Tag Archives: Economic Development

Retail Therapy: Health Conscious Consumers Drive the Market

By Lynn Dehlinger, Sr. Economic Development Manager/Broker Associate/ICSC P3 Florida Chair, Private Sector


As everyday consumers push the health-and-wellness movement from the earthy-crunchy margins to the mainstream, retailers are going beyond just selling Fitbit wellness trackers and organic, gluten-free bread.

Ushering in the next wave of healthy-living consumerism, merchants are taking on the overtones of the medical, psychotherapeutic and fitness communities. They’re wrapping the sale of “better for you goods” in services and experiences that aim at holistic, mind-body-soul approaches to wellness.

Professional and personal lives tethered to smartphones and digital screens have taken an existential toll on shoppers who are already buried in “peak stuff.”

Experts point to the rise of the so-called “self-care generation,” and what Euromonitor International dubs “clean lifers,” younger consumers “who are saying no to unhealthy habits…and uninformed spending.”

People would rather spend their money on experiences, such as weekends away, festivals and restaurants, where they can chat with friends, or healthier social alternatives, such as hosting fitness class parties from yoga to high-intensity workouts, in today’s world, so they’re increasingly turning to retailers to deliver something more, be it added convenience, service, guidance or inspiration.

There is an imperative today to deliver shoppers meaningful experiences that they can’t get online, Health and wellness is a natural fit, as increasingly savvy consumers “want to trust the information they get” in a Good-Housekeeping Institute stamp of approval fashion.

Eileen Fisher’s New Making Space Store: Serving Up Retail Therapy

Eileen Fisher has branded ethical consumerism into the retailer’s branding world ever since she founded the fashion chain in 1984. As a Certified B Corporation, for one, it voluntarily meets higher criteria for social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency, a rare designation among fashion brands.

Now the fashion retailer, on a mission to achieve maximum sustainability by 2020, wants to help you to not only wear clothes that reflect conscious capitalism, but find your purpose, too, said Kate McShane, Director of Brand Marketing at Making Space, according to International Council Shopping Center’s research.

That all comes together at its new Making Space test store in the Boerum Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, what it bills as a “community-centered retail experience.”

The store features an outsized mix of Eileen Fisher’s Renew and Remade recycled clothing collections—crafted from shoppers returned worn garments that have been refashioned for a second life. It also features a rotating roster of community-based artists in residence like Lilah Horwitz, who makes one-of-a-kind pieces and will hold an on-site workshop on creating new designs from damaged clothing.

The store’s lower level gives new meaning to the term “retail therapy.” Eileen Fisher’s signature LifeWork guest lectures and panel discussions, like “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction,” once reserved for its employees, is being opened up to its shoppers.

Lens Crafters: Reinventing the Exam

Another retailer, LensCrafters, is ‘Reinventing The Exam’ With Digital Technology.  At the same time, retailers are catering to consumers’ growing penchant to measure their health and wellness via technology such as wearables that track their exercise activity, heart rates and even stress levels, while joining forces with medical experts to give their merchandise and marketing a wellness stamp of authenticity.

LensCrafters is seizing that inclination. New technology is propelling the brand into the future of vision care in a market where consumers, with a heightened awareness of their health, play a participatory role in safeguarding it, said Giorgio Candido, senior vice president and general manager of the eyewear chain.

A comprehensive eye exam has always been key to maintaining good eye health, he said. However, the retailer says the chain is upping that protection by “completely reinventing” the eye-exam experience with Clarifye, its proprietary, a digitally based exam that’s conducted in store.

Clarifye scans the inside and outside structure of the eye, generating a digital fingerprint of the visual system.  The result is an eye exam that gathers five times more data on the characteristics of a consumer’s visual health that far eclipses the precision of a standard screening, according to the retailer.

“Not only can we detect eye diseases and underlying health conditions, which don’t have early warnings signs and couldn’t be detected through a regular screening, but the patient is also part of the experience, learning about their eyes and seeing what the doctor sees,” he said. “They walk out of the exam room with a much deeper understanding of their eyes and what makes them healthy.  This has raised the bar and with it, consumers’ expectations.”

DSW: Feet Healing At The  ‘Sole Lounge’

DSW, with more than 500 stores in 55 states, is eyeing wellness as part of its larger goal to forge an emotional bond with shoppers via services, along with cause marketing efforts that go beyond the mere sale of products.

“We see health and wellness as a big opportunity,” Roger Rawlins, CEO of DSW, said in an interview. “People are more aware of their own health and wellness and things… they can do to improve their lives, and we can provide our customers with tools and products that can further their well-being.”

The footwear retailer’s service-meets-wellness push comes to life in DSW’s “innovation lab store” in Polaris, designed to “offer exclusive experiences and services, ” Rawlins said. A key feature: the Sole Lounge, an in-store shop offering manicures and pedicures, shoe repair as well as custom-made orthotics, as foot health is integral to total health, Rawlins said.

Meanwhile, DSW is tapping into its shoppers’ growing interest in conscious consumption. That, coupled with its own, “be the change you want to see in the world” goals, birthed the DSW Gives campaign last month, which focuses on (spacing here)“empowerment, wellness and community.” Via an expanded partnership with Soles4Souls, DSW shoppers can now bring their gently worn shoes to one of its stores and the organization will donate pairs to children and families in need around the world. Shoppers earn 50 loyalty rewards points in return.

“We hope to do our small part to build resiliency and promote wellness in the communities where our associates live and work and inspire others to do the same,” Rawlins said.

CVS: Health-and-Wellness Makeover – do we want to mention they stopped selling cigarettes also?

CVS’ health-and-wellness makeover debuted in a mock store last year in New York City that signaled a push to morph into something akin to the Whole Foods of drugstore retailing. The shift marks efforts by the retailer to change along with its core consumers, who are asking for wellness, preventative and “better-for-you” fare, executives said.

There is a product, merchandising and philosophical shift from a focus on “sick care,” or “expected,” products like over-the-counter cold medications and sleep aids (sleep, or lack thereof, is the number one issue that CVS shoppers come in trying to solve) to “unexpected,” preventative “self-care” solutions, such as natural supplements, sleep tracking devices, sleep masks and aromatherapy, CVS executives said.

The retailer has since expanded its health-focused format to select stores, signature features of which include industry disruptive “discovery zones” that spotlight holistic solutions via educational displays that guide shoppers in their purchase of better-for-you goods, “with messages emphasizing health expertise.”

The zones feature connected-health items such as diagnostic scales, wireless thermometers and digital trackers to active-nutrition supplements such as elderberry “for those on a journey to holistic wellness and self-care,” said Erin Pensa, senior director of retail communications for CVS Pharmacy, items previously reserved for specialty health store and online retailers.

In conclusion,  the health and wellness retail market is becoming an important business model.   So use this knowledge in your community to attract these retailers.


  • Forbes, September 2018
  • Barbara Thau
  • ICSC, Research Department

RMA Proposed Innovation District Wins Major Award for Pompano Beach CRA from FRA

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. /Florida Newswire/ — RMA is proud to announce that their proposed plan for the Pompano Beach Downtown Innovation District won the 2018 Promotion Award at the annual Florida Redevelopment Association (FRA) Awards. RMA managed the city’s redevelopment agency for almost a decade and authored this award-winning plan for the creation of the city’s downtown. The plan will transform undeveloped land into a vibrant urban area (downtown), becoming a revitalization role model for cities nationwide.

“We are tremendously proud of the work RMA team members did on behalf of this project for the Pompano Beach CRA,” said Chris Brown, RMA Co-Founder. “The CRA benefitted from the talents of the entire RMA team for the creation of this ambitious program. We are especially grateful to Keila Rodriguez and Jessica Mulder who transformed this concept into a stunning presentation that has ignited tremendous interest in the Innovation District. Pompano Beach epitomizes the forward-thinking concept of building for ‘how we will live in the future,’ and this plan exemplifies that.”

The Pompano Beach CRA knew it needed to devise an engaging and impactful way to communicate the great opportunities in the Innovation District. RMA’s Rodriguez and Mulder created a comprehensive booklet and dynamic video to promote the Innovation District and tell the story of the steps the City and CRA have taken to bring prosperity to the community.

These marketing tools are now being used by the City, CRA, and by the Chamber of Commerce to attract new commercial businesses and developers, retain the existing industrial base, and continue to improve the neighborhood and quality of life of the residents, making the City, and in particular the Downtown, a more attractive place to live, work, invest and visit.

Future development in the Innovation District could include 750,000 square feet of office space, 166,000 square feet of retail space, 35,000 square feet of restaurant space, 1,500 residential units and two hotels. Job creation and other benefits will spill into the surrounding neighborhood and throughout the city.

Central to the success of the Innovation District is its unique approach to a new system of self-contained, linear waterways, which will create a scenic setting for outdoor restaurants, offices, shops and mixed-use buildings. Inspired by the waterway systems in Amsterdam, Netherlands and San Antonio, Texas, these waterways eliminate the need for dry retention ponds, allowing developers to maximize buildout across the parcels while creating an inviting and activated urban area that benefits the entire city.

About FRA:

FRA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to assisting Florida professionals and volunteers in community revitalization efforts. With its mission of “transforming spaces, revitalizing places,” FRA is committed to providing a forum for its more than 300 members to share knowledge and common experiences regarding revitalization opportunities and issues throughout Florida.

About RMA:

Founded in 2009 by Kim Briesemeister and Chris Brown, RMA is comprised of a phenomenal team of redevelopment experts passionate about building better communities. RMA is the most experienced full-service economic redevelopment consulting and management firm, headquartered in the state of Florida, specializing in revitalizing core areas and corridors for cities, counties and special districts nationwide. The co-founders are also the authors of one of the definitive books about city redevelopment, “Reinventing Your City: 8 Steps to Turn Your City Around.” Learn more at: https://www.rma.us.com/.

This press release was issued on behalf of the news source, who is solely responsible for its accuracy, by Send2Press Newswire. To view the original story, visit: https://www.send2press.com/wire/rma-proposed-innovation-district-wins-major-award-for-pompano-beach-cra/

RMA Contracted by City of Deltona, FL – Will Provide Strategic Economic Development Plan

RMA has been contracted by the City of Deltona in Florida to provide a strategic 5-year economic development plan for a Business Park and Manufacturing Related Recruitment. The award-winning firm’s scope of services, in addition to the plan, will also include relationship building with multiple partner organizations to ensure support of new initiatives and meetings with developers.

“The City of Deltona has determined that manufacturing is a target industry for the City,” said Lynn Dehlinger, Economic Development Director for the project. “RMA is honored to partner with them to develop a Business Park with a focus on attracting targeted industries.”

Deltona is located in Volusia County and borders Interstate 4. This location provides easy access to the entire I-4 High Tech Corridor as well as coastal Florida and the entire eastern seaboard.

This area is considered one of the hottest real estate markets in the country, with numerous development opportunities for industrial and commercial properties. The low-cost tax environment and wealth of workforce training resources make this a destination conducive to a variety of business needs.

Another bonus is that the average manufacturing wages are lower than Miami, Tallahassee, Tampa, Jacksonville, Orlando and Melbourne.

Deltona’s Open for Business Mission Statement is to provide the highest quality professional plan review, permitting and customer service that respects the time and cost elements of a project to the maximum potential.

RMA’s team members have firsthand experience with Deltona, Volusia County and the larger Central Florida region, having worked within the market for the past seven years. The unique public and private sector perspective and experience that this team provides will allow the successful attainment of the City’s goals, while navigating the governmental processes in an efficient and productive manner.

About RMA:

Founded in 2009 by Kim Briesemeister and Chris Brown, RMA is comprised of a phenomenal team of redevelopment experts passionate about building better communities. RMA is the most experienced full-service economic redevelopment consulting and management firm, headquartered in the state of Florida, specializing in revitalizing core areas and corridors for cities, counties and special districts nationwide. The co-founders are also the authors of one of the definitive books about city redevelopment, “Reinventing Your City: 8 Steps to Turn Your City Around.”

Florida economic development firm, RMA awarded Management Contract by City of Cape Coral, FL

CAPE CORAL, Fla. /Florida Newswire/ — RMA (www.rma.us.com) today announced it has been selected by the City of Cape Coral, Florida to provide implementation management consulting services related to the Bimini Basin Implementation Plan. The award-winning economic development firm will provide a scope of services including investment attraction, property acquisition and the promotion of development opportunities.

“During the past two years, RMA has assisted the City of Cape Coral with project management services for the development of the Bimini Basin Implementation Plan,” said Lynn Dehlinger, Economic Development Director for the assignment. “We are honored to continue our relationship with the City under this new contract, and we look forward to the next phase of this dynamic project which will bring forth a vibrant new downtown.”

The plan includes enhancements to the waterfront and Four Freedoms Park along with the development of projects which are anticipated to include multifamily housing, public parking, boutiques and restaurants along with entertainment and cultural venues.

Redevelopment in the south Cape Coral area will continue to be the driver behind a return of retail/restaurants to the urban core which will reinvigorate neighborhoods, elevate residential property values and improve the quality of life for the community members. RMA understands the challenges and rewards associated with redevelopment and will advise interested developers to assure a desirable place-making mix in this important section of Cape Coral.

About RMA:

Founded in 2009 by Kim Briesemeister and Chris Brown, RMA is comprised of a phenomenal team of redevelopment experts passionate about building better communities. RMA is the most experienced full-service economic redevelopment consulting and management firm, headquartered in the state of Florida, specializing in revitalizing core areas and corridors for cities, counties and special districts nationwide. The co-founders are also the authors of one of the definitive books about city redevelopment, “Reinventing Your City: 8 Steps to Turn Your City Around.”

More information: https://www.rma.us.com/.

Read original article on FloridaNewswire.com

Greenacres asking public for economic ideas on how to grow city

By Kevin D. Thompson – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer via Palm Beach Post

GREENACRES — In hopes of creating a better Greenacres, the city on Saturday is hosting its first public input meeting to gets residents’ thoughts on how Palm Beach County’s eighth largest city can grow.

“We want to know from residents what they think Greenacres should look like and what our strong points are,” Greenacres City Manager Andrea McCue said. “We want to use that information… to come up with a strategic plan for the city we’re hoping turns into an economic development plan for us.”

The meeting is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Greenacres Community Center, 501 Swain Boulevard.

The city hired RMA, a Pompano Beach based firm that has worked in West Palm Beach and Lake Park, to run the event.

Sharon McCormick, RMA’s director of business attraction and marketing, said the company will ask residents the following questions: What they want to see maintained in the city? What are some of Greenacres hidden gems? What should the city be investing in for growth and economics?

“We will also be doing a branding process, so I really want to understand what people feel about Greenacres,” McCormick said. “We can create a message strategy for the city to help them grow and prosper.”

She said RMA, which signed the contract with Greenacres in July, plans to be finished by the end of the year or early January.

For years, the city has wanted to grow its tax base and attract new businesses.

“We want to make sure the growth is really smart and that it works within the character of who they actually are,” McCormick said.

Councilman Jonathan Pearce said he’s interested in hearing what residents have to say.

“We have limited land we can really develop,” he said. “It’ll be more redevelopment, if I were to guess.”

In February, Councilwoman Judy Dugo told The Palm Beach Post she supports the idea of an economic development professional that will help the city build empty store fronts and to provide a lower tax rate.

“We all agree we want economic growth, but we need someone to bring us together on what the vision of Greenacres is,” she said.

McCue said Greenacres has been the kind of city people pass through to get somewhere else and she’s tired of that.

“We have a unique opportunity to be able to do some economic development in this city and to provide our residents some type of area or location that is walk-able where the are restaurants and shops,” she said. ” That will help us have an identity. I don’t know if people see us as a destination, but we want to do some things to become a destination for people.”

McCue said she’s expecting 200 to 300 people to attend.

“We’ve invited residents, business owners and students,” she said. “We’re trying to get as much feedback as possible. We don’t want a strategic action plan we can just put on a shelf. We want something that we can put into action and turn that into some economic development opportunities for the city.”

Click here to read original article.

RMA – Redevelopment Management Associates – Wins First Place Communication Awards

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. /Florida Newswire/ — Redevelopment Management Associates (RMA) employees won multiple awards at the recent Florida Festivals and Events Association event, securing two first place prizes in categories related to communications. The economic development firm, based in Pompano Beach, was recognized with top honors for their PR/Media Campaign for the 6th Annual Dania Beach Arts and Seafood Celebration and for their Community Engagement Program for Pompano Beach’s Neighborhood Ambassadors.

“We are very proud of all our RMA employees who were recognized for their outstanding achievements this past year,” said Sharon McCormick, Director of Business Attraction & Marketing. “We are especially honored that our communication programs were awarded top prizes, as our firm’s mission of reinventing cities is only successful if there is community buy-in and support.”

In Pompano Beach, RMA’s team adapted a program that has been tremendously successful with several of their other city/clients. Neighborhood Ambassadors are liaisons between local businesses, area friends, residents, community programs and events and all things “happening.” The Pompano Beach program, named the VIPs, (Volunteers in Pompano), established a social structure where residents and businesses connected monthly and learned about the often undiscovered, soon-to-be “hot spots” in the City.

“We initiated our first Neighborhood Ambassadors program just over 10 years ago in the Northwood Village section of West Palm Beach,” continued McCormick. “What began with one liaison, grew into 30 and then 300! Our strategy was to create a social atmosphere to share news, create a spirit of ‘being in the know’ and establishing connections, so together, we would reposition the community for growth and facilitate innovation.”

That highly successful model receives a city-specific twist with each new reinvention project, but the element of fostering community pride, creating understanding and building a future together remain constant to each program.

In Dania Beach, the award-winning communication strategy for the festival included an extensive promotion and advertising campaign launched through broadcast and print media placements, website and social media interaction, outdoor signage, competitions and strategic partnerships with sponsors and the community (including Dania Beach Neighborhood Ambassadors being champions and volunteers for the event).

Thousands attended the festival, introducing new visitors to local merchants and expanding awareness of the growing economic development in the area.

“RMA’s communication skill set differentiates us from other economic development firms,” stated McCormick. “Cities are made up of citizens and engagement is a crucial part of a thriving economy. At RMA, that precept is fundamental to our core values.”

Read original Press Release on FloridaNewswire.com

Latin America’s influence on South Florida’s Real Estate Market

By Jenae Valentine, MSRED, Economic Development Manager/Real Estate Associate

With some Latin American economies showing signs of deterioration, foreign investors have paid attention to the resurgence of the real estate market in the United States. Those with the means to invest have especially taken interest in the South Florida real estate market, which has seen tremendous growth in development and real estate transactions stemming from Latin America. See below for an infographic on some of the effects this has had on South Florida’s Real Estate Market.


Want jobs, public health and social inclusion? Make sure your city investment is low carbon

Governments looking to boost jobs, economic productivity and public health should ensure infrastructure investment in cities is low carbon, according to a new study for the Coalition for Urban Transitions by experts at the University of Leeds Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy.

The research team assessed over 700 studies. They found that directing investments into low carbon projects in cities delivers faster and bigger returns than conventional infrastructure, including through improving economic productivity, creating jobs and reducing health and energy costs. Highly effective low-carbon projects include public transport, energy-efficient buildings, renewable energy and solid waste management.

The paper ‘The Economic and Social Benefits of Low-carbon Cities – A Systematic Review of the Evidence’, builds on earlier work, which showed that low-carbon investments in the world’s cities could generate energy savings worth over USD 17 trillion by mid-century.

The new findings will be good news for governments grappling with the ongoing economic and political fallout of the 2008 global crash, as well as choking air pollution, traffic congestion and unprecedented rates of urban population growth.


Directing investment towards clean public transport and more vehicle efficiency can generate major and rapid benefits in a range of areas. It could create up to 23 million additional jobs a year. It could tackle congestion, cutting the wasted hours spent sitting in traffic by up to 30%. It could reduce by over 80 per cent the 1.3 million deaths and 78 million transport-related injuries worldwide each year.

Investing in city cycling infrastructure can save five times the cost of the investment by improving public health and reducing traffic congestion. Extrapolating across Europe, the health benefits from cycling could be worth 35–136 billion US dollars annually.

Directing investment to make new and existing buildings in cities energy efficient could create up to 16 million additional jobs a year worldwide. Improved working and home environments would lower rates of illness, saving on health bills and making workers up to 16 per cent more productive.

Importantly, these initiatives benefit the poor the most. Low-income groups are more likely to live in draughty buildings and neighborhoods with chronic air pollution, and depend on public transport, cycling and walking. An ambitious programme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would particularly improve the living conditions of the poor, and therefore help to achieve more equal cities.

Nicholas Stern, Co-Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, said: “This report clearly highlights how cities can be at the heart of the growth story of the future. If we are to create a dynamic and sustainable global economy, we will need productive cities where people can live, move and breathe. Cities should be attractive and dynamic places to live and work, where talented people can create and innovate.”

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, said: “This research demonstrates that there are major opportunities to create new and better jobs through low-carbon investment in cities and make cities better places to live and work.

Job creation through investment in the building, transport and waste sectors will not only revive economies but improve public health by lowering air pollution and improve accessibility for working people with more public transport.

Cities can achieve a Just Transition to a climate-safe future with unions, business and government negotiating the transformation required with decent jobs.

The opportunities are there – now we need the plan so cities can work with waste pickers to improve their health and livelihoods while slashing the emissions from landfills and waste burning. A plan where cities will work with unions and businesses to train workers for local jobs in areas with high unemployment through programmes to insulate buildings or electrify transport. A plan to expand public transport and create decent, low emitting jobs.”

Professor Andy Gouldson, lead author of the research, said “We already knew that low-carbon investment makes good economic sense. As the evidence mounted up, we were struck by the fact that the cities we want – cleaner, healthier, richer – are made possible through climate action. Whether high-quality public transport or segregated cycling lanes, energy-efficient buildings or better waste management, the dollars, lives and hours saved are impressive.”

Sarah Colenbrander, Head of Global Programmes for the Coalition for Urban Transitions said, “Governments face a number of urgent challenges in cities: delivering decent services, ensuring a healthy environment, creating economic opportunities for residents. This research shows that governments can respond to these pressing priorities while also laying the foundations for climate-compatible cities. Low-carbon investment in cities can help meet the needs of residents today, while protecting cities for residents of the future.”

Read original Press Release on Global Climate Action Summit

How Bicycling Infrastructure Brings Economic Life Into America’s Communities

By Camilo Lopez, RMA Urban Designer

In a time where information is proliferated in all corners of earth, we become more and more conscious of the decisions that shape our cities and how they affect the quality of the spaces that surround us. We realize, more than ever, that traditional modes of transportation, such as bicycling, not only can improve physical, mental and social health, but also helps the environment while increasing local business potential.


It’s no secret that when you’re on a bicycle, you travel at a slower speed compared to driving a car. By default, you may pay more attention to the details around you, including the businesses you’re passing. You may be more tempted to get a delicious coffee at a local business because of the easy access you get from being on a bicycle, unlike when driving in a car, where you may not even see the coffee shop (unless you already know of it), or even if you do, you have the burden of finding parking and, in some cases, pay for parking. Creating bicycle infrastructure is an invitation to bicycle, which brings about a chain of positive effects that facilitate economic development.

For example, the Outdoor Industry Association released a study in 2017 on The Outdoor Recreation Economy, which found that bicycling participants spend $83 billion on trip-related sales (bicycle tourism), and generate $97 billion in retail spending. Each year, bicycle recreation spending also contributes to the creation of 848,000 jobs.

The numbers are clear, bicycling and bicycle infrastructure is a positive economic tactic that improves quality of life and benefits businesses. It brings a healthy equilibrium to city life dynamics.

How else can bicycle infrastructure drive the economy?

  • Increases spontaneous business purchases
  • Provides something that is in demand by millennials (population ages 20 to 35 as of 2016); the next biggest and more impactful generational population since the baby boomers (Richard Fry, 18)
  • It’s taking over the transportation industry— Bicycling is becoming more popular across America and among all types of people. More than 100 million Americans rode a bike in 2014, and bicycles have out-sold cars most years in the US since 2003.
  • Shows business attitudes toward solutions that care about the environment—According to the Queensland Government, promoting your environmentally friendly methods can set your business apart from your competitors and attract new customers who want to buy products and services from an environmentally friendly business
  • Expands the bicycle industry—people who ride bicycles need to buy bikes and related equipment, and that opens an opportunity for bicycle businesses, which in turn creates jobs
  • Saves people money compared to the expenses of having a car, which can benefit local businesses because money saved on transportation can be invested elsewhere
  • Helps private developers reduce parking requirements and costs—Building bicycle infrastructure reduces the cost of building and maintaining parking spaces because it is an invitation for an alternative mode of transportation, people may only need one car instead of two or three, and cities may have parking exemptions
  • Increases the area’s desirability by improving its visual aesthetic and flow – and that spurs property value

Armed with the knowledge that supporting the bicycling industry is a proven economic driver, RMA is actively incorporating the creation of bicycle infrastructure into their projects. Recently, in the City of West Palm Beach, RMA experts participated in the redesign of Broadway corridor (currently a four-lane road). In the proposed streetscape improvements, the team suggested doing a road diet: eliminating one lane in each direction, widening the middle space and creating a linear park with a shared bicycle and pedestrian path. These changes would provide shade from trees for bicyclist and pedestrian comfort, and on-street parking as a protective buffer. The improvements also create locations for successful businesses to thrive, which will generate positive economic development and an improved quality of life for the area’s residents.

Bike-Friendly Cities are Happier Cities

In a National Geographic magazine article from October 2017, rating the 25 happiest cities in the US, the author Dan Buettner noted, “There’s a high correlation between bikeability and happiness.” Even people who never hop on a bike benefit from bike-friendly improvements — a safer environment for walkers and drivers, less traffic and more active neighborhoods and business districts.

Neighborhoods also become more desirable when traffic slows down and residents have more transportation choices.

What now?

When cities build and support bike infrastructure, they are making some of the highest return investments in their community. The rise in popularity of biking, and its positive physical, environmental and economic benefits, are a signal that its time to take this mode of transportation seriously and recognize its enormous potential for creating more economically strong places and a happier community overall.


Adventure Cycle Association, Economic Impact
https://www.adventurecycling.org/bicycle-tourism/building-bike-tourism/economic-impact/ Richard Fry, Millennials projected to overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation, March 1 2018, Pew Research Center, Fact Tank News in Numbers
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/01/millennials-overtake-baby-boomers/The benefits of an environmentally friendly business, Queensland Government, Business Queensland, 2014
https://www.business.qld.gov.au/running-business/environment/environment-business/benefitsDarren Flusche, Bicycling Means Business: The Economic Benefits of Bicycle Infrastructure, July 2012, League of American Bicyclists
https://bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/Bicycling_and_the_Economy-Econ_Impact_Studies_web.pdf Scott Shelter, Seeing Indianapolis via the Cultural Trail, Quirk Travel Guy
https://quirkytravelguy.com/seeing-indianapolis-via-the-cultural-trail/ 10 Reasons Bicycling Will Continue to Soar in Popularity

Meet Kim Briesemeister and Chris Brown of Redevelopment Management Associates in Pompano Beach

Via VoyageMIA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kim Briesemeister and Chris Brown.

Chris and Kim have been in the redevelopment field for over 30 years. Chris’s background in architecture set the stage for a career in real estate development and ultimately to become a partner in his own firm at RMA. Kim started her career abroad in the Netherlands Antilles, first as Marketing Director and later as Executive Director of the Downtown Management Organization (DMO), eventually moving to work within cities throughout Florida as CRA Director.

In 2009, RMA was formed when Chris and Kim saw a need to provide highly technical skills to government clients who were struggling with blighted and run down areas within their municipalities. The ultimate goal was provide services to cities who wanted to work on improving their economic health, their quality of life and promote economic activity.

Their first client, the City of Pompano Beach, had suffered from years of deterioration and a poor image, especially from a development standpoint. During the last real estate cycle, while other cities were attracting new developments and enjoying an expanded tax base from all the new growth, Pompano lagged behind as it was passed over by the development and business communities. Even being in the height of the red-hot real estate market and being conveniently located right next to Ft. Lauderdale didn’t put Pompano on the development map; over several years, only one residential project was built.

When RMA was hired by the City in 2009, they were able to identify what was holding the city back and put plans into place to overcome the barriers preventing attraction of investment to the City. RMA also assisted the city in figuring out how to fund the public improvements that would ultimately transform the city’s image of being tired, dated and blighted, to a trendy, desirable hot spot for investment.

With all the changes being implemented in Pompano, word of RMA’s unique approach to city revitalization spread and the firm began to grow. Each new employee embraced the company culture of creating quality urban redevelopment with passion, integrity and hard work. With over 40 employees deployed in various cities throughout South Florida, and recently out of state and into South Carolina, the firm continues to grow to provide service to its growing client base.

After studying and working in many cities over multiple decades, including being in the redevelopment field abroad, Kim and Chris noticed that many cities suffer from the same issues yet struggle to find the right path towards revitalization. With that in mind, the two decided to write a book to guide cities through the process. In 2015, they published Reinventing Your City. The book highlights the eight steps needed to implement a successful revitalization program and provides local and international case studies.

Reinventing Your City

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall? And if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?

Has launching a new business with our unique and highly specialized services been smooth? Of course not. First of all, we did not avoid some of the obvious challenges almost everyone faces when opening a new business, including having enough time and resources, time to service clients while keeping “back of house” in order, and time to hire new people quickly as we grew. Eventually, we built up an administrative team and easily grew from 15 to 40 people. The rapid growth created a new challenge of inadequate office space. We kept expanding into the next bays of our office building until there was nowhere to expand to. That’s when we learned the valuable lesson of having control over your own space and its needs and bought two small office buildings; one we would immediately occupy and one we could grow into.

Probably the most difficult obstacle our firm faces today is politics. It’s an ugly subject to contend with. We have witnessed hard working, well intended and thoughtful elected officials take charge of their cities and finally make the right plans for the future, only to have an election take place where everything they had worked for gets torn apart by a new set of commissioners that tilt the voting block in a different direction. Those cities ultimately fall right back into the abyss of blight or turmoil and nothing happens for years. We write a lot about this situation in our book, Reinventing Your City.

RMA (Redevelopment Management Associates) – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?

In summary, we are change agents. We transform cities that are suffering from lack of direction, a poor image, blighted or outdated public realms, lack of business investment, weak commercial corridors or commerce, etc. and set them on a path for revitalization. Change is scary to a lot of people and the process can get derailed quite easily if not managed correctly. We are most proud of our ability to see the future of a city and create a vision that they can buy into and build upon over an extended period of time. Our plans and visions aren’t just about improving roads and parks and plazas, and are not just about how to attract new types of businesses or industry. Our plans literally reinvent the city and create actual change. We are masters at implementing these plans and making sure the plans don’t sit on a shelf. Part of that comes from understanding the real estate and business side of what a city must do to prompt the change. That could include analyzing how to fund and finance the plans, defining the organizational structure needed to implement the vision, or defining the policies elected officials must take to turn the city in a different direction.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?

We are very proud of our book, Reinventing Your City. After working in the redevelopment field for 30 years, we could see why some cities had created a desirable environment for residents, businesses and visitors, and why some did not. The ability to help other cities truly understand the crucial elements of a successful revitalization program was very rewarding. Some cities even bought the book and had their top-level directors read it!

Another proud moment happens when a city finally reaches the point when they can clearly say that change started based on a specific event or happening, and they can feel the electricity in the room because change has started. It’s a pivotal time for that city.
It happens differently each time, but in one city, Pompano Beach, it happened at a city commission meeting. For decades, a group of about 100 condominium residents (red shirts) had a stronghold on a beach area and had managed to keep public parking away so nobody else, other than themselves, could easily access the beach. After working on the issue for a year, the 100 people in red shirts were reduced to 10, and there were 100 yellow shirts (the agents for change) telling the commissioners they wanted to also be able to use the beach as well and that they wanted parking. The redshirt leader stood up a stated she didn’t want “people” there, and the whole room fell silent. It was suddenly and blatantly apparent by the selfish nature of the comment, that something had to change. After a minute, the stunned Mayor said, “Well, the tides have turned in our little city and it’s different now.”

Today, there is a stunning new restaurant and two more planned on the beach, along with an iconic 600 space parking garage and retail. Even the condo residents have recognized that a revitalized beach area with people, is better than a blighted beach without people.

Pompano Beach Pier Parking Garage

Note: This article has been updated from its original version for accuracy.