Today in New West news: Chinese tourism in eastern Idaho, cutthroat trout restoration in northern Montana, Boulder–based 10-4 raises $13.9M, and an update on GlobeImmune.
Over the past few years, with the Chinese economy growing substantially, more people are using their new wealth to venture abroad. One popular destination? Yellowstone National Park. Indeed, the share of Yellowstone visitors coming from China has grown so much that the Park has had to adapt quickly, hiring Mandarin-speaking rangers to accommodate visitors.
According to the Idaho Statesman, neighboring communities have observed the increase in Chinese tourists, threading their way through the West en route to Yellowstone, and are working accordingly to capitalize on the trend. Several hotels around Idaho Falls, for instance, have started including Wi-Fi instructions in Mandarin, hiring Mandarin-speaking employees, and serving Chinese-style food (including congee, or rice porridge). From the Statesman:
Last year an estimated 500,000 of Yellowstone’s 4 million total visitors were Chinese, and more than 600,000 are expected to travel through the park this season. Experts say the trend is being fueled by looser visa rules, rising middle class salaries, and a growing desire among the younger generation to explore the world.
In Idaho Falls, large groups of Chinese visitors walk the greenbelt, take selfies in front of the falls, and shop for vitamins and snacks at Wal-Mart. Hotels and nearby restaurants are frequently packed. Most of the Chinese tourists traveling through here fly into Salt Lake City. Buses take them on multi-day tours of the park, though a growing number are starting to plan trips independently.
Local tourism officials and hotel employees say they first noticed a growing number of Chinese tour groups in 2014. “Then in 2015 it exploded, and in 2016 it’s gone crazy,” said Kassie Cain, the assistant general manager at Fairbridge.
This season, in order to have enough space for other travelers, some hotels have capped the number of discounted tour groups that can book rooms.
“For every group I book, I probably turn away two or three,” Cain said.
Besides extra wealth and looser visa regulations, Chinese visitors are drawn to Yellowstone because, in terms of landscape and atmosphere, it’s a world away from China’s burgeoning urban sector.
Up in Northwest Montana, scientists and conservationists are hard at work restoring native cutthroat trout populations, and according to the Flathead Beacon, those efforts are starting to payoff after decades of uncertainty and difficulty. Indeed, scientists studying cutthroat trout in Danaher Creek or Young’s Creek (said to “possess genetic markers so divergent it’s like comparing a Chihuahua to a Dalmatian”). Which is not to say that they’ve recovered. Despite encouraging signs, there’s still a lot of work to be done. From the Beacon:
Native westslope cutthroats found in the South Fork Flathead River and elsewhere are precious gems, each fish equipped with the genes and genetic wiring of its ancestors, traits developed specifically for survival in a harsh northern Montana climate.
Westslope cutthroat trout have lived in post-glacial western Montana for thousands of years. During that time, the species has been able to survive catastrophic fires, massive floods and severe droughts. And yet in the two centuries since Lewis and Clark first inscribed the species into the nation’s vernacular during their famed 1805 expedition—the trout’s scientific name is Oncorhynchus clarki lewisi—the cutthroat’s range has dwindled and genetically pure populations have come under siege. The population decline is due to stream siltation, dams, overfishing, and competition from—and hybridization with—introduced nonnative fish such as rainbow and brook trout, a phenomenon exacerbated by the warming world.
But a new era of fisheries management has taken root, and efforts to re-establish, jumpstart and bolster genetically pure populations are gaining ground, while the potential for applications in other historic strongholds is bright. Massive, landscape-scale conservation efforts are in the works, including translocation of native species, drainage-specific stocking, eradication of invasive species, and rearing of genetically pure trout.
Over in Colorado, according to the Boulder Daily Camera, Boulder-based 10-4, after splitting off from parent company GlobalTranz of Phoenix, Arizona, have raised $13.9 million in Series A funding. The money will go toward establishing 10-4 (which specializes in real-time tracking for commercial shipping) and allowing the company to focus on boosting its sales and development teams, according to 10-4 CEO Travis Rhyan. From the Camera:
“We are absolutely taking our core product wider and deeper, looking into more and expanding partnerships,” Rhyan said. “With this money, we’ve got the ability to take it to the next level.
Founded in 2012 along with GlobalTranz, 10-4 now employs around 40 people at its Boulder headquarters — of 55 to 60 workers nationwide — and is currently hiring.
“10-4 has assembled a group of phenomenal technologists and industry experts to create a software company that is uniquely positioned to serve shippers, carriers, and (third party logistic companies) with solutions that provide logistics visibility and facilitate connections,” said 10-4 Executive Chairman Andrew Leto, who led the round, in a statement. “We are well positioned to be an independent company.”
On Monday, 10-4 announced the addition of former UPS President Jack Holmes to its board of directors. Holmes has also served as co-chairman of the National Freight Advisory Committee and the American Transportation Research Institute.
The firm started as a “LinkedIn for truckers,” Rhyan said, but through “a series of pivots” over the past four years has found its niche in providing real-time tracking of inbound and outbound shipments to the Fortune 500 companies that make up the bulk of its customers.
Finally, keeping with Colorado, we’ve been following the decline of GlobeImmune, a Louisville-based biotech firm that’s had to cut staff dramatically after posting huge first-quarter losses. Now, according to the Denver Business Journal, the company is leaving the Nasdaq exchange by the end of the month, saying they fell short of Nasdaq’s minimum stockholders’ equity ($2.5 million). From the DBJ:
GlobeImmune’s board said there were too many negatives with staying on the Nasdaq exchange, explaining in a statement that “the board made the decision to allow the common stock to be delisted from Nasdaq and to seek deregistration under the Exchange Act following the company’s review and careful consideration of several factors, including the inability to find a suitable strategic transaction despite a comprehensive year-long process, the ongoing listing, legal, administrative and additional accounting costs associated with being a publicly listed company, the non-compliance letter received from Nasdaq for the continued listing requirements, the inordinate amount of executive time and company resources consumed in regulatory compliance obligations and the lack of investor interest as shown in the low daily trading volumes of the common stock on Nasdaq.”
In early Wednesday trading, shares in GlobeImmune had fallen more than 36 percent, dropping 65 cents to $1.15.