As Vice President for Economic Development of the Downtown Alliance, Stephanie Jennings oversees research projects that examine the demographics of Lower Manhattan, from the commercial diversification of industries to growth in the residential, retail and tourism sectors.
Why did you want to join the Downtown Alliance?
I’ve always been interested in transforming communities. The Downtown Alliance offered a chance to be part of the transformation of the nation’s fourth-largest business district—an area that is tremendously dynamic.
What exactly do you do at the Downtown Alliance?
Mostly research and economic development; they’re part and parcel. We do research not just to understand what’s happening in Lower Manhattan and respond accordingly, but so we can tell the story of the neighborhood’s evolution and promote the district to residents, visitors, businesses and their employees.
What was one of the most rewarding experiences you’ve had here?
Last year, I led a team in producing the State of Lower Manhattan 2011, the definitive report assessing a decade of progress within the district’s real estate market and economy.
So how has Lower Manhattan changed over the last 10 years?
The industries are more diverse, employment has increased, the residential population has more than doubled, and tourism has grown by leaps and bounds. Those changes have made the sidewalks active later and on the weekends and drawn a new mix of stores and restaurants.
When I started in 2007, there was the lingering impression of post-9/11 recovery, despite the fact that “the numbers” all indicated the district had recovered. Since then, the district weathered the Great Recession well, and the progress of the World Trade Center and other developments have all contributed to a new feeling of optimism, opportunity, and excitement about the future.
What’s your favorite lunch spot?
What do you tell friends who want to visit Lower Manhattan?
Walk the waterfront!