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January 2020

If your downtown struggles with a bad reputation, don’t fight it — embrace it —  Crime, panhandling, a lack of parking, graffiti — many city centers battle challenges to their reputations. How to respond? Savvy downtown marketers say the best approach is to swallow your pride and fully acknowledge your issues — preferably with a bit of self-effacing humor. See the BuzzFeed post, The 10 best drugs coming out of Baltimore. ...

Diversity, demographics will be driving forces for downtown development, study says — Demographic trends create both tailwinds and new challenges for downtown development, according to the 2020 Global Trends Report by Progressive Urban Management Associates and the International Downtown Association. ...

Pop-up retail fills vacancies, enlivens streetscape —  By providing small spaces to startup retailers for free, Downtown Memphis has helped incubate such businesses as a reseller of collectible sneakers and a purveyor of custom soaps. View the Open on Main guidelines. ...

Volunteer management best practices —  Read the Michigan Main Street Association volunteer tool kit....

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December 2019

Shared kitchens sprout nationally, fill vacant space and foster startups —  In Tucson, AZ, and Boston, shared kitchens have attracted dozens of entrepreneurs who run catering businesses and food trucks. Read The Food Corridor’s guide to community kitchens. ...

Holiday drawing drives traffic to downtown shopping district —  The Glebe Spree, hosted by the Glebe Business Improvement Area (BIA) of Ottawa, ON, Canada, is a program that runs from November 15 through December 31. Shoppers receive blank passports, and participating merchants stamp the passports each time a shopper makes a $15 purchase. Watch the Glebe Spree promotional video below. ...

Downtown opens doors to private restrooms —  Starting with 29 publicly accessible restrooms Minneapolis aims to reach 100 by encouraging private business and property owners to open their facilities during normal business hours and by adding portable facilities in locations where gaps exist.  For more ideas, read the archive article, “To make downtowns more attractive, embrace the power of public restrooms.” ...

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November 2019

Downtown offers incentives to breweries, restaurants —  Battle Creek, MI, is using generous incentives to attract tenants to its downtown district.  See their most recent request for proposals. ...

Help businesses thrive during road work —  Wiscasset, ME, undertook a sweeping redesign of Main Street that includes widening sidewalks, adding lighting, installing bollards, renovating sidewalks, improving drainage, and redesigning parking. To help local leaders around the state minimize the impact of such projects, MaineDOT developed Digging Maine, a guide to surviving road construction. ...

Chicago mayor proposes ban on downtown marijuana dispensaries —  In Chicago, landlords and cannabis entrepreneurs are gearing up for a new business opportunity presented by Illinois’ legalization of recreational marijuana. Read Downtown Idea Exchange’s coverage of cannabis stores downtown....

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October 2019

Cities embrace land banks as blight-fighting tool —  A land bank’s main goal is forcing ownership changes of buildings that have sat vacant for years or even decades, especially those held by owners who have died or disappeared.  Read Frank Alexander’s report on land banks. ...

Chalking tires of parked cars? You might be violating motorists’ rights —  The age-old parking practice of using chalk to mark the tires of parked cars faces legal scrutiny — and it just might be unconstitutional. See a federal appeals court’s ruling against tire chalking. ...

Business plan competition offers support, spurs growth —  The Downtown Sacramento Partnership runs an annual contest that solicits business plans from would-be retailers. The contest, Calling All Dreamers, gives one promising retailer a grand prize of $10,000 in cash plus more than $100,000 in services. Watch finalist videos from the contest below and click this link to see program guidelines. ...

Fire suppression incentives —  To encourage property owners to install sprinklers, the City of Frederick, MD, offers a Fire Suppression Incentive Program. See the details and application. ...

Public art encourages citizen involvement —  The Lafayette sign in Lafayette, LA, was erected in 2017 as an interactive public art installation. Local nonprofit groups are encouraged to paint its letters to promote community events and awareness. Read the art guidelines. ...

Parking rate structure encourages turnover —  The City of Spokane Downtown Parking Study presents a comprehensive package of recommendations designed to “facilitate growth and activity downtown, while making parking more convenient and user-friendly for residents, businesses, employees, and visitors.”...

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