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Pop-Up Downtown Receives International Award of Excellence in Urban Place Management

TULSA, OKLA. (Oct. 10, 2023) – The International Downtown Association (IDA) recognized Downtown Tulsa Partnership (DTP) with the Downtown Achievement Award of Excellence for its resourceful approaches related to DTP’s 2022 Pop-Up Downtown holiday pilot program. The Award of Excellence acknowledges an excellent response to an urban place management challenge and demonstrates application of industry knowledge, according to a jury of peer professionals.

Pop-Up Downtown was entered in the category of Economic Development, which IDA identifies as one of seven professional urban place management practice areas. This category features unique organizational approaches and projects in the areas of business recruitment and retention, market analysis and research, nighttime economy, incubators, and co-working spaces.

Pop-Up Downtown allows emerging and growing entrepreneurs as well as established local brands to test the Downtown Tulsa market through affordable short-term leases in ground-floor retail spaces. The 2022 holiday pilot program was designed to increase the amount of retail offerings Downtown for holiday shopping while amplifying the work of local minority small businesses and entrepreneurs. DTP shared its pilot program application among Tulsa’s growing inclusive entrepreneurship resource ecosystem, prioritizing programs whose graduates were Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC).

The 2022 Pop-Up Downtown holiday pilot program connected 11 local entrepreneurs with nine vacant Downtown storefronts, resulting in more than $27,000 in revenue for these small businesses. Participants were 72% BIPOC and were 72% female. Three of the program participants continue to operate two brick-and-mortar stores in Downtown Tulsa at East Fifth Street and South Boston Avenue: Mi Tea Lounge and 5th & Fab Fashion Hub.

Throughout the 45-day shop operations, DTP curated the pop-up program and served as liaison between Downtown property owners/managers and participating entrepreneurs. Participants were able to apply for microgrants ranging from $500-$1,000 dollars to cover expenses, and seven entrepreneurs received grants based on need, hardship, and unique expenses to their shop concepts, totaling $5,600.

“The program’s participation process and costs were designed to be as equitable as possible — from deeply discounted rental rates to no background, credit or rental history checks,” said Emily Scott, DTP’s Director of Planning and Vitality, who accepted the award at IDA’s annual conference on Oct. 5, 2023, in Chicago. “In doing so, we were able to eliminate the most common barriers for underrepresented groups accessing commercial space: capital and relationships.”

Building on the success of the award-winning 2022 pilot, applications are now open for the 2023 Pop-Up Downtown holiday program, which will support five to seven pop-up shops in Downtown from Nov. 13, 2023, through Jan. 19, 2024. DTP has offered virtual info sessions for potential applicants, one of which remains at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 10: Session 3. The application deadline for entrepreneurs is 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 13.

Thanks to the generous support of The Commemoration Fund, DTP will continue to prioritize nontraditional and minority entrepreneur applications while expanding direct microgrants to all participants and providing expert guidance in the following categories:

  • Business consultation to help participants refine their business operations and maximize their potential for success.
  • Store staging consultation to assist participants in designing their store layouts and visual merchandising and creating an immersive shopping experience.
  • Marketing consultation to help participants develop marketing strategies, including online and offline approaches, that will help participants reach a wider audience and drive sales.

A Request for Proposals for these consulting services is now open and will close at 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 16.

“Downtown Tulsa has demonstrated skillful application of urban place management principles with their project Pop-Up Downtown,” said David Downey, IDA President and CEO. “Pop-Up Downtown should serve as a framework to all member communities within IDA.”

Washington, D.C.-based IDA is the premier organization for urban place professionals who are shaping and activating dynamic city center districts. Downtown Tulsa Partnership is the urban place management organization representing the interests of property owners in Downtown Tulsa. More information about Pop-Up Downtown can be found at