Chuck D'Aprix is one of the North America's foremost experts on the economic revitalization of downtowns and traditional commercial districts. In addition, he has been a thought-leader on local economic development and has been at the forefront of most community economic revitalization movements over the last few decades.
Called by one newspaper, “ A man of no small enthusiasms,” and “indefatigable” by another, his approach to community revitalization is perhaps best summed up by former Vice President, Al Gore, who said, “Chuck D'Aprix is not tethered to the same old way of developing a local economy but is a man of new ideas and innovations — he is the type of person cities need." Noted urbanist Richard Florida called him “an urban entrepreneurship doer.”
Always the first person to hold any position for which he was hired on staff, Chuck has finely-honed entrepreneurial instincts and is an accomplished community change-agent. His consulting practices have drawn praise from clients and competitors alike. In addition to running innovative agencies he has consulted in over 300 communities.
Often quoted in newspapers, journals, and blogs on matters related to local economic development and downtown regeneration, he has been a frequent guest on radio and television and has spoken to dozens of conferences in the U.S. and beyond.
An accomplished and entertaining presenter, he has often been engaged to keynote conferences dedicated to downtown revitalization, local economic development, smart growth, entrepreneurship as a community revitalization tool, and retail incubation as an economic generator for commercial districts. Chuck also works with communities on gentrification remediation.
Chuck has written book chapters, journal articles, book reviews, white papers, briefing papers and speeches for mayors and governors and is hard at work on a book entitled, "Downtown Revitalization: Stories from the Frontlines."
Chuck began his career in Lowell, Massachusetts for the nationally known Lowell Plan economic development agency as one of the first urban Main Street managers in the country. He later served as Director of Marketing and Assistant Executive Director. During his tenure, Lowell received national attention for its amazing economic renaissance. He was proud to play a small part in that municipal resurgence.
Chuck was recruited to work on staff for a major Boston-area development corporation as the first Director of Marketing and Communications. In that role, he united several regional economic development agencies in a common vision and managed a national advertising campaign. Chuck also represented the firm before the Governor, Mayor of Boston and at countless local City Council and Planning Board meetings. He worked closely with Congressional and Senate delegations in several states and twice was invited to the White House to talk about the impact of trade on downtowns in the Midwest.
Chuck struck out on his own with a Boston-based consulting firm called Economic Development Counsellors (EDC). EDC managed marketing programs for local economic development agencies and downtown revitalization programs. After selling an industrial targeting software package developed in-house, Chuck moved on to run a series of economic development agencies – always as the first President. His entrepreneurial skills, coupled with his deep understanding of local economic revitalization, held him in good stead.
In Quincy, Massachusetts he was the first President of the Quincy 2000 economic development agency and garnered national attention for a retail incubation program and for an innovative marketing effort.
While in Quincy he oversaw the revitalization of several commercial districts and received state-wide attention for a number of creative initiatives. He was invited by theGovernor and a U.S. senator to serve on state and federal economic development advisory committees. He testified before Congressional and State Legislative committees on downtown revitalization issues and emerging trends in local economic development.
Chuck was recruited for a position in Hollywood, Florida, a beachfront community with a troubled political climate and an inconsistent economic past. Again, as the first President, he threw himself into crafting a model economic development agency. He created a resilient organization while navigating the waters inhabited by numerous competing political groups. Along with other progressive forces in the city, he began to implement development policies through the lens of progressive urban planning, including: Historic Preservation, New Urbanism, Placemaking, Walkability Analysis, Sustainable Waterfront Development and developer linkage programs. His developer attraction program won several economic development awards, and he was responsible for over $8 million dollars in HUD Section 108 financing, something that later was responsible for a HUD Blue Ribbon award. His groundwork led to the revitalization of the Diplomat Hotel, a project that exceeded $500 million dollars.
While in Hollywood Chuck took on an entrenched group of long-time anti-development activists. He was frequently threatened and at one point even received a death threat for his willingness to advance a progressive and thoughtful approach to economic development. As he says, “it wasn’t so funny at the time---now I get a good laugh over it.”
Chuck’s experience in diverse settings led him to start two consulting practices. Downtown Economics (formerly Economic Development Visions) is an innovative economic development consulting practice specializing in: business attraction, business retention, market analysis for downtowns, cities and regions, entrepreneur attraction, downtown revitalization planning, and commercial district regeneration. The practice is strongly tethered to the concepts of Smart Growth, New Urbanism, Historic Preservation, Placemaking, Sustainability, Walkability, Density, Livability and Transit Oriented Development.
The Downtown Entrepreneurship Project (DEP) specializes in the attraction, cultivation and retention of entrepreneurs in downtowns and commercial districts. The DEP is rooted in the notion that our business districts are more sustainable and attractive when populated with independent businesses and not reliant upon Big Box retailers or international chains. In addition, the DEP consults on the creation of Retail Incubators for commercial district revitalization, as well as: Community Kitchens, Pop-Up Retailers, Food Truck Programming and other innovative approaches to sustaining the long-term growth of our Central Business Districts.
In recent years, Chuck also started Downtown Charrettes, a firm dedicated to providing creative and meaningful charrettes and community outreach programming to downtowns, commercial districts and underserved communities.
Chuck holds a bachelor’s degree from the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY and a master’s degree from Syracuse University in journalism and communications. At Syracuse, he developed a community outreach and engagement program for local non-profits. He also received a mid-career master’s degree in Management from Lesley University, where he was able to concentrate on the management of the economic development function in mid-sized cities. He also contributed to the best-selling book, “Big-Box Swindle,” as part of his program of study.
He also holds graduate certificates in Urban Design and Placemaking from the Bloustein School at Rutgers University and is a Certified Charrette Manager and Public Meeting Manager through the National Charrette Institute.
Chuck has served on design teams for the American Institute for Architects (AIA) in several communities and on numerous Main Street Resource Teams in downtowns and commercial districts across the nation. He has taught economic development and promotion for the Florida Main Street program on several occasions and he taught in the Main Street Certification program for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Neighborhood Resource Center in his Richmond, Virginia neighborhood. He serves on the Board of the Greater Fulton Business Association in Richmond and chairs the anti-litter program in the Greater Fulton neighborhood.
He has been active in the American Planning Association, the National Main Street Center, The Congress for New Urbanism and CEOs for Cities.
IN THE LATEST NEWS…CHUCK HAS STARTED A NEW NONPROFIT TO REVITALIZE THE COMMERCIAL DISTRICT IN HIS FULTON NEIGHBORHOOD IN RICHMOND. KNOWN AS INNOVATE FULTON, INC THE ORGANIZATION IS ALREADY EXPERIENCING SUCCESSES. As Chuck says, “I get to put my expertise to work right in my backyard.”