Tax incentives aren't always the best way to lure businesses. Many are simply going where the talent is.
Ryan Woodings owns a 15-person tech startup in Boise, Idaho.
His company, MetaGeek, specializes in helping businesses fix and maintain their Wi-Fi systems. Or, as the website puts it, “making Wi-Fi more awesome for more people.”
MetaGeek did what a lot of companies are doing these days. It moved downtown. The student interns are now able to bike over to the office between classes. In the afternoons, MetaGeek employees can take walks on the nearby greenbelt that runs through town along the Boise River. If they want to bike home, the city runs a bicycle rental program and has an expanding network of dedicated bike lanes. “Downtown Boise is where everything is,” Woodings says. “When you have a lunch meeting, or get coffee with a client, it’s always downtown.”
MetaGeek is one of several tech companies that have put down roots recently in the center of Boise. Last summer, Boise State moved its computer science department downtown so that it could be closer to students’ potential employers. And Boise isn’t unusual. In cities across the country, businesses are trying to capitalize on the increasing density of tech talent clustered in the heart of cities.