The call of the mountains

Why are entrepreneurs flocking to Boise, Missoula, and other mountain towns?

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all RSS FEEDS (close)

A bike break on Boise's Corrals Trail

(FORTUNE Small Business) -- Kevin Benedict worked for years at a Seattle software company, but burned out from the grueling hours, heavy traffic, and high cost of living.

"We hardly saw our kids," he says. And so, in 2001, he moved to Boise, where he took a management position at semiconductor giant Micron Technology (MU, Fortune 500). Three years later Benedict launched Mobile Dataforce, a software startup that sells mobile productivity applications.

Thousands have followed Benedict's path in recent years. Boise and other Rocky Mountain cities scored higher than the rest of the U.S. for entrepreneurial activity, according to the Kauffman Index, an annual survey conducted by the Kauffman Foundation, a nonprofit based in Kansas City, Mo., that promotes entrepreneurship. Montana boasts the highest rate of startups a month (0.6% of adults) of any state. Why the boom?

The Mountain States offer cheap real estate, educated workers, uncrowded airports, cultural amenities, and, in many areas, good public schools The beginnings of this bonanza date to the 1970s and 1980s, when firms such as IBM (IBM, Fortune 500), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ, Fortune 500), and Micron (MU, Fortune 500) set up shop in Idaho and Colorado. These firms chose the Rockies in part to avoid employee poaching by coastal competitors.

The strategy was not entirely successful: With average commercial rents of $12 a square foot (compared with the national average of $32) and average state and local taxes at $2,728 a year (compared with $3,736 nationally), the pull to leave and launch one's own company is irresistible.

And so are the leisure opportunities that arise from working at a slower pace compared with Seattle or Silicon Valley. Says Benedict, 42: "I fly-fish at lunch."  To top of page

To write a note to the editor about this article, click here.

Find Business Answers
Ask a Question

QMy dream is to launch my own business someday. Now that it's time to choose a major, I'm debating if I should major in entrepreneurial studies or major in engineering to acquire a set of skills first. Is majoring in entrepreneurship a good choice? More
Get Answer
- Spate, Orange, Calif.
10 of the most luxurious airline amenity kits When it comes to in-flight pampering, the amenity kits offered by these 10 airlines are the ultimate in luxury More
7 startups that want to improve your mental health From a text therapy platform to apps that push you reminders to breathe, these self-care startups offer help on a daily basis or in times of need. More
5 radical technologies that will change how you get to work From Uber's flying cars to the Hyperloop, these are some of the neatest transportation concepts in the works today. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.