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Each month downtown leaders turn to Downtown Idea Exchange for practical news reports, how-to information, and hundreds of real-world examples of how downtowns are growing and prospering.

We often have valuable background material, additional information, or related resources that we just can’t fit in the newsletter. The links below will take you to the full documents, articles, videos, websites, marketing materials, and more.


Downtown Idea Exchange – Web Extras

December 1, 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. ...

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Downtown Idea Exchange – Web Extras

November 1, 2013
Container Park fills vacant space with entrepreneurial opportunities — To create a community gathering place, give entrepreneurs affordable space to launch business ventures, and bring new energy to the city center, the Downtown Project purchased one and one-third acres of land and designed a park complete with an interactive playground, public art, an outdoor performance venue, and more. Rather than incur the costs and time demands of new construction, the park features repurposed shipping containers and locally manufactured Xtreme Cubes. ...

Fostering artistic careers, building artistic neighborhoods — An innovative pilot program in Cleveland, OH, is providing affordable artist housing while building a stronger creative economy for the city. A low-cost weekend familiarization trip was marketed to the group’s database. See detailed information on the Collinwood project and background reports from the Rust Belt to Artist Belt conference. Picturing Collinwood From the Rust Belt to Artist Belt, Executive Summary From the Rust Belt to Artist Belt, Companion Report ...

Libraries: a valuable ally in economic development — In their bid to remain relevant in an increasingly bookless society and to survive municipal budget cuts, libraries are evolving into valuable downtown partners. Read the report Partners for the Future: Public Libraries and Local Governments Creating Sustainable Communities. ...

Art and teamwork are expanding the downtown footprint — Belfast, ME, boasts a Main Street organization, the Belfast Creative Coalition, a city economic development office, and the Belfast Area Chamber of Commerce. The leaders of the four organizations meet at least monthly to see how they can support each other, avoid duplication of effort, and maximize opportunities. They have even developed an Excel “cheat sheet” so that they can provide seamless service to prospective business owners. ...

E-commerce expands customer outreach — Having an online sales option enables brick-and-mortar retailers to promote products to customers outside their own communities, and also draws more foot traffic into downtown businesses. By sharing one website, each business can have its own fully functional e-commerce presence for a fraction of the cost of creating individual sites. See the Historic Quincy Business District E-Commerce Participant Agreement. ...

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Downtown Idea Exchange – Web Extras

October 1, 2013
It’s time to rightsize old streets to better meet the needs of new users — Rightsizing is the process of reallocating street space to better serve the full range of users. See the FHA’s Summary Report on the impact of rightsizing on crashes. ...

Art installations create support for more art — In Durango, CO, the city is learning that the more public art it has, the more public art people want to see. Donations of art, as well as pieces on loan, are multiplying throughout the community. View the Durango Art Donation Agreement. ...

Gen Y still likes to shop in stores — Despite being far more tech savvy than previous generations, Generation Y has not traded shopping in stores for online purchasing says a new report from the Urban Land Institute. ...

Video contests generate unique perspectives and low-cost marketing materials — Rather than paying staff or filmmakers to spend hours creating promotional photographs, videos, and sound bites, some downtown organizations are sponsoring video contests and then using the entries for future marketing efforts. The October issue of Downtown Promotion Reporter shows readers how. Click here to see a sample video contest entry form. ...

Outdoor fitness zones gain popularity in city centers — Increasingly, city centers are exploring ways to keep residents healthier and to contribute to their quality of life, which in turn creates a more vibrant downtown full of active people. Communities across the nation are finding creative way to fund fitness zones, and installing them in a variety of configurations, from accessories to existing fitness trails to functional public art. ...

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Downtown Idea Exchange – Web Extras

September 1, 2013
Successful crowd control enhances downtown events — The September issue of Downtown Idea Exchange highlights key practices from the Police Executive Research Forum report, Managing Major Events: Best Practices from the Field. Click the link to read the full report. ...

Parking plan maximizes on-street parking for downtown customers — The focus of the Downtown Parking Solutions Project in Hillsboro, OR, was two-fold: first, to identify ways to better manage Hillsboro’s existing parking situation, and second, to examine long-term strategies that would address downtown density going forward. The Executive Summary from the project report is online here. ...

Mushing is not just for huskies — March 1 is the first day of the Iditarod, a 1,100-mile-long dogsled race from Anchorage to Nome, AK. Some downtowns are creating races of their own — using shopping carts and teams of human mushers. Three events were profiled in the September issue of Downtown Promotion Reporter. See the map and rules from the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis Idiotarod. ...

New market draws weekend customers downtown — By offering a wide range of fresh and prepared foods, varied programming, areas for gathering and dining, and cross promoting with downtown events and main street businesses, New Rochelle, NY’s Grand Market is a blueprint for success. ...

Good communication and lots of promotions keep downtown bustling during construction — Faced with a lengthy and disruptive downtown construction project, the Main Street program in Ogallala, NE, was determined “not merely to cope but to make the experience a positive one.” View some of the many collateral materials used during the Downtown Construction Ahead — So What! campaign. Construction Calendar Construction Details Alternate Routes ...

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Downtown Idea Exchange – Web Extras

August 1, 2013
Grassroots planning summit yields vision for downtown — After 20 years, most of the recommendations from the Intown Manchester Development Plan in Manchester, NH, have been accomplished. However, Intown Manchester didn’t want to “rest on its laurels.” Instead, the organization convened a day-long Next Steps Summit. Read the Next Steps Report. ...

Uniqueness factor and local support key to event success — For an event to become sustainable, it must have the support of local businesses, and it must continue to draw crowds year after year. The August issue of Downtown Promotion Reporter shows how the Annual Great American Duck Race does just that. Hear the radio ads, view the tv commercial. Deming Duck Race TV ad Deming Duck Race radio ad from 2011 Deming Duck Race radio ad from 2010 ...

Art events can benefit all downtown businesses — Events that highlight the local creative economy are a wonderful addition to downtown cultural offerings. See how the Bozeman Downtown Art Walks activate downtown. View the promotional materials sent annually to downtown businesses encouraging participation. ...

Creating a year-round tourism community — Promoting an “open year-round” message helped Eureka Springs, AR, bolster the local economy. See the marketing materials. Save the Date Invitation Shopping in Eureka Springs web page Winter Hideaway in Eureka Springs web page ...

How to reach out to writers — When a community has a story to tell, it’s important to engage the media. Here are links to national travel and outdoor writers’ organizations. The Society of American Travel Writers The Outdoor Writers Association of America The Editorial Freelancers Association The American Society of Journalists and Authors ...

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Downtown Idea Exchange – Web Extras

June 1, 2013
Communities growing DIY grocery stores — To help members and other supporters of the Hudson Grocery Cooperative spread the word, the group created talking points for face-to-face promotion, as well as a sample email letter that could be shared electronically. Read the talking points here. ...

Recovering from natural disasters — Scott Teel, marketing director for Agility Recovery, is a strong advocate for early education to ensure that downtown businesses have solid plans in place well before disaster strikes. Read our report on Teel’s presentation The Top 10 Most Common Mistakes During a Crisis. ...

Incubator attracts retail to the downtown — In early 2010, Downtown Idea Exchange first reported on this incubator program. Click to read the article First store opens under retail incubation program enabled by state legislation. ...

Sculpture in the Streets program enlivens downtown — Art exhibits staged in public spaces attract visitors downtown and provide the opportunity to view art in a new way. The June issue of Downtown Promotion Reporter features Albany, NY’s Sculpture in the Streets program. Here you’ll find the BID’s Sculpture in the Street map highlighting the exhibit of late kinetic sculptor George Rickey’s work. ...

Homegrown event creates buzz and builds business with good natured competition — Tapping into the competitive spirit of sports and dining enthusiasts, the Downtown Madness campaign promoted restaurants and attracted online followers. ...

Building an Instagram community — In the June issue, Downtown Promotion Reporter announced publication of Hearty, Wholesome, and Homemade: Building an Instagram Community that Thrives. ...

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Downtown Idea Exchange – Web Extras

May 1, 2013
State of downtown reports quantify value, attract investment — Creating an effective state of downtown report can quantify the value of your downtown organization’s work to the economic health of the city, and attract more investment. The May issue of Downtown Idea Exchange covers how to create a state of downtown report. Here are samples: Charlotte Center City Partners Downtown Denver Partnership DowntownDC BID ...

Dedicated recruitment staff draws businesses — In York, PA, a recruitment specialist is bringing retailers downtown. This article in the May issue ofDowntown Idea Exchange provides the details. This Web Extra shows the recruitment brochure. ...

Guerilla placemaking provides downtown character — Individuals and groups around the nation have begun “guerilla placemaking” initiatives to bring some of the grit, color, and character back to their city centers. This article covers activities such as knit graffiti and the Eye Love You project. The I Wish This Was project was covered previously. You may read the article Innovative outreach leads to creative public input here. ...

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Downtown Idea Exchange – Web Extras

April 1, 2013
Existing businesses weigh in on incubator services and tenants — This article in the April issue of Downtown Idea Exchange reflects the findings in A New Small City Business Incubator: A Business Community’s Attitudes and Desired Services. ...

Incentives and rezoning stimulate downtown housing — Knowing your market potential, offering incentives, creating appropriate zoning to make growth possible, and facilitating connections between the city, developers, and potential residents all play a role in creating more housing downtown. In Ithaca, NY, several housing projects are underway, with a targeted effort to attract even more. View details on the tax abatement program offered to developers. ...

Downtown beauty can be a community effort — Main Street Gardnerville in Garnerville, NV, has an all-volunteer Flower Committee keeps downtown festooned with blossoms from spring through early fall. View the Adopt-a-Pot brochure and care instructions. ...

Partners cut ribbons on incubators — The Edge: Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation opened last September in downtown Tuscaloosa, AL. View The Edge’s Coworking Membership Application and Agreement. ...

Promoting a business contest, and a community — The It Starts Here Challange in Princeton, MN, included the following collateral materials, a website, Facebook page, radio spot, flyers, and press releases. Local and regional newspapers and radio stations contributed some advertising, as well. And the contest generated enough buzz to earn a slot on the evening news. Read the complete It Starts Here Challenge description and rules. ...

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Downtown Idea Exchange – Web Extras

March 1, 2013
The smart math of mixed-use development — This months Perspectives column was based on the work of Joseph Minicozzi, which originally appeared at the Planetizen website. You may read the original article The smart math of mixed-use development now. ...

Affordable housing crowdfunding pilot program — Our March article New online platforms support downtown projects includes information on a crowdfunding pilot program in Ottawa, ON, Canada. Click here to read the white paper Crowdfunding Affordable Housing. ...

Work space, programs, and events support start-ups — This month, we reported on the Alliance for Downtown New York’s business incubator, Hive at 55. You may also find our recent article Cowork incubators foster start-ups and fill vacant spaces useful. ...

New fund for arts businesses — The City of San Jose, CA, has established a Creative Industries Incentive Fund that provides financial support to commercial businesses rooted in the arts. View the program application and guidelines. ...

Tapping into the office-worker market — Despite the barrage of information on shoppers moving their spending online, a recent research report by the International Council on Shopping Centers shows a healthy amount of spending by office workers as well as opportunities for retailers, restaurants, and service businesses. Read the report Office Worker Retail Spending in a Digital Age. ...

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