The coat room outside the Greysolon Ballroom wasn’t needed Wednesday. The sun was shining and the term “coat-weather” was not in play.

The hundred-plus members of the business community who came to hear a national speaker address downtown trends came in their shirt sleeves. They heard a Duluth first-timer gush.

“My first impression of Duluth is off the charts,” speaker Brad Segal told the lunching crowd.

Segal cited the city’s compact downtown, its topography and its working harbor as major attributes.

“The fact you’re a hub for health care is a big, big deal,” said Segal, a Denver-based consultant who has worked with cities in 35 states over the past

20 years with his private urban management firm.

Segal will consult today with Duluth’s Greater Downtown Council during its strategic planning retreat. He said part of his goal is to “get them to think bigger.”

Council President Kristi Stokes praised the crowd as “a diverse group of business owners with lots of energy.”

Segal highlighted trends from across America during his presentation.

Baby Boomers, he said, are downsizing and moving closer to cities - a trait they share with their grandchildren, the Millennial generation, which Segal said also is fond of the urban connection.

“For the first time I can remember, there’s some justifiable optimism about the future of downtowns,” Segal said.

Younger and older people who move downtown are driving less and are more socially open-minded. Segal said bicycle sharing programs are the fastest growing mode of transportation in the world. Women are out-graduating men in U.S. colleges, creating more skilled women in the workforce than ever before. Finding and keeping skilled laborers is the No. 1 issue facing communities like Duluth, Segal said.

“You’ve got to do a good job of attracting and keeping young people here,” he said.

Keeping young people means housing them. One Duluth businessman asked Segal what Duluth could do about its market-rate housing shortage. Segal suggested the public and

private sectors work together to find solutions.

“You start with small and modest projects,” Segal said. “When people trust you can fill them you grow from there.”

Kaila Gatz, a property manager for Oneida Realty in town, was among a number of women in the audience who fit the growing demographic of skilled women leading the workforce.

Gatz said she recognizes the trends, too.

“We are seeing a growing trend of women leading businesses,” said Gatz, who lists and sells commercial properties. “Lots of entrepreneurs in health and wellness. That’s been a big trend in the downtown area - medical partners, alternative medical practices.”

A diverse outcropping of businesses surrounding the health care industry is just the sort of thing one should expect of a city home to two hospitals, Segal said. Another: expect cities and regions to be more responsible for their infrastructures in the future.

“It’s going to be up to the city and the region to invest in improvements we’ve relied on the federal government with before,” Segal said.

One topic Segal left business owners to think about: social equity in cities.

“Be prepared,” he said. “Being equitable is an issue - in housing, wages and other areas.”