One of the hallmarks of NP’s work is blending a vision that captures the imagination with enough practicality to move it toward implementation. As part of our approach NP spends a lot of time thinking about how something might get implemented and by whom before turning it into a recommendation. Three cities where NP recently worked are making progress moving from plans to actions:
New Innovation Space for Athens GA: The Athens-Clarke County government in partnership with Athens Hospitality Holdings Group signed a letter of agreement to create the Athens Creative Development Campus. According to the County's press release, "The proposal is the result of a study provided by Ninigret Partners through a partnership between Georgia Power and the Unified Government. Key findings from the study noted the growth of the University of Georgia as a major research institution; a need for flexible, bio-ready space; an active digital tech industry; and a vibrant creative consumer product industry that builds on the culture and vibe of Athens."
The campus will be a mixed-use development including office, business incubation, co-work space and hotel. The purpose of the space is to "serve as a destination for business travelers, makers, and entrepreneurs by creating a space that will encourage collaboration opportunities across a wide variety of interests."
21st Century Mobility Solution Coming to Grand Rapids MI: The City of Grand Rapids, MI recently proposed a bike sharing program that will put 800 bikes at 100 stations downtown and in surrounding neighborhoods over the next five years. The program is estimated to cost $3 million and aims to be largely self-sustaining through user fees and sponsorships. The bike share program is a direct result of the City's GR Forward Downtown and River Action Plan, which called for a 21st century mobility strategy as one of 6 core goals. NP provided the economic analysis to the GR Forward Plan and prepared the business plan with Sam Schwartz Engineering for the bike share program.
City Commission Adoption Makes Downtown Plan the Official Policy in Fargo ND: The City of Fargo, ND also made progress on its downtown master plan. Downtown Fargo InFocus calls for a series of actions in seven strategic areas including how to grow as a business center and thrive as a regional destination. The City Commission adopted the plan in December 2017. NP provided economic and development analysis with a focus on retail and entrepreneurial development strategies.
Things are happening in Springfield, MA. For the past several years the City and its partners have been charting a course for the downtown's future, which has led to increased investment and interest in the city.
Recent progress includes the opening of two restaurants, a new yoga studio and construction is slated to start soon on 60 new apartments. Just last week the DevelopSpringfield announced its second round of Lease It Local, a program aimed at attracting entrepreneurs to the city through a package of incentives. (Check out NP's 2017 post for more info on the program.)
NP led or supported planning and implementation support for the city's downtown including the Worthington Street Corridor Study, an Investment Prospectus, and Dining District Implementation Plan. Much of this work was completed through MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative.
Fairgrounds to Future kicked off this November at a workshop that attracted over 200 participants. This project aims to create a community-minded vision for the former home of the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Dayton, OH. This 38-acre site sits between two of the city's leading institutions - Premier Health and the University of Dayton. The two partners own the site and are committed to a plan that builds on their own institutional missions and values, promotes economic development, and fosters a unique sense of place that serves broader community interests.
As part of the planning NEXT lead team, NP is providing strategic real estate, economic development and feasibility analysis.
Since the start of the Fairgrounds to Future process this fall, nearly 500 people have shared their ideas at a workshop or online. In addition, 30 stakeholder groups have been interviewed and more than 1,000 thoughts about the future of the fairgrounds have been collected.
DevelopSpringfield recently announced that is accepting applications for its "Lease It Local," a program, which will offer businesses up to half a monthly lease (up to $500) to occupy storefronts that are now vacant or underused. Eligible properties are vacant or underused ground-floor storefronts in the Springfield Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) District.
The Lease It Local program aims to:
DevelopSpringfield's Lease It Local program will provide:
Eligible applicants include independent operators (no franchises or chains), artists, or social enterprises. While all industries are welcome, the program emphasizes uses drive daily foot traffic and preference is given to Springfield residents and those who have completed formal business training or mentoring. For more info on the program check out DevelopSpringfield's program page.
NP performed the project consulting on the Springfield TDI Partnership’s Active Implementation Plan that worked with the Springfield TDI Partnership for the district. A key action within the strategy was spurring retail frontage development including a subsidy program for potential tenants while the market was still being “proved.”
Grand Rapids Receives IDA's Highest Honor for Working Towards Racial Equity and Opportunity in its Downtown
Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. is being celebrated for its work to put forward an equity driven growth model for the future of the city's downtown. Recently, the International Downtown Association (IDA) recognized the Grand Rapids community for its efforts to build racial equity and opportunity in Downtown Grand Rapids with a Pinnacle Award - the industry's highest honor.
Downtown Grand Rapids spearheaded Grand Rapids Forward, which is a 10-year plan and investment strategy "to transform the Grand River into a distinct asset and support the next generation of growth in Downtown Grand Rapids." Since the Plan's adoption in 2015 many actions have been taken that support greater equity and inclusion in Grand Rapids including but not limited to:
NP is proud to have been part of the team who prepared the Grand Rapids Forward Plan, serving as an economic consultant with a focus on workforce development, retail dynamics and entrepreneurial activity.
NP just kicked off a new project in Burlington, VT focused on the stabilization of several neighborhoods that are significantly impacted by college housing in the city. Dubbed the Neighborhood Project, the effort aims to to achieve a balance of housing choices in near campus neighborhoods, improve the quality of housing stock for a wide range of residents, and improve the quality of life for residents in the impacted wards.
NP, in partnership with Interface Studios, has been hired to develop a set of specific, practical actions the City and its partners can take to achieve the project's goals. Over the next few months, our team will be meeting with local stakeholders, analyzing local conditions and trends, and working with partners to develop a set of recommendations that can be implemented in the coming months and years.
As part of this work, our team spent the last week on the ground in Burlington. Here's a few pics from the trip.
NP's work has been garnering some press in the past few weeks:
New Haven has been recognized as a place of innovation in Connecticut by CTNext. Led by the Elm City Innovation Collaborative New Haven has been designated an Innovation Place and has been awarded $2 million in implementation grants for fiscal year 2018.
New Haven is one of four communities to be designated. Others include Hartford/East Hartford, New London/Groton, and Stamford. In total, CTNext can award up to $6.9 million to designated communities in fiscal year 2018 to augment private and public investments in aimed at attracting talent to the state and increasing cities and towns capacity for innovation.
NP is proud to have supported New Haven with the development of its proposal for state designation and funding.
Looking for ways to attract talent and strengthen your community's workforce? Check out the North East Regional Employment & Training Association's upcoming Job Creation Summit to be held on June 14 and 15. NP's Kevin Hively will be speaking on the state of the technology workforce in the US and there is a strong line-up of presenters speaking on ways to build the talent pipeline, support local entrepreneurs, and build local eco-systems that enable workforce development. The Summit is being moderated by noted author and journalist William Holstein. Other speakers include social entrepreneur Tess Possner, economic gardening expert Paul Bateson, and author and founder of Jobeconomics Chuck Vollmer.
RISD Design Program Named One of Top Innovation Projects In US; Makes Connection Between Design & Manufacturing
The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) just made it to the top of Fast Company's United States of Innovation list. The list highlights 50 projects that are tacking the challenges facing our country today. RISD recently launched the pilot executive education program, Design for Manufacturing. The program "integrates concepts of strategic design thinking and innovation as they apply to the manufacturing environment. These concepts, combined with entrepreneurial application will help leaders in the manufacturing sector uncover new business, development opportunities and management strategies for growth." Classes include design thinking, product design, and 3-D printing and prototyping among others.
RISD’s program is highlighted in a recent report, Industrial Design: A Competitive Edge for U.S. Manufacturing Success in the Global Economy, released by the National Endowment for the Arts in April. This report makes the case for industrial design and provides best practice models for replication and adaptation in other parts of the country.
NP is proud to have supported RISD through the program's launch and development and to have participated as an interviewee for the NEA report.
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