The last day of the first week offshore and I’m not sure if it feels like just yesterday I left home or a month ago.
Today was in Boise, Idaho which is a beautiful ‘city of trees’.
First up was the team from Idaho Commerce for a very productive conversation, given the remoteness of Idaho and the challenges that brings. The team has a strong focus on supporting job creation. There are some interesting initiatives including Accelerate Idaho, a reasonably new tax reimbursement incentive and the Idaho rural partnership fund. Rurally we talked about moving agricultural products higher up the value chain which when combined with tourism can create even more value (e.g. niche food, craft beer and wine). Education and the war for talent was raised as a big challenge in the future.
From there it was on to meet Nic, Director of Economic Development at City of Boise. Nic gave me a great overview of the layers of government in the US and how they interact. Some great ideas flowing from Startup in a day, Obama’s government startup and the Mayors Innovation Project. Nic reinforced the importance of having good data balanced with customer insight. My favourite project was a Spring Into Code, which introduces kids to computer science at a young age which is what industry is asking for.
I met Jana, who had lived in Tokoroa on an exchange as a secondary school student. BVEP is a regional economic development agency covering a number of counties and the City of Boise. Jana reinforced the importance of business attraction by proactively prospecting for new business and working with ‘site selectors’, which is a big industry in the US. They have some very insightful data and geospatial information combined with customer insight to help identify the sweet spot of what Boise Valley can offer. In other words, understanding the behaviour and perceptions of prospective and current businesses, rather then using assumptions. Broken record…but skills and workforce development raised again as key for the future.
Taupo District has a strong affinity with IFEA, having previously won an IFEA World Festival & Event City Award. I was hosted by Nia, including a tour of the beautiful Boise Depot. IFEA have a great range of great education, information, conferences and awards to name a few and as a result I came away with a ‘to do’ list for when I return. On the new idea front, it will be interesting to see if crowdfunding for events takes off.
So that is week one done and dusted…it’s a weekend away from work, exploring and driving in Oregon and definitely some downtime before another huge week. Thanks for all the messages, it’s great to hear from you when travelling solo. The Friday night thing to do in Boise is float down the river in an inflatable with a chillybin onboard…