Jeremy Field is a Boise native who leads the economic development, small business initiatives and program operations for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Region X Office — also known as the SBA Pacific Northwest Region — comprised of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington state. He earned a master’s degree in public administration from Idaho State University, a doctorate degree from University of Idaho, a bachelor’s degree in political science from Brigham Young University and an associate’s degree in mathematics and physical science from Brigham Young University-Idaho.
Taken from a conversation between Idaho Business Review special sections editor Rebecca Palmer and Jeremy Field, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) regional administrator. The Boise District SBA offices are located at 380 Parkcenter Blvd. #330 and can be reached at 208-334-9004. For more information, visit sba.gov/offices/district/id/boise. Edited for length and clarity.
Why are you located in downtown Boise, instead of Seattle or Portland?
The regional office is actually still in Seattle, including the communications director and administrative coordinator, but there’s flexibility for regional administrators. I moved my family to Seattle, but then we had the opportunity to come back — it was a personal circumstance. It’s fun for my boys to be with their cousins, but there’s more to it than that. One of the funnest stories I’ve heard was from a guy who moved here from Europe. He specializes in cities and quality of life, and decided he wanted his last chapter to be in a place where he could bicycle to work or work from home. He had all these different criteria and searched all over the world, and he chose Boise.
I just knew that I loved growing up in Boise and wanted to be back here. I love the Greenbelt, Lucky Peak, that we can go up 30 minutes to some of the best rafting in the world. Boise is in the middle of a gem of outdoor recreation and beauty, and we’ve set up a community where people just love congregating outside, and we are high on the healthy index because of it. It’s about satisfaction in life.
What opportunities do you see here for small businesses?
Downtown Boise is kind of unique. Growing up, it kind of struggled, and there was a real effort by the city to make sure that it was revitalized. Small businesses really stepped up — they saw something that had potential. There was the investor that brought in BoDo, or all the different restaurants and shops that are set up there. I spent one and a half hours this weekend just wandering around the farmer’s market, enjoying the people dressed up for Anime con. Those kinds of amenities we have and the space that we’ve created invite foot traffic and opportunities. Everything that we enjoy downtown is a result of people having entrepreneurial spirit and going out there and getting their feet wet.
What about challenges?
What I see, and this is true in other areas, is that as we grow and enjoy economic success, the startup costs are rising as a result, and a lot faster than we’re seeing wages increase. I see the costs rising of living in a successful economic area, but I’ll take the challenges of growth over the challenges of decline every day of the week. But what it means is challenges to capital. We hear every day about challenges with real estate and wages rising — those are going to be the biggest challenges. But obviously, two out of every three new jobs that are created are created out of small businesses. People are out there looking for opportunities, and the SBA is there to help them wherever they are in their business lifecycle.
We’ve heard a lot of people talking about the creative economy. How do small businesses fi t into that changing landscape here in Boise?
This is anecdotal, but I’ve seen these little technology shops set up everywhere. There’s one that’s right above Sen. Risch’s office in Boise. It’s just really smart people able to find niches. I think we’re benefitting especially in Boise from cost of living compared to other places in the West. We have all these recreational opportunities and a vibrant downtown. For people who can work form anywhere, Boise’s going to be on their list. They’re thinking, ‘where can I be creative and have the quality of life that I want?’ And I think that’s really helped Boise.
Is your office involved in initiatives for certain types of businesses?
Any business that’s street legal, we’re going to be there for the small business person. That’s what the agency was set up to do. We’re not there for everybody – people who can qualify for a conventional loan won’t be interested in an SBA loan product. But for most people, especially startups, if you’re trying to get the money you need for a conventional loan, they just don’t have it. Half our loans are startups, and we have all these great free resources for people to really see the nuts and bolts of what they’re going to do. Our lending partners — the banks — know when they’ve gone through our resource partners. When they help them apply for an SBA loan, and that we guarantee up to 90& of the loan, that’s going to be a smart risk because of resources available to SBA. We’re also good for growing businesses with HR needs or trying to figure out tax laws or QuickBooks. There are trainings and resources available to receive great, certified counseling. We’re a resource that not enough people know about, and they really should take advantage of. A business that receives counseling is twice as likely to succeed, and that’s what we’re trying to do.
How is downtown Boise different from other city centers in the region?
I come from the perspective of growing up here. What I see, from travels and everything else, is that some communities plan and prioritize different things. Some prioritize efficiency and not as much, natural beauty. Boise did not. We have a beautiful Greenbelt system, and you can bike around to a lot of places. With this rapid growth we’re having, transportation issues need to be addressed fast, but I love hanging out in Boise. There are so many things for people to do rather than sit in their homes and be isolated. Boise is just a wonderful place to be. I love this town. The people who prioritize parks and philanthropists who create these spaces to learn and grow and recreate, we owe so much to those people who cared about the arts and about having a place to go out and stretch. We can have not just economic success, but also mental, spiritual and emotional fulfillment in a beautiful space. We have so much of that in Boise – it’s an embarrassment of riches.