By: Zack Matheny, President, Downtown Greensboro Inc. //
Through CEOs for Cities, chamber led visits, and simple family travels, I have garnered so much respect and admiration for communities throughout the US. I have notebooks full of photos taken while on tours or strolls, so many that they overflow at my office and to the delight of my wife, our home! As I reflect over downtown Greensboro today and consider our future growth, I can see direct correlations between my experiences in other cities and downtown Greensboro’s projects and goals.
Downtown Greensboro is growing today with over $200 million in active developments with substantial public-private partnerships. As President of Downtown Greensboro Incorporated (DGI), I get the great opportunity to participate in these transformative projects leading our revitalization:
What inspires you?
The city of Des Moines and its people. There is an optimism here that anything is possible and we have the leadership to get it done. We are fortunate to have a civic culture that embraces volunteerism. People give of their time and talents to causes and projects and see them through to completion.
In your opinion, what are the top 3 issues facing Des Moines today?
In 2001, the University of Texas School of Public Health in Brownsville launched a clinical research project to identify health risks in the community. Alarmingly, researchers found that 80 percent of Brownsville residents were either obese or overweight, one in three were diabetic (50 percent without knowing it), and 70 percent had no healthcare coverage.
The School of Public Health swiftly went to work, launching the Tu Salud Si Cuenta (Your Health Matters) community media campaign and forming a cross-sector Community Advisory Board to promote change in the Brownsville community. The Community Advisory Board today comprises more than 200 members and has provided a critical avenue for cross-sector partners to conceive and advance solutions to the complex, systemic issue of public health in the community. The board unites members from the health field, the business community, and a number of government, education, social service, and non-profit organizations. Its work won the community the coveted Culture of Health Prize from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (You can learn more about the Brownsville initiative by reading our case study.)