It was a busy day in downtown Boise on Wednesday afternoon, between the grand reopening of the Grove Plaza and the return of Alive After Five, there's been plenty of people checking out the scene. Adding to the crowd is a last-minute conference scheduled in the City of Trees, which also happens to be the largest the city has ever hosted.
"This has done exactly what we need it to do. It's really exposed Boise," Boise Centre Executive Director Patrick Rice said.
More than 1,500 health professionals from all over the world flocked to Boise for the annual Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists.
“We've got people from every single state in the country,” event attendee Adam Crawley said. “There's a number of international attendees. You have people from CDC that work all over the globe.”
This is Crawley’s first time in Idaho.
“Boise has been fantastic. This is the biggest CSTE conference we've ever had,” Crawley said.
It’s also been the biggest convention the city of Boise has ever hosted. Before this week, the largest conference held at the Boise Centre was back in 2014 when 800 people showed up for the Botanical Society of America. The CSTE nearly doubled that with more than 1,500 people.
“The results have been just tremendous for the community,” Rice said.
To give you an idea, the Convention and Visitors Bureau says those 1,500 people are staying in 13 hotels and spending on average $275 a day.
“What they leave is a lot of money in our community, which is why cities all over the country and the world go after this kind of business,” Terry Kopp with the Visitors Bureau said.
It’s all possible because of the Centre’s new $47.5 million expansion, which has nearly doubled the size of the facility.
“We used to be able to compete for that 500, 600, that's about 20% of the convention market. Now, we can compete for almost 70% of the convention market given our space and the number of hotels,” Rice said.
A conference that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
“Everybody is talking about Boise. So we will continue to see more growth in the meetings business,” Kopp said.
It’s also impacting the tourism business, as many like Crawley, who is from California, plan to come back.
“Finding places where you can actually get some heat, get some sun, and get outside, Boise is definitely high on the list for me right now,” he said.
A number of attendees tell KTVB they plan to spend some time in Idaho, as this was their first visit to the Gem State. Crawley plans to go camping up in the Sawtooth Mountains. Many others are driving over to Yellowstone.