August 26, 2015
By Brian Pittman, Wilder Research
Like any large infrastructure project, the Green Line construction posed considerable risks to businesses operating on the line. To help understand how these changes impacted local businesses, Wilder Research partnered with the CCFC's Business Resources Collaborative to survey more than 200 business representatives along the Green Line. This information provides useful feedback for similar projects, and the findings provide an opportunity to reflect on the challenges and successes encountered by businesses during and after construction. We would like to share three vital findings from this research.
1. Businesses experienced considerable disruption related to the Green Line construction. Most businesses reported lengthy street and sidewalk closures, and many observed decreases in traffic, customers, and sales. Smaller businesses, businesses that owned their space, and businesses that sold products (rather than services) were particularly hard hit. Loss of parking was one of the more disruptive impacts. Most businesses reported losing on-street parking during the construction, and this issue continues with half of those surveyed reporting their business currently does not have enough parking.
2. Loss-mitigation strategies reached those most in need. The diversity of services and strategies, with the most intense being offered to the businesses most in need, provided a clear benefit to businesses on the corridor. Most businesses accessed external services or assistance (e.g., financial support, marketing, outreach) and more than half implemented their own loss-mitigation strategies (like increased marketing, coupons, etc.). Businesses were largely satisfied with the services they received and felt that their own low-mitigation strategies were reasonably effective. Supplementing business-initiated loss-mitigation efforts with financial support like forgivable loans provided the greatest support for businesses during construction. The combination ensured that businesses received assistance during lean times while also ensuring they did everything they could to keep their customer base.
3. Businesses are optimistic if apprehensive about the future. The new environment along the Central Corridor is part of a potentially bright future for businesses even if some uncertainty remains. Most Green Line businesses think they will still be operating at their current location in five years, and the majority of businesses think their number of customers, sales, and profits will increase in that time. While a few businesses voiced concerns related to parking and customer access related to the Green Line, more businesses identified opportunities related to the light rail and surrounding development.
This research looks back on how businesses and stakeholders responded to the challenges of the Green Line construction, but it is important to note that the work to shape our community in healthy and positive ways did not end with the start of the Green Line. As businesses adapt and look to thrive in the post-construction environment, we encourage everyone to support the businesses that make the Central Corridor great.
Click here for the 2015 BRC Final Report: Healthy Local Businesses, Healthy Communities.