Downtown Managers Are Essential

Now, More Than Ever, Downtown Management is Essential

In 1975, the State of Michigan, with the implementation of PA 197 (recently amended to PA57 of 2018), created Downtown Development Authorities and Tax Increment Finance Authorities for the purpose, “… to correct and prevent deterioration in residential, commercial, and industrial areas and certain other areas… to promote residential and economic growth….”
Downtown management has never been more essential to the economic stability of a community and region.  We must use every resource available to prevent further deterioration of our core commercial areas. Communities must continue to promote residential and economic growth during the current health crisis and beyond.  While adapting to an ever-changing world, downtown managers must also plan for the future.
Downtown managers across the State are quickly and accurately communicating with small business owners the details of loans, grants, initiatives, and programs designed to assist small business during the COVID-19 crisis.  Virtual Town Hall meetings have been held to ensure business owners are given updates regarding funding opportunities. Virtual Business Assistance Teams have been formed to provide expert consultation to businesses in the fields of law and technology.  Downtown managers are using social media to alert community members of important health precautions, update business hours of local restaurants, and create virtual events that drive sales.  Downtown residents and public and non-profit institutions rely on downtown managers for support and vital communications.
Implementing Social Districts, expanding outdoor seating, relaxing parking and sign ordinances, and creating pedestrian plazas are just a few measures downtown managers and officials have taken to help small businesses survive the last 6 months.  A Downtown Manager is charged with providing a safe environment while promoting commerce and creating a community's social hub.
A downtown is the commercial core of a community that serves as its social and economic center.  The COVID-19 virus may have changed how downtown organizations facilitate economic growth, but it has not diminished the importance of effective management.  In truth, now, as every day the list of small businesses closing doors grows, downtown managers are more essential than ever. 
Dana Walker
Director, Michigan Downtown Association