East Idaho Credit Union expands range

rendering of east idaho credit union
East Idaho Credit Union is replacing its Rexburg branch, as well as adding a branch in Pocatello. Rendering courtesy of East Idaho Credit Union

After 83 years in eastern Idaho, East Idaho Credit Union will open a branch in Pocatello.

The credit union originally had a field of membership of Idaho Falls postal workers but now accepts anyone who works in Bonneville or Bannock counties, as well as several others in eastern Idaho, said Toby Hayes, vice president of marketing.

Currently, the credit union has nine branches: Two in Idaho Falls, and one each in Ammon, Arco, Challis, Rexburg, St. Anthony, Salmon and Shelley.

“Idaho Falls has been our base, and we’ve expanded into smaller rural communities in eastern Idaho,” Hayes said. “Pocatello is really the only place that we haven’t had a branch presence. As we’ve grown, it’s made more sense for us to strategically expand into the Pocatello market and make more of a foothold in eastern Idaho.”

In addition, the credit union’s members have requested it for a couple of years, he said.

The new branch will be across the street from the Pocatello Costco and is expected to break ground later this fall, with completion next summer, Hayes said. It will be about 2,500 square feet and will house six employees. The branch manager will be Brandon Rolfe, who was promoted from the company’s e-commerce department.

photo of toby hayes
Toby Hayes

In addition, the credit union is also building a new Rexburg branch that is intended to be in a more convenient location than the existing one. “We’ve been in Rexburg in a couple of different locations since 1984,” Hayes said. “The location we’re in now is in the far south end of town, and not where the town has expanded.”

The branch will be moving closer to downtown, which is seeing development, Hayes said. Ground has broken and construction has started. The credit union hopes to open the new branch by the end of this year or early next year, he said.

The builders are SCC Construction (Shane Webb) of Rexburg, and the architect is Case, Lowe & Hart, Inc., of Ogden, Utah. Steve Peterson is the lead architect on the Rexburg project, Hayes said.

The credit union doesn’t yet have a branch in Blackfoot, but it may in the future, Hayes said.

Founded in 1935, East Idaho Credit Union is about to reach $300 million in assets, Hayes said. It has about 120 employees among nine branches.

East Idaho Credit Union isn’t the only credit union keeping its eye on Pocatello. Earlier this year, Idaho Central Credit Union – based in Chubbuck, with four branches within 25 miles of Pocatello – bought 1.58 acres in the planned Northgate Pocatello-area development, but doesn’t have specific plans for the property yet. ICCU also has back office facilities in the region, including a Chubbuck data center that will hold more than 380 desks.

Northgate is a public-private partnership involving project leader Millennial Development Partners and Portneuf Development on the private side and the cities of Pocatello and Chubbuck, Bannock County and the Idaho Transportation Department on the public side. The development proposes up to 10,000 new homes and a 1-million-square-foot technology park, along with an array of retail and office opportunities for the north edge of Pocatello and east edge of Chubbuck.

Counties in eastern Idaho are among the fastest-growing in the state. According to presentations during the Eastern Idaho Outlook economic summit, Teton was the fastest-growing of the 14 counties in the area, having increased 14.5% since 2010, the fourth highest increase in the state. Jefferson was fifth, and Bonneville seventh.

Census figures released in April indicate Pocatello grew from 85,641 to 87,138, an increase of 1,497, or 1.7%, ranking it No. 369 in population, No. 180 in growth numbers, and No. 48 in percentage growth nationwide. Rexburg actually declined from 52,488 to 52,472, a loss of 16 people, ranking it No. 191 in 2017, No. 193 in 2018, No. 282 in numeric growth and No. 279 in percentage growth.

BYU-Idaho students do projects for businesses and countries around the world

Brigham Young University-Idaho students Daniella Jordan (left) and Leah Wetzel worked on a project for the African country of Ghana at the Research and Business Development Center in Rexburg. Photo by Teya Vitu.

Students at Brigham Young University-Idaho can work directly with companies and governments across the country or even the world without leaving Rexburg.

The nonprofit Research & Business Development Center in Rexburg lines up projects with large companies and small, local governments, even foreign governments for students to typically do research projects during the course of a 14-week semester.

BYU-Idaho students Daniella Jordan and Leah Wetzel worked on a project for the African country of Ghana over the summer.

“We came up with a self-awareness questionnaire that community leaders can use to assess the health of the community,” Jordan said.

The Ghana project broadened their knowledge as well.

“It creates awareness for us,” Wetzel said. ”There are a whole lot of other problems in Ghana that I wasn’t aware of.”

Many of the RBDC projects satisfy internship requirements at BYU-Idaho, said David Merrill, RBDC’s executive director.

“We are like AA farm league for internships,” Merrill said. “Beyond the internship requirements, graduates get a rich background of related work projects. We find the companies. We work with alumni associations, REDI (Regional Economic Development Eastern Idaho), chambers of commerce. We have friends of friends.”

Merrill said RBDC is always looking for more Idaho businesses or governments with projects for students.

A dozen years ago, BYU-Idaho spurred the creation of an entity for experiential learning, what today is the off-campus RBDC, housed in 4,000 square feet at Rexburg City Hall.

“We serve the function of a university office of sponsored projects,” Merrill said.

RBDC, a 2014 merger of the Eastern Idaho Entrepreneurial Center and the Southeast Idaho Research Institute, has served 3,000 to 5,000 students since the two organizations were established in 2006 and 2010, respectively. This academic year Merrill expects to have 800 students working on 220 projects with a new rotation of students three times a year.

Thirty percent of the students signed up at RBDC aren’t even in Rexburg. They are among the roughly 12,000 online students at BYU-Idaho, which has about 20,000 students on campus.

RBDC has projects with Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, the Coast Guard, Panasonic, insurance companies, hospital systems and many eastern Idaho companies.

Tyler Price, an Idaho Falls cosmetology and nail technician school owner, has used RBDC students for an app he is creating to help working cosmetologists better manage their businesses.

“I’ve used the center for ideas I have to help with market research,” said Price, owner and CEO of Austin Kade Academy. “A lot of times you don’t know what you don’t know. The student workers really want to find what you’re looking for, and they put a better spin on it from a millennial view.”

RBDC is mostly digital research-oriented, but the organization also leases a field for students to test new fungicides and fertilizers on one-acre test plots. RBDC has harvest equipment and drones for crop research, Merrill said.

About one-third of the programs are with governments: economic analyses, wage and benefit analyses for cities and counties, said Will Jenson, RBDC’s business research director.

“We do a lot of market analysis, and we do supply chain related projects, social media related projects,” Jenson said. “We did the feasibility study for College of Eastern Idaho that led to the taxing district (for the creation of the college, which opened in 2017). We did economic leakage studies for Rexburg. We do merger and acquisition research for larger businesses. We’ve done survey work.”

RBDC works closely with top company leaders.

“We are dealing with key decision makers and high-level executives,” Jenson said. “A student can end up having a CEO write a letter of recommendation.”

New apartments sprout all over Rexburg

Cedar Heights is a new project in Rexburg that mixes student housing, retail and a NAVEX Gllobal call center. Photo by Teya Vitu.

Drive around Rexburg and it only takes a few seconds to come upon another apartment construction project.

In a city with a 2017 population of 28,377, Rexburg since 2013 has seen construction starts for 30 apartment complexes with 2,020 units in 176 buildings. The bumper crop year so far was 2017,  with seven projects adding up to 849 units, according to statistics provided by the city of Rexburg.

“It appears with apartments Rexburg is leading the state as a percentage of the population,” said Wayne Hammon, executive director of Idaho Associated General Contractors, the trade organization for the commercial construction industry. “They are built to address the university. I have to tell you moving the college from two-year to four-year is an incredible boost for the whole economy of that whole valley.”

Brigham Young University-Idaho has added about 500 students a year since 2013. It added 1,400 in 2016 to 2017 to reach about 20,000 for the fall semester starting Sept. 17. BYU-Idaho had only 9,200 students when it made the transition from the two-year Ricks College in 2001, university spokesman Brett Crandall said.

Apartments in Rexburg are built for single students and married students, the general population and also the senior community.

Rexburg has more than a dozen apartment project under construction. Photo by Teya Vitu.

“The growth of the university” was the concise summation of Rexburg’s apartment boom from Scott Johnson, the city’s economic development director.

One new student housing project includes an international business and street-level retail. The four-story Cedar Heights at Hemming Village has 75 units for unmarried students and 60 units for married students on the upper two levels.

The retail offerings on street level include Righteous Slice Pizza, Five Guys Burger, BiomatPlasma, Idaho Central Credit Union and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

The second level is a new call center for Portland-based NAVEX Gllobal, an ethics and compliance software and services company that has other call centers in Charlotte, North Carolina; Norcross, Georgia, and Lisbon, Portugal.

BYU-Idaho students are the primary employee pool for NAVEX, Johnson said.

“A lot of the students have served foreign missions,” Johnson said. “Because of this, we have a lot of foreign language skills. For us, NAVEX gives us some recognition. It puts us on the map for other companies to look at us.”

Student housing

A 580-bed student housing complex is in early construction phases just west of Brigham Young University-Idaho. Photo by Teya Vitu.

Just west of Cedar Heights, Brad Hall is building a 580-bed unmarried student housing complex in three four-story structures. Construction started in April with a planned August 2019 opening.

The placeholder name for Hall’s $25 million project, which will be changed, is Arbor Cove. This was the name of the prior student housing facilities on the site, which Hall demolished. That housing had 180 beds in an apartment building and six homes that he estimated were 50 to 70 years old.

“I went to school in the early 1970s at Ricks College,” Hall said. “It was there then. What you are seeing (with several Rexburg apartment projects) is some of the old homes, 50, 60, 70 years old, being torn down.”

Arbor Cove is the first student housing Hall is building, but in 2017 he bought the Mountain Lofts and renamed them The Lodge, which at 1,072 beds is the largest student housing facility in Rexburg, he said.

Hall said a lot of the apartment construction in Rexburg is for married students. Apartment construction may seem rampant in Rexburg, but Hall said projects are closely monitored.

“We have to get approval from BYU-Idaho administration to build this,” he said of Arbor Cove.

The apartment building boom likely will wane, said Travis Lofhouse, estimator at Kartchner Commercial Builders, a division of Kartchner Homes, a Logan, Utah-based homebuilder with large projects in Rexburg and Idaho Falls.

“With all the construction you are seeing, it will become saturated in the near future,” Lofthouse said. “We’ll catch up with the demand in the next two years, I would say.”

Kartchner started construction in November on the 481-unit Eden Apartments, the largest Rexburg apartment project in more than five years. The Eden targets married students and is planned for completion in March, Lofthouse said.

The Eden has 13 three-story structures with 228 one-bedroom units ranging from 550 square feet to 676 square feet  and 253 two-bedroom unit ranging from 915 square feet to 991 square feet.

“A lot of our tenants are married students,” Lofthouse said. “(BYU-Idaho is) getting more and more students all the time.

Apartments for seniors    

The Cottages at The Homestead in Rexburg will offer 41 units for independent senior living. Photo by Teya Vitu.

At the opposite end of the age spectrum from college, developer David Thueson has been focusing on the 55-years-plus community since 2005. He has filled nearly a full city block with an assortment of assisted living, independent living, hospice, and skilled nursing at The Homestead Assisted Living at Main Street and North Fifth Avenue West.

“We have eight buildings,” Thueson said. “We’re trying to do something for everyone. We’re at 100 percent occupancy for everything open.”

Thueson in June started construction on the second phase of The Cottages at The Homestead. These 28 independent living units in fourplexes add to the 13 he opened 1½ years ago. They were his first independent living at The Homestead.

He describes The Cottages as high-end with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and one-car garages.

“We deliver to The Cottages three meals a day,” Thueson said.

Southfork Design Group of Rexburg is the architect. Mountain Valley Construction of Rexburg and Headwaters Construction of Victor are the general contractors. He expects the second phase to open in January.

The 41-unit The Cottages join the four assisted living structures Thueson built in 2005 with 30 units in two buildings, in 2008 with 45 units and 2017 with 52 units. Across Main Street, he is also partners with Madison County Memorial Hospital at Madison Carriage Cove, a short-stay rehabilitation center.

“For us, a lot of the people that move here want to get out of California,” Thueson said. “A lot of people are from Oregon, California and Arizona. We are about half the cost.”

Rexburg seeks to build a new airport

Rexburg plans to build a new airport on Bureau of Land Management land west of the city. Photo by Teya Vitu.

Rexburg is charting a course to build a new airport that would accommodate larger corporate and cargo aircraft and move air  operations away from Main Street and the freeway.

The city of Rexburg in early July approved a location for a new general aviation airport with an 8,000-foot runway a few miles west of the city.

The existing airport, jointly owned by the city and Madison County, sits alongside the U.S. 20 freeway with Main Street (Highway 33) at its southern end and the Teton River to the north. The runway is only 4,200 feet long, not long enough for larger corporate jets, said Scott Johnson, Rexburg’s economic development director.

The Federal Aviation Administration, city of Rexburg and Madison County have each determined the need to relocate the airport. The FAA would pay 90 percent of the cost of a new airport, though costs have not been determined.

“We have gotten six or seven letters from corporations saying ‘We would really like to fly into Rexburg but the runway is not long enough for our jets,’” Johnson said.

The city and county evaluated a dozen sites before settling on Bureau of Land Management property about a 10-minute drive west of Rexburg, Johnson said.

Several years of environmental review and engineering must take place before a new airport can be built, he said.

“You’re probably looking five years out at best; could be seven or 10 years,” Johnson said.


D.L. Evans Bank’s eastward expansion reaches Rexburg

D.L. Evans Banks is building new branches in Hailey (above) and Rexburg. Photo by Teya Vitu.
D.L. Evans Banks is building new branches in Hailey (above) and Rexburg. Photo by Teya Vitu.

Burley-based D.L. Evans Bank will open its easternmost store yet in October in a former Radio Shack space in Rexburg.

The Rexburg branch on Valley River Drive will be the sixth D.L. Evans branch in eastern Idaho.

Though it has been based in the Magic Valley since 1904, D.L. Evans Bank didn’t arrive in eastern Idaho until opening two Pocatello branches in 2004 and 2006. The Idaho Falls branch followed in 2006, Ammon in 2014 and Rigby in December 2016.

Rexburg will be the 30th branch for D.L. Evans, the largest Idaho-based community bank, with total assets in excess of $1.4 billion. All the growth has come since 1979, when D.L. Evans had a single office in Albion.

The bank first arrived in Boise in 2000 and now has Treasure Valley branches in Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell, Eagle and Fruitland.

But President and CEO John V. Evans Jr. has his eye on eastern Idaho. He expects the bank will build additional branches in Blackfoot and possibly create smaller branches in smaller eastern communities.

“That’s our plan, to continue expanding in eastern Idaho,” Evans told the Idaho Business Review in 2016.

D.L. Evans is also building a new branch in Hailey that will open in late November or early December,  said Zehireta Avdic, marketing director at D.L. Evans.

Yellowstone traffic brings Hampton Inn to Rexburg

Kevin Flamm is building a Hampton Inn next to his SpringHill Suites in Rexburg. Photo courtesy of Headwaters Construction.
Kevin Flamm is building a Hampton Inn next to his SpringHill Suites in Rexburg. Photo courtesy of Headwaters Construction.

Kevin Flamm is building a 101-room Hampton Inn & Suites next door to his 97-room SpringHill Suites in Rexburg.

They will be the two largest hotels in Rexburg when the Hampton Inn opens in April 2018, said Chris Mann, CEO of the Rexburg Chamber of Commerce.

Rexburg, with a population of 30,000, is the closest good-size city to the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. It is also home to Brigham Young University-Idaho, but Flamm said increased traffic to Yellowstone was the impetus for the hotel. The park saw about 4.5 million visitors last year, up from $3.6 million in 2010 and 2.8 million in 2000. Most visitors travel there between May and September, but there are visitors year-round.

The Hampton Inn & Suites now under construction will be the largest hotel in Rexburg. Image courtesy of Headwaters Construction.
The Hampton Inn & Suites now under construction will be the largest hotel in Rexburg. Image courtesy of Headwaters Construction.

“The amount of tour buses going to Yellowstone has exploded,” said Flamm, co-owner of Lot 6 Development Co. of Salt Lake City and Intermountain Wealth Management in Idaho Falls. “The last 10 years has seen growth of 10 to 15 percent every year.”

General contractor Headwaters Construction of Victor started the Hampton Inn construction March 1. The architect is Salt Lake City-based Richardson Design Partnership, which also designed the 185-room Residence Inn by Marriott in downtown Boise, the largest hotel currently under construction in Idaho. Richardson also designed the Meridian temple for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Flamm acquired the SpringHill Suites 2-1/2 years ago and said visitors on occasion have to stay in Idaho Falls because all the rooms are filled in Rexburg, especially during peak BYU events and Yellowstone tourism.

“We were seeing how many people were turned away the last couple years,” Flamm said. “That made the ultimate decision to build a second hotel.”

He said Yellowstone makes up 40 percent of his business at SpringHill Suites across the whole year and at least 70 to 80 percent in prime season from May to September.

Mixed-use project will bring retail, office, student housing to Rexburg

Hemming Cedars is the second phase of the Hemming Village project in Rexburg. Image courtesy of Hemming Corp.
Hemming Cedars is the second phase of the Hemming Village project in Rexburg. Image courtesy of Hemming Corp.

Rexburg-based Hemming Corp. will start construction in April on a mixed-use project with 200,000 square feet of commercial and office space plus student housing for single and married students attending Brigham Young University-Idaho one block to the east.

Hemming Cedars is the second phase of the Hemming Village project that the company started across the street in 2009. It includes 48,000 square feet of retail and office space that opened in 2010, and a 110,000- square-foot, 60-unit student housing complex with 360 beds that followed in 2013.

Hemming Corp. President Richie Webb said he thinks Hemming Cedars will be the largest mixed-use structure in eastern Idaho. Along with retail and office, Hemming Cedars will have 75 units for unmarried students and 60 units for married students. Webb expects to complete the project in January 2018.

“Married student housing has gone away from campus,” Webb said. “We wanted to do something closer to campus.”

Hemming Cedars and Hemming Village are located on West Second South between South First West and South Second West.

Richie Webb
Richie Webb

The $40 million Hemmings Cedars is largely financed with  $32 million federal New Markets Tax Credit funding supplied by the Montana & Idaho Community Development Corp., which provides financing for projects that would not otherwise happen in low-income areas.

Webb said Hemming Cedars could not be built without the tax credit financing because of the cost of acquiring incoming-producing apartments, business and homes to make way for the project.

Hemming Corp. also tapped into New Markets Tax Credits to build the Targhee Professional Offices, a pair of 41,000- and 22,000-square foot medical office buildings in Rexburg.

California sandwich chain Togo’s arrives in Rexburg

California deli sandwich chain Togo's plans to expand into the Boise area. Photo courtesy Togo's Eateries Inc.
California deli sandwich chain Togo’s plans to expand into the Boise area. Photo courtesy Togo’s Eateries Inc.

Just about anywhere in California, you can find a Togo’s Eateries, a San Jose-based sandwich shop chain billed as “A West Coast Original.”

A few are in Oregon, but get beyond the Cascades and Sierra Nevada, and Togo’s right now are limited to two in Bend, Ore., one in Sandy, Utah, and two in the Phoenix metro.

Rexburg will get the sixth Togo’s in the Intermountain West when Ty and Debbie Jenkins open a franchise on Nov. 21. They plan to open a second Idaho Falls Togo’s in January. Later they anticipate adding a second Togo’s in Idaho Falls and another in Twin Falls.

“I’ve been traveling to California for several years,” Ty Jenkins said. “Freqently, I’d jump into a Togo’s and have lunch there. It think it’s a great opportunity and a great product.”

Togo’s is a franchise-based sandwich chain rooted in deli-style service with artisan breads, hand-sliced meats – especially pastrami. The chain also offers soups and salads.

“We’ve been hooked on Togo’s since our first bite,” Debbie Jenkins said. “We sincerely love the food and know the people of Rexburg will love it too.”

Togo’s presently has 254 restaurants with nearly all in California and a few scattered in Oregon, Utah and Arizona. Idaho will be the fifth state and a Togo’s will open in Colorado later this year.

The crew readies for Togo’s first eatery in Idaho. Photo courtesy of Togo's.
The crew readies for Togo’s first eatery in Idaho. Photo courtesy of Togo’s.

“Idaho is a natural expansion from California,” said Eric Coolbaugh, Togo’s director of regional marketing. “There are many California transplants up here, and Togo’s fans based in Idaho have been asking us when we’re coming for quite a long while.”

Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg was also a draw for Togo’s.

“Rexburg is an excellent city to make our Idaho debut in, as it’s a growing city with a heavy university population, a perfect combination for Togo’s,” Coolbaugh said.

Togo’s is pronounced toe-go, but the name does originate from early “sandwiches to go” signage.