Tuned In: Downtown Boise Association

Downtown Boise Association Exec Director Lynn Hightower with Radio Boise's Chris DeRoin
“It’s a three decade overnight success story.”

As Lynn Hightower, Executive Director of the Downtown Boise Association, recounted how Boise’s downtown corridor has grown – economically and socially – she couldn’t help but feel proud.

“This is the largest concentration of jobs in the state of Idaho; between 40,000 – 50,000 people come to work every day in this 60 square block [district]. The revenue generated in Downtown Boise helps local governments across the entire region provide and support so many services we enjoy: parks, fire departments, etc.”

Hightower continued, “And what’s so cool is that a huge percentage of our current member businesses (over 700 in total across 180 commercial properties) are locally owned and independent: the people who invest with their hearts. They’re not just big corporations coming in because of proximity to this or that. These are folks investing in their dreams. And we want to help them keep – and grow – our downtown as a place where people want come to gather, to celebrate, to demonstrate.”

Part of DBA’s non-profit mission has evolved to facilitating numerous great and successful events (including the Alive After Five concert series, First Thursday, Twilight Criterium race and the Radio Boise-partnered Father’s Day Car Show), but the heart of our city wasn’t always this vibrant and bustling.

“Alive After Five attracts almost 60,000 people every summer [now], but when it started in 1986, it was just a few people standing around with beers listening to a band in giant, empty parking lot,” said Hightower, a 30-year Boise resident. “Nobody came because nobody knew about it and had no reason to go downtown. Honestly at the time… Downtown Boise was dying and pretty much a social ghost town.”

Ideas like Alive After Five lead to a group of downtown small business owners founding Downtown Boise Association in 1987. The goal was to do more and do better together to build a connected community.

Through this dedication and strategic planning, this association reinvigorated downtown, turning it into a true destination.

“We market and plan the events, pick up the garbage, plant the flowers, hang the banners and do all the things that help keep downtown safe, clean, attractive and vital,” Hightower touted.

But where does a free-form radio station fit into the downtown fabric?

“In a thriving community, you need to have people who innovate, create and produce, but they also need a platform. Radio Boise is an important platform the local scene Boise is very fortunate to have,” Hightower commented. “What I appreciate about an organization like Radio Boise is the fun music and vibe, but mostly, the independent entrepreneurial spirit.”

The first time she ever heard about Radio Boise was at a former job, as Communications Director for the Boise Police Department.

“In talking to a couple of officers one day, I learned they hosted a radio show. After initial disbelief, I noticed how excited they were and found it super cool that they found a passionate, creative way to give back to the community.”

Now a fan of our eclectic programming, Hightower concluded by saying, “The concept of listener-supported is important! If we want something, we need to support it.”

This is exactly the lend-a-hand mentality that was helped Downtown Boise Association and its member businesses not only survive, but now thrive through humble beginnings and uncertain times.

Learn more about the Downtown Boise Association.

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