June 16, 2008

Eastern Idaho Planners See Potential Business Moves

By Hagadone, Zach

Five new companies are looking to move into Eastern Idaho, but they're being tight-lipped about the details.

"I don't really want to say right now because things can always change," said Bannock Development Corporation Executive Director Gynii Gilliam.

The discussion about the businesses came at the Annual Economic Symposium at Idaho State University, and Gilliam only hinted at what industries the businesses could bring in.

"One of the things that we mentioned at our symposium is focusing on recruiting clean energy, alternative energy, because we already have a good base for it," she said.

"The other thing we want to focus a little bit more on is medical R&D," she added.

Eastern Idaho is quickly becoming a large cluster of high-tech, alternate energy and medical industry, notably with the announcement last month that Areva had chosen Idaho Falls for its $2 billion uranium enrichment plant, Hoku Scientific's proposed $220 million polysilicon production plant in Pocatello, a growing number of wind energy sites (Gilliam said about 360 projects have been power improved), the proximity of the Idaho National Laboratory and a host of medical facilities and research sites, including BYU-Idaho and Idaho State University.

"If we can tie all those things together we have a pretty darn strong position," Gilliam said.

Of the five companies, she said two will probably announce their decision within two months, while the other three are up in the air.

"The three I would say are still pretty much long shots," she said. "The other two are moving up the ladder, and the rest I'm hoping will cross the finish line."

She estimates that it will be about 18 months before negotiations are far enough along to reveal whether those three have decided on a move.

In the meantime, one eastern Idaho company said it will be substantially expanding its operations in Chubbuck. Premier Technology, a manufacturer and industrial contractor with facilities in Twin Falls, Blackfoot and Chubbuck, is expected to build an additional 24,000 square feet to the Chubbuck site, doubling it in size.

The expansion will result in two additional work bays and a full slate of equipment.

Premier Technology's president and CEO Doug Sayer says it will enable the company to keep up with its already high level of demand.

"Premier has been experiencing tremendous growth in its core businesses. Our current facilities are running at full capacity which has created the need for steady expansion," he said.

The expansion will also mean an increase to the company's already 300-strong workforce.

"In the weeks and months ahead, we'll be adding up to 100 new jobs which will have salaries double the state's average," Sayer said. "Opportunities will be available in construction management, engineering, design, machining and electrical."

The company produces a product primarily for the food industry, but also equipment meant for use in the medical, pharmaceutical and nuclear industries.

Credit: Zach Hagadone

(Copyright 2008 Dolan Media Newswires)

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