Downtown development director stepping down to take on new role at INL - East Idaho News
Idaho Falls

Downtown development director stepping down to take on new role at INL

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The following is a news release from the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation.

IDAHO FALLS – Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation Executive Director Catherine Smith announced she will leave her position to join the Idaho National Laboratory. Ms. Smith joined the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation in 2017.

Under Ms. Smith’s leadership, IFDDC took the lead in beautification efforts throughout Downtown Idaho Falls that result in lasting change for the historic core of Idaho Falls. Downtown Idaho Falls saw significant growth both in retail, commercial and housing use during Ms. Smith’s tenure at IFDDC. The beautification efforts were a catalyst for the growth and improvement of the downtown experience.

Smith cultivated and led projects during her tenure that included securing more than $1 million in funding to renovate the curbside concrete and sidewalks of Downtown Idaho Falls, along with launching a comprehensive parking program for the downtown core. This included:

  • A renovation to the Broadway streetscape from Memorial Drive to Yellowstone Highway running east and west with new curb and gutter, sidewalks, trees, automatic drip irrigation and sidewalk planter pots. With this project underway, Idaho Falls Power contributed to the effort with installation of all new decorative candlestick LED lights ensuring the aesthetics of downtown translated to the Broadway corridor.
  • A rebuild of the downtown street corner concrete and sidewalks at the intersections. The project included new curb, gutter, and sidewalks. This design allowed for the newly planted trees to grow in a healthy setting within soil engineered for an urban setting along with the addition of one hundred and twelve new sidewalk pots that included an innovative water reservoir to support water conservation and labor costs while providing an environment for floral and foliage to thrive.
  • Development and rollout of parking pay-stations installed in the off-street-parking lots managed by IFDDC. Adding technology to the off-street-parking lots ensure the parking customers would have the ease and experience to pay-to-park in the core of downtown for convenience.
  • The launch of the new comprehensive parking enforcement program known as Downtown PARK IF under a management agreement from the City of Idaho Falls. This allowed for software to be activated to manage and enforce the high-density downtown parking areas by time using technology and a vehicle rather than on foot and with a tire-chalk method.

downtown mural
Courtesy IFDDC

Overall, about 21,000 linear feet of curbing and 6,000 square feet of new concrete was poured by Reinhart Concrete downtown during the summer of 2019 paid for with grant dollars awarded to IFDDC from the Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency. These construction projects launched as IFDDC was installing three public art murals in addition to the mural that was installed on Park Avenue in partnership with the ACLU of Idaho.

Public Art was a focus of Ms. Smith’s work with IFDDC and 14 traffic cabinets on Yellowstone Highway and Broadway were also wrapped in sign-grade-vinyl by Sign Pro with artwork images from the permanent collection of the Art Museum of Eastern Idaho. Funding for the traffic cabinet project was provided through a grant from the CHC Foundation.

IFDDC is known for hosting events downtown such as St Paddy’s Day and the seasonal Brews, promoting and marketing downtown activities including the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting and Shop Small Saturday activities. The number of kegs tapped, beers poured, and malt beverages sold to raise funds at the local events for downtown projects are far too many to count. These were all efforts to promote downtown business and commerce under the energetic work of Ms. Smith.

In the last 12 months, Ms. Smith worked to certify the IFDDC and Downtown Idaho Falls become a Main Street America downtown. The Main Street America program represents a broad diversity of downtown districts nationally that tie back to the tradition and unique qualities of each respective community. A prestigious organization to join and be certified into, Ms. Smith was diligent in her efforts to ensure IFDDC and Downtown Idaho Falls was included into the national program.

“Throughout my career, staying connected to the Idaho Falls community and people I care most about has been a core value to my work. It has been thrilling and rewarding to sit in my seat and execute the work and projects for the benefit of Downtown Idaho Falls,” Smith says. “I am grateful to a talented Board of Directors who have mentored and supported me and the IFDDC staff that has led to much success and progress for our downtown. I will miss much of the work but am so glad to be a downtowner forever!”

Outside of IFDDC, Ms. Smith, a fourth-generation Idahoan, is tied to her local and regional community through nonprofit work and volunteerism. She serves as Vice President of the Idaho Falls Rotary Club, Vice President of the Civitan’s Club, serves on the board of the District 91 Education Foundation, Greater Idaho Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and the Idaho Falls Historic Preservation Commission. She is the chair of the East Regional Council for the Idaho Community Foundation and is the Executive Secretary of the Eastern Idaho Agriculture Hall of Fame.

In 2019, she was recognized with the Idaho APAP Leadership Award. She is a graduate of the Leadership Idaho Falls program and was recognized as a Distinguished Under 40 award winner. She has also worked for the Idaho Community Foundation, Idaho Falls Arts Council, Post Register and the Idaho Commission on the Arts.

The Idaho Falls Downtown Development Board of Directors will conduct an extensive professional search for Smith’s replacement through BBSI Idaho Falls.


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