Lemhi County Citizen Journalism

Leslie Shumate's picture


The Salmon Valley Business & Innovation Center (SVBIC) opened in the fall of 2003. The Lemhi County Economic Development Association (LCEDA) has been overseeing the business activities in the city owned building since the beginning and the lease which dictates that arrangement is about to expire.

Alan Howell, LCEDA Board Chairman, informed the Salmon City Council January 17 that although the association still believes in the original premise and goals of the center, terms of the lease between the city and LCEDA are no longer conducive to continued involvement. 

He said the lease requires a 180 day advance notice of discontinuance which is why he chose this month to open a dialogue concerning the building’s lease terms. Howell said economic conditions have changed since the facility’s inception and the building’s age and design have become concerns as well as its future upkeep. He paused to emphasize LCEDA has not taken any SVBIC funds for use in LCEDA projects. He said LCEDA has only spent center monies on the function and operation of the actual building itself. He added that the city has not contributed to the Idaho Department of Commerce matching funds requirement for the past seven years. 

Howell said there are 12 heat pumps in the building’s aging system, which are all located on the roof and would cost around $10,000 each to replace. The pumps went on line in 2003. He said LCEDA does have a little nest egg but he indicated it is not nearly enough to cover the cost of anticipated heat pump replacement and a fallback plan needs to be in place.

As to how to resolve the lease situation Howell said LCEDA is currently managing the county’s Industrial Center properties under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). He suggested that a MOU form of agreement could be reached with the city rather than a new lease. He distributed copies of an MOU agreement for the city to consider. 

Councilor Jim Baker said that no one on the current council knows how the SVBIC came into being and is therefore operating with a huge lack of knowledge. He requested some original document research be done on the building’s original origin and purpose.

Councilors Jim Bockelman and Robin Phillips requested a report on what the SVBIC and LCEDA have done in the past and are doing now for local economic development.

In addition to Department of Commerce monies and city and county ‘in-kind’ labor and equipment contributions, the $2 million building was built with funds from the US Economic Development Administration (EDA) and received generous support from Bechtel/BWXT, who at that time were contractors for the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory. The 20 year agreement with the Department of Commerce and EDA to use the building for economic development purposes will expire in two years. At that time the building can be used for any purpose deemed suitable.

Councilor Fred Waidely suggested that a two year MOU be formulated between the city and LCEDA after which decisions can be made as to the building’s future directions. 

During a public comment period former County Commissioner and long-time LCEDA board member Joe Proksch volunteered to supply the council with the SVBIC historic information.

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