Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Functional Downtown Spaces: Culture and Functionality as a Branding Opportunity

The downtown for small and medium towns are an important center of commercial activity but are ill-prepared to take on the challenges of a more modern global environment.  As city leaders decide the fate of the future of their towns by considering the benefits of downtown revitalization projects, it is helpful to move beyond just commerce and services to see how a downtown can also be a cultural center that creates new opportunities in business, values, and branding.

Research on medium sized towns found that it is beneficial to include cultural space in the overall efforts of revitalizing downtown districts (Pazder, 2011). Business districts should be seen through a lens of commerce and culture to help ensure they are vibrant and functional. Cultural identity becomes part of the town's heritage and can make it attractive to new businesses.

Small and medium towns should seek ways to differentiate themselves from larger cities that attract their own demographic. Small town success is rooted in its ability to offer something unique that can't be easily copied by competing areas. Connecting the business district with its historical past blends the new and the old in a way which creates a sense of deep value for residents.

The world is changing through acculturation and globalization. When towns can formulate a sense of identity and a functionality that is attractive to new business and residents, will have an easier time rejuvenating. Skill professionals are often attracted to cultural based cities that provide a valuable lifestyle and business are more likely to invest when the commercial district offers the best chances for success.

Across the country, the old downtown that has sustained commerce for hundreds of years must change to meet modern demands. Transforming the city center into a cultural and functional space offers new opportunities for branding and investment. In turn, that branding can be used to market the town to regional, national and international stakeholders that can put dollars in where common sense city management prevails.

Pazder, D. (2011). The Conception of Cultural Space Revitalization as a Way to Increase Downtown Attractiveness, A Case Study of chose Medium-sized Towns in the Wielkopolska Region. Quastiones Geographicae, 30 (4).

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