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coUrbanize in 2021: Our Year in Review

It’s time to share the coUrbanize version of Spotify’s Wrapped (without admitting to how much we binge our favorite songs).

2021 has been our biggest year yet. This is reflected in our sales and number of projects on our platform – both annual records! – but most importantly, it was our best year because of the impact that our company and mission have had on the communities we serve.

Our inclusion as a finalist in Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas for 2021 and on the top 10 list for the Ivory Prize for Housing Innovation showcase that the work we’re doing – and our customers are doing – is leading how the industry values community engagement.

Let’s take a look at the numbers.

This year, 10,545 comments were posted on the platform by community members, a 72% year-over-year increase in this activity. Of these comments, nearly 90% had a positive or neutral sentiment, which continues to showcase that conversations and feedback on our platform are more productive than public comment at a typical community meeting.

Our projects gained 5,495 new project followers, compared to 3,847 followers in 2020 (a 43% increase).

For a company that is laser-focused on empowering more people to influence what gets built in their communities, the growth in participation on the platform signals that what we’re doing matters – and that it’s working.

So what are community members saying on coUrbanize?

We looked at some of the most commonly included keywords or phrases in the feedback that community members share on the platform. Here are some standouts.

  • 8.1% of all comments mentioned “parking” or “traffic.”
  • 7.6% of all comments mentioned “housing” or “affordable housing.”
  • 5.8% of comments mentioned included a mention of “open space,” “green space” or “parks.”
  • And a coUrbanize staff favorite: Trader Joe’s was mentioned 235 times, more than 2% of total comments. Almost everyone wants a Trader Joe’s!

Our expansion in the U.S. and Canada

Speaking of growth, there are projects in 21 states using coUrbanize, effectively doubling the footprint we had last year in the U.S. In addition, we’ve expanded into Canada, with our first projects in the greater Toronto area, including Engage East Harbour, an initiative to create a massive transit-oriented community on 37 acres east of downtown Toronto.

One new market in the U.S. that we’re excited about is Chicago. POAH Chicago just received approval for its Garfield Park redevelopment, which used coUrbanize to solicit feedback from current residents of the neighborhood. The project has been recognized for its community-driven vision that focused on advancing the community that already calls this neighborhood home, rather than pricing them out of the area.

In addition, we’re thrilled to be working with Fern Hill on the team’s six-parcel project at North and Salle in Old Town. Fern Hill has taken a community-first approach to its project design, starting community outreach extremely early, getting feedback about what the community needs as it continues to look to the future.

As with any year in review, in these last remaining weeks of 2021, we turn our attention to the future. What’s ahead for 2022? We took time to gaze beyond our virtual four walls and polled some of the leading voices in development and urban planning to learn how they’re approaching next year.

2021 was a great year for coUrbanize, our partners in development, and the communities we help engage in the planning process. Perhaps most exciting however, is that there has been a groundswell of support and acknowledgement that community engagement has to evolve beyond community meetings – and that coUrbanize is leading this evolution.

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