For Immediate Release: September 21, 2021
Evelyn Darling, Executive Director
WORCESTER, MA – The City of Worcester and the Downtown Worcester Business Improvement District (BID) are finalizing a project-based COVID recovery plan for Downtown Worcester and are seeking community input on project priorities. They have created a short online survey (https://www.questionpro.com/t/AR4ALZoqIs) to understand which projects are most important to local businesses, residents, employees, and students. The survey will be open until Thursday, September 30, 2021. Survey respondents will be entered into a drawing to win a $50 gift card to The Muse Bar & Kitchen in Downtown Worcester.
These efforts are funded by a planning grant from the Massachusetts Downtown Initiative’s (MDI) Local Rapid Recovery Planning (RRP) program, a program designed to help mitigate the devastating effects of the pandemic on local business communities across the Commonwealth. Planning assistance is provided by Plan Facilitator Stantec, a global design firm whose Boston-based Urban Places team works to unlock new economic, social, and environmental value for cities and suburbs through enhanced livability, equity, and resilience.
The RRP process started in Spring 2021 with a Downtown business survey and diagnostic of the physical environment and customer base. Business survey respondents reported COVID impacts, including a decline in revenue and additional expenses for safety measures, as well as responses such as creating alternate modes to sell/deliver products (typically online ordering and sales). The diagnostic identified physical needs such as lighting improvements, pedestrian wayfinding, storefront maintenance and design, and opportunities for more outdoor dining and public space activation. Downtown Worcester’s growing residential population also will benefit from improvements in these areas.
“Throughout this planning process, we have engaged our community to identify critical needs for Downtown Worcester’s recovery,” said Evelyn Darling, Executive Director of the BID. “This survey will help our organization and the City of Worcester determine how best to prioritize our resources to ensure Downtown’s continued success.”
The Rapid Recovery Plan proposes a series of related projects to tackle these challenges, complement the City’s ongoing work, and rebuild Downtown Worcester’s momentum. Examples include creating a targeted tenant recruitment strategy to fill vacant storefronts with growing businesses, designing and installing a creative pedestrian wayfinding system, and developing a robust outdoor dining program. All project recommendations are dependent on future funding opportunities from potential public and private grant sources.
About Downtown Worcester Business Improvement District
Downtown Worcester Business Improvement District is a non-profit organization established in 2018 to sustain momentum in the heart of Downtown Worcester. The result of a comprehensive community-based effort, the organization represents the owners of 140 properties and seeks to create a unique sense of place through enhanced investment and development, establishing and sustaining a vibrant, welcoming, and economically viable district for all.