If you threw down a list of the dozen or so key turning point moments in the history of Boise, one of them would have to be the selection of the city by Hewlett Packard for development of its laser printer operations. Its arrival in 1973 was notable but seemed not overwhelming at the time. Over the years, it became pivotal, giving Boise a solid tech anchor it would not have had otherwise, around which the city became a genuine tech center. It’s hard to imagine Micron Technology having launched there, at least the way it did, in geography unplowed by HP. As corporate relocations go, this was one of the most consequential ever in the Northwest.
The man who made that call was Ray Smelek, and he writes about it in his memoir, “Making My Own Luck.” There were other contenders for the laser printer operation, notably Spokane and Corvallis (in both of which HP also developed operations). Why Boise? (Was it, say, low taxes?)
Golf, skiing, personal lifestyle – that was pretty much it, Smelek writes: “I didn’t tell anyone at the time what the truth was about how we site selected Boise. It seemed such a dumb reason. But in reality, I believe that the decision-maker’s affinity for a specific place plays a large part in any site selection when there is no specific business reason, i.e., natural resources, customer proximity, etc.”
(Hat tip to the Spokesman-Review‘s Betsy Russell on this.)Share on Facebook