Dogs and downtown: Growing demand for pet-friendly spaces

06/26/17

As the number of downtown residents and pedestrians increases, the desire for pet friendly spaces has also grown. This has created a conflict in many communities, where downtown green space is at a premium, and not everyone agrees that pets are a welcome user group for these spaces. However, several trends point toward pet-friendly community policies as a potentially vital element of future downtown revitalization.

Focus on board development leads to sustainable organizations

06/26/17

Nonprofit boards play a crucial role in the sustainability of organizations. They are expected to be forward thinkers, policy makers, and resource managers—yet board development, a vital component to successful boards, often happens as an afterthought. So just how should our organizations maximize their efforts to create engaged, passionate boards?

Whether a business begins when a husband-and-wife team goes into business together, or with a parent-child partnership, family-owned businesses often have close ties to the community and can be powerful advocates on behalf of the community. However, 70 percent of all privately owned businesses will change hands in the coming decade as Baby Boomers retire, and only one-third of family businesses successfully make this transition. Businesses can significantly improve their odds by undertaking three critical initiatives.

In addition to growing economic success, women-owned businesses contribute greatly to the community: more than 60 percent of women businesses owners identified in the Main Street survey were actively involved in the community. Given this community involvement, it makes sense that women-owned businesses tend to be successful at crowdfunding efforts: 70 percent of Kickstarter projects launched by women were funded, compared to 61 percent of male projects. The Kiva Zip program, new to Wisconsin in 2016, matches entrepreneurs with community funders to provide zero-percent loans of up to $5,000 to small businesses.

Downtown provides a cost-effective and scalable location for businesses to start and grow. Not only were downtowns the first live/work communities (a cost- and time-saving advantage that many entrepreneurs still take advantage of), but historic buildings also offer passive income potential in the form of rental of upper floor spaces, as well as future expansion opportunities.

Women entrepreneurs make up a large, growing and vital part of the downtown business landscape. Women business owners and managers – who make up 40 percent of all downtown businesses owned in Wisconsin – find the downtown environment to be a supportive place to start and grow a business, offering convenient marketing, built-in foot traffic, and a community of other entrepreneurs to collaborate with. This network of like-minded business owners bodes well for future business growth.