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Imagining Urban Futures Programme working paper

This working paper is part of the Imagining Urban Futures Programme working paper series

Creating a personality for downtown: Business Improvement Districts in Milwaukee

Kevin Ward


This paper uses a case study of Business Improvement Districts in downtown Milwaukee to illustrate two key trends in contemporary urban revitalization. First, it highlights the ways in which the relationship between public and private sectors are being reconfigured in the governance of cities. Second, it considers the roles of Business Improvement Districts in light of the current emphasis amongst urban policy and practitioners on delivering ‘cool’ and ‘liveable’ cities. I argue that Business Improvement Districts play a central role in overseeing the restructuring of urban space in an increasing number of US cities, as well as in other countries of the global north and, to a lesser extent, south.

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