Inclusive Infrastructure and the 21st Century BID

Mar 05, 2019 5 months ago

For the better part of 20 years, University City District fit the para­digm of most Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), working every day to make our 2.4 square mile district cleaner, safer, greener and more enticing for both retailers and developers. We think of this work as investing in a neighborhood’s infrastructure, both literal and figurative: the foundational infrastructure of clean and safe streets, the commercial infrastructure of bustling retail districts and the civic infrastructure of thriving common spaces. Yet more recently – with thoughtful, progressive partners by our side - we have come to believe that we can’t possibly make a place better without simultaneously advancing inclusive infrastructure, which we define as intentional and scalable approaches to sharing the benefits of an economically vibrant place in a broad and inclusive way.

Our new publication, Inclusive Infrastructure and the 21st Century BID, describes UCD’s transformation over the past two decades. Based on our own investments – from the acclaimed West Philadelphia Skills Initiative to our landscaping social venture Green City Works to efforts to understand inclusion in public spaces – we have come to believe that University City District and other special services districts around the country are powerful places to take on the hard but vital work of advancing equity in communities. This publication shares the lessons we’ve learned over the years - lessons about trust, partnership, tough organizational questions, and avoiding the false choice between growth and equity.

If we want to create livable and vital cities and neighborhoods, then investing in inclusive infrastructure with the same vigor and focus with which we traditionally invest in physical infrastructure seems essential to us. We look forward to continuing a rich partnership and dialogue with all of you, in order to make our communities stronger and more prosperous for everyone.

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