In the post-war era, many North American cities experienced the trend in favour of suburban development and the increasing desire for the single detached home. The outward expansion of cities, in many cases, led to the exodus of existing downtown residents to the suburbs. Associated commerce and retail activity soon followed similar development and settlement patters. First chain stores left, followed by department stores and then cinemas. The more they were depleted of activities and people, the fewer were the reasons to visit downtown. This pattern of activity eroded the fabric that makes downtown a special place. The negative impact of suburban expansion led to downtown deterioration, which in turn necessitated revitalization strategies.
Over the ensuing decades, cities of all sizes attempted to revitalize their downtowns by implementing a variety of strategies, including the development of downtown malls and the creation of business improvement associations that focused on marketing and beautification. These strategies received mixed results, but led to a further understanding of the complexity of downtown revitalization and the evolution to more advanced approaches. The creation of non-profit, downtown revitalization corporations by civic leadership to focus exclusively on encouraging private sector investment with targeted public sector investment, was one of these advanced approaches.
In 2008, the City of Brandon created an arms-length agency called the Brandon Downtown Development Corporation, which was granted authority to pursue development in the downtown and become involved in projects or programs with an objective to revitalize downtown Brandon.
Today, the Brandon Downtown Development Corporation is an active non-profit organization mandated to drive revitalization of downtown Brandon by identifying and encouraging investment and redevelopment opportunities in the city’s core. Funded by the City of Brandon and the Province of Manitoba, the development corporation uses incentive programs to leverage private sector investment in downtown. With an ability to create unique partnerships between the public and private sectors, the Brandon Downtown Development Corporation helps bring to fruition redevelopment projects that may not otherwise have been feasible. One project a time, the organization is helping to stimulate economic growth and bring new energy into the heart of our city.