Archive | September, 2010

The Reinvention of the American Community

15 Sep

Guest author Roger Brooks will be speaking at DCI’s annual conference, Downtown Trends: Essential Community Responses to the New Economic Reality. Roger will be speaking on Thursday, Sept 23, at 8:30am.

By Roger Brooks, Destination Development International

Nearly every community in North America was originally founded on a natural resource or transportation. But the industrial revolution is over, and as communities lose their core industries, they are all working to diversify their economies. With over 85,000 communities and counties in North America, 1,500 of them set out every year to get a bigger piece of the pie. In short – competition has never been more fierce.

How does a community attract economic diversity? What is it people look for, when deciding where to move, start a business, invest, or visit? More and more, people are looking for quality of life – an attractive, vibrant community with plenty to do and active people to do them with. People are looking for that “Third Place” – a place to gather with friends and neighbors during their leisure time; to socialize, relax, shop, dine, and play together.

According to Ray Oldenburg (The Great Good Place), the “First Place” is where you live, your home. The “Second” is where you work. The “Third Place” is where you go to hang out, spend your leisure time. Throughout history, downtowns have provided an essential “Third Place” for their communities. If your downtown is a vibrant place where locals go to shop, dine and hang out, visitors will go too. But if locals don’t hang out there, visitors won’t either.

After decades of downtown decline with strip malls, expansive parking lots, and freeways, people want vibrant downtowns again. Whether they are visiting a new place or hanging out close to home, they want ambiance, entertainment, shopping, and good food. They want to stroll from shop to shop, sit at an umbrella table for coffee and people watching. They want places that are open late and offer things to do after dark. They want the sense of community that only a great downtown can offer. This is the age of “Third Places.”

How does a community bring their downtown to life? Turn it into a thriving “Third Place?” They have to focus on what makes their downtown unique. What is your downtown known for? What sets you apart? The days of being all things to all people are as long gone as the industrial revolution. Communities can no longer attract business, investment, residents or visitors by claiming to be “A great place to live, work and play.” That could apply to any one of those 85,000 communities. In order to win in this age of “Third Places,” you MUST jettison the generic. Being all things to all people does not mean you appeal to a wider audience. It means you get lost in the shuffle and become nothing to anyone.

Tourism is the front door to your non-tourism economic development efforts, and creating a great downtown is a big part of that process. Downtowns and tourism organizations should be joined at the hip. Working to create an inviting downtown will enhance all your tourism and economic development efforts, as well as creating that “Third Place” that locals and visitors are looking for.

The game has changed and competition is fierce. But there are key things you can do now to create a downtown that is vibrant and inviting. Stop trying to be all things to all people. Take what sets you apart and makes you unique, and run with it. Jettison the generic! And work towards creating a downtown that is a “Third Place.” If locals hang out there, visitors will too, leading to increased spending, thriving businesses and greater opportunity for the entire community.

DCI Announces 2010 Governor’s Awards for Downtown Excellence Winners

15 Sep

Since 2003, the Governor’s Awards has recognized outstanding projects and people that reflect an attitude of perseverance and dedication to community revitalization in Colorado. All 2010 nominated projects were completed between September 1, 2008 and June 30, 2010.

The 2010 Governor’s Awards for Downtown Excellence winners are:

Best Building Adaptive Reuse: The Armory at Brighton Cultural Center, City of Brighton
Best Building Rehabilitation: Windsor Town Hall, Town of Windsor
Best New Construction: A Regional Hub for Transit, City of Durango
Best Promotional Event: Frozen Dead Guy Days, Nederland DDA
Best Public Space Project: Lyons Main Street Project, Town of Lyons
Best Downtown Management: City of Brush!
Downtown Revitalization, Under 5,000 Population: Town of Ignacio
Downtown Revitalization, Over 5,000 Population: City of Lamar
Downtowner of the Year: Towny Anderson, Main Street Steamboat Springs

All Governor’s Awards winners will be featured at the Governor’s Awards for Downtown Excellence Gala Dinner and Reception at the Hotel Colorado September 23, 2010, at 6:30pm.

This was definitely a tough decision for our judging committee, as there were so many great projects. Congratulations to all of the winners!

60, 61 and 101 Will Hurt Colorado’s Downtowns

10 Sep

Are you concerned about Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101? You should be! These measures, which will appear on the November state-wide ballot, will significantly damage Colorado’s state and local governments from funding their most basic levels of services related to safety, education, and transportation.

As an active membership organization with a membership base drawn from all corners of the state, Downtown Colorado, Inc. is in opposition to Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101. The DCI board of directors recently voted on and signed a resolution stating this opposition.

The board members and staff believe that these measures, which will appear on the November state-wide ballot, will also have an extremely negative impact on the Colorado economy. The cumulative and destructive nature of these three measures ensures that Colorado will surrender its competitive standing to attract large and small employers alike, resulting in little to no economic growth for the state, a steady decline in property values, and erosion of the state and local tax base.

The list of Colorado organizations in opposition to Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 is long! Below is a sampling of organizations who have signed a resolution in opposition to these measures.
Adams County Economic Development (ACED); American Institute of Architects, Colorado Component; American Planning Association – Colorado Chapter; American Society of Civil Engineers – Southern Colorado Branch; Arapahoe County Board of County Commissioners; Arts for Colorado; Arvada Chamber of Commerce; Arvada Economic Development Association; Aurora Economic Development Council; Avon Town Council; Boulder Chamber; Boulder City Council; Brighton City Council; Broomfield Chamber of Commerce; Cañon City Area Fire Protection District; Castle Rock Economic Development Council; Centennial City Council; Centennial Council of Neighborhoods; City of Montrose; Colorado Bar Association; Colorado Chamber of Commerce Executives; Colorado Health Foundation; Colorado Hospital Association; Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association; Colorado Municipal League; Colorado Nonprofit Association; Colorado Restaurant Association; Colorado Rural Health Center; Colorado Senior Lobby; Colorado Ski Country USA; Colorado State Fire Chiefs’ Association; Colorado Water Congress; County Sheriff’s of Colorado; County Treasurer’s of Colorado; Democratic Party of Denver, Executive Committee; Denver Broncos Football Club; Denver City Council; Denver Institute of Urban Studies; Denver Public Schools; Downtown Colorado, Inc.; Douglas County Board of County Commissioners; Douglas County Business Alliance; Dove Valley Metropolitan District; Downtown Denver, Inc.; Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs; El Paso County Board of Health; El Paso County Commissioners; Emergency Medical Services Association Colorado; Estes Park Medical Center; Evergreen Area Chamber of Commerce; Family Development Center of Steamboat Springs; Fort Lewis College Board of Trustees; Fort Morgan Area Chamber of Commerce; Golden Chamber of Commerce; Grand Valley Fire Protection District; Greeley Chamber of Commerce; Green Industries of Colorado (GreenCO; Havana Business Improvement District; Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center; Highlands Ranch Chamber of Commerce; Home Builders Association of Metro Denver; Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs; Impact on Education; Interfaith Alliance of Colorado; Jeffco Public Schools; Jefferson County Child Care Association; Longmont Area Economic Council; Longmont Association of Realtors; Longmont City Council; Loveland Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center; Loveland-Berthoud Association of Realtors; Minturn Town Council; Move Colorado; Northglenn City Council; Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority; Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority; Poudre School District; Pueblo Rural Fire Fighters, I.A.F.F. Local 3319; Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce; Rio Grande County Board of County Commissioners; Rio Grande Water Conservation District; Rocky Mountain Farmers Union; South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce; South Metro Water Supply Authority; South Suburban Park and Recreation District; Special District Association of Colorado; Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association; The Arc of Colorado; Town of Frederick; Town of Lyons; Trails and Open Space Coalition; U.S. Green Building Council of Colorado; United Food and Commerical Workers (UCFW) Local 7; University of Colorado Board of Regents; Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority; Urban League of the Pikes Peak Region; Vail Town Council; West Chamber Serving Jefferson County; Westminster City Council; Wheat Ridge Fire Protection District; Yampa Valley Medical Center

View the full list of organizations who have signed a resolution in opposition to 60, 61 and 101 here.

Here are a few links that may be of interest:

No to 60, 61 & 101 Toolkit

Poll: Voters Unsure on Statewide Ballot Issues

Grimshaw & Harring Ballot Measures Report

Don’t Hurt Colorado Campaign

DCI Resolution in Opposition to 60, 61, & 101

Sign your own resolution!

5 Common Issues Cities Face & How to Tackle Them: Downtown Management

2 Sep

Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) has partnered with the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) and teams of volunteer professionals to conduct technical assistance visits to communities across the state since 2005. Large and small, suburban and rural, resort or college town, we see the same five issues surfacing time and again. Do any of these issues sound familiar to you?

  • Communications: Miscommunication or a lack of communications between the local government and business, residents, and other entities (e.g., libraries, museums, hospitals).
  • Downtown Management: Difficulty accessing local resources to synchronize initiatives for maximum impact.
  • Mobility: How to link resources/attractions for an enhanced pedestrian environment with coordinated signage, parking, and way-finding.
  • Business Retention, Expansion, and Attraction: Developing an ongoing business support program to serve as ambassadors to link businesses to training, information, and assistance.
  • Financing: Identifying mechanisms for generating funds to focus on downtown whether locally generated through a business improvement district or downtown development authority, or identifying sources for grants and other externally generated support.

This is the second installment in this five-part series, we will address specific areas to examine, as well as actual recommendations from recent technical assistance visits, for each of these common issues. Click here to read our first installment on tackling Communications issues.

Downtown Management
On our technical assistance visits, our teams often see many organizations that are contributing to the community, however, it is less common to see one organization that advocates and represents downtown. Your downtown’s Main Street is the “living room” where your community entertains both residents and visitors. If downtown is nurtured through revitalization efforts, the impacts have a domino effect on other areas of the community.

Numerous variations of downtown organizational structures exist throughout the country. In some towns, for example, the chamber of commerce is strong enough to add an organizational component designated to focus solely on the downtown. In other communities, each organization provides a representative for an umbrella organization to address downtown’s needs. No matter how you structure it, for downtown revitalization to happen, you need to designate a downtown champion that makes downtown a priority in your revitalization efforts.

Consider the following:

  • Do you have multiple local organizations that are possibly duplicating efforts? Can you consolidate these efforts? When organizations collaborate they reduce duplication and consolidate resources, thereby getting the biggest bang for the buck. A positive step is to conduct a facilitated discussion to clarify the roles of each organization. Invite the local chamber of commerce, merchant organizations, DDA, BID, Main Street organization, and economic development corporations. Create a visioning statement that each organization can identify with and use to establish their role in the larger mission of revitalizing downtown. The community should establish an umbrella entity with representation from each of the different organizations serving on the board. Establish a mission and objectives for the revitalization of the community and assess the skill sets and resources needed to accomplish these goals.
  • Do you know who your downtown stakeholders are? Create a list of businesses, organizations, volunteer groups, key people, and other entities that are or could be involved in downtown. Assess how each person or group can contribute to downtown development and how best to approach each group.
  • Are you utilizing volunteer skills effectively? Identify the skills the downtown needs to grow and better support business, e.g. web design and marketing, gardening and physical labor, business training, and organizational development. Then identify individuals or organizations that could provide these skills; think both generally and specifically. For example, students might provide website design needs or a local graphic design artist might be willing to contribute an event poster design.

Below are some actual downtown management recommendations from recent DCI/DOLA technical assistance visits:

  • Develop clear organizational and downtown management collateral materials. Downtown, and its representatives, will only begin to build the public’s and business community’s confidence and garner support, when it can clearly demonstrate that there is a representative structure in place that provides a valuable, equitable, and affordable service focused on the health of downtown and the businesses that are housed in it. It is imperative that the downtown champion develops materials that clearly describe the benefits and requirements of participation. Be sure these encourage participation from all groups and are translated to relevant languages if necessary.
  • Develop a coordinated effort to promote retail events in conjunction with community events.  Identify retail events to highlight local business. Downtown activities bring a lot of people into the area, but do not always enhance retail sales.  Retailers need to tap into event participants and the money that they are bringing with them. Staying open late one or two nights a week to capture the population that is already downtown should create habit-forming experiences for residents. A First Friday Sidewalk Sale brings the merchants together and attracts residents, and even tourists, into the downtown.
  • Consider partnerships and collaborations that are not being utilized: Connect with school and senior center to develop volunteer program. Partnerships between local governments, non-profits, and schools or senior centers are often some of the most beneficial. These partnerships provide leadership opportunities for seniors and youth who have so much to offer a community. By collaborating, the youth and senior population can also make valuable contributions to the efforts of the community by providing a volunteer corps with expertise, information, able bodies, and energy.

Technical Assistance Visits

We hope these questions and recommendations will get you thinking from a new perspective about approaching downtown management strategies for your community. For a detailed technical assistance visit that will address all of the specific issues your community is facing as well as provide an action plan to tackle them, visit our technical assistance information at to download an application or call DCI today at 303.282.0625.