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Stronger work force needed to grow Idaho high-tech

One of the greatest obstacles to further developing Idaho’s high-tech industry is its work force, say entrepreneurs who gathered May 26 in Boise for a workshop on business innovation.

About 150 business owners, entrepreneurs and other leaders in Idaho met May 26 at the Idavation summit to talk about ways of increasing the area’s creative economy. They heard a presentation from Mitch Ditkoff, the co-founder and president of a New York company called Idea Champions that helps regions generate innovation.

Bob Lokken, founder and CEO of Boise’s WhiteCloud Analytics, said the single-greatest obstacle to the growth of his business is a shortage of workers who have the skills he needs in business and mathematics.

Lokken said he would like to do more to help find students who are skilled in those topics and provide internships for them so they’re more likely to takes job in Boise when they graduate instead of moving to Seattle or other cities.

About Anne Wallace Allen

Anne Wallace Allen is the editor of the Idaho Business Review.


  1. Interesting. According to a new report being circulated by the State Board of Education (Comparison of Education and Labor Data 2009), Idaho universities are graduating a SURPLUS of students with degrees in mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics. These people are not finding jobs in Idaho, and/or are leaving to pursue graduate school, not looking for work at White Cloud Analytics.

  2. The plowboy plutocrats, conservative wingnuts, & religious wackos that run Idaho have done us in. Hate to say it, but all this is a day late & a dollar short. If you’re a techie under 40, you’re probably looking seriously at leaving…and even then, you may be 3-4 years too late.

  3. Well I’ve never much been outside of Idaho but my son works at Micron and he likes the technology jobs that are here. I hope they stay here. But we should have more of them it seems. I like potatos as much as anybody but how can we keep running this state on that?

  4. Based on my experience in various venture/technology hubs around the US (and in England) I’d say “Idahoan” has it right. What is missing in the Treasure Valley is a critical mass of larger tech companies which can draw and hold local students and employees in the area. It all then builds from that. Other states and municipalities aggressively court these companies with exactly this in mind; Idaho has failed to do so. It would be nice to see a concerted, well funded, government/private effort in the form of a development company formed to pursue these opportunities and execute on a plan. (Think Michigan Economic Development Corporation: Would also be nice to see an in depth report on this from IBR–with input from the Governor’s office on down….

  5. Great to see IBR covering these types of events, but what we really could use is some more in depth reporting on the underlying reality and issues, rather than just a blurb on the speakers. How about it, IBR? From what I’ve seen of Ms. Allen’s work–a Google search turns up a bunch–she is quite capable of more than this stylish, but superficial, prose….

  6. JD: you think state govt wanted to cut education? you’re crazy.
    The cuts to education were a big bummer. But those cuts weren’t as deep as cuts to the rest of the State budget.
    Either grow up and face the financial realities or stop posting such drivel.

  7. Interesting to hear Lokken praised on one hand and then on the other be told he doesn’t know what he is talking about.

    Also interesting that in the face of comments like these and similiar ones mad e by other business leaders, what did our state legislature do? CUT EDUCATION SPENDING!

    Those “head in the sand” good-old-boys need to understand we ain’t raising potato pickers anymore.
    At a time when education is most needed, these short -sighted idiots gave us less!

  8. People graduating will stay in Idaho if there are jobs for them. The majority of the time, if qualified people leave it’s because they can’t find a job here.
    Also, there are many highly qualified former micron employees.
    Seems to me it’s the lack of jobs, not the quality of the workforce that is the problem.

  9. I heard Bob Lokken speak today.
    People involved in the BI software space say there are maybe two dozen people in the world who really understand the technology.
    So here’s the big question for Bob: Is there a city in the US (or the world) where there is a sufficiently deep bench to support your company?

  10. What? You mean all those clever folks who love to point out the negative side of everything, and THINK they know every thing, aren’t qualifed? Hard to imagine!!