How often does your organization create a business plan? Most successful businesses yearly identify strategies to accomplish goals. They also conduct longer-term strategic planning because the competitive environment or customers require the product to change.
It was important the downtown master plan be approached as a business plan based on economics. In the process, three economic specialists have identified our market demand in housing, retail, office and hotels.
We also knew that the competition had changed. Other cities are creating vibrant downtowns because downtowns are closely tied to a community's identity, recruitment and retention of people and businesses, and as such economic growth.
The consumer has also changed. As demonstrated in the plan's analysis, there is an evolving trend back to the core of cities as more people want to work, live, shop and have unique experiences in downtowns.
Capitalizing on this changing demographic requires thinking long-term in a market-driven business model. Project Downtown, the Master Plan for Wichita, provides multiple benefits. They are:
* Vision — Business plans have to answer where an organization is headed. In downtown's case, the vision was created using community input combined with information on our comparative strengths.
The plan builds upon downtown's history and recognizes its vibrant future. Key initiatives continue riverfront development as well as complement new destinations such as the Intrust Bank Arena. Downtown is the reinvigorated heart of a region committed to a vital future.
The community overwhelmingly affirmed this vision and provided strong feedback that downtown Wichita is the region's downtown.
* Predictability — Because plans are blueprints, they provide important predictability for the private sector.
An example: The plan identifies a preferred building design as one that relates to the streetscape, reinforces the urban context, and contributes to mixed-use districts. Through the plan's guidelines, developers know what they are being requested to accomplish as well as how subsequent projects will be measured.
If public investment is requested, the project will be reviewed on how it advances the plan. Mayor Carl Brewer will be highlighting this process at the final plan presentation on Sept. 28.
* Opportunity — Through market analysis, the plan provides information on our market demand for commercial, retail, housing and hotel needs. These market numbers, combined with key information, give potential investors critical initial data to jumpstart an idea and demonstrate to lenders where that idea fits into the overall market and plan.
The Wichita Downtown Development Corp. will maintain market analysis information and also create a resource center to have this and other information available. Initial work is under way to create a mapping system to identify availability of office, new construction sites and more.
* Marketing — Conversations have already started with private sector investors locally, regionally and nationally. WDDC is working on a developer's guide to downtown to advance the process of private-sector investment. This guide will be available Sept. 28.
* Accountability and Measurement — The Master Plan identifies goals and objectives and those organizations that will shepherd the strategies of the plan in the public and private sector. There will be continued monitoring of the plan's implementation.
We will further utilize the resources of our design team to increase the probability of success. If we are not realizing our market demands, we will work diligently to understand the factors influencing that market.
Businesses were among the first partners to invest in this process because they know this is about their future work force and our community's identity and future.
They also know that business plans are not static. Conditions change and other opportunities arise. Plans are documents that are influenced daily. Through this process we've further forged partnerships among organizations that will serve us well as we move forward in making our region highly competitive and by offering people what they want in downtown Wichita.