Friday, June 17, 2022

Lost River Grazing Academy to be Held September 13-16th

 September 13-16th, Eagle Valley Ranch, Salmon, Idaho

 The Lost Rivers Grazing Academy is a 4-day hands-on workshop for livestock operators and their advisers and consults that want to harvest and sell more of the sun’s energy through grazing, improve soil health, reduce erosion, and reduce costs, primarily on irrigated pastures.
The Academy was first held in 1994 in the Lost River Valley and has been held at least once annually since then, except when disrupted by the pandemic.  The program has won state and national awards for Extension programs and is has been recognized internationally.  It has been attended by agency personnel and livestock operators from all over the western US, as well as from eastern US, Canada, Mexico and South America.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Arco Butte Business Incubation Center to become Butte County Community Center


It has become financially impossible for the Arco Butte Business> Incubation Center, Inc. to continue to operate the business center building.  Furthermore, Butte County feels the need for additional county office space.  As a result of the negative cash flow, and the fact that the county is the owner of the building, the Arco Butte Business Incubation Center, Inc. will cease doing business on September 30th, 2020.   On October 1st, Butte County will assume responsibility for all operations of the business center building.

Please direct any invoices for materials or service that are rendered to the business center building on October 1, 2020 or beyond to the Butte County Clerk.  The Arco Butte Business Incubation Center, Inc. will NOT be responsible for any materials or service rendered to 159 N Idaho St., Arco, Idaho after September 30th, 2020.

 Please continue to call the Business Center at 525-3060 to make arrangements for meeting rooms or the use of the commercial kitchen. Starting October 1, checks should be made out to "Butte County".

The Arco Butte Business Incubation Center, Inc. has successfully operated the business center building, office leases and public room rents for more than 25 years, and has supported entrepreneurial development in the county.  The Arco Butte Business Incubation Center has  incubated at least 3 successful business incubations, Dustin's Cabinets, Lost River Saddle Trees and Dragonfly Tarps.  The Board has also been able to provide meeting areas for community groups that would not have been available otherwise, as well as leadership in community and economic development in Butte County and the Lost River Valley.   Board of Directors appreciates the support of the community in the past and hopes that the new arrangement will be satisfactory.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Dragonfly Tarps: Successful Manufacturing Buisness Incubated in Arco:

Matt and Stephanie Nelson beside the sign on the old
story, which is now the manufacturing facility for
Dragonfly Tarps.

By David Callister, University of Idaho
Educator in Butte County

Have you ever had an idea for a product and wondered if you could turn it into a business in Arco, Idaho?  High school teachers Matt and Stephanie Nelson did exactly that with hard work, help from the Arco Butte Business Incubation Center, Butte County Economic Development and educational support from University of Idaho Extension and Idaho State University.  The business that started in their basement is now a property tax paying business on West Grand, employing five people besides Matt and Stephanie.

Have you driven down Grand Avenue and seen the “Dragonfly Tarp” sign on the old drug store?  Have you wondered what is Dragonfly Tarp?  I recently talked to the owners Matt and Stephanie Nelson about their company.

Dragonfly tarps manufactures high quality custom tarps for outdoor enthusiasts and others.  When asked how they got started Nelson’s answer, “It all started with a damaged tarp.”

Matt’s family enjoys white water rafting.  When one of his father’s tarps had reached the end of its useful life, he took the well-worn tarp to a canvas shop and had a replacement made.  He was not happy with the results.  After looking it over Matt thought he could do a better job.  At the time, Matt was a student at Idaho State University and was able to use their craft shop.

The family liked the resulting tarp and several family members requested tarps for themselves.  In fact, every time Matt would make a tarp for himself, he would end up selling it to someone else.  By word of mouth Matt was manufacturing five to eight tarps a year.  

He started purchasing equipment to manufacture the tarps in his basement.  As demand for the tarps kept increasing, Matt and Stephanie realized they either needed to quit making tarps or hire some help.

After hiring their first employee they continued manufacturing the tarps in their basement.  It soon became clear that the basement was too small.  After meeting with the Arco / Butte County Business Incubation Center Board of Directors, the business was moved into the Arco Butte Business Incubation Center (BIC).  The BIC was able to accomplish their mission by providing Dragonfly a suitable manufacturing space at a subsidized cost while the business was getting on its feet.  Business continued to grow by word of mouth with twenty-five tarps the first year in the BIC and sixty tarps the next.At this point they were out growing the space in the BIC and looked at renting an additional space in the BIC.  About this time the old, recently upgraded, Lost River Drug building became available.  Last year they manufactured 120 tarps, including international orders, and now employ 5 individuals.

The "dragonfly tarp" that was the companies first product
Nelsons reported that some of the keys to their success included the following: First, having the help of the BIC during the switch from a hobby to a business provided a transitional space where the business could grow.  Second, having a product that meets the needs of a specialized market with strong word of mouth marketing.  Third, having a product that sells beyond the immediate community helps bring outside dollars to Arco and provides a better opportunity for growth.  Another key to Dragonfly’s success is having a high-quality product that sells itself.  Both for bigger customers who want additional tarps and for small customers who want a product as good as their friends.

Dragonfly Tarps has become the tarp of choice of white-water tour operators.  Stephanie reported, “They are bigger, lighter and easier to set up than competitor tarps.”  Matt added “Dragonfly Tarps also do better at withstanding the wind.”  The Nelsons no longer rely only on word of mouth for their tarps to sell.  One of their marketing strategies is to attend trade shows where they demonstrate their products.  They also market their tarps on their website:  Building a presence on social media is their next step in their marketing plan.

Their product line has grown as well.  They started out making free standing tarps for white-water companies.  Now some of their freestanding tarps are meeting the needs of other groups, such as shelters for track and cross-country teams while not running.  In addition to free standing tarps, they now sell overland rig tarps which fasten to the sides of a campers, trucks, or vans.  Dragonfly also produces custom products to meet the specialized needs of customers.  

Looking toward the future, an opportunity of growth, the Nelsons are considering is the need for tarp repair.  They are frequently asked to repair boat and pickup bed covers.  It is looking like they could keep an additional employee busy just with the repairs that are requested from the community.

When asked “What advice do you have for someone else who thinks they have a product to sell?”  First, do your market research and make sure others will want your product.  Marketing is important, a good salesman can sell junk, but a good product without any marketing will not sell.  Second, high-quality products are important if you want to keep customers.  Third, social media is becoming the new marketplace where you can show off your product in action and testimonials are instantaneous.  Then look; do you have the space to do the manufacturing?  Would the Arco Butte Business Incubation Center help in the transition or startup of your business?

Dragonfly Tarps employees: (left to right) Jennifer Schafer, 
Jarrie Schafer, Sandy Paz and JoAnn Schafer

The Nelsons also commented that as more of the textile industry moves offshore there is a need for skilled technicians to do repair work and build custom products here at home.  Knowing how to build and fix things can provide a career for those willing to do the work.
Dragonfly Tarps manufacturing facility on West Grand Avenue in Arco.

So, the next time you drive down Grand Avenue and you see the sign “Dragonfly Tarps” you will now know what they do.  Hopefully, you have learned it is possible for a company to start and grow in Arco, Idaho.

For help with initiating  a business in Butte County, one can contact the Arco Butte Business Incubation Center at 208-527-3060  ( and Butte County Economic Development at 208-680-1938,

Friday, February 8, 2019

Are You Aware of a Common Problem That Needs to be Solved?

Entrepreneurs are people who look for problems to solve and turn them into challenges and profitable businesses.  If you know of a problem that other people have, (as well as yourself) may be on the way to starting a new business.

  The Arco Butte Business Incubation Center can help!