Thirty years and more to come

Hollister Downtown Association marks a milestone

GROUP EFFORT Hollister Downtown Association Executive Director Amalia Ellis, Events Coordinator Terri Escamilla, Treasurer Daniel Recht, Development Director Jeana Arnold and Past President Gordon Machado.

The Hollister Downtown Association has been supporting businesses and putting on community events in the heart of downtown for thirty years. In this interview, the Hollister Free Lance asks the group what stands out over the last three decades and what their vision is for the future of the downtown district.

What are some of the association’s major accomplishments?

Acting as the liaison for businesses and property owners to assist in recovery efforts from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake as well as two major fires in the 600 block. The creation of some of downtown Hollister’s favorite events such as Lights on Celebration, Wine & Beer Stroll and Street Festival. Managing the downtown farmers market since 1990 and partnering with the City of Hollister in downtown revitalization efforts. Representing business interests at the government level and providing a unified voice. We spearheaded Measure A, which included the funding of two bypasses at Highway 25 and Highway 156 as well as eleven other road projects.

How did the association start?  

A group of merchants formed to start an organization that focused specifically on the downtown area. It was initially called the Hollister Merchants Association. This group became aware of the Main Street Program, a series of guidelines from the state’s office of historic preservation as a way to revitalize downtown districts while maintaining its historic character and decided to pursue becoming a Main Street Community in 1986.

How has the association evolved over the years?

The association has become more events driven since the Redevelopment Agency was dissolved. It has evolved from a business organization to a community organization. It has grown in scope and capacity.

The association would have been around during the 1989 earthquake and its aftermath, what can you say about the role of the association during that time?

The association was instrumental in assisting displaced businesses in finding new or temporary locations, allowing them to continue conducting business. Because of this, the loss of business in downtown was significantly reduced.

What about Hollister downtown are you most excited about?

Our downtown continues to evolve from a goods-based economy to an experience-based economy. More restaurant and hospitality type businesses are opening their doors. Also, the number of service-based businesses has increased as the retail landscape diminishes.

What is the association’s vision for the future of downtown Hollister?

The association continues to strive to foster a downtown environment that drives the downtown economy with the mission of making the downtown the hub of social and economic activity. We believe that downtown Hollister is the heart of our community and that its vibrancy is vital to the health and well-being of our entire community.

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