Downtown Iowa City Nighttime Mayor Chosen to Speak at 2018 Leadership Summit

Armed with knowledge of nightlife and passion to lead the change in perception of the Downtown Iowa City night economy, Angela Winnike, Iowa City’s first Nighttime Mayor, is heading to speak at the International Economic Development Commission (IEDC) Leadership Summit in Las Vegas. Winnike, joined by Pittsburgh’s Night Manager, Allison Harden, are the experts leading a session on the importance of fostering a vibrant night economy. Winnikie heads this weekend to the IEDC Leadership Summit on January 28-30 to speak to an audience that will be made up entirely of senior managers of economic development organizations and Certified Economic Developers.

As other communities in North America develop “nightlife positions”, the IEDC has gathered Winnike and Harden to share the successes and challenges of dealing with a booming nightlife with other cities. “One of the greatest surprises has been just how willing all of our nighttime businesses, the City staff, and police department are to work with me, as well as support efforts to create alcohol free events for University of Iowa (UI) students”, says Winnike. Hired by the Iowa City Downtown District (ICDD) in 2016, Winnike works to create a safe and welcoming environment during all hours in Iowa City’s downtown. Goals of the program are to address regulatory barriers that impact the bar and restaurant community, support collective clean and safe initiatives, and to support nightlife enthusiasts and cultural venues.

During her inaugural year, Winnike has experience some challenges, but states most of the lessons learned have been positive. She has supported improved communication channels during challenging safety concerns that helped solidify a cohesive downtown nightlife community. One of the strongest initiatives of the past year has been the ICDD’s partnership with the UI Public Safety SHOUT (Students Helping OUT) program and collaboration with the ICPD. SHOUT is a program designed and run by UI students to help anyone get home safely during late night hours, including free rides home for those intending to walk alone or during dangerously cold weather. Winnike was an integral part of introducing the SHOUT program and staff to the nighttime businesses to ensure success of the program.

Other initiatives have been to add portable bathrooms during home football game weekends and known high event traffic. Veronica Tessler, owner of Yotopia Frozen Yogurt stated, “We often struggle with crowds spilling out from the bars trying to use the restrooms of other businesses. It has been one of our biggest issues as a late night, non-alcohol establishment. But we noticed a significant decrease of intoxicated people entering our establishment when additional restrooms were made available.” A combination of each intervention of the Nighttime Mayor is adding up to make a managed nightlife scene more comfortable for everyone.

In the future, Winnike will continue to focus locally on helping guide nighttime businesses, work with the city in communicating ordinance and zoning changes, and foster alternative programming downtown to support additional visitation to all of Iowa City and its surrounding communities.

On a national level, Iowa City’s Nighttime Mayor will work with nightlife leaders from San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, Orlando, Austin and Toronto as they start a call series to address trends and solutions for supporting a vibrant night economy. The Night Mayor and other similar positions continue to gain national attention.

“Now that we are starting to figure out how this position fits into our community and understand its importance as other bigger cities follow suit, I’m really excited to see the impacts of the programming and influencing policy change. Iowa City is always on the forefront of innovative ideas and changes and creating this position put us way ahead of the game,” said Winnike. She cites the community’s acceptance of last year’s Downtown Block Party, which resulted in 30,000 attendees, as the community’s acceptance of the support for a vibrant night economy. The Downtown Block Party will again take place on Saturday, June 23rd, 2018 this summer.