In 2014, TIME Magazine called Boise “a techy boomtown.” Four years later, their moniker for the City of Trees is proving more than accurate.
Over the past decade, Boise has been experiencing an increasingly rapid influx of skilled workers looking for new jobs in the tech industry and fleeing less affordable areas like Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle.
The migration has brought in individuals and their families looking for quality schools, lower cost of living, better access to recreation, and shorter commutes, and Boise keeps delivering on every metric.
With a projected wage growth in 2018 of 7.27% and a job growth of 3.58% in 2017 (the second highest in the nation), careers in the Boise area have a promising outlook and a bright future.
The tech industry is an enormous driver of employment and economic growth in the Treasure Valley, with a decades-long history of success.
In the 70s and 80s, tech giant Hewlett-Packard developed their first LaserJet division in Boise, followed shortly by Micron Technology. Both companies today are leading technology innovators and industry mainstays.
They’re joined by hundreds of other tech companies in the Treasure Valley, including an ever-increasing number of startups poised to take on the industry. Nearly 50,000 people are employed in the technology industry in Idaho, and with a projected 10-year growth rate of 13.7%, that number is only the beginning.
Why is Tech Talent Moving to Boise?
Idaho native and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anthony Doerr wrote in the Smithsonian Magazine, “Boise is still so young and new—changing almost every day—and I don’t think it’s an overstatement to suggest that our town represents everything that remains great about America: potential, youth, natural beauty, quality of life. Some 100 parks, 14 museums, playgrounds everywhere you turn: our skies are huge; our houses affordable. Hikers can still drink from a secret spring in the hills; paddlers can still go kayaking in the morning and meet with their accountants by noon. When we visit friends who live elsewhere, they ask, ‘Boise? Really? Why do you live there?’ But when friends visit us, they say, ‘Oh, wow, now I see.’”
When tech-job hopefuls tour the Treasure Valley, that’s what they often say: “Oh, wow, now I see.” Sheer beauty and livability make the Boise metro area a paradigm of an American city: clean streets, walkable neighborhoods, a vibrant downtown, and the growing arts and cultural scene give a small-town feel with big-city attractions.
But white-capped mountains and affordable houses can’t explain Boise’s skyrocketing growth alone. There are other factors at work that have created the perfect storm of economic stimulus in the City of Trees. Both companies and employees alike have found Boise a welcoming environment.
Low business costs and taxes have given Idaho a name for business-friendliness. Boise has the second lowest cost of energy in the western United States, and the corporate income tax rate is 7.6%. More than 90% of Idaho companies qualify for property tax exemptions, and the Kauffman Foundation ranked Idaho the most business-friendly state for small businesses.
Low Cost of Living
From housing costs to property taxes, utility bills to construction costs, Boise is still a relatively inexpensive area. Home values have increased significantly over the past several years, leading cost increases, but compared to other western metro areas like Los Angeles and Seattle, Boise’s housing market is far less competitive and more affordable. For families fleeing high taxes and tight housing markets, Boise is a breath of fresh air.
An Educated Workforce
Over 40% of Boise residents hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher, and the Boise School District’s graduation rate is 94.4%. Boise is also home to Boise State University, Idaho’s largest post-secondary institution with over 20,000 students. Boise State has worked closely with local businesses to produce qualified, prepared employees, even partnering with Micron for on-site classes and pioneering a “new model” with the Micron School of Material Science and Engineering.
Many companies are choosing to build headquarters in Boise because of its centrality to other western population centers without the associated business costs. Boise is only a short flight away from Seattle and Portland, and less than three hours by air away from Denver, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. Businesses can set up shop in Boise and take advantage of lower development and hiring costs while staying connected to teams throughout the west.
Boise Tech Companies to Watch
Whether you’re keeping a close eye on Treasure Valley tech as you consider your own startup, are looking for a job, or are just curious, here are Boise-based companies you should be watching.
Clearwater Analytics: Based in downtown, Clearwater is the perfect example of a local company riding the tech wave in Boise. Founded in 2004, Clearwater now reports over $650 billion in assets and boasts high-profile clients like Google, Cisco, Yahoo, and Oracle.
Cradlepoint: Founded in 2006, Cradlepoint has become a leader in the 3G/4G/5G network solutions in little more than a decade and is headquartered in downtown Boise. With over 23,000 customers globally, Cradlepoint has international offices in the UK and Australia and a development center in Silicon Valley.
MetaGeek: MetaGeek’s sleek and modern office is headquartered in Boise. The company began in 2005 when founder Ryan Woodings saw a gap in the market and created the award-winning line of spectrum analyzers called Wi-Spy. Today, MetaGeek’s close-knit team is growing and innovating from Main Street in downtown.
Keynetics: Keynetics is the largest privately-held technology company in Idaho. Keynetics owns several other recognizable Boise-based companies, including ClickBank, one of the biggest online retailers in the world.
Balihoo: Another company founded in Boise in the early 2000s, Balihoo has emerged as a frontrunner in the rapidly-growing industry of Local Marketing Automation. Balihoo’s software can automate enormous campaigns with always-updated demographic and behavioral information. Balihoo clients include household names like Geico, Aflac, and Kohler.
As the Boise tech industry continues to boom, so will Boise. We can’t wait to see what’s next for our favorite city.
Lisa is an Idaho Realtor and creator of WeKnowBoise.com. She helps each client just as she would a member of her own family, and cherishes the friendships she’s created. From Southeast Boise to the North End, up to Eagle and west to Meridian, or right in the middle of the Boise Bench and downtown - We Know Boise. Whether buying or selling a home, we provide full-service real estate solutions dedicated to helping our clients achieve their goals.
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