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Business Briefs: Idaho was a leader in new construction jobs in May

Idaho ranks fifth in the nation for creating new construction jobs

Idaho was a leader in creating new construction jobs last month.

According to data from the Associated General Contractors of America, Idaho had 35,700 construction jobs compared to 34,700 the month before, for a 2.9 percent increase.

A year ago, May construction employment in Idaho was 33,800. The year-over-year increase is 5.6 percent.

Overall, construction firms added jobs in 40 states including Washington D.C. over the past 12 months and in 30 states between April and May, according to the AGC. Association officials said the employment gains help, but construction employment remains below peak levels in every state, except North Dakota.

Nevada, Florida and Minnesota led all states in large percentage gains in construction employment. Ten states lost construction jobs over the last 12 months including West Virginia, New Jersey and Montana.

AGC officials said construction will be more stable if federal officials pass new legislation to finance highway and transit construction.

“Quickly passing a long-term highway and transit bill will give many construction employers the security they need to begin adding to their payrolls,” AGC CEO Stephen Sandherr said.

IBR Staff

Construction on medical studies lab starts in Meridian

Construction of an anatomy and physiology lab has started at Idaho State University’s Meridian campus.

The 8,000-square-foot facility will be located in the Health Science Center’s east wing and include a cadaver laboratory with 12 gurney stations and a virtual anatomy and physiology lab. Through distance learning technology, ISU will be able to provide anatomy lessons to high schools across the state. The facility will also be open to hospitals, clinics, law enforcement and emergency services for specialized training, said ISU President Arthur Vailas.

The building will be known as the Treasure Valley Anatomy and Physiology Laboratories.

The $4 million building will be completed in July and is being paid for through funding appropriated by the Legislature and private donations. C-2 Construction is the general contractor and Hummel Architects is the architect.

IBR Staff

University of Idaho’s College of Law to start second-year program in August

The American Bar Association has given the University of Idaho approval to open its second-year program in Boise in August. The College of Law already offers a third year of law school in Boise.

The Moscow-based College of Law is accepting U of I law students who want to move to the state capital, and taking applications from students who want to transfer to the U of I.

The college plans to enroll between 20 and 30 students in the second-year program this fall.

The second- and third-year program in Boise is located in the university’s Water Center building in downtown Boise. In the fall of 2015 it will move to the former Ada County Courthouse.

IBR Staff

Report: International investment slows down

International investors continue to search for U.S. homes, but at a slower pace than before.

According to homes searches conducted on Trulia.com, a real estate date site, 4 percent of home searches between January and May 2014 came from outside the U.S. That is down slightly from the same time period in 2013, when foreign searches accounted for 4.2 percent of the website’s traffic.

File photo.

File photo.

Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany are the top three countries conducting U.S. home searches.

Brazil has jumped into fourth place, ahead of India, Mexico and Australia. Brazil accounted for 4.1 percent of home searches this year, compared to 2.9 percent in 2013.

The change in search patterns has indicated that in the past year, foreign home searches have focused on dense, urban neighborhoods, but less in vacation areas. Trulia reports that Canadians lean toward vacation homes and Brazilians want urban real estate.

IBR Staff

Walkable Cities make more money, study says

A study initiated by Smart Growth America says that creating dense, walkable development creates more wealth per square foot.

Washington, D.C., was cited as the most walkable city in the United States. New York and then Boston were next. In Washington, D.C., the most walkable parts take up less than 1 percent of the area but contain almost half of the city’s top wealth-generating square footage, according to the study.

Smart Growth America says that while urban areas can contain drivable communities and outer areas can encourage walking, a community with good walkability will still feature “high density, a mix of real estate uses, multiple transportation options, and the ability to serve the daily needs of residents largely on foot,” according to Gizmodo.com.

The study identifies the country’s top walkable communities as:

1. Washington, D.C.

2. New York

3. Boston

4. San Francisco

5. Chicago

6. Seattle

Cities poised to join the list include Atlanta, Detroit, and Miami, according to the study.

IBR Staff

New York yogurt makers picked for school lunch program

School children in seven states will be eating New York yogurt this fall under a school lunch program operated by the federal government.

U.S. senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer announced that Chobani and Upstate Niagara won a bid to supply yogurt for the program.

The pilot initiative will provide yogurt to students in Arizona, California, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, New York and Mississippi for the first month of the school year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is set to consider proposals to provide yogurt for the rest of the school year.

Gillibrand says the involvement by the state’s yogurt industry is great news for the state’s dairy industry.

The Associated Press

Zions Bank takes applications for Smart Women Grants

The deadline for grants from Zions Bank’s Women’s Financial Group is fast approaching.

Zions is accepting applications until July 7 for its six $3,000 grants, which are available for proposals that help empower women and minorities in Idaho and Utah.

The grants are awarded in the following six categories:

· Small business start-up and expansion

· Community development

· Continuing education and teacher support

· Child and/or elder care

· Health and human services

· Arts and culture

Grant recipients are chosen by community peer review panels, and applications must be received or postmarked by July 7. Applicants don’t need to be clients of Zions Bank.

Zions has awarded more than $180,000 through the program over the last nine years. Last year’s recipients included an early childhood education program, a store with products made in the USA by women-friendly companies, a support program for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, a piano outreach program, a historic farm and a program to support student science fair curriculum and mini-grants.

Priority goes to proposals that promote women’s empowerment, aid collaboration between women entrepreneurs or non-profit entities supporting women, directly benefit women or low-income and underserved populations, or support endeavors that immediately benefit communities in which Zions Bank has a presence.

IBR Staff

Bacon preservative tested as feral hog poison

A preservative used to cure bacon is being tested as poison for the nation’s estimated 5 million feral hogs.

Feral hog. File photo.

Feral hog. File photo.

Descendants of both escaped domestic pigs and imported Eurasian boars, the swine cost the U.S. about $1.5 billion a year — including $800 million in damage to farms nationwide.

Hunting and trapping won’t do the trick for these big, wildly prolific animals. So, the U.S. Department of Agriculture kicked off a $20 million program this year to control feral swine, which have spread from 17 states in 1982 to 39 now.

Sodium nitrite is far more toxic to pigs than people and is used in Australia and New Zealand to kill feral swine. USDA scientists say it may be the best solution in the U.S., but they’re not yet ready to ask for federal approval as pig poison.

Male hogs can weigh 250 pounds. Swine compete with turkey and deer for acorns, and also eat eggs and fawns. Feral pigs’ feces were among likely sources of E. coli that tainted fresh California spinach in 2006, killing three people and sickening 200.

To stay even, at least 70 percent of an area’s feral pigs must be killed each year, said Fred Cunningham, a biologist at the USDA’s National Wildlife Research Center field station in Starkville, Mississippi. Texas alone has an estimated 2 million feral swine.

The Associated Press

News could be dire for whiskey drinkers

We don’t want to alarm you, America, but a serious problem could be in the offing.

Americans are consuming whiskey faster than it can be produced. Smithsonian Magazine, Esquire and other all-growed-up sources – including Kentucky-based Buffalo Trace, one of the nation’s oldest distilleries – are reporting that an honest-to-goodness whiskey shortage is in the works, based on simple supply-and-demand principles.

Distillers have always done a good job anticipating demand for a product that takes years to produce (when done right), but a decade ago there was no way they could’ve predicted the whiskey revolution threatening top shelves today. As Esquire reports, “Ten years ago everybody drank vodka and scotch was something you kept around for when your dad visited … now, whiskey of all kinds has become a fetish object of the young, urban and image-conscious.”

Making matters worse is the amount of time it takes for whiskey to properly age. And there’s also a shortage of the oak needed to make whiskey barrels, creating a potentially perfect storm. Experts are predicting that prices will rise and certain brands will become unavailable in certain regions as distributors are forced to choose their targets carefully.

All we can do is hope and wait … and try to convince that table of twentysomethings that there’s nothing hipper than a nice, dry martini.

IBR Staff

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