Economy

Advanced Aviation Solutions , an Idaho-based startup, has become the first company to win federal approval to use drones in farm settings.

UGA College of Ag / Flickr Creative Commons

The J.R. Simplot Company is partnering with a Texas-based company to build a 300,000-square-foot beef processing facility near Kuna, Idaho, creating up to 600 new jobs.

Simplot and Caviness Beef Packers announced Tuesday it expects to open in the fall of 2016, pending regulatory approval.

In a press release, Simplot officials say the processing plant will be called CS Beef Packers, LLC. The two companies say they're investing $100 million to build the facility.

Mike Mozart / Flickr Creative Commons

The bankruptcy of national clothing retailer Coldwater Creek last spring posed a serious challenge to the northern Idaho city of Sandpoint, as more than 300 jobs vanished.

But The Spokesman-Review reports that the community is getting a second wind — thanks in part to former workers at the company who stuck around and started or joined new firms.

A Western Oregon mail order company has begun selling what might become the No. 1 conversation starter of Northwest garden parties this summer.

Uber
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The city of Boise has issued a cease-and-desist order to Uber, the app-based car service company. City officials say Uber is violating an agreement not to charge passengers until the city gives it the go ahead.

Uber has been operating in Boise since October under a temporary agreement with the city. Boise and Uber were in negotiations for a permanent contract.

Aspen Skiing Company, artist rendering

Aspen Skiing Co. plans to build a hotel in Ketchum, Idaho, modeled on its Limelight Hotel in Aspen.

The company said Tuesday the hotel will be near Sun Valley's River Run base at Bald Mountain. It will also be called the Limelight.

Aspen Skiing bought the property from Bald Mountain LLC. No cost figures were released.

The company says the site has approval for 119 rooms and suites and 11 residential units. The company says it will ask Ketchum city officials for minor modifications in the plans, including a reconfiguration of the main floor.

Five of Idaho's neighboring states will ring in the New Year with an increase in their minimum wage. Idaho, meanwhile, hasn't seen an increase in its minimum wage since 2009.

Idaho's wage is the federal minimum, $7.25 per hour.

Not only is Idaho nearly surrounded by states with a minimum wage above the federal baseline, but it's nearly surrounded by states with the highest minimum wages in the country.

Sun Valley Resort

Ski season is now in full swing, but the lodge at one of the region’s most famous destinations is closed for the season.

The owners of Idaho's Sun Valley Resort are hoping a major renovation will keep them competitive among wealthy travelers. Sun Valley’s reputation as a destination among the jet-setting class goes back decades. But the iconic 1936 lodge hasn’t kept pace with the area’s star-studded image.

The new year will mean higher pay for low-wage workers in Oregon and Washington. The minimum wage in both states is set for an increase.

Daniel Go / Flickr

An agreement has been reached to build a new $2 million fertilizer plant in American Falls.

The Idaho Statesman reports ConAgra Foods and Magnida also announced an agreement on groundwater Tuesday.

The two companies say arrangements for financing the new fertilizer plant have been in the works for more than six years. Construction on the new plant could begin in 2015.

According to AAA, the last three months have been the longest stretch of declining gas prices they’ve ever recorded in the U.S.

Get ready to shell out more money for eggs. Some Northwest stores are warning of higher egg prices as new regulations on hen houses take effect in California next month.

tdlucas5000 / Flickr Creative Commons

Farmers in Idaho say hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of beef, potatoes, apples, cheese and other products are languishing in storage because of problems at West Coast ports. The state’s agriculture officials are trying to pressure dock workers and their bosses to resolve a labor dispute and resume normal operations.

Idaho potato farmers say the port delays have prompted some overseas customers to cancel their orders altogether.

Jim Mertz of the Symms Fruit Company in Caldwell says only about 20 percent of their shipments this fall made it out of port on schedule.

Gene Han / Flickr

Idaho’s unemployment rate dropped in November to its lowest rate in nearly seven years, in part because the labor force is shrinking.

Idaho Department of Labor spokesman Bob Fick says November's 3.9 percent jobless rate was down two-tenths of a point from October.

“There’s usually a decline in jobs from October to November and that decline was less than in the past and there continue to be people who left the labor force,” says Fick. “So the combination of steady jobs and lower labor force was responsible for driving down the unemployment rate under four percent.”

For the Northwest wine industry this is crunch time. A massive rail and trucking facility in southeast Washington is pushing its final shipments out to arrive on store shelves before the New Year.

Northwest farmers and orchardists are among the potential beneficiaries if the U.S. and Cuba normalize their relationship and the trade embargo ends.

A new Census Bureau report out Wednesday indicates the economic recovery is lifting children out of poverty unevenly around the Northwest.

A slowdown at Western ports is now aggravating farmers across the Northwest.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The school day is over at Boise’s Whitney Elementary but the playground is full of children. About 140 kids each day take part in the afterschool program at the adjacent Whitney Community Center.

It has tutors to help with homework. There’s book clubs, arts and crafts, board games, basketball, outside activities, and pool and computer games for the older kids who walk over from South Junior High. Director Barbara English says some kids stay until the center closes at 7:00, but not because of all the stuff to do.

philanthropy.com

A recent report from the finance website Wallet Hub says Idaho is the third most-generous state (tied with Kansas). Utah and South Dakota topped the list. Wallet Hub looked at volunteer time and money donated using IRS statistics and survey data.

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