published on March 29, 2017 - 10:54 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

The Downtown Fresno Partnership’s annual State of Downtown event was heavy on boxing metaphors, craft brewing and salutes to the people leading the revitalization charge.

Held at the Warnors Center for the Performing Arts Tuesday night, the event drew hundreds of die-hard Downtown Fresno fans eager to celebrate and learn more about the region’s future.

Aaron Blair, the Partnership’s president and CEO, opened the presentation by showing a video of the famed Buster Douglas-Mike Tyson heavyweight championship boxing match in Tokyo in 1990 where Douglas upset the then-undefeated Tyson.

“Fresno is the Buster Douglas of downtowns,” Blair said.

Fresno Mayor Lee Brand also delivered remarks, recounting some of the wins from his first few months in office, including landing an Ulta Cosmetics distribution center and passing a rental housing inspection program. He also put in a plug for the upcoming opening of the Fulton Mall to traffic, expected in the next couple of months.

“Downtown Fresno is alive and well and the best is yet to come,” he said.

Dan Doyle, former president of Central Valley Community Bank and current board member, was the recipient of the Al Allen award for downtown boosters. Doyle took a leadership role in creating the Business Improvement District that prompted the formation of the Downtown Fresno Partnership.

The award is named for former Fulton Mall property owner Al Allen, who served on the PBID committee before his death in 2013.

“I couldn’t be more honored to have anything with Al’s name on it,” Doyle said.

Past winners include James Haron of Haron Jaguar Land Rover and John Ostlund, president of The Fulton Group.

Scott Moore, dean of the Division of Continuing and Global Education at Fresno State, discussed the university’s partnership with Bitwise Industries to offer professional development courses and workshops at its downtown facility.

He also announced “Brew U” — a series of classes aimed at people interested in learning how to brew craft beer. The first course, “Craft Beer 101,” begins April 26.

The class is being offered in partnership with Full Circle Brewing Co.

Downtown Fresno has been abuzz about a slate of new craft breweries set to open in the next several months. In that vein, the Downtown Fresno Partnership also announced a program called the “Ale Trail,” which will allow visitors to collect stamps on a “Trail Passport” at six downtown breweries currently open or set to open by the fall.

People who collect all six stamps will be able to turn in their passport for a chance to win prizes supplied by the Downtown Fresno Partnership.

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