BVEP economic summit plots a course for Boise growth

That’s at least what Chris Schastok and Eric Stavriotis told a crowd at Wednesday night’s Boise Valley Economic Partnership Economic Summit at the Boise Centre.

The two are familiar with the greater Boise metro area, as their firm helped Paylocity select its Meridian location years ago.

“I think you have a lot of assets here that are being leveraged well,” Stavriotis said.

There are two major universities — Boise State University and The University of Idaho’s Boise facilities — that help contribute to the conversation about growth and the economic analysis of how to handle it, he said.

Boise is competing with a number of other destinations, but having institutions such as the universities here locally help keep it a competitive location. In fact, Schastok and Stavriotis often recommend Boise as a location for a number of their clients, Stavriotis said.

The number of available houses has dropped 14.8 percent in the last year, while the cost of a single-family home rose 20.3 percent, The Idaho Press previously reported.

In fact, the city of Boise has drawn a task force to brainstorm ideas for how to solve the present housing predicament.

Along with needing more housing, the city and surrounding metro area need to also consider affordable housing and homelessness — neither of which are talked about to the degree they need to be, said Wyatt Schroeder, one of the panelists for the second part of the summit and director of CATCH, a local housing-focused nonprofit.

Schroeder said that simply labeling it affordable housing is “shortchanging” the issue.

There are a number of types of housing that fall under the affordable housing blanket, such as supported housing for the homeless and workforce housing, which allows professions such as teachers and firefighters to live comfortably.

Overall, the area needs to approach the issues it is facing with more nuance, Schroeder said.

He told the crowd about a few interns he had, all people of color, who worked with him at CATCH. When he told them that he would be interested in hiring them after they graduated from college, they all said they weren’t comfortable with relocating here because of the lack of diversity.

Going forward, Schroeder said employers should be more deliberate about bringing in employees that increase diversity in the area, as well as tapping into the local immigrant and refugee population to make them feel welcome and integrate them into the local community.

Lori Shandro, another panelist and co-founder of Treefort Music Fest, echoed similar sentiments.

“You take the cheapest area of town and the artists start to move there because they can’t afford to live anywhere else,” Shandro said. Suddenly, that area is desirable and everyone wants to move there. But now that individuals and families earning a higher income are moving in, the creative class can’t afford to live there anymore.

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