Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) brought a technical assistance team to the beautiful mountain town of Georgetown on October 7th and 8th. Sunny fall weather, golden aspens on Guanella Pass, a historic downtown bustling with leaf-chasing fall tourists and, as always, challenges to the downtown business district greeted DCI’s large team during our two days in Georgetown. Twelve team members, including professionals in economic development, marketing, architecture, landscape architecture, transportation planning, graphic design and community organization, as well as DCI staff, assembled in Georgetown Town Hall early to begin an intensive technical assistance assessment.
Georgetown requested technical assistance from DCI to rally the community around downtown revitalization efforts and to address issues related to the gateway corridor from I-70 to downtown, the significant business slowdown during the winter months, long-term housing, economic development planning and challenges related to communication, marketing and branding.
The DCI technical assistance visit began with a tour of Georgetown’s three wards and surrounding area. The team then went directly into meetings with local government officials followed by focus groups with local stakeholders, business owners, property owners and citizens. A host of recurring observations were noted by the team, including a lack of cohesive vision, lack of collaboration between stakeholders, multiple websites and brochures, a lack of a unified, targeted branding and marketing strategy, issues of signage and wayfinding, difficulty drawing tourists into downtown from the visitor center, underutilization of the lake as a resource for residents and tourists, and a challenging winter season for local businesses.
Recommendations from the team included: creation of a marketing and branding taskforce to produce a single brand, slogan and targeted marketing strategy; creation of a trail around Georgetown Lake with a connection from the lake to downtown so that residents and visitors can take advantage of the lake’s beauty and recreation opportunities; developing a space for an amphitheater or other outdoor events venue visible from the highway; consolidation of multiple town websites using the State Internet Portal Authority; simplified organization and committee structures; an ambassador program for employees of local businesses so that they can provide accurate information to visitors; and a systematic approach to drawing both locals and visitors downtown.
The technical assistance presentation to the community was well attended and was met with great enthusiasm by the community. Business owners and residents of all ages rallied together around a shared vision of a more vibrant, more sustainable and year-round downtown business district. Georgetown hopes to increase participation of all stakeholders in downtown as they move forward with DCI’s recommendations and continue to invest time and energy in the beloved heart of their community.