First appeared in The Coeur d’Alene Press, December 12, 2019 at 5:00 am | By MIKE PATRICK Staff Writer

COEUR d’ALENE — Same ‘ol-same ‘ol looks pretty sweet.

Speaking to a packed house of 215 business people and community leaders Wednesday, economist Dr. John Mitchell said there’s little reason to expect the nation’s unprecedented 126-month expansion to come to a screeching halt. What we saw in 2019 should look a lot like what we see in 2020, he said.

Dr. John Mitchell delivers his keynote to Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce (Loren Benoit, Coeur d’Alene Press)

In his annual Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce breakfast address at the Best Western Plus Coeur d’Alene Inn, the veteran fiscal forecaster predicted economic growth might slow a bit but continue heading in the right direction.

“The things we traditionally worry about at the moment are not happening,” he said.

Sure, there’s some uncertainty with impeachment proceedings, Mitchell acknowledged. Angst ebbs and flows with international trade and tariff talk, too.

It’s always possible the market could see a big dip, or threats emerge to upend the tax system or the medical system. And of course, Mitchell had to raise the specter of a black swan event — some disaster that nobody sees until after it’s already happened — no matter how unlikely.

“I worry about… people’s willingness to take chances and invest,” he conceded. “That’s a threat.”

But having covered the big scary stuff, Mitchell’s forecast had a calming effect.

“The things that preceded many other recessions don’t seem to be there,” he said.

Nationally, Mitchell pointed to GDP slowing slightly next year but strong employment and low inflation propelling a steady course.

Close to home, Mitchell unwrapped a Christmas package of economic positivity.

He cited Idaho’s 2.1 percent population growth as No. 1 in the nation, tied with Nevada.

Idaho’s job growth for the year through October was a sturdy 2 percent, good for eighth in a nation where all 50 states showed job growth in 2019. Mitchell charted Kootenai County job growth for three years, from October 2016 through October 2019, and tallied 8.4 percent growth, with construction and leisure/hospitality leading the way.

The local housing picture is especially bright — if you’re looking at the value of your property rather than your tax bill, anyway. According to Mitchell’s research, the Coeur d’Alene metro area had the fourth highest housing appreciation rate in the country as of the year’s third quarter. Chico, Calif., rising from the ashes of the Paradise Fire, led the way with a 14.25 percent appreciation rate. Boise (11.81) was second, followed by Idaho Falls (11.33) and Coeur d’Alene (10.85). Demonstrating the growth power of the Northwest, Spokane was fifth in the nation (9.36).

Growth is also visible throughout Kootenai County, as building permits attest. Mitchell said residential building permits are up 11.5 percent year over year.

“The forces that have been driving the county would seem to be intact,” he said, pointing to confident employed consumers, an aging population in the higher cost areas, the many attributes of the region, and simply rising with the tide of continued national economic expansion.

He’s got some numbers to back that all up. Looking at 2010 through 2018, Mitchell showed a positive population change in Kootenai County. Making babies was responsible for 3,822 new faces, while net migration brought in 19,111 during that period, he said. That added up to a 16.6 percent increase, well ahead of Idaho’s strong 11.9 percent population growth.

Growth is evident not just in bodies but bank accounts. According to Mitchell’s research, Kootenai County residents’ personal income was up 7 percent last year. He noted that the big uptick isn’t all from hard-working employees getting raises or better-paying jobs, either: dividends, interest, rents and transfer payments are boosting the bankroll of retirees.

“Old people save a lot,” he said.

Worries over deficit spending haven’t slowed the overall economy, and the dreaded “R” word has somehow been held at bay. Mitchell called “recession headlines very common in 2019,” but said the warnings are often a reflection of political rather than economic interests.

“I always have in the back of my mind, ‘What’s the person’s agenda?’” he said. “The recession just keeps getting pushed further and further out.”

With some effort, the economist who has been making similar presentations for 47 years strained to see dark clouds, let alone black swans, on the 2020 horizon. However, all economic expansions end sometime.

“I don’t think it’s going to be in 2020,” Mitchell said, “but it’s out there somewhere.”

The following projects, initiatives, and economic developments are making news in eastern Washington and northern Idaho. This release is distributed by the Inland Northwest Economic Alliance on behalf of its regional partners.


COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — StanCraft Boat Co. is expanding from manufacturing watercraft to offering aviation services with the addition of a $15 million StanCraft Jet Center at Coeur d’Alene Airport-Pappy Boyington Field. Construction on the new 85,000-square-foot FBO began in August east of Empire Aerospace, and the project is expected to be completed by May 2020. Coeur d’Alene-based Eric Hedlund Design is the architecture firm that designed the structure, and Hayden-based Young Construction Group of Idaho Inc. is the contractor. The 40,000-square-foot Southfield Aviation building will be used as a maintenance facility after the new jet center is built. In addition to refitting jet interiors, StanCraft Jet Center will offer jet refueling, conference rooms, waiting and pilot areas, and a tenant improvement space for offices. Contact Robb Bloem, StanCraft President, for more information.

Dauntless Air, an aerial firefighting company, relocated its aircraft maintenance operations to the Coeur d’Alene airport this year. Dauntless protects people, land and property from the devastation of wildfires through advanced aerial fire suppression tactics in Minnesota, Washington, Alaska, Idaho, North Carolina, California and Oregon. Learn more about the company at or contact Brett L’Esperance, Dauntless CEO.

PULLMAN, WA — Washington State University’s Cosmic Crisp apple will hit the fruit stands on December 1, a project over 20 years in the making. Cosmic Crisp was developed specifically for Washington’s climate and growing conditions. WSU researchers combined the disease-resistant Enterprise with the Honeycrisp, known for its crispness, juicy sweetness, and hint of tartness. There are 12 million trees planted in the state of Washington and this year 450,000 boxes of Cosmic Crisp apples will be available. Washington apple growers will have exclusive rights to the Cosmic Crisp for 10 years. Washington produces 65-75 percent of the nation’s apples, yet this is the first variety that originated from the state. Contact Proprietary Variety Management for more information.

HAYDEN, Idaho — Roller coaster manufacturer, Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC), continues its Six Flags success with the innovative Jersey Devil Coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey. Known as a single-rail coaster, riders in one-passenger cars will straddle a 15.5-inch-wide steel, monorail track and navigate a twisted course that will include multiple inversions, climbing 130 feet and hitting a top speed of 58 mph along 3.000 feet of monorail track. RMC has grown to 115 full-time employees and 5 manufacturing facilities, totaling more than 75,000 square feet. See USA Today’s article for more.

DAVENPORT, WA – Washington Department of Commerce, USDA, and Washington State University Medical School hosted a daylong workshop with 100 community leaders and residents from Eastern Washington to address the broadband law approved this year by Washington state lawmakers. A new statewide broadband office will approve and distribute grant and loan funds to local governments, tribes, public, private and nonprofit entities working together to expand broadband. The program has $21.5 million available, including $14.5 million for loans and $7 million for grants. The state will prioritize funding to public-private partnerships, with a focus on underserved areas in the state. Contact Margie at Lincoln County EDC for more information.

MARIES, Idaho — City officials and housing developers, Troy Lozano, are projecting construction of new homes in Ragan’s Addition to begin in early 2020. Lozano purchased 21 lots in the addition and plans to partner with Julian Construction to build single family homes. Updates can be found at

OTHELLO, WA — McCain Foods broke ground on a 170,000-square-foot expansion, a project that will cost $300 million and is scheduled for competition in 2021. The expansion to the frozen potato products line is estimated to bring about 180 new jobs to Othello and is expected to be the biggest manufacturer of frozen potato products in the world. Dale McCarthy, McCain Foods, said Othello’s proximity to West Coast shipping makes it a crucial location for the company. “Othello is very strategic for us.” Adams County officials are working with McCain Foods and the state to develop a recruitment process and support. They plan to conduct a countywide housing needs assessment to confirm housing needs and development solutions.  Email Adams County Economic Development Council for more info.

MOSCOW, Idaho — Northwest River Supplies (NRS) began operations from its new facility on South Blaine Street on November 5. The newly constructed 155,000-square-foot building includes a warehouse, customer service center, corporate offices and a 3,500-square-foot NRS flagship retail store. The $13.5 million project received a tax break from Latah County that exempts 75 percent of the increase in the site’s value from property taxes for five years, ending in 2023. Read more here.

PULLMAN and COLFAX, Wash. — Two Inland Northwest businesses were recognized through the Washington Secretary of State’s Corporations for Communities Award Program. Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, of Pullman, was recognized for donating and raising funds for local charities and providing money for employees to donate to the charity of their choice. Bunyard Automotive, of Colfax, was honored for repairing vehicles at little to no cost for families in need. Both businesses were awarded the National Association of Secretaries of State Medallion for their efforts in their communities. The full press release is here.

OSBURN, Idaho — The city dedicated the newly completed Shoshone Fire District #1 facility, which was awarded a $500,000.00 block grant earlier this year. The new 10,000-square-foot facility is a significant fire, training, and emergency services upgrade for the region. Contact Silver Valley EDC for more information.

LEWISTON, Idaho — With a start-up $839,809 grant from the National Science Foundation, the Northwest Intermountain Manufacturing (NIMA) Association has created a pilot project to train high school students in fabrication and machining. In partnership with Lewis-Clark State College, the Clearwater Economic Development Association, the University of Idaho and 16 school districts, the program gives students a solid skill set and educational background in manufacturing so they can be ready to start work right after high school for local companies. The first group of students will complete the program in 2020. See Idaho Department of Labor article here.

LIBERTY LAKE, WA — In response to a gap in the city’s flex office market, Liberty Lake Coworking LLC will open Jan. 2 at 23505 E. Appleway. The 4,600-square-foot space will have 11 private offices, six semi-private spaces, and open table space. The space will also feature booths for private calls, two semi-private meeting booths, a podcast and media room, access to high-speed fiber internet, and free parking. More details can be found here.

POST FALLS, Idaho — Construction on Idaho’s fourth state veterans’ home is expected to start next year. The 82,000 square foot project is to be built in Riverbend Commerce Park in Post Falls and will have 64 beds. The home will be built on 7.3 acres donated by the Jacklin Land Co. in Riverbend Commerce Park on Post Falls’ west side. It is adjacent to BioPol Laboratory and Buck Knives. See the full article here.

SPOKANE, WA — The Toolbox manufacturing incubator expanded to 17,000 square feet in a recent move to Logan Neighborhood. Anchored in the space is Vestis, which manufactures specially designed commercial awnings and canopies. The Toolbox continues to serve as collaborative space where established companies and business mentors share expertise, ideas, tools, and equipment with manufacturing startup and entrepreneurs. The Toolbox is overseen by nonprofit Spokane Create. Read full article here.

On December 4, the Edward Lowe Foundation and Washington Department of Commerce will lead businesses through the basics of Thrive!, a new state program that helps second-stages businesses to increase revenue, streamline operations, and expand into new markets. Contact Susan Joseph Nielsen for more information about Thrive!

POST FALLS, Idaho— Northwest Specialty Hospital completed a $4.5 million addition to include an Endoscopy Center and two additional operating rooms. The 15,000-square-foot addition brings to eight the number of operating rooms for patient surgery. The Endoscopy Center, a 8,650-square-foot addition to the hospital, features two procedure rooms, one exam room and eight preoperative and post-anesthesia care unit bays. See company news release for more information.


Inland Northwest Economic Alliance (INEA) is a consortium of fourteen economic development agencies representing fifteen counties in the North Idaho/Eastern Washington region. The collaborative effort is aimed at building economic growth through enhancing the brand recognition of the Inland Northwest and its communities and showcasing its business value.

This article first appeared in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News on October 26, 2019.

Northwest River Supplies will operate from its newly built facility on South Blaine Street starting Nov. 5, according to an NRS news release distributed Friday.

The roughly 155,000-square-foot building includes a warehouse, customer service center and corporate offices. It will also be home to a 3,500-square-foot NRS flagship retail store, which will open Nov. 18, the release states.

NRS will be closed for business Friday through Nov. 4 as it moves into the building, a portion of which housed the former Tidyman’s supermarket.

The manufacturer of paddlesports equipment and apparel makes the move after occupying its South Main Street location since 1982. NRS has twice expanded its South Main Street building, and in 2006, acquired the South Blaine Street property.

The company has also owned or leased several additional spaces in Moscow. The new facility provides increased space for inventory and personnel while allowing NRS to locate all business functions under one roof.

“A big part of our success at NRS comes from a culture of inclusion and shared responsibility,” NRS Chief Financial Officer Tony Mangini said. “Having everyone working together in one building will encourage communication and collaboration throughout the business while supporting continued growth.”

NRS was founded in 1972 by Bill Parks, a former business professor at the University of Idaho. In 2014, NRS became 100 percent employee-owned and employs approximately 110 people in Moscow.

“Being based on the Palouse has been key to our success over the years,” Mangini said. “With two major universities in the area, we have access to top-tier talent. And the high quality of life makes people want to stay here and build careers.”

Last year, the new NRS headquarters received the first economic development property tax exemption in Latah County.

“We are grateful for the support we’ve been given from Latah County, the city of Moscow and our community on the Palouse,” Mangini said. “We look forward to creating a positive economic impact in our region for many years to come.”

Article first appeared in The Spokesman Review, October 22 2019. By Amy Edelen, SR staff writer.

As Melinda Cadwallader and Cassidy Bones walk around a vacant building in downtown Coeur d’Alene, they see potential for a community space buzzing with activity.

Bones, Cadwallader and her daughter, Delia, aim to create The Hive, a coworking space geared toward women entrepreneurs – but inclusive to everybody – that fosters an environment of learning and collaboration.

“It’s a coworking and learning annex where you can get outside of your home, get outside of your normal flow of life and have a space to be inspired, to connect with other people, to work on your business and also know that everyone there wants to help support you, too,” Cadwallader said.

Bones and Cadwallader signed a lease for a 3,400-square-foot building at 405 E. Indiana Ave. because of its proximity to a wellness bar, day care center, parking and the energy of downtown Coeur d’Alene.

The Hive, slated to open in early 2020, will feature several coworking tables, a meeting and workshop area, photography corner, and a media room with equipment to develop podcasts.

“We have a lot of coffee shops here in town, but as student, as an entrepreneur and as someone who works digitally, to just go from coffee shop to coffee shop can be exhausting and distracting,” Cadwallader said. “There’s one coworking space here in town, but women want choices, we want options, we want new and interesting spaces to be and to work.”

Cadwallader, who has a background in vocational education at beauty institutes in Denver and Coeur d’Alene, wants to provide space at The Hive for community members to teach classes and host events.

“That’s what I got to do in vocational education. I was able to take people who were licensed professionals without a master’s degree in teaching and teach them how to share their knowledge and information with students,” she said. “When you see that growth in an individual – where they go from a professional to a teacher of that profession – that change affects someone’s whole life.”

The Hive is among many female-focused workspaces gaining traction nationwide as women entrepreneurs and freelancers look for an alternative to traditional offices, with resources and training to grow their businesses.

Female-focused coworking spaces are becoming more prevalent nationwide because they provide a place for women entrepreneurs to gain access to networks, experts and capital, said Marie Mayes, director for Washington State University’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

“Access to capital is a really critical thing to women entrepreneurs,” she said. “These spaces will often host pitch sessions and pitch coaching sessions to help women prepare to raise capital and help understand capital markets.”

Mayes added that she appreciates female-focused coworking spaces are inclusive to everyone, which reflects the diversity of skills and perspectives that startups often have among their teams.

Established female-focused workplace The Wing launched in New York in 2016. It has since expanded to eight locations nationwide and raised more than $117 million in funding from several investors, including SoulCycle founders Julie Rice and Elizabeth Cutler.

Seattle-based The Riveter, founded by CEO Amy Nelson in 2017, expanded its network of community coworking spaces built by women, for everyone, to five additional cities this year after securing $15 million in venture capital financing.

“Our expansion from one to 10 locations and thousands of members in just two years signals a significant market demand for workspaces, community, resources, and content that caters to the needs of women in work,” Nelson said in an email.

Nelson founded The Riveter after a decadelong career as a corporate litigator in New York and Seattle.

“I had a successful career and, for many years, felt comfortable working in the male-dominated space that is corporate law. But, when I shared the news of my first pregnancy with my colleagues in 2014, I felt the perception and perspective of me in the workplace shift immediately,” she said. “It didn’t make sense to me to remain in a system where I couldn’t make an equal dollar and where I knew mothers faced even more discrimination than women without children. So, I decided to start my own business, The Riveter – a modern-day union of working women and allies.”

Nelson said The Riveter, which now serves more than 2,000 members, has been met with excitement from entrepreneurs and businesses nationwide.

The future home of coworking space The Hive, at the corner of Fourth Street and Indiana Avenue in in Coeur d’Alene, is shown on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

In Coeur d’Alene, Bones said the community’s response to The Hive has been positive, although some people are confused by the concept.

“It’s just new,” she said. “People don’t quite understand it yet, but as we start talking and communicating about what this place is and what this place stands for, people have been very warm, receptive and supportive.”

Bones, who owns Beyond Bones Chiropractic and the small business consulting firm Ascension Consulting with her husband, Ryan, is excited about plans for education space and workshops at The Hive.

“As I’ve created, grown and tried to help rehab businesses, I’ve found there is a really interesting culture around that. The traditional business education that you get in college is not complete,” she said, adding marketing strategies are constantly changing. “So, I’m really excited to have current, very applicable things being taught.”

Memberships at The Hive start at $59 a month, which includes a reduced $10 daily rate for coworking space, two hours of workshops and a 15% discount on additional workshops, event space and media/conference room reservations.

A higher-tier membership – at $129 a month – includes unlimited access to the coworking space, four hours of workshops, two complimentary media/conference room reservations and a 30% discount on additional workshops and event space.

Nonmembers can rent coworking space for $25 a day.

The Hive is launching a fundraising campaign next week to assist with initial startup costs through “iFundWomen,” a crowdfunding platform for female entrepreneurs.

Cadwallader said The Hive’s focus will be primarily on local issues and women to create a space for empowerment in the community.

“It’s locally focused, and we see ourselves duplicating the space, but maybe in another smaller community, like Lewiston,” she said. “We aren’t looking to go to San Francisco. The Wing is there. The Riveter is there. But we have a heart for local community, small business communities, so being a hub for that in a small town is our appeal.”

Article first published in Site Selection Magazine, September 2019. by RON STARNER.

When your company earns its keep by providing location data to site selectors, economic developers and others, it stands to reason that other people are going to pay close attention anytime your firm engages in a site search of its own.

That was exactly the case when Moscow, Idaho–based Emsi announced July 26 that it was expanding its footprint in Northern Idaho with a new headquarters. The campus will house more than 500 Emsi employees and give the firm room to grow.

“One of the first goals for Emsi was to employ 50 people earning over $50,000 because good jobs in our town drive prosperity for everyone,” said Andrew Crapuchettes, CEO of Emsi. “Through striving to bless our customers, employees and shareholders, Emsi has enjoyed market success and is now privileged to be a part of Strada Education Network. With Strada’s backing and the crucial support of many people in Idaho, we are grateful and excited to build this signature building in Moscow.”

Emsi was launched in Moscow — 80 miles (130 km.) south of Spokane and 300 miles (480 km.) north of Boise — in 2000, as Economic Modeling Specialists International. When the firm moved to its current downtown facility in early 2014, it had 92 employees. Today, Emsi employs more than 200 people, with about 160 working in Moscow.

Emsi anticipates a move-in date of late 2020. The expansion will allow the firm to add more software developers, engineers, data scientists, economists, sales executives and other personnel. By remaining in Moscow, Emsi retains access to a talent pipeline coming out of the University of Idaho, Washington State University and New Saint Andrews College. More than 550 students with the skills required for Emsi’s key occupations graduate each year from these schools.

Happiness is Hard to Quantify

Emsi CFO Timothy van den Broek says that talent and quality of life convinced the firm that the best place for the new headquarters was Moscow. “We’ve been very happy with Moscow as a place to operate for 20 years,” he says. “It is our town. Our employees mostly live here, and their families live here. Within 10 miles, we have three colleges that all produce a good number of high-caliber graduates.”

But it’s not just about skills, says van den Broek.

“We hire people of great character,” he adds. “Moscow is largely an immigrant community of transplants from across the nation and around the world. I am a family man. I have a wife and five kids. I could not imagine a better situation.”

Tax reimbursement incentives, mostly employment-related incentives, were helpful in getting this deal done, he says, noting what he calls a “fantastic relationship” with the state, county and city. Quality of life is the icing on the cake, says the CFO, who is originally from England. “We have a vibrant restaurant scene in Moscow. The jazz festival brings a good amount of people to the region,” he notes. “My commute is a 10-minute walk. If I drive, it’s one minute.”

The new space could accommodate a workforce of 1,000 people or more, he says. “If we do our job well and help our customers grow, we’ll continue growing ourselves. We are in this for the long haul.”