Our Vision

About the Industry


The Rise of Cities

According to the World Health Organization, in 1960, 34 percent of the world’s population lived in urban areas. In 2018, that number was 55 percent. By 2050, it is projected to be 68 percent. The total metro population living within four miles of city hall, according to the U.S. Census, is more than 54 million – almost 21 percent of America’s metro population. That’s 17.5 percent of the national population living within a quick car ride, 30-minute bike ride or hour-long walk of the center of a city.

What is Urban Place Management?

Since 1970, property and business owners in cities throughout North America have realized that revitalizing and sustaining vibrant downtowns, city centers and neighborhood districts requires special attention beyond the services city administrations could provide alone. These private-sector owners came together, with funding from the property and business owners, to form nonprofit management associations which deliver key services and activities within the boundaries of their districts. These place management organizations are often called Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), Partnerships and Alliances.

Place management professionals drive significant change in every major metropolitan area in North America in an industry that is growing rapidly around the globe. IDA members are involved in all segments of city center management (planning, leadership, communications and marketing, economic development and policy and advocacy) and in all types of organizations (nonprofit, government and business). They develop tools and strategies to address a broad range of issues impacting how people live, work and play in cities.

From urban place management organizations to our global networks and strategic partners, every IDA member plays an active role in creating a robust and diverse community of practitioners. Our members are urban champions who bring city centers to life.

Join the Narrative

For decades urban place management professionals have been waking up each day, determined to improve their cities, make urban neighborhoods more livable, strategically fill vacant buildings, activate public spaces and much more. They have had great success, but, too often their work goes unnoticed by the general public. IDA’s Urban Place Management Narrative Toolkit provides a framework for communicating IDA members’ commitment to shaping dynamic city centers all around the world. It includes key messages and facts about the downtown management industry.

Great Cities and Regions Start Downtown

While small in physical size, downtowns are immensely valuable, diverse, efficient, inclusive and resilient on multiple levels. From driving tax revenue and business activity to hosting a concentration of resources, amenities, and social infrastructure, downtowns play a pivotal role in the long-term health of a region. The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities research articulates the inherent value a downtown provides to the greater city, highlighting a district’s contributions based upon 100+ key data points in the principles of Economy, Inclusion, Vibrancy, Identity and Resilience. Our 2020 data showed that study downtowns outpaced their cities in residential growth between 2000 and 2018, growing an average of 40% against the citywide average of 15%. Read more about IDA’s findings here.

The methodology and data standard used in The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities will serve as a tool IDA continues to offer to members. In addition, this research has informed the development of the new IDA Vitality Index powered by Stantec. Interested in being involved in a future study? Contact IDA’s Research Department to learn more about the project.

The Value of Investing in Canadian Downtowns is a ‘living’ project and the first of its kind examining 17 downtowns across Canada to assess changes in attitudes, perceptions, functionality and performance over time. This project is envisaged to act as a resource for city builders, compiling evidence-based research that illustrates the importance of investing in downtowns. It provides an extensive portrait of the contributions being made by downtown areas across Canada, highlighting innovative approaches to revitalization and efforts being applied across the nation.

What is the Size of the Industry?

The industry consists of 4,000+ place management organizations globally with 2,500 in North America employing 100,000 people and paying $3 billion in wages. On average, each organization provides $1.2 million in services in their districts to help businesses thrive and to make the district a great place for workers, residents and visitors.

The top 20 cities in the U.S. and Canada benefit from a combined investment of almost $700 million dollars in public space improvements financed by private sector assessments alone. The top 15 cities in the U.S. receive direct private investment of $600 million a year through BID assessments alone, up from $400 million in 2016. The top 5 cities in Canada receive direct private investments of $75 million a year through BIAs (Business Improvement Areas) and SDCs (Societés de Développement Commercial) annually. Additionally, place management organizations leverage their assessment funding for additional funding which can come from grants, event revenue, and other contracts. In total, revenue for place management organizations across the top 20 North American Cities totals more than $813 million.

How are Place Management Organizations Funded?

Downtown management organizations are typically nonprofits that are primarily funded by a special assessment on the private properties within their district. For example, many highly visible public spaces, like Times Square or Denver’s 16th Street Mall, are managed by our members. Our member organizations are responsible for marketing the district, hosting events to attract customers for retailers, organizing events like Restaurant Week, and even helping to fill vacant storefronts.

The last 50 years of public-private partnerships managing and improving public space has proved successful. More recently we are seeing an increasing number of new Business Improvement Districts formed. While North America has employed property-based assessments for more than 45 years, countries across the globe are increasingly employing this technique to regenerate the urban experience.