Local Solutions for Business and Government

Urban Works is a professional  services firm that specializes in place-based solutions including Special Service Districts, Business District Strategies, and Location Intelligence

Areas of Expertise
Special Service Districts

Special Service Districts (or Business Improvement Districts as they are known more generally) are public / private partnerships that help revitalize business districts and catalyze economic growth for area businesses.

Looking to drive more customer traffic into businesses? Want to better manage the customer experience when patrons are in your business district? Need a way to increase the capacity of your local business community?

As the leading expert for Special Service Districts in the state of Minnesota, Urban Works can help you create and implement an economically sustainable solution for your business district.

Our Services

Minneapolis Skyway System

Launched in 1963, the Minneapolis Skyway System is a network of climate-controlled pedestrian bridges, internal corridors, and tunnels connecting more than 150 buildings in the central business district of downtown Minneapolis.

With a cumulative length of more than 10 miles, it is the most extensive second-story pedestrian system in the world.

Urban Works works with building owners throughout the system to coordinate skyway operations.

Visit SkywayAccess.com for further information.

Our Services

Business District Strategies

Successful business districts employ a variety of strategies to attract and retain businesses, drive customer traffic, and encourage investment.

Urban Works can provide your business district with the mission-critical infrastructure to develop and implement a wide range of strategies.

District identity is how you differentiate your business area from the competition.

District awareness is how you tell your story.

District management is how you coordinate your efforts.

Our Services

Location Intelligence

Location intelligence focuses on identifying, compiling, analyzing, and synthesizing the data that explain what’s happening in a given place. Urban Works provides services focused on improving the situational awareness of places for businesses and government.

Our Services

About Us

Urban Works president and owner Michael McLaughlin has assisted municipalities, business organizations, industry peers, and community leaders in Minnesota since 1995.

As a subject matter expert in Special Service Districts, Michael McLaughlin has the distinction of forming, managing, or advising a majority of the service districts within Minnesota.

Urban Works brings expertise in all aspects of Special Service District formation and management including new district formation and petitioning, new district service launches, district renewal, district financial management, vendor contract administration, board administration and management, and ratepayer and stakeholder engagement.

Urban Works also brings extensive familiarity with the legal foundation for Special Service Districts in Minnesota as well as the public policy environment surrounding Special Service Districts.

Mr. McLaughlin has served as an association executive for several business organizations, including the Minneapolis Downtown Council.

As the Vice President of District Services for the Minneapolis Downtown Council, Mr. McLaughlin researched and helped lead the effort to establish Minnesota’s largest Special Service District, the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District (DID), with an annual budget of more than $8 million.

From 2004 to 2010, Mr. McLaughlin also served as the administrator of the Nicollet Mall Advisory Board which oversaw the care and management of the Nicollet Mall in Downtown Minneapolis with a $1.2 million annual budget. Until the formation of the Downtown Improvement District, the Nicollet Mall was the State’s largest Special Service District and dated back to 1963.

In addition to its work with Special Service Districts, Urban Works has worked with building owners and business stakeholders in downtown Minneapolis to help coordinate skyway operations since 2004.

Whether coordinating skyway operations for Super Bowl LII, Final Four tournaments, the Minnesota Vikings, the Minnesota Timberwolves, concerts at U.S. Bank Stadium and Target Center, or pandemic shutdowns, Urban Works has helped stakeholders work together to achieve common objectives.

Current and Past Clients, Projects, and Task Forces

Contact Us

Please contact us for further information.