Keys to Building a Strong Nighttime Economy

May 17, 2019

Vince Martinez, AICP, the Downtown Denver Partnership’s Senior Manager of Operations is the chair of the International Downtown Association’s (IDA) Nighttime Economy Council. This article originally appeared in IDA’s Inspired by IDA newsletter.

A community’s healthy nighttime economy is its own complex ecosystem, and building one is still a fairly new concept in the place management industry. However, since the inception of the Night Mayor concept in Amsterdam in 2014, the impact of this segment of a city’s overall economic well-being is finally gaining the attention of civic leaders not only here in North America, but across the globe.

The 2018 Nighttime Economy Top Issues Council was surprised by the level of importance communities are placing on a nighttime economy to help them stand out as a special place. Some key findings of the Nighttime Economy Council include:

  • A strong nighttime economy needs advocates that can protect nighttime business interests. Cities of all sizes are hiring Nighttime Mayors and Nighttime Czars who promote nightlife and act as liaisons between nighttime business owners, residents and day-working city leaders and policy makers.
  • A healthy nighttime economy is comprised of more than just a strip of bars in a funky district. It is important to recognize that a healthy nighttime economy also encompasses cultural, retail, service and corporate sectors.
  • Districts cannot grow a strong nighttime economy without solid infrastructure in place. A gritty district with an underground arts/music scene is where nighttime districts often start. However, without true commitment to lighting, amenities, security, safe sidewalks and transit connections, a district will never mature into a true destination.

Place management organizations must advocate for nighttime institutions that allow for a city’s vibrancy to continue beyond the workday. Cities and districts that commit resources to security, lighting, safe connections and transit options are not only serving the needs of its daytime users but providing a strong foundation for growing a successful nighttime economy.

To learn more, download the Executive Summary for the Nighttime Economy Council’s report, Nighttime Economy: A Guidebook for Emerging, Growing and Established Nighttime Districts. To purchase the report, visit the IDA webstore.