As a strong tourist destination and the center of its region, leaders in Devils Lake recognized the importance of its downtown to the community’s identity and its role as an attractor of visitors to lake country. The Devils Lake Chamber and tourism bureau stepped forward to lead a strategic planning effort to create a vision and action plan for its downtown.
A group of downtown merchants had organized to build momentum downtown using a series of events, yet some perceived the downtown area to be deteriorating and losing business to the highway corridor. An opportunity arose to make major infrastructure investments to improve downtown.
The Praxis team began with more than two-dozen personal interviews to help frame the key issues and perceptions of downtown. These issues became the foundation for several focus groups followed by a community survey to test messaging and gather ideas of more than 600 community members. Praxis facilitated several work sessions of a steering group of community members to develop the action plan.
Launched during two public meetings, the project helped galvanize the group of emerging leaders downtown and created momentum for additional investment. After much discussion, a sidewalk and streetscape improvement project was completed in 2019 and several significant investments are occurring in downtown buildings, many by emerging young entrepreneurs.
View the final action plan here –