Boise named a “Best City to move to”; What can Spokane do to land there?

Boise is thriving on a level which Spokane has not yet been able to attain. But we’re so similar to Boise that it shouldn’t be too far off. (PHOTO: Startup Boise)

Boise, Idaho, our perpetual rival and neighbor to the southeast, was just named by Simple Moving Labor as a “Best City to Move to in 2014.” This comes as Boise has been making national waves for its high quality of life, low cost of living, and abundant outdoor recreation opportunities (sound familiar?). Men’s Health, Livability.com, CNN Money, and the Brookings Institute have all recognized the city in recent years, and it’s clear that businesses are taking notice. The Idaho Statesman frequently reports on companies from local startups to big data firms locating in Boise, all locating there partially based on its high quality of life and low cost of living, as well as Idaho’s favorable business climate.

What can Spokane do to stay competitive?

“Boise embraces itself as a unique community,” Maryanne Jordan told KTVB. “We focus on a lot of local business, a lot of homegrown business. I think it’s a very diverse and inclusive community and that’s important. And you know … It’s beautiful. How can you not love it?”

Okay. So our inferiority complex doesn’t help. Better get off of that one. What else? Local business. We can do that. We have locally-grown companies big and small, from Boots Bakery all the way up to Itron. And Washington is frequently rated as one of the best states in the country in which to do business. We can provide some incentives. That might help. What about increasing quality of life? That might require some investment, but studies have shown that things like walking and biking trails, vibrant urban parks, and streetcar or light rail systems can spur long-term growth. These are obviously things that we need to start to look at.

But in the end, perhaps our inferiority complex looms even larger. We won’t get anything done until our city accepts that it is worth revitalizing, and I hope that with four distinctly beautiful seasons, a low cost of living, world-class outdoor recreation, and one of the world’s most beautiful urban rivers, residents realize the extreme potential which we are lucky to possess.

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5 thoughts on “Boise named a “Best City to move to”; What can Spokane do to land there?

  1. In my humble opinion Boise is overrated. Yes they have developments occurring but, if you step back and take a look at it no more really then Spokane just the branding hype it to a certain degree. I have frequented both cites extensively over the years and fortunately for Spokane it was granted more old bones that create to me a denser more city like environment to it’s downtown. Retail wise, dining wise, convention wise, public park wise Boise does not even remotely come close to Spokane. On a positive note you do have younger generation pushing for change but generally the people of Boise hype it up more than it is and I personally believe it is for a lack of knowing anything different from outside their area. One new highrise, a few bars on one street and a new Trader Joes hardly makes Boise something to grasp for. Spokane needs to set it’s eyes more on Portland for influence. If you visit skyscraper.com and visit the Boise section you get a cluster of people ranting and raving about something as little as a new Wendy’s being placed on a corner of downtown.

    • Boise definitely isn’t for everyone. Spokane has older architecture that brings about a more urban feel to it. But, Spokane’s population in 1910 was 104,000 compared to Boise’s 17,000. In 1960 Spokane had 181,000 to Boise’s 34,000. Obviously you’re going to find older architecture in Spokane. Boise is also building the JUMP project, Simplot Headquarters, and in a few months will start the City Center Plaza. There’s quite a bit going on. Soon there will be a new hotel proposed downtown as well. I’d beg to differ on your public park statement as well. They’re also creating a new Esther Simplot Park to join the already hundreds of acres of park that run through the middle of town along the Boise River.

  2. Believe it or not over the last 10 years Spokane / CdA has added more height. Davenport Tower, Mc E, Parkside Tower, New Convention Center Hotel. Districts are emerging stronger in Spokane, Kendall Yards, newer and emerging expansion and new Convention Center in Spokane, River Front Park developments and the University District / Gonzaga rivals anything Boise State has done. Boise has nothing close to luxury and style architecture wise like buildings in the Davenport District. Retail in downtown Boise is nothing. Mass Transportation in Boise is horrible as well while at least Spokane has a solid bus system and has flirted with light rail and trolley lines. You do get a large population from Utah moving to Boise just like they do Mesa, Arizona.

  3. I do agree with you for the most part. Metro Boise has 600,000 people for example, while the city has only 205,000, so their sprawl issue might not be much better than ours. I’m not too sure; I don’t have much experience with Boise. But I do think that part of its appeal has been that it has done a better job of attracting young urban professionals, and that’s created a buzz around the city. Tomorrow I’m posting an Idea that could start to rectify this issue.

    It also goes back to Spokane’s inferiority complex. Constantly say that something is terrible and eventually everyone is going to think that it actually is terrible. Meanwhile, we win awards like Outside Magazine’s Best Towns. The culture is the biggest issue that holds us back and the biggest change necessary to attaining a greater status. Maybe it’s time for a massive pro-Spokane marketing campaign?

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