Often, downtown economic development strategies in smaller Wisconsin communities focus on retail, restaurants, and supporting events and developments that bring more people downtown. A recent study by Bill Ryan reminds us that although retail, restaurants, and events are important elements in a successful downtown, the typical downtown economy in smaller Wisconsin communities is much more diversified.
A total of 203 Wisconsin communities with populations between 1,000 and 5,000 residents were included in Bill’s downtown study. Almost 90,000 people are employed within one-quarter mile of the centers of downtown in these 203 communities.
QUESTION: What percentage of the 90,000 people working downtown in these small communities are employed in retail, food service, or lodging?
<div style=”text-indent:23px”> A. 65%</div>
<div style=”text-indent:23px”> B. 48%</div>
<div style=”text-indent:23px”> C. 31%</div>
<div style=”text-indent:23px”> D. 24%</div>
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Only 24 percent of the people working within one-quarter mile of the center of downtown in the 203 Wisconsin communities with populations between 1,000 and 5,000 work in retail, food service, or lodging. The remaining 76 percent are employed in finance and insurance, health care, educational services, social services, public administration, professional services, and manufacturing.
Employment in Wisconsin Downtowns, Bill Ryan and Jangik Jin, University of Wisconsin Extension, 2011.