Student Fellowship

Downtown Revitalization: Building 
a Shared Sense of Place

Project Area:

Economic Recovery


Nashua, NH

Reporting to:

Chief of Staff

The Challenge

The City of Nashua is primed for a culturally vibrant and economically thriving downtown core that helps support economic and social stability within the city. However, the downtown area is currently underutilized, and the mayor would like to know why. This is an important moment in the city’s history, and answering this question will help inform the development of the current Master Plan, which is underway for the first time in 20 years. City leadership believes that offerings attracting a diverse array of people to the downtown area are paramount to the city’s success. Complementing the formal Master Plan efforts, a component of the anticipated work will be collecting feedback from stakeholders to begin to develop long-term planning solutions. Key areas currently being explored, particularly in light of COVID-19, include the utilization of public spaces to support existing small businesses, and support for new small businesses, with a particular focus on businesses owned by people of color. The city leadership hopes that future city plans will capitalize on Nashua’s riverfront with historic mills and its downtown street grid, which could encourage pedestrian foot traffic to local businesses and events.

What You’ll Do

The fellow will be expected to:

  1. Collect data on the local business landscape and conditions–particularly small businesses of color currently operating in the area.
  2. Conduct background analysis and review case studies on Main Street development, from a planning and/or economic perspective.
  3. Develop a series of recommendations for a long-term downtown plan roadmap informed by the analysis, case studies, and outreach.
  4. Support ongoing cross-departmental work on this issue as part of the Bloomberg Harvard Innovation Track, which is helping cities engage residents in testing, adapting, and scaling creative ideas to address complex challenges. The student will become an integral part of this team and provide support on prototype building, impact measurement, and implementation planning.

What You’ll Bring

  • Data analysis and research skills
  • Design thinking and human-centered design skills
  • Fluency in Spanish or Portuguese
  • Attention to detail
  • Writing skills
  • Urban design and planning experience desired, but not required
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