Archive | March, 2015

DCI & Main Street – A Match Made in Wellington

11 Mar

February 2014, the Town of Wellington and newly formed Wellington Main Street Program were honored to participate in a community assessment with the assistance of DCI and the Colorado Dept. of Local Affairs.  This community assessment encouraged local businesses and the Town Trustees to form The Wellington Main Street Program.  In late November 2014, they hired Executive Director, Wendy DuBord.  The volunteer Board of Directors has been busy and along with Wendy have accomplished a great deal in the last four months.  Main Street has partnered with the Town of Wellington on a GOCO grant for assistance in the construction of the new and very large Community Park.

Main Street also partnered with the Wellington Area Chamber on a grant to the History Colorado, State Historical Fund to complete an intensive survey of historic buildings in downtown Wellington.  They are working on several other grant opportunities to benefit the community and to provide grant and loan funding for downtown business improvements.  The Main Street Design Committee is organizing sponsors and volunteers for a downtown beautification project that will include new sidewalk flower pots, colorful light pole banners, and other cleanup and beautification.

In partnership with the Town of Wellington and Wellington Area Chamber of Commerce, Main Street will participate in a comprehensive economic development assessment with a grant from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

One of the many recommendations from the DCI Community Assessment was re-design of the downtown Centennial Park located on Cleveland Avenue the main street of Wellington.  Just last week, Mike Tupa from the University of Denver, Colorado Center for Community Development and Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) signed a contract with the Town of Wellington to complete this design of Centennial Park as well as other main street improvements and signage and wayfinding design.  Main Street is the local champion and administrative agent for that project on behalf of the town.

Under new or expanded events, Main Street is co-sponsoring a Pi-Day event on March 14 and was instrumental in coordinating and sponsoring Summer Concerts in the Park starting in June.

Wendy DuBord is Executive Director of the Wellington Main Street Program.

Advertisements

A Technical Assistance Adventure in La Junta

11 Mar

By Deana Miller

Photo Credit: Bette McFarren

Photo Credit: Bette McFarren

Working with communities to help them discover and mobilize their strengths for growth and well being is my passion. So when DCI invited me to join a technical assistance team for downtown La Junta, I was just thrilled. DCI’s technical assistance program, which has served over 80 communities statewide, is geared to provide high quality, professional guidance at a low cost. After 11 years of assisting communities with strategies to strengthen their downtown, DCI has community planning and public engagement down pat.

One might ask how does DCI’s technical assistance process work? After La Junta’s application was selected, the process started with coalescing a team of experts in a variety of areas, including historic preservation, economic development, urban renewal, marketing and promotion, landscape design, architecture, land use, and my particular expertise, the creative economy and creative placemaking. The team was poised to evaluate La Junta from every angle.

We arrived in La Junta that snowy Sunday evening when snowmageddon hit Colorado; a little Colorado snow did not deter our endeavor. On Monday, we began a flurry of meetings to learn all we could in 10 hours about the charming, historic downtown. We met with City and County leaders, and we held focus groups with businesses, residents, the school district and local college staff, artists and arts groups, outdoor enthusiasts, police, fire and library staff, community organizations, the Chamber of Commerce, economic development and urban renewal; four focus groups in eight hours. We toured downtown to evaluate the look and feel of the area; all while talking to residents and business owners/employees along the way.

After burning the midnight oil to analyze our findings and brainstorm ideas, the team rested on the first day. Day two began with finalizing our recommendations, building PowerPoint slides and practicing our ideas out on the La Junta leadership team. A few final tweaks and we were ready to present our findings and recommendations to the community. The resulting public presentation was viewed by nearly 100 attendees, all eager to see what we saw in their community. They intently listened to our suggestions and strategies on how they can tap into their assets to create a vibrant, bustling downtown.

Technical assistance does not end here. DCI will continue to counsel and provide assistance to La Junta throughout the year. The goal is to help La Junta and communities statewide along their path to redevelopment and downtown investment strategies.

For more information about DCI’s technical assistance program, visit www.downtowncoloradoinc.org or call 303-282-0625.

Deana Miller is a Senior Associate with Art Management & Planning Associates, based in Denver, CO.

Grand County Engages Youth

11 Mar

By DiAnn Butler

grandcounty

The young people of Grand County have a desire to be more involved in community decision-making, especially as it relates to issues like job opportunities, community improvement and recreation.

More than half of the middle school and high school students indicated they would like to live in Grand County in the future. And, over 80 percent of the respondents said they would volunteer if asked by an adult to help with a program to improve the community.

Those were some of the findings of a Youth Assessment Study that was recently completed by the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship under the guidance of the Grand County Office of Economic Development (GCED).

One of the seven core goals of the Grand County Office of Economic Development is the Education and Training of the Future Workforce in Grand County. With that goal in mind, it has been an objective of GCED to involve youth whenever possible in activities addressing economic growth in Grand County.

The opinion of high school students was sought during the Downtown Colorado Inc.’s Downtown Assessment project in Kremmling. Their answers and opinions were among the most candid and revealing of the day.

In the summer of 2014, the Center for Rural Development was contracted to conduct a countrywide youth assessment, develop a five-year youth engagement action plan and facilitate a youth entrepreneurship summer camp in the summer of 2015.

The Youth Engagement Action Plan Retreat was held in January and the attendees decided to focus on getting more involved with specific local government entities like the town council and the chamber of commerce. They also decided to work towards presenting an idea to their local school boards to develop a business internship program that could be used to satisfy the community service requirement for high school graduation.

During the Youth Engagement Process, it has been significant to learn that young people are very aware of their communities and they have a desire to see improvements. They want to improve their quality of life and they want to do so through community involvement, with viable employment opportunities and an increase in recreational options.

That passion dovetails nicely with the goal of educating and training a future workforce. It has the beginnings of a mutually beneficial relationship.

DiAnn Butler is Grand County Economic Development Coordinator. More information is available here.

Banner Year for Colorado Main Street

11 Mar

downtowncolo

In 2014, the Colorado Main Street program and the communities participating in the program had a remarkable year.  Below are the numbers which illustrate the hard work and dedication from the Colorado Main Street communities.

  • 139 direct, net, full-time jobs and 70 direct, net, part-time jobs were created.  This is a 54% increase in net full-time jobsand a 27% increase for part-time jobs the previous year.
  • 48 net, new businesses 
  • Additionally Main Street communities created $6.9 million in public investment and $30.1 in private investment.  Which equates to a 1:4.45 ratio or for every $1 of public funds invested, this is a $4.52 return from the private sector.  Also important to highlight is that 86% of the public investment is coming from Candidate communities and 93% of the private investment is coming from Designated and Graduate communities. This is an indicator that investing public funds early in the Main Street communities’ program infrastructure is creating more investment from the private sector as that local program matures.
  • The Main Street communities have also tripled the number of building rehabilitations from 20 in 2013 to 61 in 2014.
  • The number of Main Street sponsored events doubled.
  • The number of volunteer hours increased 170%with basically the same number of volunteers.  That means communities are vested in the work being done in our communities and are supporting it with their time.
  • Between the direct jobs created and the public and private investments made, an estimated665 direct, indirect, and induced jobs were created. 

Hopefully these numbers are a positive sign that the economy is starting to bounce back in Colorado’s rural communities.  More importantly, Colorado Main Street communities have seen positive results because they have made their downtown a priority.  In doing so, they have added resources and support.  By following the Main Street approach these communities have created more diversity in their downtowns, which helps to weather the bad economy and prepares them to bounce back faster.

The Colorado Main Street program is administered by the Department of Local Affairs and is the coordinating agency for the National Main Street Program which follows the Main Street Four-Point Approach® of: Organization, Design, Economic Restructuring, and Promotion.  For more information about the Colorado Main Street Program, please visit: http: www.dola.colorado.gov/mainstreet

What’s Up, Down South

11 Mar

–Tim Walsworth, Executive Director, Durango BID

durango-city

The Durango Business Improvement District (BID) is busy in early 2015. The most recent promotion we conducted was Random Acts of Kindness week. BID and Bank of Colorado teamed up for the second year in a row on this fun program for Downtown Durango.

BID and Bank of Colorado purchased 50 $10 gift cards to various retail stores in Downtown and on North Main Avenue and gave them away to Downtown shoppers during Random Acts of Kindness week, February 9 to 13. Downtown shoppers were stopped on the street and given a gift card as a Durango-style Random Act of Kindness. Thanks to all who came out and supported our local businesses!

BID is also hard at week preparing to host Downtown Colorado Inc.’s Annual Conference, set for October 6 – 9. This conference will provide an excellent spotlight on Durango local businesses and downtown organizations, with new shoppers and visitors coming from all over the state. We look forward to an excellent week this fall in Durango.

Another way BID helps Downtown and North Main Avenue businesses is through our grant program. Every year, BID awards grants to events to assist with out of area marketing costs. Giving a grant to increase an event’s out of area marketing budget helps to attract out of town guests to events, who in turn spend the night in our hotels, eat at our restaurants, and also do some shopping at our unique shops and stores. BID is currently accepting applications and has already made five grants. Events interested in applying for a grant can find the application and instructions on BID’s website at DowntownDurango.org/bid-grants.

In 2014, BID supported 18 different events with an out of area marketing grant. Collectively the 18 events were attended by just over 70,000 people. Of those, it is estimated that about 40% were from out of the area. Using an average spend of $200 per person, this means BID’s grant program helped produce $5.6 million in local spending.

To continue our effort in parking education, the BID will reprise its FREE parking giveaway program twice during 2015. In cooperation with Downtown merchants, who will take sign-ups in their stores, the BID will give away 100 parking “smart” cards at the end of April and November. The cards will be worth $20 and can be used in all meters throughout Downtown – so, in essence, that is $20 of free parking Downtown.

The BID is also exploring feasibility of an Urban Renewal Authority (URA) and/or a Downtown Development Authority (DDA) – both of which would be designed to enhance sections of town such as North Main and the riverfront, improve access to businesses and increase walkability, to name just a few ideas. The URA and DDA have different requirements and legal stipulations, but the idea is to expand the “charm” of Downtown, and, as stated, make these different areas more welcoming to visitors and locals alike. BID is working with DCI to explore how these might fit for Durango.

To keep up with all the happenings in Downtown Durango and North Main Ave., sign up for BID’s weekly E-News at DowntownDurango.org/newsletter. The E-News is published once a week and a quick read that will help you keep up to date with the heart of our community.