Special to the Patriot-Bridge Mayor Michelle Wu this month announced the launch of “Meet Me in the City,” a new initiative designed to encourage local tourism through special events, performances, and holiday shopping in Boston’s Downtown and neighborhoods. “Meet Me in the City” encourages residents and visitors to come into the city and support local businesses in Downtown and across every neighborhood. “Our small businesses and cultural institutions are the foundation of our communities and drive our local economy,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “We all benefit from more tourism coming to Boston. As we enter this holiday weekend and approach the new year, I encourage everyone to come experience the vibrancy of our neighborhoods and shop locally here in Boston.” Boston’s dynamic small businesses and arts and cultural institutions are critical to the local economy, especially during this year’s holiday shopping and entertainment season. With holiday spending forecasted by the Massachusetts Retailers Association to increase 10 percent statewide compared to 2021 and an 8 percent inflation rate, the “Meet Me in the City” initiative encourages residents and visitors in the greater Boston area to experience the city and invest in our communities. Following a recent report by the City and Boston Consulting Group detailing some of the challenges facing Downtown Boston, Mayor Wu along with key City and business leaders have re-launched PLAN: Downtown. The plan, in conjunction with the Downtown Revitalization report, sets a roadmap for the City to reimagine Downtown Boston as a truly inclusive neighborhood filled with new homes, diverse businesses, world-class public spaces, vibrant nightlife, and a thriving arts and culture scene. “This initiative is an important step to encourage residents and visitors alike to shop local and increase consumer spending during the holiday season,” said Segun Idowu, Chief of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion. “More than 50 percent of Americans shop small on Small Business Saturday, and this campaign will help drive activity to Boston’s Downtown and neighborhood districts this weekend and into the new year to showcase thriving, vibrant, and inclusive spaces for all of our residents and visitors to spend the holidays once again, while supporting our local economy.” “Meet Me In the City” leverages the City’s award winning All Inclusive Boston campaign to focus on raising awareness and elevate the visibility of the Mayor’s call to shop local this holiday season through a significant commitment to advertising with neighborhood newspapers and sites, along with local television partnerships and collaborative activations. Encouraging patrons, visitors and residents to use ‘the power of the purse with passion and purpose’, the initiative also aims to address the shift to remote work, which has significantly reshaped the central business core. For years, Downtown Boston was one of the busiest neighborhoods in the city, with heavy, daily foot traffic driven by thousands of office workers. However, foot traffic numbers have remained down by 40 percent since the pandemic. The “Meet Me in the City” initiative is aligned with the Mayor’s vision to address this shift and ensure that Downtown is a vibrant neighborhood where people from all backgrounds come together. Beginning this month, holiday tree lightings kick off the season before and after Thanksgiving, along with beloved new and familiar holiday traditions like Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker, Boston Pops, Urban Nutcracker, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Black Nativity, ice skating on the Frog Pond and the annual New Year’s Eve celebration, First Night. The City of Boston’s holiday tree lighting in Boston Common takes place December 1, followed by local neighborhood tree lightings throughout the city.