Formed in 1963 by a group of merchants whose goal was to keep Downtown Visalia healthy and vibrant, Visalians Inc., or Downtown Visalians encompasses about 72 square blocks of downtown.
1963 was the beginning of the chain stores fleeing from city centers to mall locations in towns all over California. Visalia’s downtown lost J.C. Penny, J.J. Newberry, Sears, Montgomery Ward and Woolworth stores.
Downtown Visalians threw themselves into promoting downtown. Because of this early and steadfast commitment of these merchants, Visalia is one of the most successful downtowns of its size in California.
Downtown Visalians is governed by a 15-member board of directors elected by the members and two appointed members of the district. A member is deemed to be a business owner within the boundaries who can provide a current City of Visalia Business License.
Proactively Molding the Future
Property and business owners work together and determine the level of services and improvements needed for the area. Coordinated programs are established such as economic development, marketing and public area enhancements (parking management, maintenance, graffiti removal and security).
Members of a representative board of directors work with the city and the county in establishing partnerships as they carry out the goals. But probably the biggest strength an association has is in serving as a unifying voice for the downtown. By empowering property and business owners, needs are met in a more efficient manner and this gives the business district a stronger identity and greater competitiveness.