Exploring Programming Opportunities That Help Create Resilient Small City Downtowns

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PI: Martin, K. (University of Wisconsin)
Co-PIs: Wise, G. & Ryan, B. (University of Wisconsin), Borich, T. (Iowa State University) and Pesch, R. (University of Minnesota)


Award: $17,736

Final Report

Project Abstract: Downtowns in many small cities and rural communities have struggled for decades with declining commercial activity. Retail choices have changed and there are fewer businesses and reasons to shop downtown. Downtowns have been bypassed and replaced by commercial development on the periphery of town. Businesses down the market is changing and the business acumen of owners and operators is too, the building and streetscapes are deteriorating, and fewer people are discovering our downtowns.

In Downtown Success Indicators, Edwards, et al identified ten scales that measure healthy downtowns, including housing, traffic generators, multi-functionality, and other attributes. This proposal offers a multi-attribute approach to building up these success indicators. This proposal will encourage multi-state collaboration to examine collaborative downtown revitalization programming opportunities. It addresses our community vitality challenge and specifically supports the entrepreneurial communities priority area.

We plan to bring together extension leaders and educators to understand current downtown revitalization programming, leading to discussions on how our states can leverage each other's strengths, and may lead to the development of a multi-state educational program. In the long term, this project's impact will be to positively influence economic conditions of downtowns and quality of life in rural areas of the North Central region.

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