The new mayor of Rotorua, Steve Chadwick, says change is vital for the city.
A new strategy which involves businesses being asked to scrub up their shops in a bid to revitalise the inner-city was launched on Thursday night.
The Rotorua Chamber of Commerce says for the past three or four years, between 90 and 100 shops in the inner-city have been vacant.
The latest census also showed Rotorua's population has dropped by 600.
Ms Chadwick says the community is desperate to see palpable change.