The Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce’s longest-serving CEO will retire in 2023, leaving behind a legacy that will shape Boise for years to come.
Bill Connors serves as the Chamber’s President and CEO, having taken the role in 2009.
“I think our downtown is one of the most robust downtowns in all of the United States,” Connors said. “I interact with lots of my counterparts around the country. Many of them are envious of what we have in our downtown: a rich diversity of housing and commercial and government and unique kinds of properties, whether they be restaurants or pubs or independent hotels. It's got everything you want in a city.”
Connors said Boise has benefitted greatly from the Chamber’s collaboration with the Boise Valley Economic Partnership and the Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau. He gave an example from four years ago, when the Economic Partnership came to him about Idaho’s potential as home for datacenters.
“Idaho's kind of perfect. It's got affordable electricity, we've got lots of water, and we don't have lots of natural disasters. And that's what they want.”
But they weren’t coming. As it turned out, Idaho didn’t have a tax exemption on equipment, which datacenters are hugely reliant on. The partnership went to work, supporting legislation, bringing in a large datacenter convention, and advocating for Boise and the Treasure Valley’s potential.
“Now we've got a huge datacenter going in at Kuna,” Connors said. “That's how (the partnership) works here, and it works well.”
Connors’ leadership has also seen increased nonstop air routes. Regarding additional travel options, Connor said he plans to keep working until retirement on the goal of bringing Amtrak back into the area.
The search is on for Connor’s replacement, and he already has some wisdom prepared (gleaned from a bumper sticker he saw).
“It very much applied to my own life: ‘Don't try to change Boise. Let Boise change you.’ You have certainly changed me and my wife, and we feel healthier. We live a nicer life. We as people have become nicer. You know, the whole 'Boise nice' thing, there's a reality to that that's instantly noticeable to outsiders. We desperately need to keep that alive.”
As for Connors himself, he’s not sure what his retirement will bring yet.
“My immediate plan is to relax and enjoy the beautiful city that we have collectively built together. It’s a time-consuming job, so I’m going to enjoy it. We moved here 15 years ago from D.C. This is where we plan to retire. But I’ll go nuts if I don’t do something, so we’ll see what rolls around.”
“There's a lot to be proud of, but I’m mostly proud of building a great staff and a really good board. I think we have the most influential board in Idaho."