So who are the stakeholder partners that benefit from a thriving downtown? What public and private agencies should invest human, technical, or financial resources on downtown projects? Who can catalyze plans and bring a great return on investment for the entire district?
The following are 12 examples of partners who have a stake in the success of downtown and have the potential for sharing resources to create a win-win result:
1. Chambers and Tourism Boards
Work with your local Chamber of Commerce or Tourism/Convention agency to leverage marketing dollars. For example, partner in advertising campaigns, marketing projects, event productions, and film and video promotions for television and social media audiences.
2. City Government
Build a strong partnership with city government staff and elected officials to develop a downtown master plan, maintain downtown’s public infrastructure, secure funding for projects and programs, and appoint effective board members. A downtown revitalization agency must work closely with city staff on business and construction licensing and permitting to assist small business startups and expansions.
3. County Government and Schools
The county government and the local public school district are some of the biggest beneficiaries of a thriving downtown economy, thanks to the large share of property tax and sales tax revenues that downtowns provide. It is reasonable for counties and schools to provide reciprocation through partnerships for downtown projects and other economic development assistance to grow future tax revenues.
4. State Main Street Program
The state Main Street office can provide downtowns with important training for economic revitalization. Some also provide architectural project concept drawings for property restorations, expansions, and new construction. The state Main Street office also provides important advice on project funding sources.
5. Department of Transportation
Work with your local, state, and federal Departments of Transportation for pedestrian safety construction funding and services.
6. Technical Colleges and Universities
Work with local or adjacent technical colleges and universities to generate construction bonds revenue (public-private partnership venture); recruit student interns for businesses; develop customers by targeting faculty, staff and students; assist with downtown master planning; plan cooperative parking; and partner in business training programs. If your community doesn’t have an educational institution downtown, why not? (That’s a discussion for another day.)
7. State and Federal Officials
Your state and federal elected officials are important partners to advocate for your grant applications to state and federal agencies.
8. State Forestry Commission
Your efforts to preserve and maintain downtown public trees can benefit from your partnership with the state Forestry Commission for grants, and from local arborists and master gardeners to assist with tree maintenance.
9. Arts Council
Your state arts council partnership can provide funding and resources for arts festivals and special art projects and events downtown.
10. Historic Preservation Commissions
Work with your city’s Historic Preservation Commission, your state Historic Preservation Division, and your Regional Development Commission’s preservation planner for designation of historic districts, grant funds and tax credits.
11. Micro Lenders and Community Banks
Your efforts to assist business startups and expansions will benefit from your partnerships with micro-enterprise loan agencies and local banks.
12. Local Property Owners
Last, but definitely not least, relationships with property owners are essential in downtown revitalization. Your agency holds the secrets to project funding and resources to help owners restore, rehabilitate, or sell their downtown properties.
The list above is a beginning inventory: use your creativity and resources unique to your community and add to it. Your revitalization agency can facilitate a critical network of partners to contribute to your downtown’s economic, social, and cultural vibrancy.