National cyber security company plans to bring dozens of jobs to Pocatello that pay up to $140,000 per year

National cyber security company plans to bring dozens of jobs to Pocatello that pay up to $140,000 per year

National cyber security company plans to bring dozens of jobs to Pocatello that pay up to $140,000 per year

  • By Shelbie Harris sharris@journalnet.com

POCATELLO — At long last, Pocatello residents will start to see more high-tech, well-paying jobs available in the Gate City.

A national cyber security and big data management company Buchanan & Edwards announced Wednesday its plans to expand in Pocatello, hoping to fill 50 positions initially and eventually 80 jobs as the company gets established.

“Buchanan & Edwards (B&E) is looking to fill high-tech jobs that pay $80,000 to $140,000 per year, which will have a major positive impact on our community’s economy and talent base,” said John Regetz, executive director of Bannock Development Corporation. “Very roughly estimated, the economic impact would be $11 million annually for B&E positions and spin-off wages in the community.”

 Bannock Development said the company is expected to open its Pocatello location in the next six months but it’s unclear where the facility will be.

Originally, B&E planned to initiate operations with fewer employees, but opportunities have prompted the start at 50 positions.

In addition to cyber security, B&E specializes in big data analytics related to security and cloud-based software that improves the delivery of diverse services. Current contracts include the federal government, the U.S. Navy and the FBI Technology and Support Services.

Considering the FBI recently broke ground on a $100 million data center in Pocatello, which Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad said could bring another 300 to 350 high-tech jobs to the area, it seems the mayor’s goals of turning Pocatello into a high-tech mecca are coming to fruition.

“This is awesome and is one of those things that we’ve been saying for a while now,” Blad said. “People have wanted us to reach out and get high-tech, high-paying jobs in the community and this is one of those companies that have chosen Pocatello.”

Blad added that quite a bit of time went into recruiting B&E to the Gate City and that the annual economic impact of $11 million coupled with an annual $30 million from the FBI expansion will have a huge impact to the region, in that the combined $41 million has a sevenfold turnover outside of employed positions and spin-off wages.

“We are bringing new money into our community, which was something we haven’t been able to do in the past,” Blad said.

“This is a huge impact and will grow our community in the right direction.”

B&E currently has 25 open positions in Pocatello posted on its website, including jobs related to information systems, computer science and software development. B&E is currently looking for Linux and Windows systems engineers, as well as Storage and VDI engineers.

Also, Idaho State University has formed a recruiting partnership with B&E that will allow for ISU IT students to land either a professional internship or even a permanent job with B&E.

“We are happy to be in the Pocatello-Chubbuck community where we have received great support getting established,” B&E Vice President, Mohamed Elansary said in a written statement. “Buchanan & Edwards planted a flag here two years ago with Bannock Development Corporation’s assistance and we see the region as a growth center for our company.”

Elansary continued. “The Pocatello site will be the largest for Buchanan & Edwards and represents a large part of our future.”

Mainichi English Translation

Mainichi English Translation

Walking around the world economy ·

USA · Support Idaho small and medium enterprises starting point of the world challenge Tokyo and Hachioji foundry companies struggle hard

Mainichi NewspaperOctober 15, 2017 Tokyo morning edition

President Takafumi Suzuki (left) of the casting company “Rong Foundry” aiming to develop the US market as a foothold from Idaho Province (left) and fellow small business owners = Idaho Falls

Tokyo and Hachioji casting companies are struggling to enter the United States. President Takafumi Suzuki (43) of the “Rong Foundry” chose the base to overcome the shortage of manpower in Japan and the demand expected after the Tokyo Olympics, Western Idaho Province, which is known for production of potatoes. Although it seems to be irrelevant to the manufacturing industry at first glance, it supports the challenge of SMEs with the support of the local government aiming for diversification of industries.

“I want to get results, the ultimate goal is to build a factory here and hire talent.” In late August, Mr. Suzuki put this power into Little State deputy governor and Anson State Senator who faced each other at Boissey’s Parliament House. Every state in the United States is enthusiastic about attracting overseas enterprises, but expectation is the contribution to the region such as economic revitalization and employment creation. However, there were experiences of studying abroad in Japan, the words that Anson was a leader in attracting companies were a bit different. “The success of Sakae is the success of Idaho and I would like you to talk about anything.” When Suzuki complained that Mr. Suzuki was hard to obtain a working visa, Secretary of Commerce of Ronk promised cooperation quickly.

A sense of crisis in the future

Mr. Suzuki who was a salaried worker succeeded Toshio Father through 2001. The foundry industry seems to be a typical “3K workplace” and it is difficult to recruit young people, and there are cases in which it is impossible for “shortage of profit” due to lack of personnel. On the other hand, price competition is severe. “It will be tapering as it is, and I have to go out to the US or China.” What developed using the latest equipment left by the father who died in 2008 is a “cold plate” which allows water to pass through the ultra-fine pipe built in the cast and quickly cools the surrounding equipment. It was adopted as a part of testing machine for memory (semiconductor storage device) in Korea’s Samsung Electronics, and established an office in Silicon Valley in the state western California where “the next US market” gathers.

When I got into sales, when I sent a message with Twitter to Mr. Eulon Mask CEO of the rapidly growing electric vehicle (EV) maker “Tesla”, after several days, a bulk order mail for battery cooling was delivered . “Unlike Japan, I see it as a single company even small and medium,” I felt it was a response, but I could not deal with problems of production capacity, I was keenly aware of the lack of preparation.

Motivated by enthusiasm

While leaving high cost Silicon Valley such as rent, looking for a base where you can settle down and work, I was moved by the enthusiasm of the people of Idaho State government met at US Selected Market for Export Advance sponsored by the US Department of Commerce . “It will be buried in Silicon Valley, but a personal relationship may be born here.” In the office opened in March this year in the state eastern Idaho Falls, we will have young employees expecting the future and Korean staff who are proficient in English. We aim to develop a safe spent nuclear fuel cooling system in collaboration with IDL National Laboratory (INL) which conducts advanced research including local companies, universities and nuclear technology.

Casper mayor of Idaho Falls said, “Idaho is close to the government, parliamentarians and the mayor as much as we can communicate at any time by the less population, sincere people, enthusiasm for vocational training, vast land, cheap energy There is also the advantage that it is. ” Jean Rodgers, who is responsible for regional development, “Eastern Idaho Regional Economic Development” also emphasizes that “Here, small and medium enterprises can receive the same treatment as large enterprises and will be a good starting point for companies aiming to enter the US”.

Mr. Suzuki, as a pioneer of Idaho’s advancement, will find answers to the challenges that will be followed by small and medium-sized enterprises and serve as a sales contact for fellow companies so that in the future “I would like to bring 10 to 20 companies from Japan” I believe. To do that, first of all, “I want to get results within 3 years.” Local people are eagerly looking forward to Japanese small and medium enterprises with excellent technology gathered at Idaho and the days when they fly to the world. 【Kenji Shimizu in Idaho Province, western US】

After finishing the interview

Even in the United States, corporate attraction battle is thriving, each state competes for huge tax preferential treatment. It is attractive to large enterprises with established businesses, but small businesses that make bases for the first time in fact have little meaning. It is because I will be able to pay taxes after turning my business into profit or I can not see it yet. It is certainly more beneficial for the local government to get in consultation with the local government, such as getting a visa or recruiting talent, and working with local companies and universities. Mr. Suzuki and the state of Idaho have only just begun. I want to pray for becoming “a successful story”.

Mining company expected to bring up to 90 new jobs to Bingham County

Mining company expected to bring up to 90 new jobs to Bingham County

Mining company expected to bring up to 90 new jobs to Bingham County

  • kevensen
Mining company expected to bring up to 90 new jobs to Bingham County

By Journal Staff

BLACKFOOT — A Canadian mine development company’s new facility in Bingham County is expected to bring up to 90 new jobs to the region.

eCobalt Solutions Inc. will build a hydrometallurgical refining facility off Pioneer Road outside Blackfoot’s city limits. The facility in Blackfoot will support a large-scale cobalt mining operation outside of Salmon.

Blackfoot Mayor Paul Loomis said he expects construction of eCobalt’s refining facility in Bingham County to be completed within the next two years and that 50 truck loads of construction materials have already been delivered to the site. A connecting railroad spur also has to be built.

Once operational, the facility is expected to bring 60 to 90 new jobs to the area, with salaries within the $60,000 to $70,000 range, Loomis said.

The facility in Bingham County will be a major part of the company’s Idaho Cobalt Project, which is the only environmentally permitted, primary cobalt project in the United States.

According to a feasibility study released by the company, the project is designed to produce cobalt chemicals used for rechargeable batteries.

“This is a robust project that could eventually be the sole primary producer of cobalt in the United States,” said Paul Farquharson, president and CEO of eCobalt Solutions Inc., in a news release from the company. “The future outlook for the electric vehicle and lithium-ion battery markets further supports sustained and long-term demand for cobalt — a critical ingredient in the cathodes of rechargeable batteries.”

To support the underground mine and mill outside of Salmon, the company said it decided to build its cobalt production facility in the Blackfoot area because of the accommodating infrastructure in Bingham County. A report from eCobalt said the site is easily accessible to Interstate 15 and can utilize East Idaho’s skilled labor force.

The site off Pioneer Road also has low-cost electrical grid power, adjacent rail, potable water and access to local municipal sewer systems, the company said.

eCobalt Solutions Inc. is a company based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, that produces battery-grade cobalt salts used in renewable energy markets, including rechargeable batteries.

Cobalt facility opening near Blackfoot

Cobalt facility opening near Blackfoot

Cobalt facility opening near Blackfoot

Loomis

A Canadian mining company’s plan to open a processing plant outside Blackfoot is expected to bring dozens of jobs to eastern Idaho.

eCobalt Solutions Inc. plans to build the cobalt refining facility within two years; steel beams and other construction materials already have been brought to the construction site near Pioneer Road.

The building will support a mine near Salmon referred to by the company as “the only environmentally permitted, primary cobalt project located in the United States.”

The Democratic Republic of Congo is the world’s top cobalt-producing nation, according to the oil and energy news website oilprice.com.

Blackfoot Mayor Paul Loomis said the refining facility is a strong addition to the region’s economic landscape.

“We’re absolutely thrilled about the announcement and for this opportunity to be able to work with this great company,” he said.

The facility is expected to employ 60 to 90 people, each paid in the $60,000 to $70,000 range.

Loomis said several factors went into eCobalt’s decision to locate the facility near Blackfoot, including its proximity to regional population centers such as Idaho Falls and Pocatello.

“They felt they’d be able to have a larger labor force to draw from,” he said. “We’re hoping a good number of employees will live here in Blackfoot, but we also realize the advantage of being able to draw from this larger pool.”

The project has been in the works since 2015, Loomis said.

Cobalt is used, in part, to make rechargeable batteries. The rise of electric cars has led to a corresponding rise in the price of cobalt as manufacturers scramble to buy the relatively scarce mineral, The Guardian reported.

With demand increasing, eCobalt officials felt it was time to move forward with their Idaho operations.

“This is a robust project that could eventually be the sole primary producer of cobalt in the United States,” CEO Paul Farquharson said in a news release. “Our project is an important development for the battery supply chain enabling access to a secure, stable, ethically sourced and environmentally sound supply of battery grade cobalt sulphate, mined safely and responsibly in the United States.”

Mining company expected to bring up to 90 new jobs to Bingham County

Mining company expected to bring up to 90 new jobs to Bingham County

Mining company expected to bring up to 90 new jobs to Bingham County

  • By Journal Staff
eCobalt

BLACKFOOT — A Canadian mine development company’s new facility in Bingham County is expected to bring up to 90 new jobs to the region.

eCobalt Solutions Inc. will build a hydrometallurgical refining facility off Pioneer Road outside Blackfoot’s city limits. The facility in Blackfoot will support a large-scale cobalt mining operation outside of Salmon.

Blackfoot Mayor Paul Loomis said he expects construction of eCobalt’s refining facility in Bingham County to be completed within the next two years and that 50 truck loads of construction

“This is a big deal for Blackfoot,” Loomis said. “We are just thrilled about it.”

Once operational, the facility is expected to bring 60 to 90 new jobs to the area, with salaries within the $60,000 to $70,000 range, Loomis said.

The facility in Bingham County will be a major part of the company’s Idaho Cobalt Project, which is the only environmentally permitted, primary cobalt project in the United States.

According to a feasibility study released by the company, the project is designed to produce cobalt chemicals used for rechargeable batteries.

“This is a robust project that could eventually be the sole primary producer of cobalt in the United States,” said Paul Farquharson, president and CEO of eCobalt Solutions Inc., in a news release from the company. “The future outlook for the electric vehicle and lithium-ion battery markets further supports sustained and long-term demand for cobalt — a critical ingredient in the cathodes of rechargeable batteries.”

 To support the underground mine and mill outside of Salmon, the company said it decided to build its cobalt production facility in the Blackfoot area because of the accommodating infrastructure in Bingham County. A report from eCobalt said the site is easily accessible to Interstate 15 and can utilize East Idaho’s skilled labor force.

The site off Pioneer Road also has low-cost electrical grid power, adjacent rail, potable water and access to local municipal sewer systems, the company said.

eCobalt Solutions Inc. is a company based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, that produces battery-grade cobalt salts used in renewable energy markets, including rechargeable batteries.

BMH and Cardio Renal Centers of America broke ground on a new medical facility in Idaho Falls

BMH and Cardio Renal Centers of America broke ground on a new medical facility in Idaho Falls

BMH and Cardio Renal Centers of America broke ground on a new medical facility in Idaho Falls

  • By Bingham Memorial Hospital
BMH and Cardio Renal Centers of America broke ground on a new medical facility in Idaho Falls

Bingham Memorial Hospital and the Cardio Renal Centers of America recently broke ground on the Integrated Surgery and Vascular Center, which will be located on East Sunnyside Road.

Submitted Photo

BLACKFOOT — Bingham Memorial Hospital, in conjunction with Cardio Renal Centers of America, recently broke ground on their new, state-of-the-art surgery center, catheterization laboratory and medical office building in Idaho Falls.

The new facility will be called the Integrated Surgery and Vascular Center and will be located on East Sunnyside Road, directly in front of the Fairwinds Senior Living Center. At just more than 25,000 square feet, it will also include physician offices for outpatient clinic visits for cardiology, nephrology, interventional radiology and interventional pain management, along with offering the latest technology in the region for peritoneal dialysis.

The keynote speaker at the event was Rebecca Casper, mayor of Idaho Falls. Also in attendance were brothers, Drs. Fahim and Naeem Rahim, managing partners of CRCA and several physicians who are also partners in the project.

BMH representatives included Joe Cannon, Chairman of the Board; Jake Erickson, CEO; Dave Lowry, COO, and retired CEO of BMH, Jeff Daniels.

“Today’s groundbreaking marks an incredible new chapter for Bingham Memorial and healthcare in Eastern Idaho,” said Jake Erickson, CEO at BMH. “Drs. Fahim and Naeem Rahim and their partners at the CRCA and the Integrated Care Clinics are improving the quality of personalized care patients receive by coordinating care with multiple specialists, all under one roof. It’s much like the Mayo Clinic model and it is quite extraordinary to extend this type of care here in Eastern Idaho.”

The Ammon Model

The Ammon Model

The Ammon Model

Fiber Optic cables and UTP Network cables connected hub ports.

Kirkham

Patterson

Electric transmission, the transistor, the computer, the internet. Each was invented in the United States. But in terms of internet speed and reliability, service in the U.S. lags far behind much of the developed world.

One ranking put the U.S. average connection speed 12th, at only about half the speed of the average connection in world-leading South Korea.

And throughout the country, rural areas and small towns face big gaps in broadband infrastructure compared to large urban areas. It’s a problem that broadband companies haven’t solved, often because the large up-front expenses of installing fiber-optic systems in small towns don’t lead to sufficient profits.

Those problems led the city of Ammon to start thinking about building a municipal fiber-optic network about a decade ago. Today, the network, still in its early stages, is up and running, and it’s faster than what’s commonly available in surrounding areas.

“If we didn’t build it ourselves, it wasn’t going to be here,” Ammon Mayor Dana Kirkham said.

The municipal fiber model being implemented in Ammon — about 150 residential customers are hooked up so far, and dozens more are expected soon — was the subject of a full-day conference, hosted Thursday at the city’s operations center.

Prices for internet access on Ammon’s municipal fiber-optic network are lower and are being driven downward by market competition. There are unique opportunities for both public- and private-sector innovation. Taxes and fees have only gone up for individual households that opted into the system, and the city has taken on no debt.

Other cities are taking notice, as are industry experts, academics and prominent national figures. This from a city with a population of 15,000.

The Ammon Model

Participants in Thursday’s conference praised a revolutionary model that uses upfront public investment in order to create a marketplace where residents benefit from intense competition between private internet service providers, competition that’s rarely seen elsewhere in the market.

“Ammon has inspired many other communities around the country,” said Chris Mitchell, policy director of Next Century Cities. “… Ammon has one of the most replicable models (for municipal fiber-optic systems).”

Former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler made a video appearance where he heaped praise on the city.

The same day, two Harvard scholars, Paddy Leerssen and David Talbot, both specialists in the broadband industry, released a case study examining the Ammon Model of municipal fiber development.

“By providing virtualized fiber network access as a public utility, Ammon has created a platform that allows an extraordinary level of competition, innovation, and experimentation by businesses, local government, and residential users alike,” Leerssen and Talbot wrote. “And Ammon’s model provides very little, if any, financial risk to the city.”

A key technical innovation is the use of “network virtualization.” That basically means network functions that had been governed by rigid hardware systems are instead being handled by flexible software systems. While the details are complicated, the upshot is that the network offers customers more options and puts companies offering services across the network in direct competition.

Dealing with monopolies

Bruce Patterson, the Ammon technology director who was the driving force behind the new model, compared Ammon’s fiber system to a road system. The roads are publicly built and owned, but shipping companies compete over customers to haul freight along those roads.

“We have to look at the wire as a monopoly,” Patterson said. “The competition is over services.”

In general, the broadband market in any given area is dominated by a small number of broadband providers, often only one. It’s a situation economists refer to as a “natural monopoly.”

The situation arises because it’s extremely expensive to make the initial investment to install fiber-optic lines; much of the expense comes from the difficult process of negotiating and purchasing rights of way in which to install the lines. So once the main network is established, the entry costs for any new company that wants to enter the market are usually prohibitive, and customers wind up with limited choices.

Monopolies have a number of bad features because such firms don’t have to worry about losing customers to the competition. Prices are generally higher than in a competitive market and the quality of service is lower.

The Ammon Model gets around this situation by installing fiber as a public works project, just as it does with roads, water and sewer. That means there are very few barriers for a new internet service provider, or a company offering networked services that don’t involve the internet, to get on the market.

The benefits of competition

Without the barriers to entry involved in traditional broadband service, Ammon’s fiber network provides the framework for an intensely competitive marketplace.

Customers can switch providers within a few minutes, so any provider that wants to be competitive on the network has a strong incentive to keep customers satisfied with quality service and low prices. If a provider doesn’t do this, customers will flock to their competitors. Customers also can use multiple service providers if they choose.

Kirkham said early indications are that the model is working as expected. Driven by competition over customers, Direct Communications and Fybercom, the two internet service providers currently offering service on the nascent network, have already dropped their prices.

“We thought this would happen,” she said.

Those who have opted in pay the city monthly fees of about $17 for maintenance and operation of the network, and another $17 in taxes to pay for the build-out. A 100 megabit-per-second internet connection from either of the providers costs another $10 per month. A 1 gigabit-per-second connection costs between $50 and $105 per month.

The Harvard study notes that the highest-priced 1 gigabit connection on Ammon’s network, after adding in taxes and fees, costs less than the $180 charged by CableOne for similar service.

There are also observable improvements in the quality of service.

Most internet service providers advertise the speed of the connections they offer prominently. But run a speed test, and the connection is almost never as fast as advertised. The advertised speed is only what the internet service provider promises to make a “best effort” to provide, the study notes.

But in Ammon’s direct fiber networks, speeds are guaranteed.

Legal innovation

Ammon also used an innovative legal structure to pay for the build-out of the system. It involved creating a new taxing district, a local improvement district. But unlike most taxing districts, Ammon residents only pay higher taxes if they opt in.

If they opt in, they get a fiber-optic connection either for a $3,000 upfront payment or through about $17 per month in additional property taxes to pay the cost of installing the fiber connection over 20 years. Those who don’t opt in immediately can choose to do so later.

Because the district was unusual, the city asked a judge to confirm that existing law authorized them to do so, and the judge agreed that the law did.

“My job was to keep them from wearing orange,” quipped city attorney Scott Hall, referring to the color of prison outfits.

“It’s not my color,” Kirkham laughed.

The network will expand by creating new opt-in improvement districts, Kirkham said.

Asked how she dealt with pushback from local residents, Kirkham said the the network has been very popular. The main question has been: “When are you getting to my neighborhood?”

Trucking business cluster helps local economy

Trucking business cluster helps local economy

Trucking business cluster helps local economy

A semitruck sits for sale at DAD’s Truck and Tractor Sales at exit 113 near Idaho Falls on Sept. 20. John Roark / jroark@postregister.com

A semitruck drives over an overpass at exit 113 near Idaho Falls on Sept. 20. John Roark / jroark@postregister.com

A man checks out semitruck for sale at Peterbilt at exit 113 near Idaho Falls on Sept. 20. John Roark / jroark@postregister.com

Over the last two decades, a regional hub for the trucking industry has developed around exit 113 along Interstate 15.

The area surrounding the off-ramp, near Melaleuca’s headquarters, has grown from a few companies to a major development with two truck stops, several semi dealers and maintenance operations, a handful of trucking fleet operators, and several warehouse and manufacturing companies that rely on shipping.

Economists refer to this behavior — where many similar businesses, often including competitors, group into a common geographical area — as “clustering.”

As an article in The Economist explained in 2009, a group of businesses gain a number of important advantages by clustering in the same area. Those benefits include a nearby specialized labor force that the businesses can compete over, easy access to component suppliers such as parts dealers, and important information channels from trade journals to gossip at neighborhood eating establishments and bars.

Clustering

The proximity has made it easier for companies such as Doug Andrus Distributing, the largest Idaho-based trucking company, to access maintenance services while providing enough demand for dealerships such as Freightliner, which built a new store just over a year ago, to open new locations.

Jason Andrus, co-owner and CFO of Doug Andrus Distributing, said the dealerships have been of great help to his company.

“Our company needs a lot of those services,” he said. “Prior to all that happening, we were taking our trucks and trailers to Boise and Salt Lake City (for maintenance).”

That’s true for dealerships as well, said Craig Schow, corporate operations director for Schow’s Truck and Equipment, a chain of truck dealerships with locations in southern Idaho and Utah, including one near exit 113.

“Being next to a truck stop, those customers are looking for a place to get warrantied work done or get a quick fix,” he said.

One of the newest additions to the cluster is a Freightliner dealership.

“We were servicing a number of customers in this area already, so it made sense to put in a building,” Parts Manager Tyler Lott said.

Trends

The dealerships near exit 113 have been driven to expand by a recent shift toward the purchase of new trucks, members of the industry said, and it’s been driven in part by the long-term effects of a decade-old regulatory change.

Ahead of stronger emissions standards for new trucks, which took effect in 2007, used trucks (which were exempt from the standards) were in high demand, and beginning in 2007 many trucking companies put off purchasing new trucks.

Andrus said that trend has begun to reverse, however. Initially, trucks that complied with the tougher standards were both more expensive and had lower fuel economy. It was a lose-lose deal for trucking companies to purchase one of the cleaner vehicles.

But those higher standards drove innovation, and new trucks now coming into the market are much more fuel efficient. The upfront expense remains high, but lower fuel costs over time make them an attractive investment.

“Now I think we’re seeing a lot of replacement,” Andrus said.

That’s consistent with a recent assessment by Commercial Carrier Journal, an industry trade publication, which predicted earlier this month that used truck prices are likely to decline soon as companies sell old trucks and buy new ones. New trucks typically cost between $145,000 and $175,000, while used 2015 models (which often have upward of 300,000 miles on them) typically go for closer to $80,000.

Schow said the local used truck market has also been hurt by slowdowns in the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota.

The lucrative opportunities there drove many independent drivers to purchase used trucks to work transporting oil, gas, water and fracking fluid. The slowdown dried up that market, Schow said, although it has revived somewhat over the last six months.

Driver shortage

For all the expansion in dealerships, expansion in transportation employment has been lackluster.

Trucking in Idaho has seen relatively slow employment growth since the end of the Great Recession. Since 2010, statewide employment in transportation, warehousing and utilities has grown by an average of 1.7 percent each year, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The growth in Idaho Falls has been identical over that period.

Idaho Falls is home to about 2,100 individuals employed in the industry, about 8.7 percent of the state’s total. But the region could support many more such jobs.

Those in the industry say slow growth hasn’t been the result of low demand, but rather of a shortage of qualified drivers.

“There’s a severe shortage of drivers,” Andrus said. “I’ve been working here 20 years, and it’s the most severe I’ve ever seen. There’s a lot of freight out there to be hauled, and all the companies are having a tough time getting enough drivers to meet the needs of the customers.”

Andrus said the shortage is so acute at the moment that his company is trying new strategies to find drivers. The company announced Friday that those who refer new drivers to the company will be entered in a raffle where a new car will be given away.

Blackfoot to host cobalt refining facility

Blackfoot to host cobalt refining facility

60 to 90 new jobs possible

BLACKFOOT, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) – Vancouver, British Columbia based eCobalt has announced plans to proceed with development of a cobalt mining operation based in Salmon.

Part of the operation will include a hydrometallurgical refining facility to be built on a railhead in Blackfoot.

Mayor Paul Loomis said that operation could provide between 60 to 90 full-time, well-paying jobs.  A site on Pioneer Road, just outside city limits in Bingham County, was identified for that work.  Loomis said Blackfoot is “thrilled’ with the announcement.

Key to the Blackfoot project will be a new railroad spur.

The company plans to bring in an existing, pre-purchased building until a final facility is built.  That construction work could begin early next year.

According to a company feasibility study, the eCobalt mine will produce a cobalt/copper/gold concentrate then processes to produce cobalt sulfate heptahydrate, which is used in the production of cathodes for rechargeable batteries.

The study indicates the company has already invested over $65.3 million for earthworks, engineering, and milling equipment in Salmon. The total capital and reclamation cost is estimated at $288.1 million.

CEI’s first class seeks degrees

CEI’s first class seeks degrees

CEI’s first class seeks degrees

Jaxon Walker, right, and Isabel Olivares work on a math assignment at College of Eastern Idaho, Thursday, September 28, 2017.

Marie Perry, left, helps her student, Lana Twitchell, right, with a math assignment at College of Eastern Idaho, Thursday, September 28, 2017.

Kayla Flowers poses for a portrait at College of Eastern Idaho, Thursday, September 28, 2017. Flowers is taking general education classes to transfer for her degree in animal sciences.

The signs in front of the school on the corner of 17th Street and Hitt Road still say “Eastern Idaho Technical College,” but inside the buildings, many students at the College of Eastern Idaho are already on a path that will lead toward a four-year degree.

The College of Eastern Idaho was the subject of a hotly contested ballot question in May, one in which proponents prevailed by an overwhelming margin, winning the support of 71 percent of county voters, easily clearing the 67 percent bar required to establish a new taxing district.

Following the victory, the school scrambled to get new transfer degree programs up and running, and it succeeded in a “soft launch” of CEI only three months later. Officials plan the main roll-out of the program during the spring semester.

“There’s certainly a lot of interest,” spokesman Todd Wightman said, “so I think we’re going to start growing quickly.”

More than 100 students already have either signed up for the associate of arts degree program or are taking a slate of general education classes with an eye to eventually transferring their credits to a four-year university, according to Lori Barber, coordinator of the associate degree program.

“We’re getting more and more calls every day,” she said.

Wightman said the school is aiming to get a total of 4,000 students as quickly as possible.

Pushing for excellence

The first class at the College of Eastern Idaho is drawn from a diverse background, from recent high school graduates, to those with college credits but no degree, to older residents for whom learning is a way to enrich their lives.

“This is going to become a destination for the whole community,” Barber said.

Marie Perry was a mathematics instructor at EITC for five years, and she’s continuing to teach at CEI. She primarily teaches remedial math, meant to get student’s ability up to the level required to take college courses.

She teaches basic algebra to a variety of students, including those seeking GEDs, those who are working on technical certifications, and now students who are seeking transfer degrees.

With the transition, she said, she’s begun pushing her GED students to go on and seek a degree.

“We’re encouraging all of them to consider two-year associate degrees,” Perry said. “They’re expecting enrollment to boom, so I may be teaching two classes in spring.”

“It’s really satisfying to see students be successful,” she added.

Finishing up

Kayla Flowers, 24, is a recent transplant to Idaho Falls. Originally from northern California, Flowers has spent her early years travelling around the country, recently completing a trip along the southern portion of the Appalachian Trail. She has family in the area, and she decided to make eastern Idaho her next destination.

Flowers has completed college courses elsewhere, including many courses in the arts and humanities. She has worked in a variety of positions, including retail jobs, working as a production assistant on national television shows and working at a winery.

But she found her passion working at a veterinary clinic, working hands-on with animals.

“I’m a compassionate person, so any work I want to do long-term is going to be taking care of somebody,” Flowers said. “I feel like I really understand animals.”

Flowers could be among the first students to earn an associate of arts degree from CEI. The majority of her prior coursework transferred into the new community college, so she’ll only need two semesters of work to graduate.

Setting an example

Others students are returning to their studies later in life. Maria Bates attended EITC in the early 1980s, taking secretarial courses. She found a job before she finished her certificate, and after a series of jobs she found herself back at EITC, working as the assistant to the coordinator of the school’s certified nursing assistant program.

Bates is nearing retirement, and she’s long been fascinated with the human mind. Bates initially considered attending Idaho State University to get a degree in psychology. She’s eligible for discounted rates available to older residents, but after voters approved the community college, she opted to take her first slate of classes at CEI.

“I thought, ‘I’ll just go to my own school,’” she said.

Bates said she doubts she’ll ever work as a psychologist, but learning provides a way to enrich her life.

“Like everyone who’s studying psychology, I want to know why I’m crazy,” she said with a laugh.

Bates still works full time, so she’s only taking a few evening courses at present. But she said it’s been a perfect fit, with a workload that’s manageable. She plans to get her associate degree in three years, and then finish her studies at ISU.

“I want to say I did it,” she said. “I want to set this example (for my children and grandchildren).”

Technical education continues

The technical programs that EITC offered for years are continuing unchanged.

At present, the bulk of CEI’s enrollment is made up of students seeking technical certificates or degrees. There are no plans for big changes in those programs.

Benito Haro, 18, graduated from Sugar-Salem High School this year. Haro said he’s long had an interest in cars, and he’s enrolled in CEI’s certified technician program with the goal of earning an associate of applied science.

“It’s a really good program, and the tuition is low,” Haro said.

Haro works about 25 hours per week as a landscaper while taking a full slate of classes, including courses in mathematics, electrical circuits, safety protocols and auto-mechanic courses. He plans to push hard and graduate in 2019.

“If you really want to do this, you have to be dedicated,” he said.

Barber encouraged more students, from recent graduates to seniors, to inquire about how CEI can serve them.

“The doors are very, very open for the community if they want to ask questions, or if they want to take classes,” she said