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December 2014

12 strategies that will transform your city’s downtown — Contributor John Karras shared his insights in the newsletter. Read an expanded version here. ...

Business contests yield multiple benefits — Holding a new business contest allows downtown organizations to make contact with, and provide guidance to, numerous entrepreneurs who could become downtown tenants. Read an archive article from sister publication Downtown Promotion Reporter titled, Contest promotes business attraction and expansion. ...

Grant program enlivens downtown sidewalks — With the downtown an economically stable commercial center, but, “totally dull,” the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership in Pittsburgh, PA, created a new grant program in 2007 to encourage restaurateurs to bring new vitality to city streets. Click here to view the Sidewalk Activation and Facade Improvement Matching Grant Design Guidelines and application. ...

A fictional identity gives community a real presence — A campaign built around a simple sock monkey is garnering accolades, awards, and plenty of public attention in Springfield, MO. Another fictional character in Winnipeg, Canada also stired up media attention. Read the archive article on Downtown Peggy....

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November 2014

Best Complete Streets policies cited as model for other communities — Communities nationwide are embracing Complete Streets policies that make roadways safer and more accessible for every type of user. According to the National Complete Streets Coalition, last year more than 80 communities adopted Complete Street policies. Read the executive summary of The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2013. ...

Honing focus on why downtown matters drives improvements — Creating a sense of community pride can lead to revitalization downtown. In Xenia, OH, the recession had brought the community nearly to its knees, yet a show of community spirit and a fresh coat of paint have launched dramatic changes for the better. Read the archive article, Contest rallies downtowners to support their communities in 2014. ...

Finessing the “Shop Local” message — The pre-holiday “Shop Local” message is being refined in numerous ways in an effort to reach more potential customers for downtown’s small businesses. Click here to see the Buy Local Currituck Marketing Plan for Currituck County, NC. ...

Online registration services attract, secure and maintain volunteer relationships — Finding great volunteers, matching them to the right downtown program or event, and managing them can require a lot of staff time. Luckily, online volunteer management programs are available to assist downtown organizations. View an online demonstration of the VolunteerLocal registration form. ...

Tips on promoting commercial real estate tours — With an upcoming tour of downtown vacancies for real estate professionals looming, Main Street Osceola in Osceola, AR, turned to other downtown professionals for advice via LinkedIn’s Downtown Revitalization discussion group. See the slide deck used to promote a tour of available spaces in Jefferson City, MO. ...

Simplify permitting process to encourage events — Streamlining a cumbersome event permitting process in El Paso, TX, resulted in a doubling of downtown events. View the Downtown Management District’s streamlined event permitting process....

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October 2014

Bicycle lanes, stations, and share programs becoming increasingly popular — As Americans become health and environment conscious, more commuters, as well as recreationalists, are learning the value of pedal power. As a result, projects to boost bike-centric amenities in city centers are flourishing. Read the Center City Seattle Bicycle Amenity Inventory and the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan. ...

Community vegetable gardens sprouting up in urban centers — Underutilized public space is being converted into community gardens in some city centers. These productive green spaces beautify downtowns, provide gathering space and public education, and are a source for locally grown foods. Learn 10 steps to starting a community garden from the American Community Garden Association. ...

To enhance late-night activity, consider pilot programs — As cities endeavor to balance growing residential uses with the promotion of late-night activity, they should not play it safe, or expect to get every policy right on the first try. Read Edward Glaeser’s Boston Globe article, Better nightlife through experimentation, in its entirety. ...

Sidewalk displays brighten downtown streets — The Sidewalk Display Program of the Downtown Development Authority in St. Louis, MO, was designed to, “create an ‘alive’ downtown atmosphere that attracts shoppers, encourages pedestrian activity and is eye-catching to car traffic.” See details on the program, the permit application, and Hold Harmless Agreement. ...

Underpasses as inviting gateways — Pedestrian tunnels passing under a road or railroad have a reputation for being dark, dingy, unwelcoming places. But in San Jose, CA, all that changed when a downtown underpass was re-imagined to include circles of LED lights that change color as pedestrians pass over the underpass. Click here to see photos. ...

Corporate-driven event benefits downtowns — Large corporations can often be overlooked during the search for event partners. But in Verdun, QC, Canada, the Yellow Pages Group is actually leading the way on a series of city center tasting tours. Learn about the Taste Your Neighbourhood Tours. ...

Tree sweaters, low-cost public art — First Street in downtown Livermore, CA, got a fresh new look in September when the trunks of 30 street trees were wrapped in unique and colorful tree sweaters. To create a Tree Sweater Forest see the project timeline and details....

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September 2014

Using urban green space to create connections — Ambitious projects to revitalize underutilized green space in Charlotte, NC, are improving the quality of life for residents, employees, and visitors. See the resources: video (below), master plan, and fact sheet. Charlotte, NC, Greenway ...

Streamlined permit process doubles downtown events — Cumbersome permitting requirements downtown can discourage event producers, who instead opt to host those crowd-drawing festivities outside of the city center. El Paso’s online permitting process has helped. ...

Green niche strategy brings more businesses downtown — Waynesboro, VA’s green business initiative stimulates interest in start-ups and provides expansionary loans. See a brochure on the program. ...

Dealing with multiple downtown vacancies requires perseverance and a plan — Like many older buildings, the “bookend buildings” in Burlington, IA, have suffered disinvestment and decay. But no longer, see the Bookend Buildings RFP, the Investment Proposal, and the Vision for Downtown Redevelopment report. ...

Preserving the federal historic tax credit — As the federal historic tax credit came under attack in congress, the National Trust for Historic Preservation commissioned research to look at the economic benefits of historic rehabilitation. Read Federal Historic Tax Credit: Transforming Communities. ...

Beyond Restaurant Week, promoting downtown dining year-round — While Restaurant Week and Dine Around Downtown promotions have proved wildly successful in many city centers, most small business owners need all the support they can get every day of the year. This article covered programs in Berkeley, CA, Pittsburgh, PA, Manchester, NH, and Baltimore, MD. See the resources: general dining guide, late night and weekend dining guide, and digital dining guide....

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August 2014

Survey allows rapid response to misperceptions — The Downtown Norfolk Council conducts a Usage and Perception Study every few years to gauge how residents throughout the region view the city center. View the executive summary here. ...

Crime deterrents boost economic development — In part, the success of the Billings [MT] Crime Watch for Business program, comes from announcing the program to would-be lawbreakers. Participating businesses receive window clings, and the downtown has signage designating it as a Crime Watch district. Additionally, brochures were printed containing safety tips, emergency numbers, and even the cell numbers of the downtown resource officers. See the Crime Watch brochure. ...

New tax will fund vital streets — As Grand Rapids, MI, embraced complete streets, two important documents were developed. • Vital Streets: A Vital Component of a Vibrant City • Vital Streets: Advance Investment Plan for Streets ...

Innovation districts offer live, work, play options to attract businesses and residents — Former industrial sites and other spaces in and adjacent to downtowns are being transformed into live/work/play districts attractive to innovative companies and their employees. Two reports provide useful background. • Innovation Districts: A look at communities spurring economic development through collaboration by New Jersey Future • The Rise of Innovation Districts: A New Geography of Innovation in America by the Brookings Institution. ...

Series of events to educate and engage the public follows merger of two downtown groups — Learn more about the merger that created REV Birmingham. ...

How to form a Tourism Improvement District — Whether a city is using state TID law or home rule authority, the TID formation process follows a fairly typical pattern. Civitas Advisors has worked with dozens of districts and outlines these five steps in TBIDs: Stable Funding For Destination Marketing. Also see TID locations across the country with this interactive map from TourismImprovementDistrict.com, and read the San Francisco State University Study, Tourism Marketing Districts, Creating Jobs, Growing Our Economy. ...

Customer service defines not just the business, but the downtown — Downtown organizations can help small businesses by offering mystery shopping and other assessment tools to identify strengths and weaknesses, training to help small business owners and their staff address knowledge gaps, and award programs to recognize service excellence. For more on the value of hospitality training, read Hospitality training boosts business downtown from the November 2011 issue of Downtown Promotion Reporter. ...

Creating an emotional bond with stakeholders — When the Salt Lake Downtown Alliance wanted to instill a sense of downtown ownership in their regional audience, one of many steps was the I am Downtown video contest. Learn more about producing a video contest and how to boost stakeholder attachment. ...

Heritage tourism makes an impact — In the Heritage Tourism Guidebook, the Texas Historical Commission notes the reasons for the growth in heritage tourism and provides step-by-step information on how to capture this market....

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July 2014

Report quantifies downtown’s value citywide — As a supplement to its annual report, the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, prepared a companion analysis, Downtown Baltimore: Its Impact on the City Economy. The report shows that the downtown more than carries its weight and propels the rest of the city forward. ...

Gen Y still likes to shop in stores — A new report from the Urban Land Institute, Generation Y: Shopping and Entertainment in the Digital Age, looks at the preferences of this group and has good news for downtown retailers. ...

Community-wide sales benefit customers, businesses, and organizations — In Dowagiac, MI, a coordinated community-wide garage sale entices customers downtown. View the participant solicitation/registration form....

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June 2014

Business retention and creative sponsorships fund programs and services — The Delray Beach Downtown Development Authority produces a Next Big Projects brochure highlighting development projects and providing a timeline and the dollar value of the work. The Authority funds its work, in part, through a creative Legacy Partners Program. Here is a copy of the one page program contract. ...

Real estate matchmaking provides service to BID members and prospective tenants — The Site Seeker program allows the Downtown Dayton Partnership to provide a valuable service to members while also attracting new businesses to the city center. This simple online application starts the process. ...

Program engages youth, beautifies utility boxes — The Out of the Box Mural project has been a success in downtown Stockton, CA. Here is the application form and utility box template. ...

Converting to two-way streets — A report from Louisville, KY, considers the advantages and disadvantages of converting downtown streets from one-way to two-way. Read the full report Downtown Louisville Two-Way Street Study. ...

Blended programming draws art lovers and locavores downtown — To help promote artisans and farmers, attract more visitors, and foster job growth, the Belfast Creative Coalition created a farm and arts trail. See the trail map....

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May 2014

Vibrancy plan is a living, evolving document — Publication of the Stowe [VT] Vibrancy Report, was just the beginning as local groups honed the recommendations and moved many of them into the implementation phase. See the full Stowe Vibrancy Report. ...

Providing simple seating drives change in public spaces — Making lighter, quicker, cheaper improvements can mean something as simple as providing seats in public spaces. See how Belfast, ME, is using seating to drive foot traffic through an expanding downtown business district. ...

Economic impact of winter weather — Severe winter weather in many parts of the country has taken a toll on downtown businesses. Learn how the Anchorage Downtown Partnership and others cope with snow removal. ...

New brand strengthens and grows local businesses — In 2010, Newport, VT, began promoting itself as being Genuine by Nature. That led to the 2011 roll out of the Newport. Fresh by Nature. campaign, which has helped local restaurants, farmers, and food producers to grow their businesses while strengthening the community brand and attracting complimentary new businesses. Below is a video about the community garden component of the project. Newport. Fresh by Nature. ...

Electronic tours highlight all that downtown has to offer — Whether you are promoting downtown to newcomers or to locals, an interactive electronic tour offers practical options. For example, Golden, CO, finds an interactive walking tour encourages locals to linger longer and explore new areas of the downtown. While in Midland, MI, a virtual tour enables potential visitors, residents, and business owners to explore the downtown before making an in-person visit. Take the virtual tour of downtown Midland....

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April 2014

Giving residents a seat at the BID table — The rising popularity of urban living has pushed some business improvement districts to give downtown residents a “voice” in what has historically been a business-centered organization. See how the a SoHo BID in New York City handles assessments for residential members. ...

Micro-condos becoming part of the urban housing mix — For suburban homeowners, small is in. And the same may well apply to in-town living, with those smaller spaces sparking updated ordinances and new incentives to attract developers. But just how small are these new micro-apartments? Take a look at this brief video. ...

Task force initiatives lead to reinvestment downtown — Nine initiatives of the Downtown Eugene Safety Task Force have created momentum for improvements in housing, employment, entertainment, and education. See the task force recommendations in full. ...

Busker events are gaining in popularity, part one — Creativity is filling city centers with whimsical creatures, exciting acts, and potential customers who flock downtown to see buskers perform. See the Buskers in the Burg online application and video from Ellensburg, WA. ...

Welcome gifts connect new movers with downtown — Providing new residents with municipal information, marketing materials, coupons, and other incentives to visit downtown businesses works well as impressionable movers seek to establish new brand loyalties. See the business recruitment and sign-up sheet used for the Fairfax, IA, Welcome Packet Program. ...

Unified theme weaves blogs, videos, contests, and more into new image for downtown — The 2013 Downtown Dreamers campaign was so successful that a 2014 Calling All Dreamers contest is now underway. View the video below promoting the contest and details on the complete prize package. ...

Co-op ads save retailers as much as $4,000 — Downtown Madison, the central business improvement district in Madison, WI, provides high-value co-op advertising opportunities to members. See all of the co-op advertising and marketing opportunities....

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March 2014

Generating community engagement for future projects — The 150th anniversary celebration in Evanston, IL, included the Evanston 150 project, a yearlong effort to gather stakeholder ideas for 10 significant improvement projects. The program was based on a similar initiative in Dubuque, IA. See the 10 big ideas from Dubuque, IA. ...

Inviting millennials to settle down — Mentor, OH’s, multi-media advertising campaign, included a commercial and banner ad on Pandora online radio. Hearthe commercial now. ...

Finding the best location for a downtown farmers market — The Downtown Farmers Curb Market in Lakeland, FL, operates right on the street in close cooperation with street-level businesses. See the market in action below. ...

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February 2014

Collaborative center meets multiple goals — In Durango, CO, the city, the business improvement district, a local college, and the tourism office have created a new welcome center that addresses each of their marketing needs, and more importantly, the needs of visitors to the city center. See a video about the Durango Welcome Center collaboration below. ...

Concise tagline creates buzz while telling the downtown story — Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21 launched its new Cya Downtown, Milwaukee campaign last May. See the Cya Downtown television spots and hear the radio ads. Television ads Radio ads ...

Put a name on it — Naming rights at downtown’s Windsor Castle Park in Smithfield, VA, range from $500 to $20,000 depending on the amenity selected. Here are all of the Naming Rights details....

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December 2013

Saving historic theaters is an economic development mission in many communities — When the functions of a theater cannot be saved, the building can still be repurposed in ways that revitalize downtown. For example, the shuttered Fox Theater in Hays, KS, was reopened as an event space. Read the archive article from Downtown Idea Exchange. ...

Partnerships enhance annual retail recruitment event — The Downtown Committee in Syracuse, NY, is attracting new businesses to the city center through an annual event that highlights the resources available to potential retailers. See the Retail Recruitment Event brochure. ...

Leadership programs benefit businesses and communities — Offering a leadership training program can not only provide downtown businesses with more skilled employees, but the community with stronger civic leaders, and with skilled volunteers to complete city center projects. View the Leadership Frederick County Leaders on Loan program application. ...

No downtown organization is an island: Maximizing partnerships — Learn how your downtown organization can maximize the potential for partnerships. ...

Best practices for food truck integration — A new report from the National League of Cities shows municipal officials how they can incorporate food trucks into the city’s existing business community. ...

Downtown organization increases event schedule by sponsoring rather than producing events — View examples of the application form that is the first step in requesting funds and learn about some of the creative events. Application: Soundwalk Application: Film and Music Festival Application: Oktoberfest ...

Creating a successful downtown film festival — The Traverse City Film Festival in Traverse City, MI, has been going strong for nine years. See the organizations FAQ Sheet and details on its accomplishments. ...

Creative solution to need for public event space — A stunning example of adaptive reuse comes from the small town of York, MS. Lacking a central gathering area and performance space the city decided to create one on the site of a dilapidated single-family house. View the transforming theater. ...

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