Archive | December, 2013

Spotlight on…Grand Lake Activation: What Happens After Technical Assistance

12 Dec

In the past, DCI found that once a technical assistance assessment was completed, many communities still sought additional assistance to implement their community revitalization action plan.  To facilitate this process DCI created the Technical Assistance Activation, which usually occurs four to six months after the downtown assessment and serves as a catalyst to maintain momentum and garner new support in the community. Essentially DCI brings in a team of experts to help you “activate,” or launch, your community revitalization efforts. The meetings also allow DCI to work with individual committees on strategies and best practices, and to give specific resources to each committee. Read on to learn about Grand Lake’s recent Technical Assistance Activation.

Seven months after completing a technical assistance assessment in the beautiful mountain town of Grand Lake, Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) returned with a team of experts to facilitate a Technical Assistance Activation. The Activation, held on the evening of October 3rd, brought together business owners, residents, second home owners, and community members in a packed and lively town hall meeting.

Members of the three committees that grew out of DCI’s technical assistance—the design committee, the promotions and marketing committee, and the economic development committee—broke into their respective groups. Each group had a DCI expert, to talk over strategies and best practices and to receive new resources. Members of the community who had not previously been engaged now had the opportunity to join one of the committees. Two representatives from each committee joined a steering committee to coordinate collaboration between committees and report to the town council as projects move forward.

The Grand Lake committees in charge of design, promotions and marketing and economic development have been meeting twice a month or more since DCI’s technical assistance visit in March. Committee initiatives, stemming from DCI’s observations and recommendations, include rehabilitating the downtown boardwalk, improving signage on Highway 34 as it comes into town, creating a single town newsletter for all events, and building a new town brand.

DCI has found it extremely effective to follow up with Activation meetings after conducting an initial Technical Assistance Assessment in a community.  Beginning in 2014, DCI will begin packaging technical assistance services as two parts to provide the most cost-effective strategy for Colorado’s communities. If you are interested in any of our technical assistance services, please fill out our online application or call our office with any questions at 303.282.0625.

6 Economic Restructuring Tips for Communities

12 Dec

Did you miss our Downtown Institute in November? Hazel Hartbarger, Deputy Director of the Arvada Economic Development Association, shared these tips for economic development

1. Communicate with all departments in the community. Everyone should know what the economic development team is doing all the time. For example, code enforcement should be a close partner of economic development. If a business is in code violation, economic development should know about it, and be an ally to business and an intermediary between businesses and city departments.

2. Educate the community about economic development.

  • Build awareness about the importance of economic development amongst town/city employees and businesses and employees. Everyone in the community has a stake in economic development.
  • Consider hosting a breakfast for all employees or town staff. Pose questions about the community (how many residents does the community have, how much parking space, what are the advantages of doing business here, etc.) so that everyone can be informed.

3.       Spread the word that your community is “open for business.”

  • Communicate with local realtors. They are often the best salespeople for your community, and the first point of contact for new businesses.
  • Learn which types of businesses people in your community want and let realtors and other community ambassadors know!
  • When visiting other communities, give your card, or your economic developer’s card, to businesses that you would like to see in your community, or that you think would be a good fit. Often, the invitation goes a long way.
  • Enlist the help of local realtors to put together a list of available real estate to show potential businesses.

4. Demonstrate that your commercial district is a fantastic place to do business.

  • Create an economic development brochure or annual report with quality photos. Hold a photo contest and give a $100 gift card (ideally donated by a local business) to 1st prize. Or ask local businesses for quality photos (a bakery, for example) to showcase the business community (and give them free advertising!).
  • Gather testimonials to demonstrate why a business would want to locate to your community. When a business says something nice about the community, write it down, and ask them if you can use it later.

5. Support and advocate for the local businesses.

  • Be your businesses’ cheerleader and advocate. Being an entrepreneur means investing your life into something—and they have chosen to invest their lives in YOUR community. Be empathetic, be their advocate, and be in their corner.
  • Let businesses know that you will be on their side—if they need help, they can call economic development.

6. Acknowledge your local partners.

  • Send thank you notes to public works departments, wastewater, etc. or acknowledge them in a community-wide newsletter. For example, “Did you know that you did not miss a single business day last year because of the hard work of the Wastewater Department?” Give them recognition for the services they provide, and they will help with economic development work.