Can downtowns come back from COVID-19 better and more inclusive?

A street near a pub
Sidewalk traffic in downtown Rochester was pretty quiet on a weekday afternoon in April.
Ken Klotzbach for MPR News

Many downtowns are a lot quieter than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic.

With more people working from home, businesses that depended on a downtown workforce struggled and some closed for good. Habits also have changed over the last couple years and some people are now less likely to head downtown to shop or find entertainment.

Town centers are always reinventing themselves, but the waves of recent change pose new challenges for traditional downtowns.

MPR News guest host Catharine Richert talked about how cities in Greater Minnesota are trying to reimagine their downtowns and create that vibrant mix of shops, restaurants, public spaces, businesses and — most importantly — people.

Guests:

  • Wafa Elkhalifa is the equitable development coordinator at Destination Medical Center, a public-private economic initiative in Rochester focused on the downtown area.

  • Kristi Stokes is the president of Downtown Duluth.

  • Donella Westphal is the owner of Jules Bistro in downtown St. Cloud.

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