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Analysis: Boise named one of Inc.’s ‘Surge Cities:’ Why this ranking actually matters


We get one ore more “Boise is ranked X on Y list” emails every day. Most of them are… pointless.

But when Inc. magazine wrote up Boise’s growing tech and startup scene – and named it high on its yearly Surge Cities, it stood out.

Each year, the business-focused magazine looks at the top US cities for starting a business.

And for the first time, Boise made the list. Not entering near the bottom of the 50-item ranking – but near the top. At number five. Ahead of… San Francisco.

These days, a listing in a national magazine or publication doesn’t draw the same chorus of cheers that it once did. In fact, a fringe mayoral candidate told BoiseDev his priority would have been to “get off the Top 10 greatest city list.”

But Inc’s rating is slightly different. It’s not about how great it to live here or how… um… happy we are. It’s about how Boise can build and grow businesses.

In May, we wrote about a Brookings Institute report that flashed warning signs for our economy. It noted that rapid growth may not be sustainable, and said the state must grow its stable of good-paying jobs.

[“A damned accident:” Echoes of Boise’s history inform its future]

Inc. notes a private coalition focused on building Idaho’s talent pipeline and increasing access to capital. Recent work by stagedot0 and others to increase venture funding is one piece of the puzzle. Boise Startup Week and Boise State’s Venture College are another.

Growing Boise sustainably

Boise will continue to grow. Quality of life, access to the outdoors, a favorable tax climate and a sense of possibility all will lure people here. But to continue to not just grow but thrive, we will need to continue to attract growing business and capital – and along with it wage growth to help offset the rising cost of housing.

Highlighting Boise’s improving funding environment and improved net business creation rankings can help raise all boats.

Don Day - BoiseDev editor
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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