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Roundtable Discussions

Joe Herring, Region IV Development Association, reported:

Gambia cheese is in the process of a $90 million expansion, primarily in Gooding where they will add 65 new jobs.

In Twin Falls we’ve been working on a plan to develop an assessable park that could be used by youth and adults with disabilities.  Last week, a local bank, First Federal Savings, announced they will fund the Park include water features.

John Meyers, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, reported:

With the Senate ratification of Nan Coloretti or Deputy Secretary our top leadership team is complete.  We still have several vacancies and acting at the Assistant Secretary level. 

As of today we have 50,221 active FHA single family loans in Idaho for a total mortgage value of $6,632,808,915.

Again, as of today we have 78 REO available for purchase with both our highest and lowest valued properties being in Canyon County – the low value is $28,000 with the highest at $240,000.

We have 161 multifamily projects active in the state totaling 7,132 units with a total subsidy of $23,866,000.  Four hundred units are Section 202 and 108 are Section 811.

Our 10 Public Housing Authorities (including IHFA) have 827 bricks and mortar units and administer some 7,188 HCV (Section 8) of those 205 are VASH.

On the Fair Housing Front in 2012 we had 96 cases filed, in 2013 we had 57, and my last update in 2014 which is about five months old, we had 35 cases filed.  The vast majority of these cases, 65% were for disability, followed by status at 19% and National Origin at 12.8%.

All in all our grants and awards average 82.5 million per year and our FHA Mortgage Insurance averages $1.2 billion per year. 

Ann Joslin, Idaho Commission for Libraries, reported:

The Commission for Libraries has had further discussion with Josh Hightree about the findings in his 2014 meta-analysis of 26 community reviews conducted by the Idaho Rural Partnership. We were very pleased to see that, out of 67 community attributes considered in the reviews, the quality of the library (average score 3.99) was second in importance only to fire protection (average score 4.01).

The Commission for Libraries has long been encouraging community involvement by public library directors, staff, and trustees. One of the local level strategies that emerged from our 2005 statewide futures conference was for the library to “be a part of the community, not apart from it” and to get out of the library and into the community. We’ve promoted the concept of the library as a “community anchor institution” which has evolved into emphasizing the role of the library in “community building” and as “an engine of development.” 1

Regardless of the label we use, IRP’s community reviews are documenting the considerable value a public library brings to Idaho rural communities in the digital age. As Mr. Hightree found in the meta-analysis, public libraries are contributing to rural sustainability by helping meet needs that are common across many rural communities:

  • Support for all levels of education – early learning, K-12, Vo/Tech, re-training, distance/virtual education
  • Recreation/entertainment for teens and young adults, after school and summer activities
  • Free access to computing devices and the Internet
  • Community gathering place for a wide array of activities: MakerSpaces, career development support, ESL training, home-school support, cultural events, business incubator services, cross-generational opportunities, etc.

As follow-up to our discussions with Mr. Hightree, Commission staff plans to interview librarians from 5 community review communities in an effort to identify actions, projects and/or services that have led to each of their library’s success. The findings will be distributed through our newsletters for library staff and public library trustees and incorporated into our current community building initiative. We will, of course, also highlight the value of IRP’s community review process for those who may not be aware of it.

The Commission is participating in Dept. of Labor’s partner orientation sessions in preparation for developing a state plan under the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Under this re-authorization, libraries are eligible for the first time to be considered One Stop partners, and eligible for federal funding to support job training and job search programs. We’re looking forward to working more closely with Labor offices to make these services more widely available to Idahoans.

Barbara Petty, University of Idaho – Extension, reported:

  • Farm Bill Education

UI Extension received funding to provide education for producers on how to use web-based decision aid tools associated with the 2014 Farm Bill and how the changes to Title 1 of the Farm Bill would affect sign up and eligibility for a number of risk reduction programs.   In-depth, hands-on Margin Protection Program for Dairy trainings were conducted by Dr. Scott Brown, University of Missouri Extension Ag Economist and supported by a team of UI Extension personnel.  The Idaho Dairyman’s Association organized and supported trainings held in Nampa, Twin Falls, Idaho Falls and Preston attended by 188 participants.  Trainings for crop producers in collaboration with FSA and Kelly Olsen, Executive Director of the Idaho Barley Commission have been conducted in the northern, southern and eastern part of the state reaching over 600 participants to date.  Additional workshops will continue through January and February.

  • 4-H Food Smart Families

With funding provided by the National 4-H Council in partnership with the ConAgra Foundation University of Idaho Extension 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences Extension personnel reached over 2,500 urban and rural underserved, low-income and at-risk youth with 10 hours of in-depth healthy living education.  After completing the educational program, the youth each provided five hours of community service.  The overall goal of the program is to reduce the incidence of obesity among youth by providing healthy living education that targets knowledge and skill development in nutrition, food preparation, cooking, label reading, and price comparison to build smart shopping skills.  Program delivery was conducted by ten college interns and 19 high school aged “4-H Teen Advocates for Healthy Living” working with the 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences professionals. UI Extension partnered with 63 community partners, some existing and some new, to deliver the program.

  • UI Extension/TechHelp Partnership Supports Idaho’s Food Processing Industry

UI Extension partners with TechHelp to employ a Food Processing Specialist who works with the food manufacturing industry to improve manufacturing processes, conduct food safety certifications, and provide food safety, HACCP, vocational, and technical skills training for industry employees.  Independent surveys conducted by USDC NIST show that Idaho food manufacturers that received assistance from the UI Extension/TechHelp Food Processing Specialist and his colleagues from 2011 to 2013 increased sales by $120.8 million, saved more than $6.5 million, and retained 133 jobs.

  • Family Fun Night Provides Alcohol Free Activities for Youth

​In 2006, the National 4-H Council funded a program for rural youth development called “Engaging Youth, Serving Communities (EYSC)”.   This program was designed to provide training to help develop youth adult partnerships that would identify and begin to solve community issues facing youth.  The partnership in Lemhi County identified underage drinking as it was noted that there were very few family activities in Lemhi County, which did not include alcohol.  UI Extension worked with this adult youth partnership to sponsor “Family Fun Night” at the Lemhi County Fair.  A family carnival sponsored by local youth serving organizations offered games like a duck pond, face painting, rock climbing, a petting zoo, inflatables and many more activities. Teens direct the evening event each year with attendance growing from 100 in 2007 to over 700 people in recent years.  They are reaching their goal providing an alcohol free event for families and educating youth about underage drinking.

Maureen Gresham, American Planning Association, Idaho Chapter, reported:

The Chapter is reviewing their budget and she has put in a request for $3,000 to assist in the community review program. 

Roni Atkins, USDA – Rural Development, reported:

Roni handed out the 2014 Annual Report/2014 calendar.  Highlights of the year included:  

  • 91% of Idaho investments were loans to be repaid over time
  • 5 business enterprises made were energy investments
  • 212 jobs were saved/created with 22 businesses assisted with Loan Guarantees
  • 57,281 rural residents in 24 communities will benefit from improved essential community facilities and water and wastewater systems
  • 1,624 rural families assisted with safe, affordable housing while saving jobs in housing-related industries
  • 2 cents of every dollar allocated to Rural Development in Idaho during FY 2104 went to administrative costs

A quick description of USDA-Rural Development programs:

  • Housing Programs
    • Direct loans and grants – apply to Rural Development
    • Loan guarantees – apply to participating lenders and mortgages companies
  • Community Programs
    • Direct loans and grants – apply to Rural Development
    • Loan guarantees – apply to participating lenders
  • Business Programs
    • Direct loans and grants – apply to Rural Development
    • Loan guarantees – apply to participating lenders

For more information about USDA – Rural Development programs, visit www.rd.usda.gov/id or contact your local Rural Development area office.

Kerrie Hurd, U.S. Small Business Administration, reported:  

Kerrie handed out the Small Business Administration Idaho Statewide quarterly report by county for the 4th quarter 2014.  There were 171 loans totaling $44,929,843.  After Ada County, Kootenai County followed with the largest number of loans.

Candy Moore, USDA – State Farm Agency, reported:

Since the implementation of the Agriculture Act of 2014 FSA County offices have been very busy. It started with livestock disaster programs as soon as the bill was signed in to law. These programs, Livestock Indemnity, Livestock Forage and Emergency Livestock Assistance are now permanent programs and will no longer be subject to termination at the end of a farm bill. In 2014, with only a partial year, Idaho paid over $3 million in livestock forage and $296 thousand for livestock losses due to natural disasters in the state.

We have also held many meetings in every district to introduce various new programs and inform farmers and ranchers about the choices they have with the new bill. USDA has partnered with two major agriculture universities to create tools to help producers with this decision. Locally FSA is working with U of I Extension services to demonstrate the tools and get the word out.

The sign-up period for the 2014 dairy program has already passed and over 60% of Idaho dairy’s elected to participate. The basic coverage is at the catastrophic level but 29% of those signing up opted to increase their coverage past the catastrophic level.

The Agriculture Risk or Price Loss Coverage election period ends in March. Choosing which program will work best for their operation is a very important decision for Idaho producers because their choice now determines what program they will be part of for the life of this farm bill. 

Mark Samson joined FSA as the new State Executive Director in November and we are very happy to have him on board. Some of you may already know Mark as he was part of the Wheat Commission and also worked with Barley, Department of Ag and Idaho Grain Producers. Mark had planned to attend this meeting but an opportunity to meet with legislative leaders preempted it.

Stephanie Cook, Idaho National Laboratory, reported:

Each year, the INL technical assistance program (TAP) provides technical expertise to state and local governments, and regional small businesses. The requesting organization can receive, at no cost, up to 40 hours of INL employee time to address technical needs that cannot readily be met by commercially available resources in the region.

INL's TAP is a federally mandated program authorizing INL to share knowledge and specialized equipment to be used to promote U.S. competitiveness. Through TAP, INL scientists and engineers can provide limited, free assistance that is not commercially available in the region to benefit a community or small business. During the past nine years, TAP has sponsored 8,556 hours of assistance to entrepreneurs, small businesses and rural communities. In FY 2014, nine TAP projects with 216 hours of assistance were provided. TAP funding supported innovative approaches to speed technologies to market, including:

• INL's software called Sophia, a system and method for monitoring communications on a network, was licensed to startup cybersecurity company, NexDefense. TAP funding supported the transfer of knowledge between INL and the NexDefense programming teams. The software may soon be used to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure.
• INL staff characterized and tested samples of nanomaterials relevant to research and development for a future armor concept that may one day be used to protect troops.
• An eastern Idaho startup company accessed INL's capabilities in order to characterize silicon carbide fibers and perform data analytics on a patent-pending continuous manufacturing process. The lighter, stronger silicon carbide fibers could be used in the transportation, energy and defense market sectors.
• Advancing nuclear fuels research using INL's TAP, Idaho State University obtained glass-blowing expertise for an experiment to develop a method to manufacture depleted uranium microspheres for basic materials science research.

To learn more about working with INL and the Technical Assistance Program, contact:  Stephanie Cook, INL Tech-Based Economic Development Program Manager 208-526-1644 or email stephanie.cook@inl.gov

INL is pleased to announce Region IV Development and Idaho Rural Partnership were awarded an INL Tech-Based Economic Development grant for $10,000 to support the Rural Community Review program.

Jim Werntz, Environmental Protection Agency, reported:

  1. EPA 2015 Budget:   The large Omnibus bill passed in December by Congress was signed by the President.  EPA’s budget was cut slightly below the 2014 budget levels, to $8.1 Billion.   The ongoing challenge for EPA is to manage with lower levels of funding, which has resulted in over 20% reduction in staffing since 2010.   EPA Region 10 did early retirement/buyout incentives in April 2014, and the Region is requesting authority to do a similar buyout during 2015.
  2. Idaho NPDES Authorization:   State legislation passed during the 2014 session directed IDEQ to begin to develop and apply to EPA for primacy for the Clean Water Act NPDES program.   This is the permitting program that EPA has run in Idaho for over 40-years.  Idaho DEQ is holding monthly negotiated rulemaking meetings with stakeholders to address the statutory, regulatory, and policy issues necessary for taking NPDES primacy.   A key issue for Idaho is how the regulated community will pay for the program through fees, and how much of the state’s general fund will be used to implement this program.
  3. Agricultural Advisor to the EPA Administrator (Washington, DC):   Ron Carleton was selected to serve in this capacity.   EPA Region 10 is hoping to invite Mr. Carleton to visit the Region to learn firsthand about agricultural and environmental challenges in the Northwest states.  Mr. Carleton most recently served as the Deputy Commissioner at the Colorado Department of Agriculture, a position he has held since June 2012.  His recent work as Deputy Commissioner has focused on climate issues, environmental regulations, food safety, industrial hemp regulations, agricultural education and outreach, and the Farm Bill.  He has chaired the Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council, and served on Governor Hickenlooper’s Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force.  He also has over thirty years of experience working with the U.S. Congress, covering not only agriculture, but also energy, environment, water, and land management issues.  In addition to his work in Congress, Carleton was an Adjunct Professor with the School of Business at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, teaching classes on Public Policy and Administrative Law.  He is a member of the Virginia State Bar. 

Erik Kingston, Idaho Housing and Finance Association, shared this link:

Rural America's Silent Housing Crisis

Accounting for only 20 percent of the population, residents of more isolated areas struggle to find a safe, affordable place to live—and to make anyone else care.