Boise's green future took a small, but tangible step this week with the announcement of a new, small business incubator downtown. The Greenhouse will primarily focus on the support and advancement of local alternative-energy companies.
Located at 520 W. Idaho St., the facility will house 8 to 12 startup businesses, providing them with consultation from on-site staff, telephone and internet access, as well as office space for only $150 to $300 a month. Companies focusing on the development of new alternative energy products such as solar power, wind energy, and geo-thermal will be given preference.
The project, initially suggested by the City of Boise nearly a year ago, is to be run in partnership with the Idaho Small Business Development Center at Boise State University.
"We'll consult businesses on a lot of issues, questions of 'where should I locate my business?' 'Who are my customers?' Pricing, and 'How do I manage this business?'" said Jim Hogge, Director of the Idaho SBDC. "We hope to create a new generation of sustainable businesses, that offer good-paying jobs along the way."
Admittedly a non-expert in the environmental sciences, Hogge defined sustainability has having three criterion: turning a profit, giving back to the community, and helping the environment.
"This is an outstanding opportunity to assist sustainable businesses that will develop innovative products and services to meet their customer's needs. Boise has a history of great entrepreneurs and we hope many more are helped to reach their full potential at the Greenhouse" stated Hogge in a press release.
The partnership between the city and SBDC promises to be fruitful. According to Mary Givens, Director in the Office of Technology Transfer at Boise State, "[The Greenhouse] provides a portal for knowledge transfer between the university and small business. The partnership brings together the strengths of the city—infrastructure, planning—with the strengths of SBDC and their ability to work with small businesses in helping them grow."
The university's involvement also helps to de-politicize the process.
Mayor Dave Bieter announced the partnership Wednesday at city hall. In a press release he gave his support of the project saying, "Studies show that support of incubators produces far more jobs than other forms of government investment. By partnering with Idaho SBDC, we will be able to provide small green businesses the hands-on support they need at the critical early stages of their development."
Boise doesn't have the richest history in environmental business and products, but companies like Renewable Energy Resources and Aero LEDs have paved the way for Idaho businesses keen on environmental stewardship.
According to Cece Gassner, the Mayor's Economic Development Assistant, "We're one of the top 10 geothermal cities in the world, we have 241 days of sunshine on average, and lots of research is being done at both Boise State and University of Idaho in environmental sustainability. There's more than enough interest here."