Fairmount Avenue. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Moran)
When you know who’s spending time in your neighborhood, you can better gauge how they’ll spend their money. It follows that you’ll also be better able to attract businesses that are more likely to succeed — something that’s important to a neighborhood’s overall health.
That’s the idea behind Fairmount Community Development Corporation’s new research project that focuses on the viability of its two main commercial corridors: Fairmount and West Girard avenues, from Eastern State Penitentiary to Fairmount Park. The project will use publicly available data to determine how many and what type of people live, work and shop in the neighborhood. This information will help shape the corridor as it develops to make it as sustainable as it can possibly be.
Executive Director Kevin Moran, who has been at Fairmount CDC for about six months, brought the idea with him from his work on a similar project last year with the International Downtown Association, located in the Center City District’s office. That project, “Defining Downtown,” looked at “the live-work dynamics of ‘downtowns’ across the country,” Moran said.
IDA used local employment dynamics (LED) data, available for free through government website On the Map, to determine Center City’s “daytime population” — non-residents who commute into the neighborhood for work — and its “nighttime population” — residents.
Fairmount CDC is using the same platform as a jumping off point for learning about how census tracts relate to commercial information. Fairmount’s LED data will be compared to neighborhood metrics like education, income and family structure. The CDC will then create a report about what types of commercial properties are currently being supported along Fairmount and West Girard avenues.
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With this information — who is spending the most amount of time in the neighborhood and what they look like — it will predict what other, similar types of businesses might be able to thrive on the same corridors.
The goal is for the CDC’s research to be replicable in other districts so they might compare themselves against each other. For instance, if it’s found that Fairmount Avenue and East Passyunk Avenue have similar demographics, one can look to the successful businesses of the other and model its own corridor after it by recruiting similar businesses.
“The real power is if other communities start to replicate this project,” Moran said.
Even if that doesn’t happen, Fairmount CDC can produce the same report each year to track how its own demographics and the characteristics of local businesses change to find out what’s working, and what’s not.
“How can we leverage this course to define the neighborhood?” Moran said.
Primary research is being done this month and next. The final report is expected to be finished in January.
Want to conduct this research about your own neighborhood? Email Kevin Moran at email@example.com.-30-
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