Bieter decries state funding, discloses effort to help Boise startups

krodine@idahostatesman.comJune 12, 2013 

0713 local 8thmain3

Boise mayor Dave Bieter at the ground-breaking ceremony for the 8th and Main project in July 2012.

JOE JASZEWSKI — jjaszewski@idahostatesman.com Buy Photo

The state of Idaho isn’t doing enough to boost its capital city or the university within it, so Boiseans must band together to foster high-knowledge, high-wage business development, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter said Wednesday.

One effort now taking shape, Bieter said, is an “ecosystem of innovation” backed by three local technology entrepreneurs — Jason Crawforth, Karen Meyer and Faisal Shah.

In his annual State of the City speech to the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, Bieter said the three approached him and offered to contribute money toward that effort. After the speech, Bieter told the Idaho Statesman that the concept, which is still taking shape, is a kind of “pre-incubator” — a place to converse and collaborate.

He said he plans to convene a meeting that involves a wide range of Boiseans this summer, and he hopes to have specific progress to report at his next State of the City speech.

Crawforth told the Statesman that the group will be a nonprofit that draws in attorneys, public-relations experts and others who can help “one-person, micro and mini” businesses gain the expertise and support they need to grow. One of the first steps, he said, will be to “hire someone who has done this before and let them determine the structure.” He said he doesn’t have anyone in mind.

Seed money for the effort comes from Shah, Crawforth and Meyer. Crawforth and Meyer declined to specify how much the three have committed. “Collectively, it’s in the six figures,” Meyer said.

The three hope to draw more entrepreneurs into the effort.

Crawforth is the former CEO at Treetop Technologies and has launched several businesses. Meyer is a consultant at Ravenware Consultants and has launched several high-tech startups. Shah is the founder of AppDetex, which aims to help mobile app owners protect their intellectual property, and of Mark Monitor, which was acquired by Thomson Reuters.

In his comments to the audience of about 900 people, Bieter said state funding represented 33 percent of Boise State University’s budget 10 years ago but only about 18 percent now. Meanwhile, Idaho leads the nation in its proportion of minimum-wage jobs and ranks consistently among the lowest-wage states, he said.

Worse, he said, the state seems content to sell itself as a cheap place to do business: “That seems to be our strategy” in attracting businesses, he said. “It’s disappointing.”

Kristin Rodine: 377-6447

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