Business Briefs

IBR Staff//July 20, 2012

Business Briefs

IBR Staff//July 20, 2012

Rexburg getting MBA program

Utah State University is going to start offering a weekend master’s degree program in business administration program in Idaho.

The course will start in January on the campus of Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg. It will be the only graduate-level courses taught on the BYU-Idaho campus.

The Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at USU, based in Logan, has similar programs offering MBA classes on Friday nights and Saturdays in three Utah cities, including Salt Lake City.

“They came to us and asked if we would be interested in helping make it available here on our campus,” said Marc Skinner, a faculty member and director of inter-university relations for BYU-Idaho who worked for two years on the agreement with USU.

Skinner said the program could appeal to BYU-Idaho students who want to start on a master’s program while finishing up their undergraduate degree or for people whose spouses are in school in Rexburg.

BYU-Idaho is affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has seen steady enrollment growth, with approximately 15,000 undergraduate students.

While BYU-Idaho will host the classes in rooms that are often vacant on nights and weekends, USU will provide the faculty and degrees and make admissions decisions. Tuition for the two-year program is approximately $25,000.

Brad Iverson-Long

Boise-based marketing firm expands its workforce

The Boise-based national to local marketing firm Balihoo started its year with a $5 million influx of investor capital, with a promise for big growth in 2012. So far, they’ve followed through.

The tech company announced July 19 it had already expanded its workforce by 43 percent – it started the year with 58 employees – and had topped 2011 year-to-date sales figures by 41 percent.

Located in BoDo, Balihoo expanded its office space by more than 4,000 square feet to make room for growth around the beginning of 2012.

The company connects national brands with its local distributors, creating local websites that give retailers the same distinction in web site design as major national companies.

Balihoo vice president of marketing Shane Vaughan said in January that the company’s goals for 2012 were to increase to more than 100 employees and double its business. He said that wouldn’t  necessarily translate to doubling profits.

Sean Olson

Wood Windows has new owner

Longtime Wood Windows employee Connell Lloyd has acquired the 32-year-old business and its 6,600-square-foot building from founder Ray Westmoreland. Lloyd set up LCON, a limited liability company he heads, for the building purchase. Financial details were not disclosed.

Westmoreland, 65, remains with Wood Windows as a salesman.

Lloyd, 49, has worked for more than seven years at the business, including the last year and a half as general manager. He is now president and CEO.

An outside salesperson was added recently, boosting staff headcount to 12. No additional hiring is planned immediately, Lloyd said. He didn’t say how much he paid for the business.

Lloyd said sales are increasing this year as demand from new construction makes up for a decrease in homeowner retrofit business. Wood Windows sells exterior windows, interior and exterior doors, skylights and siding. Its commercial segment is focused on replacing windows in older buildings.

Before joining Wood Windows, Lloyd worked in production management with Albertsons. Wood Windows is at 200 E. 50th St. in Boise.

Brad Carlson

Frontier Communications closing its Coeur d’Alene call center

Frontier Communications Inc. is closing its communications center in Coeur d’Alene.

The 107 employees who will lose jobs will receive severance pay, an extension of health benefits, and career placement assistance, said Senior Vice President Steve Crosby. The customer service call center will close Sept. 18.

Crosby would not give details about severance pay, which he said is under a collective bargaining agreement Frontier has with an employee union.

Frontier has been looking for efficiency gains since tripling in size two years ago by acquiring properties from Verizon, said Crosby, who works in Elk Grove, Calif.

“The other call centers are much larger, and the idea was to better bring work groups together in larger facilities, and to be more cost- efficient,” Crosby said. Coeur d’Alene is the only call center Frontier is closing, as it consolidates in larger call centers. Frontier has large call centers in West Virginia, Ohio and western Washington, where its facility in Everett employs about 1,000.

Frontier employs more than 140 at the Coeur d’Alene call center, which is in a leased building. More than 30 will stay with Frontier in north Idaho, in jobs related to sales, engineering, technical support, and service at customer locations, Crosby said.

Brad Carlson

Restitution at $240K in hospital foundation theft

The Idaho Attorney General’s office says a woman who pleaded guilty to stealing from the Syringa Hospital Foundation in Grangeville owes the foundation just over $241,000.

The Lewiston Tribune reports the Attorney General’s office filed a document in 2nd District Court setting the restitution amount June 20. A court hearing is scheduled July 27 to establish the restitution owed by 49-year-old Laurie Ann Rockwell, the foundation’s former executive director.

Rockwell pleaded guilty in May to grand theft and computer crimes and has agreed to pay the restitution. Sentencing is set for Sept. 21.

Prosecutors alleged Rockwell transferred the money from the foundation’s various accounts into her personal bank accounts between January 2008 and January 2011.

Rockwell is married to Idaho County Commissioner James Rockwell.

The Associated Press

Mississippi-based Molpus Woodlands, Boston firm purchase nearly 2M acres in four states

The Hancock Timber Resource Group of Boston and Jackson, Miss.-based Molpus Woodlands Group have purchased the 1.88 million acre timberland portfolio of Forest Capital Partners, the companies report.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Hancock Timber is acquiring 376,000 acres in Louisiana, 573,000 acres in Oregon, 138,000 acres in Idaho and 264,000 acres in Washington.

Molpus is acquiring 286,000 acres in Minnesota, 110,000 acres in Louisiana and 138,000 acres in Idaho.

As part of the transaction, the vast majority of Forest Capital Partners’ employees associated with the timberlands will be merged into operations of the respective new managers, the Hancock Timber Resource Group or the Molpus Woodlands Group.

Molpus will oversee the lands from new forestry offices in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and International Falls, Minn.

“We continue to be committed to the sound forestry stewardship practices historically associated with these properties,” said Molpus Woodlands Group president Dick Molpus.

Dolan Media Newswires

Report: Farm industry a key driver in Magic Valley

A new study by University of Idaho researchers shows two of every three dollars of sales generated in the six counties of the Magic Valley are tied in some way to agribusiness.

The study also finds that agribusiness in the Magic Valley accounts for half of the state’s total farm cash receipts – valued at $5.8 billion in 2010 and 7.4 billion.

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean John Hammel says the figures show the Magic Valley is the epicenter of Idaho’s farm business.

The six counties included in the study are Twin Falls, Jerome, Gooding, Lincoln, Minidoka and Cassia.

Dairy continues to be the dominant farm industry. The report found the dairy processing industry accounted for a fifth of all sales and a seventh of Magic Valley jobs.

The Associated Press

3 Northwest states launch feral pig campaign

Officials in Idaho, Oregon and Washington are launching a campaign aimed at stopping the spread of wild pig populations in the region.

Agriculture officials from those stats unveiled the “Squeal on Pigs” campaign July 23, hoping that public awareness will help thwart the spread of the feral pig population.

Feral swine are identified as any pig not confined in fences, and their spread across the country is blamed for an estimated $1.5 billion in damage to crops, livestock and wildlife. Federal officials estimate more than 5 million feral pigs are roaming the country and pose a disease risk to humans.

Idaho Invasive Species Coordinator Amy Ferriter says early detection is critical to controlling population growth.

The three states have set up a hotline – or swine line – to report sightings.

The Associated Press

N. Idaho hydroplane race postponed to next year

Organizers of a hydroplane race on Lake Coeur d’Alene in northern Idaho have called off the event, saying they couldn’t find enough sponsors.

Diamond Cup President Doug Miller tells The Spokesman-Review the event planned for Labor Day weekend has been rescheduled to the same weekend in 2013.

The races started on the lake in 1958 and ended in 1968 after rioting and arrests some years. City voters rejected attempts to bring the races back in 1985 and 1996. The races planned for this year were going to be held just outside of city limits on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Organizers announced six weeks ago the races would return this year with boats traveling 200 mph.

Miller says moving the race to next year will give organizers time to find more sponsors and work on ticket sales, crowd control and security.

The Associated Press

Idacorp declares quarterly dividend

Idacorp directors on July 19 declared a quarterly 33-cent stock dividend payable Aug. 30 to owners of record at the close of business Aug. 6.

That placed the annual dividend yield at 3.07 percent based on a $1.32 annual payout per share and the stock’s July 20 closing price of $43.06.

Directors of the Idaho Power parent raised the dividend this year to bring the payout closer to a targeted percentage of sustainable earnings and make the stock more attractive to investors seeking income.

Idacorp issued a quarterly 33-cent dividend May 3 and Feb. 2, up from 30 cents between November 2003 and November 2011. The company in November 2003 cut its quarterly dividend from 46.5 cents per share to 30 cents to put more money into operations.

Stock in Idacorp has ranged from $33.88 to $43.64 in the past year.

Brad Carlson

Judge slaps mining company with $2 million penalty

A federal judge is ordering a Canadian mining company to comply with the nation’s clean water laws and pay at least $2 million in penalties for polluting a tributary of the Boise River system.

The order and penalty represent another loss for Atlanta Gold Corp., which is seeking to extract gold from the mountains near the historic mining town of Atlanta, northeast of Boise.

Earlier this year, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mikel H. Williams ruled that the company is legally responsible for high levels of arsenic and iron flowing from an abandoned mine shaft.

His order issued July 19 wraps up the penalty phase of the case.

The mining company was sued last year by environmental groups over allegations it was exceeding daily discharge levels for pollutants set in its federal permit.

The Associated Press

Idaho’s unemployment rate falls to 7.7 percent

State officials say the number of unemployed workers in Idaho has dipped below 60,000 for the first time in nearly three years.

Idaho’s jobless rate fell to 7.7 percent in June and 59,000 workers counted as unemployed, or about 700 fewer than the previous month. The state Department of Labor says August 2009 marked the last time Idaho had fewer than 60,000 workers without jobs.

The agency says payments from Idaho’s unemployment trust fund were also down last month, as fewer than 21,000 workers received $19.7 million in benefits. That’s a big decrease compared to a year ago, when more than 30,000 workers received $28.8 million in June 2011.

Nationwide, jobless rates fell in just 11 states and Washington D.C.

The Associated Press