FORT HALL — Construction is scheduled to begin next month on the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes' new hotel and events center, and a job fair in Fort Hall Tuesday attracted hundreds of local Native Americans seeking to work on the project.
The $47 million project is expected to employ 300 labor and trade employees between now and the expected completion date in May of next year.
The five-story, 156-room hotel and 15,000 square-feet events center will be located on the site where the tribes' current Trading Post and Clothes Horse stores are located, just off Interstate 15 at exit 80 in Fort Hall. The Trading Post will be relocated to the corner of Eagle and Ross Fork roads west of TP Gas. Construction began last year on the new grocery store which will be completed soon.
Jim Rockar, SenecaTerra LLC project executive, was hired by the Tribes to represent their interests in the hotel project. He said there has been a push to hire as many local subcontractors as possible to create local jobs and to generate economic activity in the region through materials and supplies.
"A large portion of our trade contractors are from Southeast Idaho," Rockar said. "The Tribes were very interested in giving back to the community."
One such subcontractor is Iron Bear, LLC of Blackfoot, which has been contracted to place rebar structure for the project. Owner Warren Baier said his foremen estimate they'll need to hire 16 people for the project.
"We're just really glad Fort Hall is using so much local help," Baier said. "We're always taking new people on."
Wes Edmo, director of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Employment Rights Office (TERO), said he hopes those tribal members hired to work on this project will be able to get work with the contractors on other projects.
Hiring for the hotel project is being coordinated through TERO, which seeks to fill all available openings with qualified Native Americans before opening positions to non-native candidates. Additionally, for each contract awarded that is $25,000 or greater, 2.5 percent of that amount is paid to TERO to help fund training and apprenticeship programs for tribal members.
Tribal member Daniel Ball attended the job fair and was hoping to be hired to work iron for the project. He said the project will help tribe members support their families with steady paychecks.
"There's a lot of jobs coming to this community," Ball said. "It means a lot that they're here."
Representatives from general contractor Beniton Penta said they are excited to involve the local community.
"We're excited to get the participation of the tribes," Penta contract administrator Catherine Perkins said. "We're here to help the community."
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Public Affairs Manager Laverne Beech said the tribes hope to create economic stimulus throughout the region with a project everyone involved can be proud of. She said the additional employment as well as the necessary materials and supplies will economically benefit the area.
"It's not just a project that impacts the Fort Hall community," Beech said. "We want to share it with the community."