City of Coeur d’Alene
Garmont Ent L. L. C., commercial-interior remodel, 2031 Island Green, value $1,500, issued Dec. 6
Riverstone West Properties L. L. C., commercial-nine stall carport #F, 2252 W. John Loop, value $22,453, contractor Whitewater Creek Inc., issued Dec. 6
Riverstone West Properties L. L. C., commercial-11 stall carport #D, 2256 W. John L Loop, value $27,031, contractor Whitewater Creek Inc., issued Dec. 6
Riverstone West Properties L. L. C., commercial-five stall carport #E, 2256 W. John Loop, value $11,696, contractor Whitewater Creek Inc., issued Dec. 6
Riverstone West Properties L. . C., commercial-eight stall carport #B, 2264 W. John Loop, value $18,714, contractor Whitewater Creek Inc., issued Dec. 6
Riverstone West Properties L. L. C., commercial-nine stall carport, 2264 W. John Loop, value $21,053, contractor Whitewater Creek Inc., issued Dec. 6
Thomas Capone, garage with additional dwelling unit, 819 E. St. Maries, value $78,335, contractor Odyssey Homes, issued Dec. 7
Northwest Specialty Hospital, commercial-create separate tenant space in existing building, 315 W. Dalton, value $150,000, contractor Polin & Young Construction, issued Dec. 13
Hagadone Hospitality, commercial-interior renovations to lobby, bar, recreation & kitchen, 115 S. Second, value $2,500,000, contractor TW Clark Construction, issued Dec. 14
Tesoro, commercial-change out canopy, 198 W. Ironwood Drive, value $2,700, contractor Quality Canopy, issued Dec. 16
Active West Builders L. L. C., SFD with garage, 867 W. Knoll Lane, value $124,894, issued Dec. 21
Union Gospel Mission, commercial-warehouse, 188 W. Haycraft, value $450,000, contractor Leone & Keeble Inc., issued Dec. 22
RHSO L. L. C., commercial tenant improvement-office space, 1745 W. Tilford Lane, value $100,000, issued Dec. 19
RHSO L. L. C., commercial tenant improvement-office space, 1745 W. Tilford Lane, Value $100,000, issued Dec. 19
Atlas Homes L. L. C., SFD with garage, 3437 N. Bernoulli Loop, value $125,704, issued Dec. 19
Phil Boyd, commercial-tenant improvement – Spoelstra Chiropractic, 370 E. Kathleen, value $13,200, issued Jan. 3
City of Hayden
Rocky Mountain Coaster Manufacturing, heavy steel framed light industrial building with breakroom & bathroom, 1060 Buckles Road, value $1,034,640, contractor Mid-Mountain Land & Timber Inc., issued Dec. 8
Prairie & 95 L. L. C., commercial remodel-tenant improvement for Eyeguys Optical, B C – 8160 Cornerstone Drive, value $56,000, contractor G Thomas Hall Construction, issued Dec. 8
Hallmark Homes Inc., single family residence. 8751 Courcelles Parkway, value $187239, issued Dec. 6
City of Post Falls
Alk-Abello Source Materials, commercial buildings, 448 S. Locsha Street-domestic, value $22,400, contractor Carports of Washington, issued Dec. 7
Copper Basin Construction, single family tract house, 2096 E. Knapp Drive, value $130,446, issued Dec. 16
Copper Basin Construction, single family tract house, 2205 E. Knapp Drive, value $130,446, issued Dec. 16
Copper Basin Construction, single family tract house, 2093 E. Knapp Drive, value $142,645, issued Dec. 16
Hallmark Homes Inc., single family tract house, 12404 W. Devonshire, value $182,716, issued Dec. 20
Hallmark Homes Inc., single family tract House, 8093 N. Crown Pointe, value #126,599, issued Dec. 12
John J. & Linda Hemmingson, residential alteration, 912 S. Riverside Harbor Drive, value $500,000, contractor Meridian Construction Inc., issued Jan. 3
Hayden Lake Irrigation, commercial, 10784 N. Strahorn Road, Hayden, value $47,986, contractor Legacy Telecommunication, issued Dec. 5
Ann Lunceford, residential, 3355 N. Old Atlas Road, Coeur d’Alene, value $127,980, issued Dec. 7
Bradley & Elizabeth Paulsen Trust, single family residence, 1998 S. Panoramic Drive, Coeur d’Alene, value $391,773, contractor Rainbow Mountain Development, issued Dec. 8
Roy A. Clanton, single family residence, 33643 N. Spruce, Bayview, value $384,579, contractor Troy Krumenacker, issued Dec. 16
Bryan T. Thompson, single family residence, 1617 E. Lady Bug Lane, Hayden, value $742,304, contractor MB Builders & Development, issued Dec. 13
Michael Wardell, single family residence, 6604 W. Cougar Gulch Road, Coeur d’Alene, value $250,309, contractor Wardcon Inc., issued Dec. 13
Joseph C. Nelson, single family residence, 2002 E. Upper Hayden Lake Road, Hayden, value $391,714, issued Dec. 19
Ridge at Black Rock Bay, single family residence, 5692 W. Carnelian Drive, Coeur d’Alene, value $97,656, contractor Campbell & Campbell L. L. C., issued Dec. 23
Boron Properties, single family residence, 21657 N. Medallist Court, Rathdrum, value $173,405, contractor Mongan Construction, issued Dec. 21
Arthur Schilling, single family residence, 12311 N. Pebble Creek Drive, Hayden, value $327,175, contractor Rosenberger Construction, issued Dec. 27
Mark S. Lee, commercial structure, 10431 N. Huetter Road, Rathdrum, value $88,600, issued Jan. 4
Twinlow Camping Commission, commercial addition, 22787 N. Twinlow Road, Rathdrum, value $5,565, contractor C & K Roofing Inc., issued Jan. 3
Richard L. Sheldon, single family residence, 2066 S. Espinazo Drive, Coeur d’Alene, value $351,665, contractor Aspen Homes & Development, issued Jan. 6
Timbered Ridge Homes, single family residence, 26372 N. Morgan Pine Trail, Athol, value $265,435, issued Jan. 4
At the end of each year I am grateful for a chance to bring things to a close and begin fresh all over again. I find it helpful to reflect and learn from the past year and set a clear renewed direction. In our business coaching and training work I meet many business leaders who are struggling to improve their businesses from the previous year.
We live in a busy culture and too often leaders are so busy and fatigued that they tend to step into the New Year juggling the demands and circumstances of the previous without any respite or renewal. Unfortunately, this reactive leadership approach is so pervasive that it’s common. It’s so common that it’s average. And, a business with average practices has a predictable outcome. In this economy, an average performance equals a mediocre result.
Because my team and I have had the privilege of coaching hundreds of presidents and CEOs of businesses, many of whom have experienced measurable success, I am often asked about the secret of building thriving, profitable, enduring business. In my mind the answer is simple: It’s about leadership. The character, impact, and legacy of any organization begins and ends with the leader.
So what does outstanding leadership look like? What are some elements of outstanding leadership? This is the topic I will attempt to tackle each month in this Effective Leadership column. What I hope to share won’t be extraordinary, but simple and practical.
As we begin 2012 let’s begin with two simple but crucial leadership practices for the New Year.
First, an outstanding leader takes time to do an honest, objective reality check of his business. This week, thoroughly review your 2011 and 2010 financial performances and other performance indicators such as quality, productivity, delivery time, customer feedback, inventory, inventory turn, A/R turn, losses etc. It’s crucial to validate your thoughts and feelings with data. From this analysis determine what worked well, what didn’t, and more important, why? It would be vital to not explain away challenges with excuses. Capture every significant learning from the review. If you have a team it would be wise to gain their thoughts through candid discussions. Chances are the team will offer some insights that you may not have considered.
Second, an outstanding leader provides a clear destination. Often businesses have either no goals or too many conflicting goals. The team may be unclear as to how the company’s goals align and which goals have the higher priority. Also employees often do not understand how their work contributes to the goals of the company.
Your review of 2011 results will guide you (and your team) to set one clear measurable over-arching goal for 2012. Your team’s input would be important as they will share the responsibility for meeting this goal. Once the over-arching goal is set, supporting sub-goals such as margin, sales-mix goals, quality, delivery time, and other goals can be defined.
Establishing appropriate delegation of responsibilities and timelines is crucial to ensure timely progress is made toward meeting the goals. An outstanding leader will clearly communicate goals, responsibilities, timelines and help his team see the importance of their roles to the overall health and success of the business.
These are simple yet powerful leadership practices that need diligent execution. If you need assistance applying these practices you are welcome to contact our coaches for confidential assistance.
It is said, “As the leader goes so goes the nation, the community, the business, the family.” So lead all with diligence.
Bill Jhung is the director of North Idaho College’s Idaho Small Business Development Center located in Post Falls. Bill and his team provide leadership and business coaching, training and resources to business owners and leaders in North Idaho. He can be reached at (208) 769-3284 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
COEUR d’ALENE — North Idaho College President Priscilla Bell has a problem most businesspeople would love to have.
She’s got too many customers.
With double-digit enrollment growth over the past few years, Bell says most of the college’s biggest issues — and challenges — stem directly from growth pains.
“We’re getting to the point where all the creative things we can do … are not availing us,” said Bell, who is retiring from NIC this summer. A search for her replacement is under way.
Physical space is just one problem. Bell said NIC has seen 68 percent growth in its professional-technical programs over the past four years. While greater interest and more “customers” is good, Bell points out that a number of programs, like welding and diesel mechanics, can’t meet demand because there’s no more room to grow.
Part of the growth phenomenon — a fairly predictable uptick in back-to-schoolers when the economy goes bump — is that having more students doesn’t necessarily mean they’re paying all the additional freight. And that works both ways, for the institution and for the student.
Bell said students are taking longer to earn certificates or degrees because many are going from full-time to part-time.
“They can’t get all the classes they need,” she said, “and that prolongs the time it takes to get through.”
The magic wand that would cure all growth ills is, of course, the one that’s most difficult to grasp.
Help could come from the governor’s recommendation that NIC receive some $700,000 in what’s called “enrollment workload adjustment,” but Bell says that money isn’t guaranteed.
“It doesn’t have clear sailing through JFAC,” she said of the joint legislative committee that determines how much each state entity receives.
“We’re asking for other funds, but I don’t have much confidence we’ll get them. Not having a cut this year, the first in three years, has been a blessing but it would be nice to get a little boost [for staff and faculty].”
Bell said keeping a tight financial belt goes only so far, and that ultimately, additional funding hits home.
“We have only two other sources to go to — students and property taxpayers,” she said.
While state aid has decreased in actual dollars and risen only slightly over the past six years as a percentage of NIC’s total revenue, students and taxpayers have borne much greater burdens. Tuition and fees paid to NIC in 2005 were just over $8 million; last year, it surpassed $12.8 million.
For taxpayers, it’s been even harder. The portion of NIC revenue that came from Kootenai County property taxes in 2005 was just over $5.5 million. That number had soared to $13.5 million last year.
Another worrisome trend that involves money is students’ increased reliance on financial aid. Bell said that in the 2006-07 school year, 2,321 students received a total of about $11 million in aid.
But in 2010-11, those numbers swelled: 6,700 students received some $46 million in financial aid.
Still, NIC is meeting many of the community’s needs, Bell said. Including Area Agency on Aging and Head Start programs, NIC served 25,000 people last year and took its fiscal responsibilities seriously.
“We want to keep our college affordable and accessible, but we also want to be sure we’re a good steward for our taxpayer dollars,” she said.
— Mike Patrick
Slices of NIC funding pie
• State aid to NIC: $13,734,000
• Tuition/fees: $8,155,277
• Kootenai County property taxes: $5,572,737
• State aid to NIC: $12,791,509
• Tuition/fees: $12,820,356
• Kootenai County property taxes: $13,531,907
Those aren’t storm warnings on Idaho public education’s horizon.
Not in Tom Luna’s forecast, anyway.
The way he sees three propositions on the Nov. 6 ballot that would overturn the major changes in his education reform package, which became law last year, they’ll be a seasonably pleasant confirmation that progress is indeed being made.
“Time is on our side,” the state’s superintendent of public instruction said in an interview with North Idaho Business Journal.
By that Luna means public sentiment, including that among an increasing number of school employees, is increasingly recognizing that reform is improving public education rather than destroying it, as he says union leaders predicted.
“Unions painted a doomsday scenario when the laws were passed last year,” Luna said, “but in fact, things are actually getting better in the classroom. I think when it’s time to vote, even most of the teachers will say, ‘No, we don’t want to go back to the system we had.’”
While Idaho’s education reform might be the most far-reaching in the U.S., Luna notes that 30 states have passed some form of education reform in the past year. He said Americans of all education backgrounds and political persuasions have seen that change is imperative, and in Idaho, that bodes ill for the teachers union, Idaho Education Association, in its attempt to derail reform through referendum.
The mood of voting educators will be influenced by funding decisions being shaped now. Again, Luna is optimistic.
“For the first time in four years, it’s a question of how much more [funding] rather than how much of a cut,” he said.
Luna said the previous three years, Gov. Butch Otter and legislative leaders made difficult cuts because budget constraints required them.
“We did the right thing,” Luna said. “Today we’re more efficient and effective in education.”
When a final budget is approved later this spring, Luna expects an increase of 3 to 5 percent. Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene and chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said he’s going to do his best to get the funding Idaho educators need.
But one of the challenges, he said, is making up for a huge cut from the federal government as Washington, D.C. tries to get its own fiscal ship in order.
“We can expect $5 million from federal funds this year,” Goedde said, “but the appropriation [last year] was almost $54 million. You see the difference we have to make up.”
Goedde said Luna’s request for salary-based apportionment — money that pays Idaho education employees’ salaries — is $744 million. The governor’s budget calls for $727 million, another gap that Goedde says will be worked on during the session.
But he said one big plus is that neither of those figures include $39 million that the state will put back into the budget to pay for teacher performance — the target of Proposition 2.
“The biggest difference this year is that the money is going into the budget in a more targeted manner,” he said. “The teachers who do well can expect to have a very nice increase in their remuneration.”
Legislators will be grappling with big-picture funding decisions that go beyond education, he said.
“We have essentially used up every bit of savings in budget stabilization funds,” Goedde said of what are otherwise known as rainy day funds. “The question is, how much do we put back into budgets now and how much do we put back into budget stabilization funds?”
While a key piece of the education reform puzzle won’t be required for graduation until 2016, implementing technology components in the curriculum is already generating excitement, Goedde said. This fall, teachers will get their hands on the first installment of mobile computing devices.
“For these tools to be effective they must learn how to use them,” Goedde said. He added that curriculum for educators is “critical over the next six months.”
But Goedde has personally seen the doors that technology, properly used, can open.
He said legislators and Education Department officials recently visited a technology-embracing school district in Klein, Texas.
“The things those students were doing was mind-boggling and teachers were excited for the opportunity,” he said. “I didn’t see one student asleep at their desk, and they indicated attendance was up and discipline problems down.”
With four high schools, the Klein district put tablet computers in every student’s hands in two of the schools, and a lesser amount in the other two. Goedde said the two schools with one-to-one computers showed “a measurable increase in outcomes” over the other two schools.
“I have never seen a school environment where students were more engaged in learning,” he said. “It was amazing.”
Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene and chairman of the House Education Committee, said the technology component of education reform is, to him, the most exciting — and key to preparing for any future.
“The world is surrounded in technology and it advances so fast,” Nonini said. “ We need to do a better job of preparing graduating high school students for the world they will face. Whether a student goes into professional technical degrees or four year universities and beyond, technology is used. Many, many college courses are already taught on line.”
Nonini related the story of a presentation he heard last year from an Intel employee who holds a doctorate degree.
“She said a computer will never replace a teacher, but a teacher who does not embrace technology will be replaced by a teacher who does embrace technology,” Nonini said.
Nonini also said parental involvement in evaluating teachers and the transparency inherent in collective bargaining with the teachers’ union are big steps forward.
“The teachers’ union will only be able to use their collective bargaining powers for wages and benefits,” he said. “And that process is now open up for the public to sit in on negotiations. What a novel idea when we’re spending over one billion dollars of state taxes to support the system.”
And on parents’ involvement in evaluating teachers:
“Anything we can do to involve parents in their children’s education is good. That input will be beneficial along with others’ input.”
One educational change in store later this year that already has passed the ballot stage is the autumn opening of KTEC — Kootenai Technical Education Campus.
With local firm Contractors Northwest working despite the winter weather, construction of the nearly $8 million, 54,000 square-foot building on the Rathdrum Prairie is under way, and families are already jockeying for one of the estimated 140 slots expected to be available for students this fall.
Luna sees plenty of positives with KTEC.
“It’s an example for the rest of the state,” he said.
KTEC shows what can happen when three school districts can work together for a common cause and consolidation of efforts — an example he hopes can be emulated elsewhere among Idaho’s 115 school districts. Pulling in business and community interests only makes it better, he said.
“You create extra opportunities when schools, businesses and communities work together,” he said. “Everybody’s at the table because everybody’s needs are being met.”
Those needs start with the students’, said Goedde.
“One of the challenges we have is making education relevant for all our kids,” he said. Using computing angles in math as an example, Goedde said KTEC will deliver where other approaches might not.
“They get it when it has some practical application and they might not get it if it’s simply in a book,” he said.
Businesses will benefit, too, with KTEC graduates earning prized certificates reflecting their newly acquired skills.
“From the side of the business community, we’ll put students out there who will help us expand our economic base in the county,” Goedde said.
With just 140 spots open this fall, Goedde thinks demand will quickly outstrip supply.
“My guess is those spaces will be full and there will be a huge waiting list, and at some point I think we’ll be looking at expansion,” he said.
On the Nov. 6 Idaho ballot:
PROPOSITION 1: Referendum to approve or reject legislation limiting negotiated agreements between teachers and local school boards and ending the practice of issuing renewable contracts.
PROPOSITION 2: Referendum to approve or reject legislation providing teacher performance pay based on state-mandated test scores, student performance, hard-to-fill positions and leadership.
PROPOSITION 3: Referendum to approve or reject legislation amending school district funding, requiring provision of computing devices and online courses for high school graduation.
If Idaho had a job for every time someone said “There aren’t enough good jobs for our children,” why, there would be more than enough jobs.
But when Jared Bauer says that, he isn’t complaining. He’s merely stating the problem before outlining his solution.
The death of an infant son helped turn Bauer from a businessman to an economic activist.
Bauer and fellow executive MBA student Jenni Herberg have created Idaho Business Council for a number of reasons. One the co-founders have in common and hold most dear is that they’re determined to help shape a more prosperous Gem State for their children.
Bauer, himself the youngest of 12 children in a Twin Falls family, lost an 8-month-old son, who was buried in Twin Falls. Two young children survive, as does Bauer’s determination to build a better future for all Idaho children.
“We all know about Idaho’s outstanding quality of life,” Bauer told NIBJ. “Unfortunately, you can’t eat quality of life. I’m doing this because I want to leave a strong legacy in the state I love, and I’m also doing it for my children. I want them to be able to not just live in Idaho, but thrive in Idaho.”
Herberg, mother of two sons and a former small business owner, echoed Bauer.
“With so many college graduates moving out of state for better jobs, I want to do what I can for my two boys to have meaningful careers here in Idaho,” she said.
Hence the birth of another child: Idaho Business Council.
This one’s a lot of work but a joy to feed, the founders said.
Idaho Business Council is unique to Idaho — and perhaps the nation — in its approach to helping improve the state’s economy. Bauer and Herberg met with the business college deans of Idaho’s three largest public universities and earned their agreement to carry out important research projects to improve the state’s economy. Data from those projects will be shared with virtually everyone:
• Lawmakers wanting to know not just what the top economic issues are, but the best steps in making economic progress in Idaho;
• Business leaders needing data that will help them better compete;
• Citizens eager for information that will lead to better jobs, better pay, better benefits — a better life.
“Idaho could be on the forefront nationally, showing how this kind of cooperation can work,” Herberg said.
Herberg and Bauer are immersed in cooperation. After gaining the business deans’ support and putting together a respectable executive board of Idaho business men and women, they’re meeting with legislators who hold a key to the council’s mission.
If they agree to do so, every legislator will pick two representatives from their district to be part of a voting commission recommending the most important topics to be researched. The 315-person commission would vote online, and Idaho Business Council’s executive board would settle on three issues for study by the universities.
Those 315 citizens — one-third legislators, the other two-thirds their appointees — are key to the whole system working.
“What that does is guarantee statewide representation,” Herberg said.
Bauer said Idaho Business Council isn’t about fixing something that’s broken but rather, finding ways to consistently progress.
“We don’t have a whole laundry list of things that are wrong with the state,” he said.
For instance, Forbes magazine last November ranked Idaho the 16th best state for doing business. That’s a slip from No. 12 in 2010.
It also means Idaho is looking up at neighbors Utah (ranked No. 1), Washington (No. 7) and Oregon (No. 9).
But Bauer has been pleasantly surprised by how quickly the alternative universes of education, government and business can merge dynamically when spurred by a good cause.
“So far one of our top priorities has been getting people excited, generating support,” he said. “We’ve seen that once they get the idea of Idaho Business Council, they’ve jumped on board. They’ve been incredibly passionate. Things are moving forward at a very fast pace.”
The Coeur d’Alene Press will track Idaho Business Council progress through the 2012 legislative session and beyond.
To increase jobs and develop innovative, sustainable economic growth, Idaho Business Council provides a neutral, comprehensive, statewide forum to facilitate business and legislative professionals to identify specific issues, and leverage university research to propose consensus based solutions.
Read all about it:
Idaho Business Council
It’s like a closed loop. The relationship between consumer confidence and presidential elections runs in both directions. The former impacts the latter, and the latter in turn impacts the former, although perhaps not as reliably.
At this point the outcome of the 2012 presidential election is anybody’s guess, but by summer, we’ll know more. The Conference Board, a global nonprofit business association, collects economic research and surveys 5,000 households for the monthly Consumer Confidence Index. Forty years have made one thing clear: Consumer confidence in summer of the election year must be high — above 90 — for an Oval Office incumbent to win re-election in November.
Now forward a little to consumer confidence rates after presidential elections. They tend to tick up, just a little extra. Call it hope. Whatever you call it, it’s generally good news for businesses.
Consumer confidence data for the last 11 presidential elections:
What’s more interesting about all this is that pre-election consumer confidence doesn’t necessarily follow real economic data. In 1992 the economy was growing steadily, yet President Bush lost the election. In other words, the CCI is more about image and expectations than economic status. In a way that can be prophetic.
The latest figures available, December 2011, showed the CCI up to 64.5, nearly 10 points higher than the previous month. The expectations index also rose 10 points to 76.4. The general indication is that consumer confidence will climb further by summer, although it’s too soon to tell if it will reach the threshold level past re-elections have required.
“Looking ahead, consumers are more optimistic that business conditions, employment prospects, and their financial situations will continue to get better. While consumers are ending the year in a somewhat more upbeat mood, it is too soon to tell if this is a rebound from earlier declines or a sustainable shift in attitudes,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center at the Conference Board website.
Businesses might not see huge changes but should be able to hold steady with a little hope until the expected slight uptick after the election, just in time for holiday crowds. The research also shows a clear pattern of increases since summer. Consumers surveyed who stated business conditions are “good” increased to 16.6 percent from 13.9 percent, while those stating business conditions are “bad” declined to 33.9 percent from 38.0 percent.
Consumers’ assessment of the job market was also more positive in December. Those claiming jobs are “plentiful” increased to 6.7 percent from 5.6 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” decreased to 41.8 percent from 43.0 percent. Also the proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes improved to 17.1 percent from 14.1 percent. Better still, leading economic/business indicators are up .5 percent, whereas most of the world’s other large economies are down. Things may feel bumpy for a while yet, but businesses have reason to hope.
For more information about consumer confidence and economic data, see Conference-board.org.
The president of the United States gets blamed every day for economic misfortune 2,064 miles away in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
“He’s the captain of the ship, so he should,” says Dennis Wheeler, the recently retired CEO of Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp.
As voters consider whether to retain the current captain or fire him and promote another, economic progress slithers along at a drunk snail’s pace.
In the work-a-day world, capital investment decisions are kept in the pending file.
Pay and benefit increases are entered on future wish lists, not ledgers.
Additional jobs — and ROI calculations to pay for them — are left to seriously consider another day.
Maybe Nov. 7, 2012, the day after Americans choose their nation’s leaders.
How much influence does the president have on the economic climate of the country, and how would re-election of Barack Obama impact that climate? Would the post-recession economic ice age continue, or might we see a warming if not of the globe, at least of American investment dollars?
That’s what North Idaho Business Journal set out to examine by taking the temperature of some smart folks who pay attention to such matters.
DR. JOHN MITCHELL
Sterling Savings Bank
As much as any other Northwestern-based voice, Mitchell’s is the one business leaders listen to when they’re trying to gaze into the financial future. The economist for Sterling Savings Bank has been providing forecasts for the Northwest region and the nation for four decades. Going back to 1970 when Mitchell taught at Boise State University, his Idaho roots run deep. Two of his students back then have found business success right here at home: Steve Hudson of Hudson Hamburgers, and Steve Wilson, president and CEO of the Coeur d’Alene Area Chamber of Commerce.
Now based in Portland, Mitchell owns a home in Coeur d’Alene and says he’s looking forward to moving here full-time — when he stops running all over the place giving speeches and making forecasts.
The Portland-based Mitchell poo-poos any notion of presidential omnipotence.
“The president gets the credit or the blame for what happens without having any great deal of power over what goes on on a day-to-day basis,” he says. “Let’s get real: The president doesn’t handle the economy.”
Congress, Mitchell asserts, is responsible for most of the heavy lifting because even after making presidential suggestions on fiscal policy or appointments to the Federal Reserve board, for example, congressional approval is needed.
Post-election, good or bad feelings from the public will likely have less to do with the country’s economic recovery than will fiscal policies driven by the calendar, Mitchell says. Key programs expire at the end of the year, he said, meaning fiscal policy “could tighten significantly.”
When looking ahead, Mitchell laments the recent past.
“It goes back to what happens in the Senate and the House,” he says. “I would argue what we desperately need is to tackle some long-term problems. We missed an incredible opportunity with the failure of the Supercommittee. That was a presidential failure, as well. That was a missed chance to do something.”
Without picking political favorites, Mitchell offers a non-partisan prescription for better days.
“Those long term problems are still there, and you’ve got to get a decision-making environment that involves not just the president, but the Congress and the American people,” he says. “We’ve got to fix this; the clock is ticking.”
A way to fix the fiscal problems would be to reconvene the Supercommittee or perhaps the Gang of Six and forge a long-term deal that, Mitchell says, would incense every special interest group in America.
“But we’ll get something done,” he says.
DR. DAVID ADLER
Director, James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research
University of Idaho
Adler has lectured nationally and internationally and written extensively on constitutional issues from the White House to Congress to the Supreme Court. As head of the McClure Center, part of his job is providing non-partisan public policy research for the state and region. Adler understands the power of the presidency — and the powers that are even greater.
“Whoever controls the House and the Senate will exercise considerable control over the president,” Adler says, assuming one party manages a majority in both chambers.
If that happens to be the Republicans, Adler said, Congress will “move to reduce taxes for small businesses and corporations alike” and present “other measures to improve the environment for the conduct of business.”
But that doesn’t mean the president would be powerless.
Adler says the president wields real power because he’s the national spokesman: “He can use the bully pulpit to move the country in one direction or another. The president can set the tone if not the agenda for the nation.”
And striking a chord with his listeners is one of Obama’s greatest strengths, he said.
“He’s a terrific communicator,” says Adler. “He’s able to touch American emotions.”
Adler says the national mood now is mired in “anxiety, unpredictablity, even instability.” But he also thinks the economy should gain steam during a fairly lengthy honeymoon period — no matter who’s elected — because “leaders of both parties will recognize that there’s no time for further delay. There will be quick movement and decisive leadership, no matter who wins.”
So who wins the White House this November?
“The candidate who is better able to articulate and sell his economic policies and programs to the American public.”
And when the election dust settles, Adler said he expects a centrist course to be struck.
President, Jobs Plus, Inc.
There’s a lot to be said for unity.
“Four years ago, Congress and the President were in step,” says Griffitts, who heads North Idaho’s powerful public-private economic development agency. “Whether I liked their steps or not, they were together.”
But Congress and the President moved quickly in a direction that concerned many business interests, particularly with national health care.
“It caused a fear in the business community because it happened so fast and they were so like-minded,” he says.
Griffitts said Republicans put a stop to the fast-paced Democratic march, which staunched the bleeding but didn’t advance investment or the American business environment. Because Obama offered no “concise direction on economic investment,” uncertainty compounded the problem.
“There’s a demand for jobs because there’s been demands for products and services, but until we have clear direction on a national level, it appears investment will be limited,” he says.
Griffitts offered a local example that defines a path for success.
“Chuck Buck said the reason they [Buck Knives] came to Idaho was they knew where Idaho was headed, where it would be in five years, in 10 years,” he says.
That predictability doesn’t exist nationally, Griffitts said.
“There’s still a hesitancy for companies to relocate, to jump in the water,” he says. “It’s perception, and perception is reality.
“If the perception of the business community is that there is no concise direction. . . the business community will be reluctant to invest in the medium and long range.”
Recently retired CEO,
Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp.
Wheeler has a different view of where perception and reality meet the road.
At least when looking at the influence a president has on the nation’s economy.
“I don’t think it’s perception at all,” he said. “It’s reality.”
President Obama might have inherited some economic challenges not of his doing, Wheeler said, but that doesn’t absolve him of the responsibility of fixing whatever he can.
“Look, it’s on his watch. He’s the leader,” Wheeler says. “He has not laid out to the American public a plan.”
So what would Wheeler like to see happen?
“I would like the president to say, ‘The target for new jobs is X million. I expect them to come on this timetable, and we’re going to focus on these areas to get them. I understand 25 percent of our young people have jobs, and here’s what I’m going to do to address that.’”
Shirking any cloak of partisanship, Wheeler was equally critical of his fellow Republicans. He harkened back to a liberal Democrat, Franklin D. Roosevelt, as having set a good example of leadership during troubling economic times.
“I’m frustrated with the Republicans,” he said. “Where are they in all of this? Granted, Republicans are calling for fewer regulations, but they’re offering no solid ideas or plans.
“With FDR’s New Deal, regulations went on the shelf and the president said ‘We’re going to rebuild America,’” Wheeler said. And he said the same approach would work now.
“Sound public works projects — there’s a ton of that stuff to be done,” he says.
JAMES E. DOTY
As a business owner and adviser on multiple layers of the health care industry, Doty has what might be a unique perspective locally.
On one hand, he’s senior principal/contractor of physician strategies and services for Thomson Reuters, a $14 billion international corporation.
On the other, he’s president and CEO of InstiComm, a three-year-old, seven-employee local software company serving medical businesses. He also is a part owner in a group of health clubs.
From Doty’s view, President Obama isn’t to blame for what Doty refers to as the “ice jam” clogging economic progress in America. At least, Doty believes the divisions in Congress earn much more of the blame.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give President Obama a 2 or 3 when it comes to blame,” Doty says. “I think he inherited a huge set of problems… I fault the divisions in the House and Senate, the polarization more than the president.”
Ideally, Doty said, the United States would elect a president that’s a true fiscal conservative. But he says the nation hasn’t had one since Ronald Reagan.
“That would improve the position of the small business,” he says.
Being fiscally conservative himself, Doty says politically, the nation would benefit most by whichever combination of Democrats and Republicans, in the White House and Congress, best serves the country. And that could even include a Republican president without a Republican majority in Congress.
“As a business owner, business adviser, whatever it takes to break this ice jam, I’m for,” he says.
With Obama’s health care reform taking center stage in the national economic debate, Doty finds himself an opponent of mandated reform but a believer in national health care reform.
He points out that the U.S. is the only industrialized nation without a national health care option and he believes the current system is not only unhealthy, but unsustainable.
“I support a national health care option,” he says, “but as an employer I want the choice. I don’t want it mandated.
“The U.S. has a health care cost per capita almost double the closest industrialized country, with life expectancy outcomes way down the list. Other than Mexico, we are the only country without some form of national health care.”
Doty said the largest drug companies and insurance companies have a stranglehold on health care, with 16 states — including Idaho — offering just two choices: Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
“We need a national health care option to knock them out of control,” Doty says. “It is an area I agree with President Obama’s position.”
But the chaos in health care hasn’t been bad for Doty’s businesses. Quite the contrary.
“For us it’s been a great year because in health care, the more confusion and upheaval there is, the busier we are,” he says. “I truly believe that health care is recession-proof.”
DR. BRYAN McQUIDE
Political science professor
University of Idaho
Uncertainty is the enemy of American business, agrees UI Professor Bryan McQuide. While presidential fingerprints can be found on the root of that uncertainty, McQuide puts the power of a presidency into perspective.
“It’s not exactly true that a president has the enormous influence people tend to think he has,” McQuide says.
However, one area the president does pack a punch is with the business community. That’s because, McQuide argues, the business community is directly impacted by regulatory rule-making, and the president has significant influence in making rules. President Obama, in fact, has issued more executive orders than any other president, McQuide said.
When new rules and orders fly fast and furious, “Businesses don’t know what new rule regulations are coming down the pike,” and that creates uncertainty, McQuide says.
But the president doesn’t shoulder the blame alone.
“Congress has also produced a great deal of uncertainty,” Quide says, citing as examples conflict over raising the debt ceiling, extending unemployment benefits into February, and an extension of the middle class tax cut, among others.
Throw in uncertainty on issues like an energy tax and investment tax credits, and business decisions bog down.
McQuide isn’t picking a presidential favorite, but he concedes at least one advantage if Obama is re-elected.
“In some ways it would be good for businesses because they wouldn’t have to deal with the uncertainty of a new president,” he says. “With Obama we have some idea what to expect.”
On the other hand, keeping Congress as it is — Republicans controlling the House, and Democrats the Senate — would likely lead to further gridlock.
“You’ll have a lot more certainty of things if one party takes control of both chambers,” Quide says.
WASHINGTON - The American economy may not be truly healthy yet, but it’s healing.
The 2.8 percent annual growth rate reported Friday for the fourth quarter was the fastest since spring 2010 and was the third straight quarter that growth has accelerated.
Experts cautioned, however, that the pace was unlikely to last and that it’s not enough to sharply drive down the unemployment rate.
Unemployment stands at 8.5 percent – its lowest level in nearly three years after a sixth straight month of solid hiring. And Friday’s Commerce Department report suggests more hiring gains ahead.
For the final three months of 2011, Americans spent more on vehicles, and companies restocked their supplies at a robust pace.
Still, overall growth last quarter – and for all of last year – was slowed by the sharpest cuts in annual government spending in four decades. And many people are reluctant to spend more or buy homes, and many employers remain hesitant to hire, even though job growth has strengthened.
The outlook for 2012 is slightly better. The Federal Reserve has estimated economic growth of roughly 2.5 percent for the year, despite abundant risk factors: federal spending cuts, weak pay increases, cautious consumers and the risk of a European recession.
Economists noted that most of the growth in the October-December quarter was due to companies restocking their supplies at the fastest rate in nearly two years. That pace is expected to slow.
“The pickup in growth doesn’t look half as good when you realize that most of it was due to inventory accumulation,” said Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics.
Ashworth expects annualized growth to slip below 2 percent in the current January-March quarter. Other economists have similar estimates.
Stocks opened lower after the government reported the growth figures.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed down about 74 points. Broader indexes were mixed.
In a normal economy, roughly 3 percent growth is a healthy figure. It’s enough to keep unemployment down – but not so much growth as to ignite inflation.
But coming out of a recession, much stronger growth is needed. By some estimates, the economy would have to expand at least 5 percent for a full year to drive down the unemployment rate by 1 percentage point.
In many ways, the economy did end 2011 on a strong note. Companies invested more in equipment and machinery in December.
People are buying more cars, and consumer confidence has risen. Even the depressed housing market has shown enough incremental gains to lead some economists to detect the start of a turnaround.
In the final three months of 2011, consumer spending grew at a 2 percent annual rate. That was up modestly from the July-September quarter. Consumer spending is critical because it fuels about 70 percent of the economy.
Much of the growth was powered by a 15 percent surge in sales of autos and other long-lasting manufactured goods.
Incomes, which have been weak because of still-high unemployment, grew ever so slightly, at a tepid 0.8 percent annual rate, following two straight quarterly declines. Unless pay picks up, consumers who have dipped into savings in recent months may pull back.
“Consumers don’t have much income growth, and to even achieve a 2 percent growth rate in spending in the fourth quarter, they had to run down their saving rate,” said Nigel Gault, chief economist at IHS Global Insight.
And government spending at all levels fell at an annual rate of 4.6 percent in the fourth quarter and 2.1 percent for the year – the sharpest drop since 1971. Defense cuts at the start and end of the year were a key factor. With Congress aiming to shrink budget deficits, the likelihood of further federal spending cuts could weigh on the economy.
Economic growth is measured by the change in the gross domestic product, or GDP. The GDP reflects the value of all goods and services – from machinery to manicures to hotel bookings to jet fighters – produced in the United States.
Friday’s estimate of GDP growth was the first of three for the October-December quarter. The figure will be revised twice, in February and then in March.
Ian Shepherdson, an economist at High Frequency Economics, is among the more optimistic analysts. He said he thought business investment in capital goods would be stronger and consumer spending higher this year.
Many fear that a likely recession in Europe could cool demand for U.S. manufactured goods. Growth would slow. Without many more jobs and better pay, consumer spending could weaken.
The Fed signaled this week that a full economic recovery could take at least three more years.
Although things may not be good, they’re getting better.
Gault predicts the economy will create an average of 150,000 jobs a month in 2012 based on his expectation that the year will be slightly stronger than 2011. Last year, the economy created an average 133,000 jobs a month.
“We are starting to see improvements in the housing market, and consumers are working down their debt levels,” Gault said. “That is all good and will help us this year.”
HAYDEN - Three businesses under one roof.
The perfect place to plan a wedding.
That’s Premier Productions.
And the three women owners also happen to share the same philosophy when it comes to how customers should be treated when it comes to the ceremony – before, during and after.
“It should be very special, and we’re all in this for that reason,” said Valerie Mesenbrink, owner of All About You Weddings and Events.
Rayla Collins of Rayla Kay Photography and Vicki Mesenbrink-Rozario of Bijouterie designs have also settled at their new home, 11354 N. Government Way.
“We’ve been doing this a long time and we know a lot of people,” Mesenbrink-Rozario said. “We know who is good, and who’s going to come through for you on your very special day.”
Premier Productions opened in December at the 3,000-square-foot site. It will also have a consignment prom shop, and has a custom-made runway in the back that seats 100. It will be used for modeling wedding gowns, proms dresses, tuxes and more. A show was held Friday on the black stage surrounded by white seats.
“In the beginning of the week this was nothing but a vacant warehouse,” Valerie Mesenbrink said. “It’s been transformed into this runway.”
Mesenbrink met Rayla Collins last year, who was then working out of her home, but needed an office and studio.
Her sister-in-law, Vicki Mesenbrink-Rozario, was looking for a place to show and sell her custom jewelry for weddings, proms and special occasions.
“I work with the bride and I help them find something to make them feel special and beautiful on their day, but I work within their budget,” Vicki said.
And Valerie Mesenbrink needed more room for conferencing with clients.
“We found a spot we all approved of,” Valerie said. “In this area, it seems networking is what it’s all about.”
She said anyone can walk in the front door, feel comfortable, and know they can take care of almost everything for a wedding under one roof.
Their contacts count.
“It’s really important to have worked with people and be able to refer those people to the bride,” she said.
Vicki Mesenbrink-Rozario, a cancer survivor, began making jewelry when she was under going cancer treatment.
It helped her get through it and inspired her to do more.
“I decided that since God saved my life, I wanted to give back to these people,” she said.
She got married a year and a half ago, and wasn’t wild about the wedding jewelry she found, either.
“I noted a lot of bridal jewelry kind of looked like something my grandma would wear,” Vicki said, chuckling.
Rayla Collins, who began taking pictures when she was 12 and turned professional at 18, said the arrangement will work well.
“It’s really nice because we’re all like family. It’s nice to work with a bunch of people that are one together,” she said.
Premier Productions is open 10-5, Monday through Friday.
Information: All About You, 660-9384; Rayla Kay Photography, 819-3957; and Bijouterie designs, 819-2759
The Idaho Aerospace Alliance is ready for takeoff.
The new nonprofit has formed to support aerospace manufacturers and suppliers throughout the state by providing resources and advocacy.
The group has already taken on a strong North Idaho presence with all of its members from this area, but it is open to any aerospace firms statewide.
Jim Glenn, owner of Titan Spring in Hayden and chairman of the group, said the alliance is a lot about networking and providing a voice for the industry.
“I keep discovering little companies, so we want to find out just who is doing aerospace work,” Glenn said. “We want to stop sending business out of state.”
Glenn said the alliance also wants to work with affiliates such as the Idaho Department of Labor, colleges and the future Kootenai Technical Education Campus on initiatives such as employment training.
The group also wants to be a resource for companies interested in the aerospace industry, but perhaps are hesitant about hurdles such as quality certification.
Glenn said the alliance will look into ways to expand its presence,
“Let’s promote working with each other and see how much on freight costs we can save,” Glenn said.
Full membership cost is $100 per year, while associate memberships are $50 per year.
Idaho Aerospace Alliance
• For more information on the Idaho Aerospace Alliance, visit idaero.org, email email@example.com or call Jim Glenn at 209-1209.