Contemporary city-building requires genuine collaboration; between community, business, government and stakeholder agencies. That’s why engaging stakeholders, facilitating conversation and brokering partnerships and co-creation for city development are such important Committee functions.
The Committee fulfills its role in this area through engagement activities using a range of mediums including events and forums.
The Capital City Committee held an integrated city COVID-19 recovery forum on 21 May 2021. The purpose of the forum was to engage city business leaders from across a range of key sectors as well as main street representatives in a conversation about city recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Committee also commissioned research into the economic impact of COVID-19 on the city to date as an evidence base ahead of the event.
The Capital City Committee’s 2021 forum was held at the Adelaide Town Hall. Over 70 business, government and community leaders attended the three-hour event that included two small group sessions focused on identifying opportunities for city recovery and growth as well as challenges and key actions and partnerships for growth. Deloitte Access Economics facilitated the session.
A range of activities and potential partnerships for realising opportunities and responding to challenges were identified during the two small group sessions of the event. Key areas for potential action and investment, including via partnerships are as follows:
- City activation: attracting and retaining people in the city at key times (including weekends and evenings); targeting key segments including workers and families with particular types of activation; coordinating, connecting and leveraging activations including between sectors for greater whole of city impact; using arts and culture in particular as a platform for activation and providing rich and unique city experiences.
- City brand/ narrative, marketing and communications: for use as a strategy for attracting and retaining local, interstate and international visitors, business and residents. In particular at this level, a strong, compelling and authentic city umbrella brand/ narrative that is used consistently, differentiates the city and can span a range of target markets and programs is seen as vital. Tactically, innovative, cut through promotion of existing city activation (a definitive what’s on, where and when) including potentially a city app was also suggested.
- City retail/ service sector: incentivising an innovative, dynamic city retail and service sector offering unique and engaging experiences; trialing new and breakthrough concepts via pop ups in vacant city shopfronts; city retail/ service sector leading the transition to an omni channel experience.
- Ongoing cross sector collaboration/ coordination: structured program of ideation sessions and digital platform that enables city businesses and community organisations to connect and collaborate, creating new, innovative activation opportunities and a more coordinated approach to activation and placemaking.
- Accessibility: removing barriers to city visitation and movement between precincts including via changes to parking policy and charges; better quality, more frequent public transport; facilitating alternate modes of transport via new infrastructure.
- Residential population: growing this as an alternative to and buffer against the reducing city workforce and international student population including incentivising early career knowledge workers (local and interstate) and ‘empty nesters’ to relocate to the city; curating the right mix of housing stock at the right price points including via planning policy.
- Business attraction: promoting and incentivising relocation/ establishment of key local and interstate corporations within the city centre.
Results of Research
The commissioned research was undertaken by Deloitte Access Economics and provided a breakdown of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the city centre to date including for nine city sub sectors. The report also provided an analysis of changes in the level of foot traffic within the city including for five main streets and trends likely to affect cities in the future with discussion of implications for the Adelaide city centre.
At the whole of city level the report found that the Adelaide city centre economy grew by 0.8% in 2019-20 buoyed by growth in financial and professional services. Following on from this, expenditure in Adelaide city centre across all sectors was 6% higher in January 2021 than in January 2019.
The research found that while economic recovery is well underway in the Adelaide city centre, with many sub sectors fully recovered, some continue to struggle. In particular those that rely on in person visitation from elsewhere. As at January 2021 expenditure on city retail and personal services for example was down 15% on January 2019 figures. Creative Industries, so important to city vibrancy and character, also continue to struggle. International student commencements have dropped and are projected to continue to decline, with CBD office occupancy at 71% compared to a long-term average of 86%.
In terms of trends moving forward, remote work is forecast to remain at higher levels than before the pandemic and cities will need to provide compelling reasons for workers and others to visit. Further, businesses will need to shift to omni-channel commerce to remain responsive to market demands and experiences will become central to consumers’ and workers’ decisions about how and what they purchase.