Elevate your organization’s hard work! Urban place management professionals are on the front lines of solving challenges and creating innovative solutions related to economic development, urban planning, placemaking, branding and more. Every year IDA recognizes outstanding improvements to downtowns and city centers by dedicated individuals around the globe through the Downtown Achievement Awards. Share your projects with the world and be recognized for your work.  

Submission Information and Instructions:

The 2024 Downtown Achievement Awards submission process is open. Winners are highlighted on, recognized during the Annual Conference & Marketplace and showcased in IDA’s newsletter. Need some inspiration? View last year’s Innovative Projects.

The Downtown Achievement submission prices are $275 for members and $375 for nonmembers. The deadline to submit is Wednesday, March 6, 2024 at 11:59 pm ET.

Downtown Achievement Award Timeline:

  • Tuesday, January 9, 2024: Application Opens  
  • Wednesday, February 7, 2024: Early Submission Deadline 
  • Wednesday, March 6, 2024: Final Submission Deadline 

Submitters must include:

  • Contact person and contact information
  • Name of the organization submitting
  • Name of project
  • Category of submission
  • Submission history of this project (not for your organization) 
  • Project budget and cost
  • Annual organizational budget
  • City, State/Province, Country
  • City Population
  • Criteria as outlined below, including 1-3 digital uploads illustrating your project or program.   
  • Submitters who are consultants and/or corporations must include a reference letter from the place management organization (BIA, BID, BIZ, etc.) they are representing.

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Please provide responses to the following criteria, listed in order of importance to the judges.

1. Project Statement (50 words): Please provide a short, clear explanation of the issue, challenge or goal that this project or program is addressing.  

2. Project Description (250 words): Describe the project’s purpose. Explain desired outcome and the intended audience. Please describe the major components, including any challenges, of your award entry. 

3. Innovation (250 words): Does the project or program offer an innovative or unique approach to a downtown management or development challenge? If the project has a “green” or environmental component, how does it facilitate a positive environmental change?  

4. Execution (200 words): Show the steps leading up to the outcome of the project. Was the project done well, within a reasonable time frame, and with a high quality of work? 

5. Representation (200 words): List the ways your project or program was inclusive. How many partners were involved? At which levels of urban place management were they involved? List the ways your project was equitable. Was the community or general public involved in the effort? List the ways the involvement included a diverse background of people. How was the local downtown organization involved? 

6. Outcome (250 words): What was the impact of the effort/project? How was it measured? Did it directly benefit multiple groups (the public, retailers, developers, property owners, visitors, residents, or the downtown organization?) Did it solve any existing problems? Address the durability and life span of the project. How long did/will this project stay up or operate? Was it a one-time effort or can it grow, become self-funding, or self-sustaining? Make sure your outcome speaks to the goal, issue or challenge outlined in the project statement. 

7. Complexity/Simplicity (200 words): Some projects are complex while others lend themselves to simple, but elegant solutions. Discuss the challenges involved in getting the project done. What strategies did you employ to mitigate the complexity, or what made a simple solution the best solution? 

8. Replication (200 words): Explain how the entry presents a solution others could modify for their own circumstances. How is it replicable in the same downtown or district on multiple dates or in multiple places.

9. Project Funding (250 words): Please describe the funding mechanisms used to implement this project.

10.  Quality of Submission: Carefully review your submission. Have you clearly answered every criteria section? Is your supplemental info uploaded? If you are a consultant and/or corporation, have you included your reference letter from the place management organization? Please ensure you are submitting in the proper category by reviewing descriptions below of what an entry should highlight in the chosen category. If you submit in the incorrect category, your submission will receive no award.

Required: Entries must include at least one (1) digital upload, but no more than three (3), including but not limited to photographs and/or audio and/or video. One of the uploads may be a PowerPoint with up to 12 slides and a maximum size of 15MB. That presentation should be heavy on visuals and light on text.   

Note: IDA has permission to publish any portion of this submission (written materials, photographs, etc.) in a comprehensive awards document and/or future IDA materials, regardless of award or recognition level.

Award Opportunities

  • Pinnacle Award: The Pinnacle Award represents the most creative and inspiring innovations in the industry. The submission far surpasses the jury criteria.
  • Award of Excellence: The Award of Excellence exceeds the jury criteria and denotes an excellent response to an industry challenge or goal.

Need Guidance? 
Watch IDA’s presentation on demystifying the submission process for the 2024 Downtown Achievement Awards. This session provides valuable insights and guidance on crafting your award submissions. From highlighting your project’s goal and impact to navigating the submission platform, we cover it all. This session was recorded on January 31, 2024, and applies to the 2024 Downtown Achievement Awards submission process. Watch the recording here. 

Award categories are now aligned with IDA’s professional development domains. These seven core domains act as a framework for urban place managers to utilize in furthering their professional careers and to aid in their work enhancing vibrant urban places. Below are descriptions of what an entry should highlight in the chosen category.

To apply, please login to Submittable or easily create a free account. Note, this is separate from your IDA account login. Once you are logged in to Submittable, select the appropriate category and click the corresponding orange “Submit” button for that project. If you have any questions, please contact IDA at

Economic Development
Business Recruitment; Business Retention, Market Analysis/Market Research; Real Estate Financing; Historic Preservation Financing; Real Estate Development and Redevelopment; Attainable Housing- Workforce and Affordable; Residential development; Nighttime Economy; Tourism; Innovative Financing Methods; Working with Entrepreneurs through Incubators, Co-Working Spaces and Food Halls; Retail Recruitment including Restaurants, National Chains, Local Independents and Pop-Ups.

Planning, Design and Infrastructure
Downtown Visioning; Downtown Master Planning; Real Estate Development, Zoning, Land-Use and Permitting; Streetscape Improvements; Transit-Oriented Development; Multi-Modal Transportation; Accessibility; Sustainable Infrastructure; Open Space Planning; Bicycle Infrastructure; Parking Operations/Management; Way-Finding; Attainable Housing Initiatives and Historic Preservation.

Public Space Management and Operations
Clean, Safe and Hospitality; Placemaking; Activation; Parks and Open Space; Homelessness, Panhandling and Social Services; Opioid Epidemic; Beautification and Landscape; Public Safety; Public Art; Sidewalk Activations; Facilities Management; Street Banners and Holiday Décor; Parklets; Technology Trends For Managing, Responding, Tracking and Reporting.

Policy and Advocacy
Government Relations; Research; Stakeholder/Community Engagement; Equity and Inclusion; Social Issues; Legislation.

Marketing, Communications and Events
Branding; Public Relations; Public Engagement; Communications; Marketing strategies; Data and Metrics; Messaging and Reporting; Sponsorship and Fundraising strategies; Technology Trends; Crisis Communications plans.

Organizational Management
Governance; District Assessment Models; District Formation and Enabling Legislation; Operational Systems; Board Management; Managing your Team; Nonprofit Finance.

Leadership Development
Leadership Skills; Visioning; Board Leadership including Roles / Responsibilities / Expectations; Strategic Planning with your Team and Board; External Relationship Building.

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