Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Boise not quite in incubator biz, yet

Posted By on Wed, Jun 3, 2009 at 5:07 PM

5569/1244072909-seuss.jpgIn his State of the City speech this morning, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter mentioned that the city was "an investor" in the WaterCooler, BoDo developer Mark Rivers' business incubator for "creative economy" startups.

(If that is too many mid-word uppercases for you, sorry. I like mid-word uppers, but BW will no longer print these annoying innovations of the creative economy, outside of our blogs.)

The city is not exactly an investor, in the venture capital sense one would expect for a creative economy incubator. Boise put about $50,000 into sidewalk and "streetscape" improvements for the old Boise Heating and Cooling Building, where the WaterCooler is located.

Bieter announced this morning that the city is pursuing its own business incubator—a green economy one— in a city-owned building on 5th and Idaho. It will be called The Green House.

But here's where it gets interesting. Capital City Development Corp. actually owns the building where the WaterCooler is housed. According to CCDC ED Phil Kushlan, Rivers pays about $25,000 a year in rent to the redevelopment agency, a below-market rate.

Kushlan said that when the WaterCooler moved in, the building was in need of repairs and that CCDC supports the goal of creating a creative class center in western dowtown Boise. Hence the subsidized rent. The lot, incidentally, had been slated for more downtown housing prior to the incubator going in.

CCDC has also secured about $200 grand in federal 2009 earmarks for business development, some of which will likely go to the WaterCooler or affiliated startups.

As to Green House, Boise's Division of Water Quality has been resident in the old building but will be moving over to city hall. Bieter spokesman Adam Park said they'd like to green up the building for the green venture. The idea will likely go through City Council and may eventually involve a nonprofit group or other partner to run it.

As for the Dr. Seuss cover above: Bieter opened his speech with a line from this book about mayors being full of hot air. Then he (facetiously) banned it and declared that Dr. Seuss is not even a real doctor.

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