Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Business Briefs

Personal growth in Idaho slows

Didn't get that huge bonus you expected? Not to worry. No one else did, either. Personal growth increased by a mere 1.1 percent in the first quarter, absent huge bonuses that pegged growth at 3.3 percent in the last quarter of 2006, an Idaho Commerce and Labor Department news release said.

Most sectors of the economy remained flat. Retail trade had a $9 million decline from the last quarter of 2006, the release said.

Chemical dependency center gets accredited

The Walker Center, which provides a range of chemical dependency treatment services in Gooding, Idaho, has been accredited for three more years. This is the third consecutive, three-year accreditation the center has received from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Services.

The center has operated in Gooding since 1976 and serves as an outpatient treatment unit.

Idaho red meat production down, milk production up

Commercial red meat production at Idaho packing plants for May was down 26 percent from 2006, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. The total production for May was 16.7 million pounds, and accumulated production for the January through May period of 2007 totaled 59.9 million pounds, down 50.2 percent from the same period of the previous year.

For the nation, red meat production was up slightly for May, totaling 4.08 billion pounds compared to 4.06 million pounds in 2006.

On the flip side, milk production in Idaho for May increased 5.1 percent, to 987 million pounds, compared to the same month last year according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Production was up 51 million pounds from April 2007 and the average production per cow in May was 1,950 pounds, up 90 pounds from the previous month.

Production from the 23 major milk-producing states totaled 14.9 billion pounds in May, an increase of 1.1 percent from May 2006. The number of milk cows on farms during May was 506,000 head in Idaho and 8.28 million in the 23 major states.

Biofuel grants offered by Idaho Energy Division

The Idaho Energy Division is accepting grant proposals from fuel retailers to install or upgrade biofuels infrastructure projects in Idaho. Biofuel means ethanol and biodiesel-blended fuels.

Grants covering up to 50 percent of projects ranging from $1,000 to $100,000 per application will be awarded to install new fueling infrastructure or upgrade existing fueling infrastructure that is documented as being incompatible with biofuel, including cleaning existing storage tanks.

The grants are the result of legislation passed earlier this year, which enables Idaho retail fuel dealers to invest in qualified fueling infrastructure projects dedicated to providing biofuels to their customers.

Qualifying systems must provide biofuel blend at or above 10 percent ethanol (E-10) and 5 percent biodiesel (B5).

"We hope to award up to 50 projects during the first year, with additional grants through 2012," said Bob Hoppie, Energy Division administrator. "We want to make biofuels readily available to businesses and citizens of Idaho. The use of these fuels will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil, help energy security and help rural economy producing local biofuels."

Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until the funds are depleted. All work must be completed within 180 days following award notification. Successful grantees must provide biofuels to their customers continuously for five years from the date the project is put into service.

Grant applications are available online at or by calling the Idaho Energy Hotline, (800) 334-SAVE. For additional information, call John Crockett, with the Energy Division, at (208) 287-4894

Wireless company qualifies for federal assistance

Edge Wireless has become the first cellular company in Idaho to qualify to receive federal funds to provide service in areas already served by rural telephone companies.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission has approved an application by Edge Wireless to serve as an "eligible telecommunications carrier" in 33 non-rural wire centers in the Magic Valley and southeastern Idaho already served by Qwest and in another 44 rural wire centers already served by 10 rural telephone carriers. (A wire center is the area served by a central office switch, the machine that provides dial tone and dialing functions.)

Designation as an eligible telecommunications carrier means Edge is now designated as eligible to receive support from the federal Universal Service Fund (USF). The commission has previously granted ETC status to competitive telecommunications carriers in non-rural areas already served primarily by Qwest, but this is the first time ETC has been granted in areas served by rural telephone companies. The Idaho Telephone Association, representing the 10 rural telephone companies, objected to the Edge Wireless application.

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