Located in the northeastern corner of Colorado, Sterling is known as the regional shopping hub and has the largest population of communities in Colorado east of Pueblo (estimated at 13,900). The city’s proximity to Interstate 76, and State Highway 14 provides great potential to bring passers-by to the community.
DCI brought a technical assistance team to Sterling in mid-July. Throughout the assessment, the technical assistance team met with community stakeholder groups to determine the needs of the city. Council members, business owners, community organizations, and residents met in focus groups to update the team on past revitalization efforts, and what they would like to see for the future of their community. Common observations included the need to eliminate one-way streets, improve sidewalks and design, make use of historic buildings, and satisfy the organizational needs to bring all downtown business owners on the same page. Downtown business owners expressed the concern that most of their business came from out of town, and very few Sterling residents go to the downtown district to shop.
Recommendations from the technical assistance team included the need for clean storefronts and to take advantage of vacant spaces by incorporating business incubators, holiday markets, and programs for Northeastern Junior College students and the Small Business Development Center. The team also stressed the importance of promoting downtown businesses both online and through community events to encourage residents to visit and shop at downtown businesses. To accomplish the recommendations, the team presented the need to have a full-time or part-time staff-person or director dedicated to the improvement of the downtown business district. Having staff focused on these efforts helps to create a focused vision for promotional activities, and coordinating volunteer efforts. A number of downtown organizations in Colorado have utilized the AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) to provide a full-time staff at a low cost.
Following the team’s recommendations, the community at-large was ready to make improvements–business owners were spotted cleaning up their windows and sweeping their sidewalks that night!
Interested in DCI’s technical assistance program? Visit www.downtowncoloradoinc.org for details or contact us at 303.282.0625.