Boise is besting this Missouri city, so its leaders came here to see what we did right

There was a time when Boise and Springfield, Mo., were pretty similar, according to this editorial in the Midwest city’s News-Leader newspaper.

But that was a quarter of a century ago, and in the past 25 years, Boise’s population has nearly doubled while Springfield’s has crept only slightly larger. Boise’s median household income outstrips Springfield’s by $17,000 per year, and our city’s poverty and crime rates are considerably lower. What, wondered Springfield leaders, has Boise been doing right?

The News-Leader’s editorial board wrote that Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce sent a group to the City of Trees to learn what makes Boise thrive. Here’s what they found.

▪ Boise is big on its outdoor offerings, emphasizing our city’s access to all kinds of nature and recreation. Boise city leaders apparently call it “the second paycheck,” according to the News-Leader.

▪ Boise State University is a big part of who we are. In comparison, colleges and universities in similar-sized cities may not be as well integrated as BSU is with local agencies.

▪ Our city is leaving the rest of Idaho in the dust when it comes to workforce development. “Sometimes they’ve had to decide they’re done waiting around on state funding. They decide locally what their priorities are and do it themselves,” Boise Chamber of Commerce President Matt Morrow told the News-Leader.

▪ A developed Downtown lends a sense of identity. Here’s how Boise hopes to continue expanding on that.

▪ Transportation may be Boise’s real weak spot. Though we try to play up bicycle commuting and walking, our bus system is often criticized and plans for future public transit are subject of hot debate.