The DBA: Why it Works 

In 1987, forward-thinking local officials, downtown business and property owners formed the Downtown Boise Business Improvement District (BID) to revitalize downtown Boise and created the Downtown Boise Association, Inc. (DBA) as a non-profit corporation to administer the district.

Because of the ongoing collaboration of these business leaders and the contribution of superior volunteers from the membership, today downtown Boise is an active, pedestrian-friendly place, a social and visual focal point for the community, providing opportunities for living, dining, entertainment, shopping and personal services. Those who were here to see the change from the 1987 era of closed storefronts, gravel parking lots and empty spaces to the vibrant, safe and clean area today, fully appreciate this remarkable transformation.

To maintain that vibrancy, continuous effort has to be put into the upkeep of Boise as an attractive, safe, clean and vibrant place in which to work, shop, live and play. Upkeep of downtown Boise includes cleaning and beautification projects. The "Clean Team" cleans 700 miles of sidewalk, curb and gutter every year and Pro-Care installs and cares for 368 flower planters in the downtown area.

More than "clean and safe," our mission is to make our city livable and competitive. The DBA is actively involved in many studies and task force groups that will shape downtown Boise and the region in years to come, including Communities in Motion, the Blueprint for Good Growth and the Downtown Boise Mobility Study. The DBA is committed to attracting retail and commercial development to downtown Boise, and supports residential initiatives to create a mixed-use, livable community downtown.

In an effort to free up the visibility of the retail and restaurant storefronts on Idaho Street, the DBA is working with ValleyRide to relocate the bus transfer center onto Main and 9th streets. In addition, the DBA is working with ValleyRide to locate their permanent bus stops in areas that will have the least impact on retail and restaurant business, while providing an efficient transit system.

Marketing Downtown Boise is a continuing focus of the DBA with the "Lots to do, but only one place to be" ad campaign. Over $95,000 was invested in the overall marketing campaign to brand downtown in 2004. The investment included print advertising, radio, television, banners and the "Enjoy" map and directory. With value-added contributions from our sponsor media partners of $194,000, the value of the investment was $289,000.

The DBA organizes a variety of events each year to attract people downtown. After 18 successful years, the DBA has spiced up the Alive After Five Summer Concert Series and thousands continue to gather each Wednesday on the Grove Plaza during the summer.

Downtown Boise's annual Tree Lighting ceremony in November was another resounding success with over 2,500 people in attendance and an excellent lineup of events, mild weather and a free parking day made for a successful 2004 "Christmas in the City" promotion.

Fall for Boise, a successful collaboration between the DBA, the Mayor's Office, CCDC and Boise City Arts Commission, resulted in a widespread marketing campaign of Boise's September arts and community events.

First Thursday continues to be a downtown mainstay attracting thousands each month to the Gallery Stroll, late-night retail and excellent dining. The DBA and the Idaho Statesman produce the First Thursday guide in the Life section, which gives DBA members the opportunity to promote their business each First Thursday.

The DBA staff works closely with many community event organizers who choose to host their events downtown, providing a valuable link to the DBA's membership and vibrancy downtown.

The gift certificate program continues to grow with increased marketing and support. Over $600,000 has been infused into downtown retail, dining and entertainment over the past two years.

A Restaurant and Bar Forum, started in 2004, provides a go-to forum for the development of ideas and addressing concerns related to restaurant/bar businesses. This has led to increased cooperation with the Mayor's Office, Boise City Police and the bar/entertainment businesses to curb violence in downtown Boise.

The monthly Retail Forum continues to provide retailers an opportunity to discuss issues relating to their business sector.

The DBA's official Web site (www.downtownboise.org) has been upgraded to be the comprehensive internet gateway to downtown. The new site provides a more interactive site with a depth of information for both visitors and members.

With renewed vigor in the development community, additional retail and entertainment projects scheduled downtown and an increasingly engaged and active DBA membership, we are excited about the future of downtown Boise. The active members of the DBA have seen a many-fold return on their work to make downtown a more vital place. We hope all of our members will lend their thoughts and assistance to help the DBA make downtown even more vibrant, safe and clean.

Kâren Sanders is the executive director of the Downtown Boise Association.

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