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Meridian Merger

Meridian’s Chamber and Downtown Business Association Sowing the Seeds for a Growing Community

Article by Kristen Lynch

Photography by Ruth Novella + Provided

Originally published in Meridian Lifestyle

According to recent census records, Meridian, Idaho reached its highest population of 129,555 in 2021. But you probably don’t need to research statistics to recognize that the Treasure Valley is growing – and swiftly.

Just drive by The Village on any given Saturday and you will see the effects of this rapid growth in the filled parking lots and bumper-to-bumper, multi-lane traffic. But growth, when well-managed, is a sign of a healthy economy and lays the foundation for building a stronger community. Meridian Chamber of Commerce President Sean Evans knows the importance of engaging current business owners to keep up with future growth. 

“Our mission and purpose is to support, promote and advocate for our member organizations. We currently represent over 640 different businesses, ranging from the small sole-proprietor to the large organization that’s here in Meridian.”

Evans draws upon his years of involvement with the business community. A former editor for the Idaho Business Review and a member of Boise’s many chambers, he has dedicated his passion into growing a strong business community here in Meridian. But what does the Chamber of Commerce bring to Meridian’s local business community? The answer is plenty!

Evans explains “The resources that we have help support, promote, and advocate. We meet with members about their concerns in the business community, whether it be legislative concerns or issues of keeping their business from thriving.  We provide resources, for example, of an industry expert to share how businesses can overcome a challenge. Whether that is labor shortages or marketing questions, the chamber is looking to bring some of that information and education to serve the business community.”

Another interesting development to help further Meridian’s future potential is the recent merger of the Meridian Downtown Business Association (MDBA) with the Chamber of Commerce. This is a marriage made in entrepreneurial heaven.

Evans adds, “Meridian, for about seven or eight years, has had an organization called the Meridian Downtown Business Association, comprised of the downtown merchants.  They had formed this group to help promote and activate their downtown merchants to try to bring in events to the downtown area. Over the course of the last couple of months, that organization and the chamber have been talking about merging, and we completed that merger at the end of June.”

Another local entrepreneur that seconds this merger is MDBA president and local Meridian business owner and entrepreneur, Heath Van Patten. As a real estate developer, Van Patten grew up in the Phoenix area but noticed the similarities in the Treasure Valley’s burgeoning growth. “I was looking at something that I knew I could be good at and was looking around at what could be growing in the next few decades. That is why I decided to jump into real estate back in 2013.”

Following a hunch, Van Patten set his sights on downtown Meridian and just in time to capitalize on downtown’s recent revitalization. “I really wanted to be a part of the community in different ways. When I moved to Meridian, I really felt that downtown was going to explode in the next ten years and I really wanted to have a business and be in downtown Meridian.”

But Van Patten wasn’t satisfied with just the 9-5, he wanted to get more intrinsically involved with growing a strong business community within downtown Meridian.

Says Van Patten, “I jumped into different groups such as The Meridian Downtown Business Association where last year I became the president, and then there was a transition from the MDBA to being a standing committee called the Downtown Meridian Committee underneath the Meridian Chamber.”

Both men share a vision of Meridian’s growing future. And within this vision is the creation of another shopping destination experience.   This time, downtown.

Evans explains, “Historic Downtown Meridian will look very different in five years with all the developments that are going on down there. We want to bring more retail, restaurants, and housing into downtown Meridian. The Oldtown Lofts is a project that will open in April (2022) and will bring 60-65 residential apartments right in the heart of downtown. All of the first floors are going to be occupied by retail businesses.”

This herculean effort for revitalizing Historic Downtown Meridian has big plans in the works. “Oktoberfest” was initially scheduled as the first official event to celebrate this merger but has been postponed until 2022. And though this has been a minor delay, it has by no means dampened spirits. Development with the Downtown Meridian Committee will continue to serve its citizens with an array of holiday-themed events and local celebrations, all of which will center on building Meridian as a distinct and vital source of local commerce in the Treasure Valley.

Evans adds, “Meridian is the center of the Treasure Valley and businesses see Meridian as a great opportunity to open a business, and grow their business. It’s a place that identifies with live, work, and play.”

"Our mission and purpose is to support, promote and advocate."

Heath Van Patton

Meridian Downtown Business Association President Heath Van Patton

 "Historic Downtown Meridian will look very different in five years."

Oldtown Lofts

Downtown 60-65 residential apartments with first floor retail opening in April 2022

Downtown Meridian