Excerpted from Atlantic Cities:
After years of neglect, decline, and abandonment, downtowns across the United States are poised to come back—and not just as redoubts for hipsters, artisanal food, indie music, and trendy boutiques, but as major shopping destinations.
The past decade has seen a shift to downtown living. For the first time in 20 years, the annual rate of growth in American cities and their immediate surroundings has surpassed that of exurbs, according to projections from the U.S. Census released in July 2011. This is not just the case in cities of talent and advantages, like New York, San Francisco, and Boston, but in older industrial cities like Cleveland and Detroit.
Downtowns have become veritable “entertainment machines,” in University of Chicago sociologist Terry Clark’s words, with an influx of restaurants, bars, cafes, clubs, and other venues catering to urban dwellers and suburbanites seeking something new and different.
But when it comes to shopping, most of the big department stores and luxury stores have remained in the malls. That is until now.
It’s amazing really how fast the shift from downtown shopping districts to suburban malls happened. Though people had been moving out to the suburbs since the 1950s and earlier, high-end shopping was something that required a trip back into the city until the early 1970s. I vividly remember the shopping expeditions our family made to Newark’s department stores – Bambergers, Hahne’s and Kresge’s – as a young boy in the 1960s. Then, as abruptly as if someone had pulled a switch, shoppers were driving out to places like Paramus and Menlo Park, where the malls were, and the downtown stores were all being shuttered.
But the signs of a great reversal are beginning to be seen today, as high-end shopping starts to shift back downtown. This goes far beyond the long-established retail corridors of great American cities like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston—the Madison and Michigan Avenues, the Union and Boylston Streets, and the Rodeo Drives that never went away. It is happening in up and coming places and could potentially spill over into the abandoned urban retail cores of America’s hardest-hit industrial cities, boarded up storefronts, litter-strewn lots and all.
Consider Miami’s Design District. A decade or so ago the idea of creating a high-end retail destination in the Buena Vista neighborhood would have seemed laughable. Just a mile or so north of the city’s financial and economic core, the 18 square blocks between North 36th Street and North 43rd Street, West First Avenue and Biscayne Boulevard was a somnolent district that almost no one but professional designers ever went to. Some of the surrounding neighborhoods were high-crime studies in blight, places to be driven through quickly with the doors locked. But starting in the late 1990s, Craig Robins, a founder of Design Miami and the lead developer at DACRA, began acquiring properties. Within a few years, the neighborhood had regained its status as a leading center for architectural and interior design, with more than 100 galleries and showrooms. Gradually, Robins was able to attract upscale design shops as well, such as Luminaire, Kartell, Capellini, Ligne Rosset, Vitra, and Jonathan Adler among others, and high-end fashion brands such as Marni, Christian Louboutin, and Tomas Maier.
Drawn by its great spaces and reasonable rents, a host of destination restaurants opened in the district—first Michaels Genuine Food and Drink in 2007, then Michelle Bernstein’s Sra Martinez, Harry’s Pizzeria, and Fratelli Lyon Driade, to name just a few.
Last year, Robins and his partners turned the corner when they were able to convince the Bernard Arnault’s LMVH group, whose luxury brands include Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Cartier, and Christian Dior, to leave the Miami area’s most established high-end suburban mall, the Shops at Bal Harbour, and relocate to the Design District as well.
Arnault and LMVH are trying out a new model for retail—embedding their brand destinations in the core of a rapidly reviving city. The first stores plan to open this summer.
Miami, of course, is much more of an international watering hole than most cities of its size; it has more than its share of the LMVH demographic. But retailers had served them out in the exclusive suburbs where they lived, or near their vacation condos and houses in and around South Beach. They hadn’t tried to entice them back into the old city.
Just a mile or two from Miami’s economic and financial hub and a couple of miles from South Beach, the Design District is actually much more centrally located than the Shops at Bal Harbour or the suburban malls in Coral Gables and Adventura. It’s easier to get to and there’s much more to do once you arrive.
DACRA recently announced plans to extend one of the Design District’s most architecturally appealing streets, Plumer’s Alley, all the way through the district, creating a pedestrian mall, anchored by department stores at either end. Instead of a food court, shoppers will be able to eat at some of Miami’s best restaurants. Instead of generic and manufactured charm, they can experience some of the most interesting architecture in the world, old and new, classic and cutting edge. It is a case study of how to create or recreate a real urban shopping experience.
Some might say that Miami’s success in luring high end shopping back into the inner city portends little if anything for harder-hit small and medium-sized cities that don’t have Miami’s global influx of wealthy part-time residents and tourists. But they haven’t considered just how bold LMVH’s experiment is. They are moving their shops out of one of the most affluent, if not the most affluent malls in the country, into an urban center which is essentially untested.
If cities like Cleveland, Detroit, and Newark don’t have Miami’s glitz and glamour to bank on, they too are surrounded by wealthy suburbs, which are similarly well-supplied with high-end malls. Suburban Detroit has its Somerset Collection; Newark has the Mall at Short Hills in nearby Millburn. And, like Miami, those city’s downtowns have the infrastructure and the character to support the kind of development that DACRA brought to the Design District.
They are already attracting urban pioneers like the ones that moved to Miami’s Design District, its Wynwood Arts District, and adjacent neighborhoods when their revival was just beginning. This place-making and city-building phase of the process of urban regeneration engenders the increased safety and amenities that draw more and more people over time. Gilbert in Detroit and Mayor Cory Booker in Newark aren’t looking to glitz up their cities so much as they are to make them viable places where people can work, live, and play.
That’s much harder work and a much harder process than bringing high-end shopping back to urban centers that were set up for it – and that have the infrastructure and building stock in place to support it. The most critical difference is that downtown shoppers need not live in the core. Suburbanites already come to these downtowns to attend sporting events at the new Tigers stadium in downtown Detroit and the classic Jacobs Field in Cleveland. They dine in those cities’ destination eateries, like Slow’s BBQ in Detroit’s Corktown.
It might be hard to imagine soccer moms and patio men giving up their lawns and houses in Montclair and Summit to return to Newark, or Birmingham and Grosse Pointe to live in downtown Detroit, but one can easily imagine them driving into the city for the day to go shopping if there were places like the Design District for them to visit. Detroit, in fact, is already experimenting. Last year pop-up kiosks featuring top brands from the Somerset Collection, such as Neiman Marcus and Henri Bendel, opened temporarily in a downtown loft. It will happen again this summer, on an even larger scale. Detroit’s Eastern Market, a local food district with more than 250 independent vendors, has been in business since 1891 and regularly attracts tens of thousands of shoppers downtown every Saturday.
These new shopping districts, like Miami’s Design District or New York’s Soho for that matter, are not part of their city’s traditional downtown shopping districts, but newly remade urban spaces that typically have grown out of warehouse and industrial districts. Miami’s historic Flagler Street downtown corridor has seen decline common to many urban downtowns, turning into something of a ghost town at night, though it does have a Macy’s (the former Burdine’s), and it seems to be in the early phases of its own transformation with several new restaurants opening.
From where I sit, what’s happening in Miami is something of a bellwether, an unmistakable sign that the economic and commercial center of gravity is shifting away from the suburbs and back to the urban core. We are at a similar inflection point today to the one we experienced in the 1970s, when retail abruptly decamped to the suburbs. Only this time, the impetus is the other way around.
If Robins and Arnault’s experiment succeeds, and there’s every reason to believe it will, it has the potential to shift the whole paradigm of shopping. Other cities, and larger shopping center and retail developers—including those of a more populist bent than LMVH and DACRA—will surely take note. And when they do, the shift of shopping back to the urban core can happen quickly.
Another tipping point back toward urban downtowns may well be in the offing.
On May 25th, the Kentucky Science & Technology Corporation’s Idea Festival will come to Owensboro! This joint project between the Idea Festival of KSTC, the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation, the eMerging Ventures Center for Innovation, and the Computer Aided Drafting and Design Program of OCTC is a first for this region!
Although it sounds like a topic just for technologists or designers, it’s actually an exposé on the evolution of product development from “make it different than the last one” or “better than the other brand” to making products and processes a “more memorable experience for the customer or user”. Participants will learn how others are incorporating the human experience into products and services.
Whether you are Designer, Teacher, Manager, Hobbyist, Engineer, or anyone that sells, makes, or uses products or serves others, this seminar about making it all more human centered is for YOU!
FRANKFORT, Ky. (February 16, 2012) – Governor Steve Beshear announced today that Daviess County is one of the first Kentucky counties to be certified in the Work Ready Communities program. The new certification program from the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board (KWIB) and the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet assures employers that a local workforce has the talent and skills necessary to staff existing jobs and to master the innovative technologies new jobs will require.
“We are excited that Daviess County has achieved Work Ready Community status and we look forward to certifying many others in the future. Work Ready status is not an easy accomplishment. Daviess County leaders are to be commended for working together to achieve this goal,” said Crystal Gibson, chair of the Kentucky Work Ready Communities Review Panel and vice president of Communications and Public Affairs at Citigroup. “This is an affirmation of all of the partnerships and hard work that has taken place in this region for the past decade in focusing our efforts on workforce development,” said Daviess County Judge Executive Al Mattingly.
Kentucky is the third state to begin certifying counties as Work Ready Communities based on the quality of their labor force. To become certified, communities must gather local support and commitment and apply for the Work Ready Community designation. Counties have to meet criteria in six areas including high school graduation rate, National Career Readiness Certificate holders, demonstrated community commitment, educational attainment, soft-skills development and digital literacy.
“Daviess County is a role model for other communities that want to demonstrate a commitment to reaching education, workforce and economic development goals that make their communities a desirable place for businesses,” said Joseph U. Meyer, secretary of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.
Applications for the certification were reviewed by a panel appointed by the KWIB. The panel recommended certification by the board for the counties that met the criteria. The panel will meet three times a year to review applications, which can be submitted at any time.
For more information about the Work Ready Communities program, click here.
The Work Ready Review Panel gave the Daviess County Work Ready application a favorable recommendation to the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board (K-WIB) for certification as a Work Ready Community.
Community representatives, including Judge Executive Al Mattingly, Co-Chair Helen Mountjoy and EDC president Nick Brake made a presentation to the panel yesterday. The presentation was supported by representatives from the education, workforce, Chamber and business community.
The final hurdle will be consideration by the K-WIB for actual certification on February 16th in Frankfort. The designation would put Daviess County at a competitive advantage in attracting new business and industry to the area!
Today marks the beginning of the 2012 Kentucky General Assembly. In addition to the ratification of the biennal budget, several important pieces of legislation will directly impact the Owensboro community. One of these items involves increasing access to capital that startups and young companies require to grow and thrive. The following is excerpted from the Messenger-Inquirer:
This year, once again, legislation has been prefiled that would establish an angel investor tax credit program for individuals who invest in certain small businesses.
The Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. has supported the legislation in years past, and EDC officials are hoping the bill will gain traction this year. It could help Owensboro’s efforts to nurture and retain high tech and life sciences start-up companies that require a lot of capital on the front end, local EDC officials said.
“We’ve been supportive of this for several years,” said Madison Silvert, vice president for entrepreneurship and high tech development at the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp. “It would provide incentives for qualified investors to invest in Kentucky start-up companies.”
The state incentives already are available for groups such as Lexington’s Blue Angels and Louisville’s Enterprise Angels and Louisville Angels.
This legislation, however, would provide the same incentives to individuals, and that is important for Owensboro and more rural areas of the state where there are no groups in place, Silvert said.
Generally, angel investors supply venture capital to companies that show high-growth prospects or fit well with their own business or are competing in the sector in which they made their mark.
In recent months, Daviess County showed up at No. 9 among 20 counties nationwide on web magazine BusinessInsider.com’s list of counties identified as potentially the next Silicon Valley.
Two areas the online magazine found in fleshing out the counties were broadband availability rates near 100 percent and unemployment rates beating their peers and the nation.
Silvert said recently that having a culture of entrepreneurial investment is a crucial next step for the Owensboro region in attracting and retaining high tech companies.
The EDC and its partners are providing some breaks for several high tech and life sciences companies within the framework of Emerging Ventures, an innovation center/business incubator and the office and lab space offered in the Centre for Business and Research at 1010 Allen St.
“What we hope people understand is that high tech and life sciences companies require large amounts of capital for start-up, but the jobs they create are high quality and high paying,” Silvert said. “And it’s cheaper to incentivize these companies at the start than to try to relocate a mature company.”
The legislation is important for Owensboro, said Nick Brake, the president of the Greater Owensboro EDC.
“We have a healthy interest in the high tech, biotech and food safety companies we have churning here, and this legislation could turn that interest into investment,” Brake said. “It’s a matter of legislators seeing this as a viable option.”
Brake said he thinks getting a bill passed for angel investor tax credits is a learning process to educate people about how it can help.
Rep. Arnold Simpson’s legislation is prefiled as BR322. If it is filed when the Kentucky General Assembly convenes and becomes law, it would direct the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority to establish the application process for small businesses to participate.Angel investors who qualified could tap into the Kentucky Investment Fund Act tax credits that would be capped at $40 million.Simpson is a Covington Democrat.
The KEDFA would have to maintain a website listing all businesses and investors and the tax credits awarded. The prefiled bill also would require the small businesses to provide an annual report, and it would allow for tax credit recapture under some circumstances.
A talented workforce is the the single most important aspect of growing (and sustaining) an economy. Technological integration, economic interdependence, globalization—each of these factors has a direct impact on how competitive Owensboro will be in this new century. Our local leaders have taken many proactive steps that will provide our local workforce with opportunities to grow and thrive in this new economic paradigm. One of the most innovative programs is Community Campus. Community Campus is open to students from high schools across the Greater Owensboro region, and involves five areas of emphasis, or academies. The academies—Theatre Arts, Life Sciences, Construction Energy & Trades, Middle College, Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics (STEM), and Business/Entrepreneurship—were developed based on the local economic and labor demands, and fueled by the global marketplace. A portion of each student’s high school experience is dedicated to earning college credit!
Excerpted from the Messenger Inquirer:
Gorged by a golf ball and soaring over the moon, the bespeckled, fist-size Chick-fil-A cow landed with a thud against the window in Apollo High School’s front lobby.
“Not a bad shot,” mused Landon Meserve, squatting behind his homemade catapult on Friday. “It’s all about the distance from the arm to this crossbar, here,” he said, pointing to a complicated maze of screws, rope, wood and bungee cords.
Meserve is one of 24 regional students in Daviess County Public School’s Project Lead the Way, a national curriculum marrying reality-based college courses with local, hands-on instruction. Students from DCPS, Owensboro, Trinity and Owensboro Catholic high schools are dropped off at, drive or are bused to Apollo’s campus for first period before joining their home schools the rest of the day.
Technology educators Aaron Yeiser and Steven May challenged the teens to calculate distance, displacement, speed, velocity and acceleration from data and to design, build and test a vehicle that stores and releases potential energy for propulsion — all in two weeks’ time.
“We do a version of the competition every year,” May said. “This year, we thought of using cows and getting corporate sponsorship, and it worked out.”
Chick-fil-A sent out their mascot and donated small, stuffed cows for the event, while Mays and fellow teachers honored students with the farthest overall shot and gave points for a series of 10 accuracy shots.
No slingshots were allowed, Mays said, and students only got five practice shots. They got 25 points to shoot the cow over the hand-painted, 6-foot-tall moon; lesser points for landing in one of three 5-gallon buckets; and 10 points per pin for cow bowling. The points doubled for bowling, he said, if students got a strike.
Meserve aimed, pulling back four and a half inches — 10 feet worth of distance —- at a time. He missed, and then a strike. He and his OHS partner, Buxton Johnson, took first with 375 points, Catholic High junior Kali Paul rounded out the bottom with only 70 points.
“Ours is tiny, so it’s like the underdog,” Paul said, pointing to her own, cow-painted creation, at least two feet shorter than Meserve’s. “We didn’t do so well. My catapult is going to Chick-fil-A, and it’s going to retire there.”
Paul and her partner make up a growing minority of women interested in engineering, a statistic college and career readiness coordinator Marcia Carpenter said they’re working to overcome.
“Right now, the national average is 11 percent, and we have 7,” she said, “but hopefully programs like Project Lead the Way will help that.”