Idaho’s first medical school on the way
Plans are underway to start the state’s first medical school, the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine on Idaho State University’s Meridian campus.
The private, for-profit college is supported by Gov. Butch Otter and approved by the Idaho State Board of Education. Officials say private investors will pay $110 million to $125 million to start the college, which expects to have the capacity for up to 150 students a year starting in 2018.
Millions paid to top hospital earners
Nine hospital employees in the Treasure Valley were paid at least $1 million in 2014. St. Luke’s Health System CEO David Pate and Saint Alphonsus Health System CEO Sally Jeffcoat both earned $1.1 million. Jeffcoat has since been promoted to a regional leadership position within CHE Trinity, which operates St. Alphonsus. Rodney Reider succeeded her.
The top earners were surgeons. Neurosurgeon Christian Zimmerman, of Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, earned $1.7 million in 2014, a 3.8 percent drop from the year before. Ronald Kristensen, an orthopedic surgeon at St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center, earned $1.3 million, a 4.1 percent increase.
As large nonprofits exempt from federal income taxes, the health systems are required to report tax returns that include the compensation of key personnel.
Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club workers get raises
Wal-Mart says the 7,000 Idaho employees who received pay raises in their March 10 checks include 2,700 workers in the Treasure Valley.
The raises are part of a two-year, $2.7 billion investment nationwide to raise wages and provide better training and long-term career opportunities at the retail giant.
Employees are now eligible for quarterly cash bonuses based on the performance of their store. For the previous 12 months, workers earned $550 million in bonuses, including $1.6 million earned by people at Idaho’s 27 stores.
1 in 3 Idaho workers ‘income constrained’
In addition to 15 percent of Idahoans living under the poverty line, a new United Way report found that 22 percent of Idaho residents have work but struggle to meet basic expenses. The report refers to these residents as “ALICE,” or “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.”
Households supported by full-time earners taking home $10 to $15 an hour — or $21,000 to $31,000 per year — struggle to pay the state’s $46,176 average expenses for four-person households for housing, food, child care and other basic needs.
Emergency expenses can push Idahoans in the ALICE range to the brink of bankruptcy.
Business group: Students not ready for college
Idaho Business for Education, a group of prominent business leaders, called on the state’s public school system to do a better job preparing students to succeed after high school. The group cited data saying 80 percent of Idaho high school students are ill-prepared for secondary education. Its conclusion: Communities must set the standards for their schools.
The business group took a different approach than the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation’s Don’t Fail Idaho Campaign, which uses similar statistics to suggest that stakeholders need to work together to improve education.
The state wants 60 percent of Idahoans to pursue at least some post-high school education. The data cited by both groups suggest only one in five are prepared to go on to higher education.
Idaho sues boat maker who left orders unfilled
The Idaho Attorney General’s Office sued Christopher Bohnenkamp, a former Boise custom jet boat maker. Customers of Bohnenkamp’s businesses, Bohnenkamp’s Whitewater Customs and Treasure Valley Marine, say he left Idaho to start a business in New York without filling orders for dozens of pre-paid jet boats.
The state seeks to recoup more than $1 million paid to Bohnenkamp by 20 customers. Bohnenkamp also faces lawsuits from KeyBank, a former partner in his New York Business, Niagara Jet Adventures, as well as several customers who say they were bilked.
Government probes Idaho seed company
Prosecutors are seeking to seize assets and cash from Saul Farms in Buhl and its owners, Bernard and Roza Saul, under suspicion the property was purchased with proceeds from inorganic alfalfa seeds fraudulently sold as organic.
The prosecutors want to seize grant vehicles, farming equipment and cash, and they want access to a $1 million property owned by the Sauls, including 438 acres and a residence. No charges have been filed.
Business owners who bought seed from the Sauls told the Statesman they are scrambling to find new suppliers.
Paul’s Markets closing or joining Albertsons
Boise-based Albertsons will buy and rebrand Paul’s Market stores in Homedale, Kuna, Boise and McCall. It also will buy three stores that Paul’s Market plans to close, in Caldwell, Nampa and Mountain Home.
Albertsons expects the deal to close in April. The companies did not say how much Albertsons will pay for the stores and properties.
Paul’s Market, owned by Stan and Steve Zatica, started in 1955.
Meridian still trying to revive its downtown
Meridian officials and business owners are still chasing development that has proved elusive for the city’s downtown. The city has taken steps to encourage growth, including starting a business incubator and seeking plans for a hotel, performing arts center and convention center. The city now seeks to create an auditorium district and a hotel tax.
Progress has been slow, in part because developers have been reluctant to build apartments, which would increase the customer base supporting local businesses. Officials and business owners would also like to see more young people frequent downtown, bringing demand for more shops, restaurants and bars.
Idaho Land Board to sell commercial properties
The Idaho Land Board voted to sell most of the commercial real estate held by the Idaho Department of Lands. The holdings had become a political liability.
The board agreed to sell 12 properties in Boise, three in Idaho Falls and one in Heyburn worth about $25 million.
Money from the real estate mostly goes to public schools. Critics of the board’s purchase of the commercial properties said the state had no business competing with the private sector.
The board also voted to sell more than 300 cottage sites and to swap about 50 square miles of state land in Southwest Idaho with the federal government.
Northwest founder jumps to bigger bank
Rob Perez, who founded the commercial bank that became Northwest Bank, is leaving to become Idaho regional president of Bank of the Cascades.
Perez founded Western Capital Bank in 2008. His boutique bank bought and assumed the name of another commercial lender, Northwest Bank, four years later.
He was Idaho president at Northwest, which is expanding offices in Seattle and Portland. In jumping to Bank of the Cascades, Perez takes over a full-service bank with 42 locations in Idaho and its home state, Oregon, including 12 in the Treasure Valley.
Merger includes Boise’s Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau serving the Snake River Region has merged with the BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and western Washington and the BBB serving eastern Washington, North Idaho and Montana. The three entities are now known as BBB Northwest.
The union is designed to improve services and customer experience for the nearly 15,000 BBB-member businesses and 14 million residents in the five states.
Dale Dixon, the former president and CEO of the Snake River-region BBB, is now chief innovation officer of BBB Northwest. He continues to write a weekly column for the Statesman and a monthly one for Business Insider.
PCS Edventures launches drone business
Boise STEM education curriculum company PCS Edventures branched into the drone retail market with several moves in February.
First, PCS bought Thrust UAV, a small Boise company developing drones, including racing drones that top 100 mph. Then PCS accepted an $825,000 contract to build and deliver drones to Salt Lake City-based Drones Etc., making use of the expertise acquired with Thrust UAV.
A PCS executive says the company will use drones in its core STEM education business. However, the drone business will also sell through retail channels, giving PCS revenue streams not tied to schools.
Idaho drone services companies merge
Advanced Aviation Solutions, a Star company offering drone services to farmers, was bought by Empire Unmanned of Hayden.
Empire Unmanned flies drones for agricultural, mining, surveying and other jobs. The companies had already partnered on some ventures. Empire Unmanned now has 14 employees.
In 2015, Advanced Aviation Solutions was the first agriculture-based company to receive an exemption from current rules by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate commercial drones. Empire now holds that exemption.