ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Your City, Your Business: Survey shows strong first year for special service district

One of the most important aspects of a new program is the ability to track its successes and its challenges. A recent survey conducted for the Greater Downtown Council found many successes in the start-up year of its special service district.

One of the most important aspects of a new program is the ability to track its successes and its challenges. A recent survey conducted for the Greater Downtown Council found many successes in the start-up year of its special service district.

The Duluth Downtown Waterfront District was implemented in early 2005. Under the plan, property owners within the district boundaries agreed to pay an additional charge for enhanced services and programs. It also brought together stakeholders under the common goal to stabilize and strengthen the Downtown Waterfront's environment, thereby improving its competitiveness in the region.

A random sampling of Duluth area residents last year set a benchmark level of awareness and attitudes about the Downtown Waterfront, and a second wave of research this year has helped us measure the impact of some of the district's work, especially along the lines of marketing communication efforts.

The survey found that after just one year of operation, 40 percent of the respondents were aware of the DDWD's Clean and Safe Team, with 60 percent of those aware saying the team made them feel safer in the downtown area. The Clean and Safe Team members serve as uniformed ambassadors for the downtown, providing an extra set of eyes and ears for the Police Department, offering hospitality services to visitors and keeping the sidewalks and public areas free of litter and debris. This also generated a slight increase in the percentage of respondents feeling safe about being in the downtown, with 10 percent more respondents saying they felt very safe in the central business district.

Even more importantly, there was a 10 percent increase in the percentage of respondents saying they felt downtown Duluth was "doing great." The Greater Downtown Council and its service district are working hard to continue efforts to strengthen the downtown area, and Duluthians are taking notice. Although attitudes have been impacted, the survey respondents' behavior has not yet changed, but such a change in behavior takes time. It is our hope that by next year we will also see an increase in the percent of area residents shopping, dining or making entertainment visits to the downtown area.

ADVERTISEMENT

In other opinions about the downtown area, the perception of a lack of parking continues to be the greatest challenge, but there was an 11 percent decrease in the percentage of respondents saying that they had parking concerns. It's hoped that the recent addition of way-finding signage for public parking will also help guide motorists to the many parking options available downtown. And the first thing that comes to mind for most people when they think of the downtown area is the variety of restaurants and good food.

As an organization, we have felt that we were on track with our efforts in the downtown area. This survey just reinforces it. With much work still to be accomplished, we are determined to create one of the most successful mid-sized central business districts in the United States within the next 10 years.

What To Read Next
The system crashed earlier this month, grounding flights across the U.S.