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Crowdsourced suggestions to maximize the ROI from leftover ARPA monies  

Dear City of Boise:

I get to work with the world’s best developers of entrepreneurship. Nobody in Idaho knows more about this than I, but (a) I’ve reached to the world’s best and (b) to Idaho’s own best thinkers and doers.

photo of norris krueger

Norris Krueger

1) Who leads local economies out of tough times? Every time? It’s the innovative new and small businesses. They are the leading edge. Always.

2) Boise is uniquely positioned to build on that. The timing is perfect with the A+ addition of Kate Nelson as director of community partnerships! She speaks fluent “entrepreneur” (tech and refugees) and has a big brain with a bigger heart (my kinda people).

3) The keys to helping new and small firms to innovate? Remove barriers, especially under-represented groups. Let them take the lead. The timing is brilliant here too: The new Idaho Women’s Business Center (IWBC) is ALREADY killing it, as is the Hispanic Chamber. Via IWBC, we are seeing the rise of chambers for both Blacks and Native Americans plus two promising support organizations for veterans. Have them lead!

4) Boise has access to the best thinkers and doers on the planet; most would help happily.

While I’ve studied policy ideas for new and small business since 1994, I’ve been blessed to work with so many great thinkers (and doers) in this arena — so I polled experts, including Boise’s best, and got a wonderful response from so many people who know what they’re doing. This report is a synopsis that triangulates what the very best policy experts recommend — spoiler alert: everyone pretty much agrees.

If there’s a theme that may not be obvious, it is that lowering barriers matters. A lot. And the impact will especially benefit under-represented groups. If you want to grow the local economy, make sure everyone is at the table. And let them set the table!

One example is the “Two-fer” mentioned below. Why not support child care AND small business at the same time?

Finally, the lowest-cost items in the list are also quick to do (by year end). Larger ideas are very sponsor-friendly.

The following is a great list of high-impact, easily implemented ideas to make Boise a global leader. Many of these are ideas where the city could collaborate with the region and with state government, and could qualify for matching grants.

Boise American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) investments for new and small business 

Low-cost:

 → Entrepreneurial Dashboard (polls, metrics, news feed, calendar, etc.) [$20K] 1,2

Startup Weekends (Maybe with verticals, e.g., SW Women, etc.) [at $5K] 1

Grants team-up (Boise and Idaho miss out on many grants, such as) [$10K] 2

Buy local/Boost small business contracting — we can do better (state should follow suit!) 2

Medium-cost:

  • Magic Bus” — quarterly city tours w/ INL bus full of A+ entrepreneurship business experts (five 2-hr stops) 1,2
  • TWO-FER!!! Support child care (And elder care?) for startups and small businesses — help new and small businesses AND help struggling child care providers! Why not support a center at Russ Stoddard’s space?
  • Regional entrepreneurial ecosystem event (such as a regional ESHIP summit, which is very sponsorable) — bring the region’s best and brightest entrepreneurial ecosystem builders to Boise! 1,2 [more on ESHIP]

Spendy but WHY NOT:

  • Ombudsman for new/small business, like SeattleMissouri Champion interests of new/small business (cut red tape, raise hell as needed, connect to resources at the state level? Maybe they are a loaned executive)
  • World’s best Kindergarten thru 12th-grade Entrepreneurship/Innovation programming — bring together the world’s best entrepreneurship educators [see p.9!] to design THE program for Boise [$30K] 2
  • Comprehensive Ecosystem Map (SourcelinkEcoMap). Ideally, partner statewide [$100K+] 2

Keep it simple — Trust your very best. Maybe the single best thing you can do is give $100K unrestricted to the underfunded grassroots difference-makers building our entrepreneurship ecosystem (e.g., IWBC and its affiliated Hispanic, Native American and Black chambers], Veterans Chamber of Commerce, TechHelp, VentureCapital.org, the STEM Action Center, Jannus, existing hackerspaces)

In fact, for EACH of these ideas, harness these grassroots groups, not the usual suspects.

— Norris Krueger, Ph.D, is an entrepreneurship expert and developer based in the Treasure Valley.

Footnotes:
1 Hire someone like Idaho Business Review to manage

2 The state should support/match and take statewide

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One comment

  1. I think the beautiful thing about all the new to the valley transplants, is that innovation and forward thinking came with some of them! I’ve been here 7 years and it feels like our city is finally waking up to seeing leaders where they are – and not just expecting them to fit into the old-box-MANtality.
    Excited to be jumping into more leadership roles myself.