I had the opportunity to represent Leadership Springfield on the recent Community Leadership Visit to Boise, Idaho. These annual trips organized by the Chamber of Commerce are a way for leaders in Springfield to hear first-hand lessons from counterparts in similar cities, and look for tangible takeaways we can use to make Springfield a better place to live, work, and play. The trip to Boise is actually the first return trip in the 24-year-history of the CLV. The Chamber went to Boise 20 years ago.
Boise is booming. It was experiencing growth 20 years ago, but it’s truly taken off in the last two decades thanks to great planning, forward-thinking leadership by elected and non-elected officials, and by taking advantage of assets like the natural environment. Boise is also benefitting from in-migration of people from metros whose “shine” has worn off a bit. Portland, Seattle and San Francisco have a lot going for them, but also have downsides when it comes to quality of life issues. These are not just retirees cashing out on California real estate prices (though there is some of that). Boise sees a lot of young people, entrepreneurs and business people coming for the vibrant economy and lifestyle. Boise has pitched quality of life as a “second paycheck” for its workforce. While the gap between the two extremes may not be as pronounced in our part of the country, I believe Springfield has a chance to pull people from places like St. Louis, Tulsa, Little Rock, and elsewhere if we continue to build on our momentum.
One phrase I took away from this trip: “Good enough is not good enough.” The trip opened my eyes to the fact that because we have it pretty good here in Springfield, we might not be yearning for change. That is what Boise is experiencing now in some ways, according to leadership there. We might be lulling ourselves into a status quo problem if we let such a mindset become the predominant one in our community.
We have to keep progress moving forward. As leaders in our respective areas across the city, our Leadership Springfield alumni can play a vital role in driving that conversation. I’ve always thought of living and working in Springfield as akin to playing on a winning team because we’re growing and vibrant. Many other communities cannot say the same. Let’s keep running up the score rather than playing not to lose.