Downtown Financing Options

Economic incentives are often necessary to stimulate the type of development and reinvestment a downtown needs.  From traditional to unusual tools and sources, communities are experimenting with new economic development tools for their central commercial districts.  This article summarizes a presentation by economic development professional, Kristen Fish, and explores a variety of options for development […]

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Public-Private Partnerships

Public-Private Partnerships are collaborations between government and private sector companies to fund and operate a project.  This article summarizes a presentation by economic development professionals Naletta Burr and Quasan Shaw and provides an overview of public-private partnerships,  successful case studies, funding mechanisms, and development agreements. Read the article here: Public Private Partnerships (2 pages)

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Who Lives in Wisconsin’s Downtowns?

Housing has become an important element in comprehensive downtown revitalization efforts. Downtown housing contributes to an active environment that extends activity beyond traditional business hours. Downtown residents who live within a half mile of the middle of a downtown provide a captured market for convenience retail and services. Demographic data provides a foundation to help downtown business operators understand the nearby resident market.

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Employment in Small City Downtowns

Downtowns are sometimes dismissed as distressed and struggling retail districts that are disconnected from the economic mainstream of our communities. Underutilized buildings and vacant storefronts often send out notice that the downtown economy has been forgotten. At the same time, economic development initiatives often bypass downtown with lofty goals focused on luring new companies to the edge of town. Research from Wisconsin provides information to help understand current downtown employment in small cities as a basis for economic development activities that retain and create jobs.

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Retail and Service Business Mix in Wisconsin’s Downtowns

What can we do to increase business activity in our downtown? Are there certain types of retail and service businesses that still make economic sense in our downtown given the proliferation of largeformat stores in other locations? What types of downtown businesses are in similar-size communities? What do we have that they don’t? One way to begin to answer these questions is to analyze the business mix in other communities with similar population. This article summarizes a University of Wisconsin–Extension (UWEX) staff paper titled Retail and Service Business Mix Analysis of Wisconsin’s Downtowns which analyzes the number and types of downtown establishments in over 300 of the state’s cities and villages. It provides a snapshot of business activity to stimulate ideas about business expansion and recruitment.

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Creating Third Places – Places where Communities Gather

Third places differ from the places where we live and work (first and second places); they are the places where communities gather. Third places take many shapes. But, it is not the physical nature of the place that makes it a third place. Instead, a third place is characterized by social interaction. This article discusses the characteristics and significance of third places within town.
~Thumbnail by Bruce Richter of UW Wisconsin

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Creating a Local Food and Culinary Tourism Niche in Your Downtown

Over the last decade, communities have experienced tremendous changes in the way food is produced, distributed and eaten. In light of these changes, many communities are re-connecting with their agricultural roots and culinary traditions as a way to revitalize downtowns, promote economic development, and build a stronger more resilient local food system. Increasing consumer and tourist interest in local, sustainably raised as well as “authentic,” place-based food and cultural experiences may represent a significant new market niche for downtowns. This issue provides an overview of best practices for communities to address food systems issues and capture dollars created by new trends in local foods and “culinary tourism.”

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“Soul of the Community” and the Economic Vitality of Downtowns

A recent Gallup Poll discovered a significant link between the emotional attachment residents feel toward their community and the economic growth of that community. The more emotionally attached residents are to their community, the more likely they will stay there – and spend their money there. The synergistic relationship between successful downtowns and their host community is powerful. Downtowns play instrumental roles in creating communities that people will choose to live in, while people living in and near downtowns help sustain an economically vibrant business environment. This article will discuss the role of downtowns in creating these important place-based attachments. The Gallop results will be compared with two additional surveys to test whether these findings are equally relevant for small and large communities and their downtowns. Special attention will be given to attracting and retaining young people, as the loss of young people is a common problem facing many communities.

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Importance of Buying Local

A growing body of evidence suggests that the businesses most beneficial to a community are those that are independent and locally owned. This article provides an introduction to the potential economic, social, and environmental benefits provided by local business.

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Retail and Service Business Mix in Wisconsin’s Downtowns – Full Report

Written by Bill Ryan, Beverly Stencel, and Jangik Jin, this paper analyzes the number and types of downtown retail and service establishments in Wisconsin’s cities and villages. It provides a snapshot of street-level business activity to stimulate ideas about business expansion and recruitment. The analysis of retail and service mix serves as one source of the baseline data required for a comprehensive community business analysis. It is one tool in a spectrum of techniques available for the analysis of local demand and supply.

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