City Mouse and Country Mouse

In Caught in the Middle, Richard C. Longworth paints a grim picture of the future of the Midwest, what with declining populations, ever-shrinking job markets, and small towns dying on the vine. As Longworth puts it: The rural Midwest, in truth, existed for one era, and that era has passed. It responded to the economic […]

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The Changing Face of Historic Renovation

When I first started as director of a downtown organization in the early aughts, my predecessor gave me one piece of advice: stay away from historic preservation. Apparently, she had once tried to establish a historic district and had been shot down by the board fairly handily. It only took 2 years for everything to change.  In the […]

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Changing the Rules

When I first starting working for our Downtown CID (at the time, more a merchant’s association), the general consensus was that we needed to go head-to-head with the mall. Although it was 2000, people still remembered when the opening of Parkade Plaza in the 1960’s decimated downtown retail. In the first year of Parkade opening, […]

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Economic Vitality in One Photo

A photo posted by Carrie Gartner (@carriegartner) on Jan 18, 2015 at 7:58am PST Harold’s Doughnuts, the locally-owned craft doughnut shop, sells out by 8 am for the third day running. They’ve been open for 3 days.

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The Changing Face of Manufacturing

Much of the economic development discussion lately has revolved around large-scale manufacturing and how we can attract the few remaining American manufacturers to our region. In the process, we tend to dismiss home-grown manufacturing as small bore operations, better suited to the DIY hipsters on Etsy. Makers and artists though are not just a quaint homage an earlier era […]

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2014 Best Performing Cities

The Milken Institute just released their report on the Best Performing Cities of 2014. Their report focused on outputs such as jobs, wages, salaries, and technology rather than factors such as quality of life or cost of living. Columbia was named #11 out of 179 small cities. Not a bad ranking by any stretch of […]

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The End of McMansions?

Time Magazine had an interesting piece on how the era of the McMansions, houses that top out at over 3,000 square feet, may be ending. It seems that “from 1950 to 2004, the average size of an American home jumped from from 983 square feet to 2,349 square feet.”  Now this number is finally dropping. In […]

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There’s no there there.

Our trip to Vancouver, Washington proved to be nothing short of perplexing. As always, we stayed in a downtown hotel and arrived early to enjoy the city. It’s a little larger than Columbia and the central city is fairly comparable–some building density in the downtown area surrounded by older but well-tended neighborhoods. There were also […]

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TEDxCity2.0: A day of urban inspiration.

“For one day only, the TEDx platform will harness the power of people across the globe to encourage them to host a TEDx event, themed “City 2.0,” featuring the brightest local minds and biggest hearts. In unison, we’ll share the stories of our beloved homes. Where are the bright spots? The creative adaptations? The transformative […]

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