How A Presidential Shout-Out Helped A Boise Tech Festival Gain Support

Mar 4, 2015

The technology-centered offshoot of Treefort Music Fest, Hackfort, got about as high-profile an endorsement an event can ask for.

During his address at Boise State University in January, President Barack Obama gave a shout-out to the event about halfway through his speech.

"Every year you sponsor Hackfort, which is -- for those of you who are not aware -- this is a tech festival that brings the community together to share knowledge and new skills with one another," Obama said.

The president held up Hackfort as an example of innovation in Boise, a theme he reiterated throughout his speech.

Hackfort Director Jordan Hawkes says the president's remarks were a complete surprise -- and she's not sure how he learned of the event. But Hawkes says Obama's speech helped secure speakers who had been unsure about attending the March festival, and sponsors who were previously on the fence about their support.

The multi-day event is bringing together tech leaders from all over the country.

"It really showed people that Hackfort is something valuable and its worth investing in," says Hawkes.

Now in its second year, Hackfort is partnering with Idaho's Department of Labor to help connect Boise's industry with people who might be interested in building the digital economy. One of the small ways they're doing that is by hosting the #IDTechJobs Twitter feed on their website.

"We can use this as a platform not only for the Department of Labor to understand who the people are in our tech community, [but also] what their skills are and what they need in order to be supporting in their professional endeavors."

Hawkes says partnerships like this help support Treefort's overall mission. By highlighting local talent, Hackfort hopes to create pathways to build a stronger tech industry in the Treasure Valley.

To see the full list of Hackfort events, click here.

Follow Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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