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When it comes to DTLB, I am an optimist and I am proud of that. My first time at the helm of the DLBA Board didn’t come from anything but that sense of optimism because I’ve been shown the great things this organization does and how the equally great Downtown revolves around great people.

Some find optimism hokey, some even strangely think it is a bad characteristic; that it lacks some kind of grounded reality when approaching vast, complex things like the urban fabric. But when you look at what we’ve done as a Downtown—the conglomeration of champions, community members, residents, business owners, and property owners—the best response I get to give is by asking them how they can’t be optimistic right now.

Investment in Downtowns across the nation is unfettered in the best sense possible. Public real estate is being returned to the people. Families and professionals alike are appreciating dense, walkable neighborhoods that are filled with events, new development, culture, and businesses where they not only love the product but know the owner. In a sense, the contemporary relationship between people and their downtown is an intimate one—the exact opposite of the archaic definition of urban centers that were highlighted as cold and anonymous.

DTLB is no different.

Investment from organizations like New York’s WeWork—bringing working spaces to companies and startups of all sizes—and developers like Anderson Pacific cements DTLB’s role as being the epicenter of fostering technology, business, and community.

It even shows in the DLBA itself: the fact that this very organization is rebranding itself as an alliance reflects the fact that it is a group that is more community-driven than corporate. It is a place that encourages looking at DTLB from all facades, including the shiny new developments and the darker, more complex side of homelessness. It is the understanding that coming together as a coalition rather than separate entities will make DTLB and the region a better place.

And that is precisely what the DLBA is doing. We are even undergoing the process of creating an entirely new strategic plan, named Vision 2020, that is based on not just Board member suggestions or staff recommendations but community input that has been collected throughout the year.

If this somehow still doesn’t manage to make you smile, well, don’t worry. Because I’m an optimist and I promise you that in the coming year, you’ll have something to smile about.

-Toliver Morris, Chair of the DLBA Board