Leaders of All Stripes Show Up for Ribbon Cutting at Boise's New City Center Plaza 

click to enlarge - Gardner Company Chief Operating Officer Tommy Ahlquist spoke at the Oct. 20 grand opening of the City Center Plaza. -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Gardner Company Chief Operating Officer Tommy Ahlquist spoke at the Oct. 20 grand opening of the City Center Plaza.
Sometimes it takes a whole village to raise a barn—just ask Gardner Company Chief Operating Officer Tommy Ahlquist about how much collaboration it took to make the City Center Plaza in downtown Boise a reality.

"This represents the collected efforts of every acronym in the Treasure Valley," Ahlquist said at the Oct. 20 ribbon cutting ceremony for the nine-story plaza/transit hub.

The ceremony was a who's-who of city, regional and state leaders—from Boise State University President Bob Kustra, who recently relocated the university's computer science department to the plaza, to Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, who hailed the development as a boost for tech graduates in Idaho.

"We're going to keep building education, and this is part of it," Otter said at the opening event. 

Hundreds of onlookers showed up for the celebration, including stakeholders of the City Center project. Most of the attendees were employees who work in the nearly finished plaza: engineers and coders from Clearwater Analytics, which occupies the top five floors of the structure, as well as Boise State students and faculty, who have the set up shop on the second and third floors.

The move is a big one for both Clearwater and Boise State. According to Clearwater Chief Financial Officer Doug Bates, the company has seen more than a 35 percent increase in the size of its work force in the past year alone. Boise State's Department of Computer Science has grown from 380 undergraduates and 30 graduate students in 2012 to 687 undergraduates, 63 master's degree and three Ph.D. candidates this year. According to Kustra, 90 percent of the university's computer science graduates are expected to stay in Idaho.

"Everybody is delighted to be part of the energy and dynamism that there is downtown," Kustra said.

Several pieces of the plaza are still being prepped for full operation, however, including the Main Street Station multi-modal transit center, which is set to begin bus service the morning of Monday, Oct. 24. The hub is also expected to be a hot spot for taxi and bicycle services.
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