Boise is a major hot spot for America’s housing crisis, but a new organization hopes it can also be the center for solutions.
A group of construction supply companies, home builders, Boise State University’s Venture College, and the City of Boise are coming together to form the Housing Innovation Hub to find new solutions to the most persistent problems in the construction industry. The new organization hopes to build an ecosystem for innovation in the construction and housing industry to help find ways to build more affordable units in a sustainable way in the future.
Jeff Reynolds, one of the effort’s lead organizers and president of marketing firm Reynolds and Meyers, said the hope is to put Boise on the map as the go-to spot for businesses hoping to find next-generation housing and construction solutions.
“What we’re talking about is an industry that changes very slowly and the charge is how do you push innovation forward in generally stagnant or slow to change industries,” Reynolds said. “That’s different than software. If something goes wrong in a homebuilding start-up, the risks and the costs can be very big versus in software you can change some code and it’s all better. It’s a different type of innovation.”
Come together, right now, over housing
The culture changes Reynolds hopes for aren’t small.
Over the long-term, Reynolds said he wants Idaho to build on its long history of innovative construction companies like Boise Cascade and Weyerhaeuser with new support from Boise State University to attract new companies looking to find ways of building the housing of tomorrow to set up shop here. But, before his group can start making big changes, he hopes to begin by hosting a series of events to get experts and innovators in a room together to share ideas.
Earlier this month, Housing Innovation Hub held its first all-day event to host companies and other leaders to talk about the future of the construction business. Leaders from Autovol and Prefab Logic, companies specializing in automation and modular design, spoke to the group about their work to accelerate housing construction.
“We’re starting focusing around events and over time the idea is to string together a more formal organization,” he said. “But for right now, it’s a collaborative effort where we’re talking.”
Reynolds said Housing Innovation Hub hopes to plan another event convening stakeholders and top innovators in the construction field later this year. This effort builds on the Hacking for Homebuilding contest put on by the Venture College, which asks teams to pitch solutions to problems facing the construction industry.