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Economist: Stores close, but Blackfoot is economically sound

Earlier in January, the Boise-based dollar store chain Honk’s filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

As part of the filing, the chain is closing several Idaho stores, including an Idaho Falls location, and the store in Blackfoot.

The Blackfoot closure in Riverside Plaza is particularly noticeable.

“It makes me very sad,” said Rockford resident Peggy Wagner.

Wagner stopped by the Blackfoot Honk’s store Tuesday evening to take advantage of the store’s closing sale. But she said the sale is bittersweet.

“It’s kind of an indication of where our economy’s going,” she said.

Over the past 6 years, Wagner said she’s watched a changing landscape in Blackfoot.

“I was also extremely sad when the movie theater shut down,” she said.

Wagner said many stores have come and gone from the Riverside Plaza.

Department of Labor regional economist and Bingham Economic Development Corp vice president Dan Cravens said stores may indeed come and go from Blackfoot, but it’s not necessarily a solid economic indicator.

It doesn’t mean there aren’t concerns, though.

“A lot of the concerns are really things external to the countythat we wish we had control over better, but you just don’t know,” said Cravens.

Cravens said just because Honk’s and other businesses have put Blackfoot in their rear-view mirrors, doesn’t mean the sun is setting on the town’s economy.

“Right now things are moving in the right direction,” he said.

But there are always those “external” concerns.

Cravens said, Blackfoot’s position in between Idaho Falls and Pocatello means the town is subject to economic factors largely out of its control, like funding for the Idaho National Lab. But there are a lot of positive trends in Blackfoot, he said.

A lot of people in Bingham County and Blackfoot shop locally.

Cravens said a big economic boost could be around the bend, especially if research at the INL comes to Blackfoot in the form of a new product or business.

“Then very good things will happen economically,” said Cravens.

Still, Wagner said it’s hard to see any business leave.

“I try to tell myself, well something else will come and take it’s place,” said Wagner. “Just have to wait and see, I guess.”

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