We offer self-help tools and publications as well as direct assistance to communities to help improve their downtown and business districts

Downtowns and business districts are the commercial hubs of our communities. Not only do they generate sales and create jobs, but they also contribute to the quality of life as they serve the needs of residents, workers, and visitors. Downtowns offer a breadth of challenges and opportunities because of their wide range of attributes and assets. These differences all require a unique set of specific development goals and approaches. Find out how we can work with your community to find appropriate downtown development approaches.

Downtown Market Analysis

Downtown Market Analysis is our signature program for downtowns and business districts.  With this program, we work to leverage the knowledge of a local study group in a community-led study to determine how best to retain and expand businesses, attract new businesses, improve the consumer’s experience, and develop marketing strategies. Our local community development educators work with each community for the long term as skilled facilitators and a researcher.

Creative Uses for Downtown Buildings in Small Towns

Long gone are the days when Downtown was the one-stop shopping center for the community. We provide examples of innovative downtown businesses in a variety of retail and service categories. This report is intended to stimulate new ideas for reusing buildings for retail, food and beverage, services, and community spaces.

An Analysis of Downtown Storefront Improvements

Do downtown storefront improvement projects provide an adequate return to the property owners, outside investors, or public funding entities? If so, what are the returns in both economic and other terms? This analysis provides 24 case studies that explore the impacts of storefront improvement projects over the past 15 years.

Downtown Economics

Downtown Economics Topics offers ideas on how to create a vibrant downtown in a small city. The publications analyze the benefits and difficulties of downtowns on topics ranging from coexisting with Big Box Stores to planning the optimal business mix.

Strengths, Weaknesses, and Potentials of Pedestrian Malls (Issue 196, February 2022)

(Image Source: Glenn Asakawa/Denver Post via Getty Images )   Since its inception, members of the American Downtown Revitalization Review’s (ADRR) Board have engaged in a near-continuous e-mail dialogue about a wide range of issues, trends and opportunities that do not, in our opinions, always receive the attention they need and deserve in other media […]

Shaping Downtown After COVID-19 (Issue 194, June 2021)

This topic in Downtown Economics summarizes key points or “takeaways” from the recent webinar titled Shaping Downtown after COVID 19. The well-attended webinar highlighted examples of successful initiatives in four cities: Ithaca, New York, and Appleton, Eau Claire, and La Crosse Wisconsin. The following takeaways are presented without significant editing.  You may watch the entire […]

Community Vitality & Placemaking

Successful downtowns have a sense of place, a community. Creating community impacts economics as more people downtown results in improved business activity, increased property values, and expanded local tax base. Learn about our efforts to enhance a downtown’s sense of place by exploring the work of our Community Vitality & Placemaking signature effort. The Community Vitality & Placemaking signature effort functions as a formal community of practice-advancing the scholarship and practice of placemaking, while also providing opportunities for internal and external colleagues to acquire foundational knowledge and develop proficiency with a variety of methods and tools.

Our Work

A Community Education Approach
Developing a Survey Questionnaire
Sampling Strategies
Types of Consumer Surveys
Consumer Survey
Business Owners Survey
Strengths, Weaknesses, and Potentials of Pedestrian Malls (Issue 196, February 2022)
BIDs and Activating Downtowns
Bringing Back Downtown Retail After COVID-19
Shaping Downtown After COVID-19 (Issue 194, June 2021)
Latinx Immigration, Entrepreneurship, and Downtown Development (Issue 193, January 2021)
Remote Work: A Trend that Might Impact Downtowns

Latest News & Updates

Creative Economy Summit
Generating Activity in Downtown Waupun
Bringing Back Downtown Retail After COVID-19
April 29, 2020 Lunch N Learn: Measuring Downtown Vitality in Mid-Sized Communities
Mini-Workshop: Downtown Market Analysis
Retail Trends and Challenges Facing Bricks and Mortar Stores

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