While promising forward motion has been achieved in our collective recovery from the pandemic, the full reopening of our downtowns and city centers is still a long way off. This is an incredibly sobering truth for many small businesses, the very ones occupying the storefronts making our districts vibrant and commercial properties viable. The IDA Digital Readiness Series remains a crucial resource in helping local businesses expand their reach. The opportunity allows IDA to train your businesses directly or empowers IDA member districts to provide training as a new service. It’s an amazing way to demonstrate business development support in your city. I invite you to check out the program and see which approach is the best fit for your organization.
In addition to the Digital Readiness Series, IDA is beginning to inventory storefront activation programs across the membership. IDA members continue to offer grant programs for new and reopening businesses, and pop-ups are again proving to be an integral strategy. Still other districts are working with property owners district-wide, targeting new BIPOC entrepreneurial businesses to occupy vacancies and bring more authentic, independent local offerings to the center city. Please send your small business and new business attraction programs to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The rebuilding post-pandemic, and in my opinion the continuing evolution toward more complete communities, holds perhaps the most significant potential for the vitality of our urban areas. Just this week, the New York Times highlighted evidence of members’ prior gains and aims for the future in “The Downtown Office District Was Vulnerable. Even Before Covid” (included as the second news item in the “Inspired by IDA” newsletter). Increasingly, the 80/20 rule seems to be applicable, whereby 80% of our district will rebound to pre-COVID conditions and 20% will need to be reinvented. The most promising growth lies in the 20% and the innovative ways IDA members address gaps and challenges.
Let’s tackle the challenge to leverage the 20%—to increase attainable housing, diversify the industry mix, eliminate food deserts, fill neighborhood service gaps and nurture local independent entrepreneurs. In short, seize the moment to inspire and shape cities of the future.