Chapter 5: Boise: Printers and Semiconductors in the Treasure Valley
‘If there was one primary item attracting us to this city, it would have to be the livability of Boise and the fact the people here wanted us.’ Ray Smelek, former HP General Manager, quoted in The Idaho Statesman, (June 14, 1973) ‘Certainly for Boise, HP had a tremendous impact on developing the infrastructure to support high-tech companies. There wasn’t much before HP started here.’ Steve Simpson, former general manager of HP’s Boise Printer Division BEGINNINGS OF HIGH-TECH DEVELOPMENT IN THE TREASURE VALLEY Idaho may be an unlikely state for high-tech development, but its largest metropolitan area, Boise, has developed an entrepreneurial and innovative technology community. Boise is located in the Treasure Valley, an area where the Payette, Boise, Weiser, Malheur and Owyhee rivers drain into the Snake River. Idaho is widely known for growing potatoes, but a large part of its economic power comes not from the agricultural sector but from exporting semiconductor chips and computer printers. In 2008 computer and electronic products manufacturing accounted for 41.9 per cent of Boise’s export activity (Muro et al., 2010). The Boise area’s most prominent technology firms are Micron Technology, the only company that still manufactures semiconductor memory chips in the US, and Hewlett-Packard (HP), the Silicon Valley-based high-tech firm. Both HP and Micron Technology started their operations in Boise in the 1970s. At the time, Boise was a small city located in the midst of a largely rural state on the periphery of the Pacific Northwest. Back then, the region’s higher...
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