Downtown development philosophy picks up where economic development philosophy leaves off; with the concrete and compelling vision of a fully functioning future livable and walkable downtown marketplace district.[1] Economic development is generally concerned with business recruitment and job creation. It is focused on marketing and incentivizing available commercial properties, to potential developers, with the primary goal of attracting target industries and creating jobs.
Successful downtown development goes beyond basic economic development philosophy and incorporates vision and placemaking into a comprehensive development strategy and development plan. The best process for crafting a downtown vision is a participatory process, with all of the downtown development actors involved in creative brainstorming and defining the ideal downtown commercial district.
A strategic downtown vision is founded on:
  • Market research and relevant economic development studies.
  • A long-range Downtown Master Plan that includes development phases and funding options.
  • Collaboration between the municipality and the Downtown Development Authority through an intergovernmental agreement.
  • Partnerships with developers, property owners, and businesses.
  • A business-friendly district with appropriate zoning and ordinances.
  • Investment in infrastructure and design.
  • Well‐developed and managed leasable spaces. 
  • A well‐designed aesthetic that is walkable, well signed, and unique.
  • A parking and transportation plan.
This resource guide is intended to assist municipalities in actualizing their downtown vision by providing information and best practices for working with Downtown Development Authorities and private developers. The primary focus will be on defining roles, establishing a sense of place, creating a downtown vision and development plan, funding and implementing the downtown development plan, and utilizing the downtown toolbox for sustainable growth and vision actualization.
[1]   Downtown Development Plan Philosophy, Main Street, National Trust for Historic Preservation.