Did you know: One local person who has inspired Ahlquist is Jim Everett: “Every time I am around the man, I walk away inspired and motivated to do more and be a better person.”

J. Thomas Ahlquist,
COO, Gardner Company

What is the first thing you would show a visitor to the Treasure Valley? Why?

I would bring them down Capitol Boulevard and look into the Downtown and Foothills. Along the way, I would highlight the university, parks, river, cultural arts on the river and then the vibrant Downtown. I wouldn’t have to say much because the blend of arts, education, business and sense of community really speaks for itself.

What is your company’s philosophy on the importance of community?

Our company motto is “Building Community.” The commitment to support and sustain our great community is not only our company culture, it is part of who we are individually and collectively. There are so many good people and organizations committed to our community. We always feel so grateful and honored to be part of the tremendous efforts of so many to make our community great.

What makes the Treasure Valley a great place to live?

Some of the things that make us great are obvious: the city, the river, the trees and Foothills, the unique cultural arts opportunities and the proximity to the Idaho backcountry. But for me, it is the people, the families and the small businesses that make up our community. Collectively, they make the Treasure Valley great!

What is the biggest challenge or opportunity for our community in 2016?

Our biggest challenges are also our biggest opportunities. We continue to struggle with wages, educated workforce and investment in the infrastructure we need to create jobs and an economy that competes in the region. Those challenges are also our greatest opportunities. We have so much positive momentum, thanks to the hard work of so many including our elected officials. We are positioned to do great things in the coming years!

What lasting impression do you hope the community will have of Together Treasure Valley?

I love the idea of community leaders coming together to collaborate and build community. Together Treasure Valley will highlight and celebrate our successes and stimulate a forward look and vision on where we are headed and how we can work together.

What is the Treasure Valley’s best-kept secret?

Livability and being known as a great place to raise a family is not a secret. The amazing connection to the outdoors and nature is not a secret either. What surprises most of my friends who come here for the first time is the vibe and energy of our Downtown. The unique blend of tech startups, a university presence and the walkability and energy of 8th Street.

Why did you choose to get involved in Together Treasure Valley?

For me it was easy: Joining efforts with fellow companies who are passionate about our community makes all the sense in the world. We are honored to be a small part in the united efforts of so many.

How has the Treasure Valley changed since you’ve lived here?

Seventeen years goes by quickly and as I look back, I am so proud of so many of the community partnerships that have made such a difference in the lives of so many. The Treasure Valley has a history of being a community that cares. The founding companies have left behind a legacy and standard that we should live up to as we move forward. In the last 6-7 years, I have witnessed a renewed sense of unity and synergy within the business and nonprofit community. Collaboration and commitment to community is top of mind for so many organizations, and there is optimism and momentum that is energizing.

Who is someone local who has influenced you?

There are so many! It is hard to pick just one. But since you are forcing me to narrow it to one person, I would have to say Jim Everett. Every time I am around the man, I walk away inspired and motivated to do more and be a better person. Jim is genuine. Jim lives his life for others, and because of his passion for life and our community he oozes goodness and happiness. It is impossible to put into words what his influence has meant to this Valley!

Who could be better served by our community?

There is much work to be done on several fronts, and so many organizations are working hard to better serve those who need it most. A recent ALICE study published by the United Way highlights the challenges we have with wages in our state. Moving forward, we need to stay laser focused on creating an educated workforce and investing in the infrastructure to attract business and jobs. Jobs are the answer, and I am very hopeful that we are moving in the right direction.

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