Downtown Economic Development Tools
Over the last several decades, small cities (population of less than 100,000) across our country have experienced economic leakage from downtown to outlying edge locations. Once the center for community and economic activity, downtowns have suffered the loss of retail and other business activities to shopping centers and commercial strips. As a result of intense competition from category killers, large discount stores, and regional shopping centers, many small city downtowns face high vacancy rates and a poor mix of businesses. This section of the web site is designed to help local business leaders, entrepreneurs, developers, and economic development professionals understand the changing marketplace and identify business and real estate development opportunities that are both realistic and sensible for the downtowns in their communities.
Resources, Programs and Assistance
Tools and techniques for understanding your market, identifying business opportunities, and developing market-driven strategies
Clearinghouse of unique retail and service businesses that are bringing people back downtown
Business planning resource to assist restaurant, lodging and retail entrepreneurs in your community
Retail business and community strategies to capture more visitor dollars
Materials to support Buy-Local initiatives as developed by the UW-Extension Community Economic Development Preparedness Team
Archive of articles addressing downtown business and economic development topics
Previously titled Let's Talk Business
An e-Learning and Networking series in partnership with the Wisconsin Downtown Action Council and the Wisconsin Main Street Program
A sample of research projects that have useful in downtown economic development efforts. Information is provided on why the research was needed, how it was completed, and most importantly, how it was used.
Various educational resources are available from the UWEX Local Government Center to help Wisconsin communities examine and evaluate how Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) can support their economic development programs andactivities.
- Downtown Economics - A monthly e-newsletter providing ideas for expanding retail and services in your community.
- Downtown and Business District Market Analysis, International Downtown Association Conference 2006, Portland, OR, Bill Ryan and Matt Kures
- Creating Market Synergy in Mixed-Use Downtowns, National Main Street Conference 2006, New Orleans, Bill Ryan and Matt Kures
- Space Utilization on Main Street - Understanding the geographical relationships among people, products, and services. National Main Street Conference 2007, Seattle Matt Kures
- Retail and Service Business Mix Analysis of Wisconsin's Downtowns, September 2010 by Bill Ryan, Beverly Stencel, and Jangik Jin
- The Importance of Government
Facilities in Downtowns:
An Analysis of Business Establishments
in Wisconsin’s County Seats. Prepared for Jefferson County by:
Ryan Zigelbauer, Bill Ryan and Steve Grabow, University of Wisconsin-Extension, September 2005.
- A Trade Area Analysis of Wisconsin Counties: An Update for 2004. By Steven C. Deller, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, UW-Madison
- Retail Mix in Wisconsin's "Tiny Towns": How Distance From A Major Discount Store Impacts Local Retail Availability, by Bill Ryan, Tim Filbert, Jim Janke, and Aaron Brault. Staff Paper 98.5, December, 1998
- Retail Mix in Wisconsin's Small Downtown's: An Analysis of Cities and Villages with Populations of 2,500-15,000 - Staff Paper 98.3
- Tourism and Retail Development: Attracting Tourists to Local Businesses, by Bill Ryan, Jim Bloms, Jim Hovland, and David Scheler, December, 1999
- Service Business Mix in Wisconsin's Small Downtowns: An Analysis of Villages and Cities with Populations of 2,500-15,000, by Bill Ryan, Jerry Braatz, and Aaron Brault Staff Paper 99.1, March 2000
- Soultions for America - Downtown Revitalization (overview and resources), University of Richmond
- Independent Retail: Challenges of the Future: The Rebirth of Small Independent Retail in America http://www.retail-revival.com/home.htm
- Turning Around Downtown. Twelve Steps ..., Brookings Institution
- A Manual for Small Downtowns (Penn State University)
- Downtown Business Recruitment – A Manual by David Milder, DANTH, Inc. http://www.danth.com/
- Wisconsin Main Street Program - Wisconsin Bureau of Downtown Development
- Wisconsin Small Business Development Center
- Wisconsin Downtown Action Council
- International Downtown Association
- National Main Street Center
- USDA Rural Information Center - Downtown Revitalization