Earlier this year, we announced plans for an intercity visit to Boise. This trip represents innovation in several different ways. First, although Chambers nationally undertake these visits with regularity (some do it annually), Lincoln does not have that history; so, this visit will be new for us. Second, we are making a visit to Boise along with a contingent from Topeka, Kansas – a similarly sized, midwestern capitol city. To the extent that our teams have researched it, we cannot find another example of two cities our size, traveling to another city at the scale of this trip.

This innovation matters because, as many successful business leaders know, it is always important to get out of the normal, daily grind of work, and look at your challenges and opportunities through a different lens. That is what this visit is about. Traveling together and meeting new business and community leaders is always beneficial, but stepping away from our routine is the first step towards looking at our current issues in new ways. This is what we mean by “getting off of the island” and learning how things work in other places.

Our team is confident that we have much to learn from both Boise and Topeka – and – that we can teach them about our successes as well. This trip is not just a chance to explore a new city, but an invaluable occasion to gather insights, share knowledge and build meaningful connections that can drive positive change in our communities. The relationships forged during this trip will assuredly have a lasting impact, helping to shape the future of Lincoln and Topeka in lasting ways.

So, “why Boise”? Well, Boise is a community that has experienced some of the most rapid growth in the country over the past two decades. In the early 2000’s their community leaders were concerned about how to compete for workforce to fuel a growing technology and startup community. Today, Boise competes with west coast metros like Seattle to recruit business investment. That change didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happen by accident. Community leaders shaped Boise into the vibrant community it is today. This is a story that Lincoln can learn from.

Furthermore, Boise leaders now are challenged with issues like the cost of housing, investment in public infrastructure, how to continue to support tech and entrepreneurs and how to work with philanthropic donors to invest in community amenities. Sound familiar? I think it reflects some of the fundamental challenges we talk about in Lincoln, and they are the same challenges Topeka’s leadership is wrestling with too. There is immense value in connecting with communities and businesses working to solve the same problems that we are experiencing.

We have an exciting agenda outlined for the trip, which includes tours and panel discussions on topics relevant to growing cities, such as downtown development and placemaking, urban revitalization, startup and technology businesses, powering philanthropy for growth, capitol city political dynamics, talent attraction, housing, infrastructure and so much more. Learn more at topekalincoln.com.

I extend my gratitude to our sponsors, Olsson, Sampson Construction, Lincoln Community Foundation, Union Bank & Trust and Lincoln Parks Foundation, for their support and commitment to making this trip possible.