The City Attracting New Growth
by Marissa Lovell, photos by Grow.Ideas.Here
Idaho’s fastest city growing city since 1994, Meridian is no stranger to progress and growth. Recently named America’s best city to live in by USA Today, the Boise Valley’s central city has proven to hold a little something for everyone.
With the Village at Meridian’s ever-growing radius and suburban development happening throughout the area at lightning speed, downtown Meridian brings an unexpected experience – a cultural cohesion of strong historical roots and emerging potential. For downtown business owners, the move to the city’s center has been encouraging and positive – part of the reason why more businesses across different industries are setting up shop in downtown Meridian.
For Nathan Mueller, CEO of SaaSfocus, the motivation to move to downtown Meridian was clear. Immediately attracted to Old Town, the energy and potential of the location matched the same drive behind SaaSfocus – the ambition to grow with meaning. “I realized we could play a role in downtown Meridian,” he said. “It’s played out exactly how we thought. We’re an anomaly as the only tech company. That’s helped connect us to other businesses and individuals and to be more than just existing in a downtown area.”
One of those connections has been to unBound, a technology and innovation lab that was formed last October as an extension of the Meridian Library District. unBound was established with the goal of giving the community, startups and new businesses access to free tools and resources while creating more walking destinations in the downtown core. New hubs like unBound and New Ventures Lab have contributed to talent growth at SaaSfocus, giving the company access to a pipeline of employees and partners that’s within walking distance and to individuals that might not necessarily fit a job description on paper.
It’s the genuine community nature of downtown Meridian that caused a recent growth spurt in the city’s center. Places like Heritage Hop Haus, Frankie’s Java and Blue Sky Bagels have been the gathering places that a downtown needs to attract further growth – and they have are already begun to increase awareness of downtown Meridian. For Josh Everts, it was about creating an asset for the downtown community that spurred creation of The Vault – a gorgeous restoration of Meridian’s first bank into an event space. To him, it’s been a symbol of the evolving community – old views connecting with new, fresh ideas. “Downtown needs a fresh, relevant experience. We need value propositions that are focused on what people will experience here.”
So what’s the next step for downtown Meridian? Downtown living. “I’d love to see someone make an investment in downtown living opportunities,” said Everts. “Downtown has a serious opportunity to create an experience and draw more downtown residents.” Mueller couldn’t agree more. “Cities naturally develop multiple hubs and that’s happening in Meridian now,” he said. “Downtown is going to have to keep taking on new projects to move the dial and create its own hub. The biggest decision will be to determine what development will have the greatest impact.”
Considering developments in the past year and conversations in the works, the next few years for downtown Meridian are radiantly optimistic. Meridian Development Corporation, along with many community partners, has been leading the charge in reinstating downtown Meridian’s identity and helping to create a vision for the area. Focusing on making downtown Meridian a “thriving area that provides opportunities in which to live, work, and play,” they have already begun to fulfill their downtown dream. Earlier this spring, the organization unveiled branding for Meridian Historic Downtown stating, “Meridian is a community that embraces its historical roots with the goal of being a vibrant community destination. The signage on Main Street is the first step towards this goal.”
Across all industries, downtown Meridian is a wise contender for individuals and companies looking to invest in the evolution of a city. It’s where your next great hire is within walking distance, where the locals know your lunch order and a place to cherish a small town vibe while growing big, meaningful ideas.