In the last two decades, the city has faced and overcome the loss of an employer that once provided 20,000 engineering and manufacturing jobs, and turned that loss into a state-of-the-art, 18,000 square foot science learning center with a national memorial to the crew of the doomed Space Shuttle Columbia flight in 2003.
Through interactive educational programs and exhibits, and unique historical resources, the center provides experiences which inspire people of all ages to enhance their understanding of space related sciences, to recognize the value of technologies developed through the space program, and to engage in the exploration of Planet Earth and the universe beyond.
The center targets and encourages students, especially those from underrepresented groups, to discover science, technology, engineering, and math in exciting and innovative ways.
In 2009, Downey implemented its Military Banner program to express appreciation to all local members enlisted in the armed forces. Donations poured-in to help with the purchase of banners for local veterans. Shortly afterwards, the city formed a veterans committee of local retired veterans and residents who are passionate about supporting servicemen and women. One of the first items on this committee’s agenda was the concept of a possible Veterans Memorial, which came into being November of 2012. To help local veterans find employment, the city partnered with RMI International, a security firm offering a vast array of security services from event staffing and parking enforcement to guarding of international dignitaries. Recently, RMI hired approximately 40 veterans, 10 of which were from Downey. Two of those Downey veterans are actually employed by the City of Downey and are currently working in the local downtown area.
In 2001, the City Council adopted the Downtown Plan, a staff-generated concept that placed an overlay zone on the eighty acres that comprise the central area of the City. The Downtown Plan sought to create a unique district that would attract people into the downtown area to shop, eat, and attend entertainment, cultural, and civic events. During the last few years since the adoption of the plan, the downtown area has experienced renewed interest from developers, Downey residents, prospective business owners, and visitors from outside the area. Strategies to revitalize include investing public dollars to facilitate construction of the Kirkorian Theater and a new parking structure, completing the Downey Avenue Street Improvement Project, and promoting façade improvement program/sign and awning programs.