“Boise is at a crossroads.”
Putting together yesterday’s report on the recent Brookings Institute report, I was struck by how it resonated with me. I write about development, business and growth all day, every day – more than 60 stories every month. A lot of it is small details that show a bigger picture.
But I know so many people who have great degrees and great talent who can’t find jobs that pay good wages. Wages that can support the area’s booming cost of living. Wages that feel comfortable.
I watch the growth and expansion and see smart, talented people moving to our area. I see an expansion of homes and restaurants and new retail options.
I care deeply about Boise. I care deeply about the people who live here.
I listen to all different perspectives for a living. I see the concerns of groups like Vanishing Boise. I see the optimism of the Chambers of Commerce. I talk to elected officials. I have conversations with people on the street. Everyone has a different take – and no one point of view is right.
We are seeing some great growth right now. But the Brookings data showing that the poverty level higher than 2007 — and the average wages actually going down is a big major problem. Just about every public official touts the Boise area’s #1 ranking in Livability.com this year – I see it in presentations nearly weekly.
No one is talking about an increasing poverty ranking.
Having a livable place to exist is important. But it’s fleeting. If wages and housing fall apart, it won’t matter how nice the sidewalks look.
Focus: the future
Let’s start to have a conversation about the future. About fixing problems. About addressing education, wage stagnation and infrastructure.
The Boise valley is increasingly one large city – Boise and Meridian are one town with an invisible border (not to mention Garden City ore Eagle). Nampa and Caldwell are a big piece of the puzzle too.
But where is the vision to say “we are one area, let’s find solutions to problems.” Sure, there is some of this. But there is a lot of political infighting in the Boise area. Think about it.
There’s a lot of fighting, a lot of energy focused on winning. Not every day, and not every leader. But the thread is real.
All the while, more people live in poverty than did in 2007. Our education system isn’t set up for success. People are not making as much cash as they once did. Those are issues to tackle. Those are issues to worry about.
We all have to work together to build solutions that matter and focus on the future. The Brookings report can be a call to action – or it can get buried in layers of turf wars and “yeah, but it’s great now” logic. I sure hope not.
The best part of the entire report, for my optimistic brain, is the end.
It talks about Boise’s “resilient, pioneering, can-do attitude.” I’ve read few things more true about our area. These are the traits that we need to lean into to build for the future. It’s worked in past decades, and this isn’t the time to let up.
Running BoiseDev is an interesting endeavor. I write this product for real estate agents and developers and community activists and “growthophobes.” I work to make this a place that looks at the facts, looks at the data and let’s people know what is happening. I believe that local news is power. That knowledge makes better decisions. Data, trends and analysis help us understand what is happening. I’m always looking for feedback – you can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.