Carrie Gartner received her B.A. and M.A. in Speech Communication from California State University, Fullerton and her Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Utah. After teaching college for several years, Gartner began a career in politics. She served as campaign manager for a number of regional and statewide campaigns and also served as communications director for a mayor and several state representatives. Most recently, Gartner was the executive director of The District, a live/work/play neighborhood that sparks the creative, the eclectic, and the local. She’s now the executive director of The Loop, a corridor of creative industries, economic engines, and outside-the box-learning—all infused with a strong DIY spirit.
Gartner has been involved in numerous urban planning efforts, including the Avenue of the Columns project, the City of Columbia’s Visioning Process, and the revitalization of an underutilized industrial area now known as the North Village Arts District. She spearheaded the creation of a National Historic District in downtown Columbia, the removal of 60’s era concrete canopies along a prime pedestrian corridor, the development of easy-to-use design guidelines, a district-wide wayfinding program, a plan for a series of iconic gateways for The District, and a new brand and marketing strategy for downtown.
Gartner has won awards for planning, historic preservation, special events, new media development from the Missouri Downtown Association and the Missouri Department of Economic Development. Her work in both downtown leadership and branding and marketing has been recognized by the International Downtown Association. Gartner was named Downtown Director of the Year by the Missouri Downtown Association and was recently named one of the Ten Most Influential Women in Columbia by the Columbia Business Times.
For several years, Gartner served as President of the Missouri Downtown Association, a statewide organization dedicated to promoting historic preservation and economic development in downtowns. This organization was involved in educating state legislators on a number of key downtown issues including the economic and cultural value of the state’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit, the importance of passing the Missouri Downtown Economic Stimulus Act, and key changes to state laws affecting alcohol sales in downtowns and tax collection within Community Improvement Districts. She was then selected for the Board of Directors of the International Downtown Association and served on their Research Committee and helped draft their Top Issues Council Report on Pedestrian Improvements. Gartner was recently named to the board of Local Motion, a non-profit organization that promotes active transportation through advocacy and educational programming.
During her time with The District, Gartner successfully shepherded in a new Community Improvement District, taking members from brainstorming to planning to implementation. Member planning forums began in 2008 and a CID was unanimously supported by Council in February of 2011. This process lead to the consolidation of two, independently operating organizations and the total recasting of the mission of The District. Throughout this process, Gartner was instrumental in the passage of not one but two new downtown assessments, despite the recession. The CID property assessment passed with overwhelming support (71% assessed value and 58% per capita) and a new CID sales tax passed with 63% of the vote. As a result, revenues have increased by over 350%, finally allowing the organization to accomplish some key District improvement projects.
As Director of Communications and Public Relations for the University of Missouri Health System, Gartner developed and implemented a 6 month plan that transformed a sluggish social media presence into a powerhouse, increasing Twitter impressions by 324%, Facebook impressions by 33%, and impressions across all platforms by 67%—while also creating a new presence for the organization on Instagram, Pinterest, and other platforms.
In 2015, Gartner became the executive director of the newly established Loop Community Improvement District. A key retail corridor in the 1960’s, this area had been neglected for decades until a core group of business and property owners came together to form a CID and work towards enhancing the corridor. Confidence in the area is already increasing with property values rising 12% in one year and retail sales coming in above estimates by 50%. She immediately helped develop and implement the Loop Corridor Plan focused on beautification elements, public spaces, and traffic calming—all with the goal of creating a multi-model corridor through midtown. The Loop was recently one of six communities in the nation to receive a federal grant designed to encourage local, small-scale manufacturing as a way to revitalize an underperforming area of the city and create new economic opportunities. A year later, they were one of five communities to be selected as an Etsy Maker City. These grants lead to the opening of the CoMo Cooks Shared Kitchen, operated by The Loop CID as a way to lower barriers to entry for cooks and small-batch producers, as well as two other independent shared spaces on the street–a makerspace and a digital media studio. Gartner recently partnered with two other local organizations, the Root Cellar and the Greenbelt Land Trust of Mid-Missouri on a $588,000 USDA grant designed to help local growers produce value-added products by providing them with kitchen space, a distribution network, and pop-up retail options.
Gartner is a certified LPM (Leadership in Place Management). The certification is provided by the International Downtown Association and the goal of the program is to “provide LPM professionals the ability to demonstrate proficiency in all aspects of the place management profession while also maintaining a commitment to ethical conduct and personal and professional growth.”