says the money now won’t be paid unless Idaho restores taxpayer funding for teacher professional development – money put in jeopardy when voters rejected public schools chief Tom Luna’s Students Come First overhaul Nov. 6.

The Albertson Foundation promised $21 million in 2011 for student-performance-monitoring software from SchoolNet Inc., a New York company.

According to a letter from the foundation to Idaho budget writers, however, the final $4.5 million won’t be paid “unless the professional development funds are secured.”

Melissa McGrath, Luna’s spokeswoman, said Dec. 18 he’ll announce a remedy for the potential loss of funding, but not until next week.

The Associated Press

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