This article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer looks at the conditions that have made Boise one of the country's most successful and thriving cities.
"Downtown Boise has a vibrant, prosperous feel to it, between the new construction and the restored buildings, the landscaped parks along both banks of the Boise River (which features a takeout point in the middle of town for inner-tube float trips) and the sort of urban-lifestyle amenities that used to be considered the exclusive province of major metro areas such as Seattle but are increasingly seen in midsize and small American towns as well."
"In fact, Boise has a couple of amenities that much-larger Seattle hasn't yet achieved -- not one but two Basque-cuisine restaurants (along with a Basque museum, cultural center and grocery store) and a distillery pub that produces its own gin, vodka and rum."
"Such is Boise's economic success that it has prompted the inevitable worries about pressure on traffic and housing prices."
"Statistics tend to back up the windshield and street-level observations. Idaho's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for September was a record low 2.3 percent, the same as for the Boise-Nampa area."
"Boise has also benefited from a triumvirate of relatively stable employment generators -- state government, health care and higher education (Boise State, smurf turf and all, is just across the river from downtown and is the state's largest university, with 18,600 students). It also doesn't hurt to be a relatively large population center far from any others (the closest major cities are Portland and Seattle, both more than 400 miles to the west, and Salt Lake City, more than 300 miles to the southeast)."