On May 27th, 2021 DCI hosted a discussion about an updated action framework for Colorado downtowns presented by Brad Segal, Founder and President of Progressive Urban Management Associates. Brad discussed several assumptions that have been examined to create his revamped economic recovery framework which include an anticipated acceleration of economic recovery, positive underlying trends, surges in entrepreneurship, equity and racial justice as core values moving forward, sluggish office recovery, and continued challenges with increased housing costs and labor shortages. He outlined 10 tips for navigating economic recovery that incorporated learnings from the past year along with guidance going into 2022.
Tip 1: Focus on Storefront Economy: It will be important to revive storefronts and support property and small business owners during this transition. This also includes ensuring that local governments are prepared to be swift on permitting and streamlining regulations.
Tip 2: Connecting Local Talent to Local Opportunities: Since labor shortages are imminent it is important to create workforce connections between academic institutions and local businesses.
Tip 3: Make Pandemic- Inspired Outdoor Experiments Permanent: We have learned some lessons from these temporary spaces that were created during the pandemic restrictions. Brian predicts that most outdoor adaptations will become permanent fixtures within the public space.
Tip 4: Face the Diversity Equity Inclusion (DEI) Challenge Head-On: The pandemic highlighted further inequities in our society and it has given us an opportunity to create a more inclusive economy. This can be accomplished through diversifying your board and promoting diversity in property and business ownership.
Tip 5: Consider a New Generation of Events: The pandemic provided us with a year of experimentation and finding news ways of bringing people together and celebrating their down towns. Testing out new concepts and going big with local art and music culture should be among the list of priorities.
Tip 6: Get Creative with Office Space: Anticipate a hybrid work model going forward as well as a more creative use of space and new office designs.
Tip 7: Advocate for Solutions to Social Challenges: The housing crisis in Colorado will require a cooperation between all sectors to answer some of the challenges we have been facing with regards to our unhoused population. This can be in the form of more housing options, mental health services, and direct funding.
Tip 8: Go Green: The pandemic has accelerated activism to combat climate change. Economies should embrace green and sustainability practices and development.
Tip 9: Manage the Message: Improve the narrative surrounding downtowns and promote new businesses, events, and public space reuse. Survey the community to gather information on perceptions to create an intentional message.
Tip 10: Update your Organizational Business Model: Adapt to new realities and find ways to reinvent your organizations by aligning with the new normal.
The overall message that Brad shared was one of unprecedented opportunity for economic recovery and growth in the future. DCI has a companion publication that is accessible to members with more detailed information on today’s presentation. Stay tuned!