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  • 03/30/2020 2:01 PM | Stephanie Owens (Administrator)

     

    DCI had our second webinar of our series covering various topics on the response to COVID-19 and how people can support each other while maintaining the CDC’s recommendation of social distancing. Thursday’s webinar included an educational presentation from DCI partner Michelle Kobayashi of National Research Center/Polco about effective engagement that allowed community representatives to share ideas and challenges. DCI’s calls also encourage sharing of experiences, struggles, and new ideas for addressing engagement with the community during the current social distancing. 

    Michelle Kobayashi, NRC/POLCO is in the early stages of surveying impacts on businesses and communities from COVID-19.  Economic impact is at the top of people’s mind. During the crisis, people want to hear that something is being done, which coincides with the important engagement aspect and hearing what challenges communities are facing, including consideration of the economy. The webinar was facilitated by DCI board member, Terri Takata-Smith of Downtown Boulder and her colleague Julia Simpson. 


    NEXT STEPS

    1. Add your contact and links to your resources to our state-wide Covid Response Spreadsheet. COVID-19 Resource Spreadsheet -- add your contact information

    2. Business Survey: DCI and NRC/Polco are working with the State of Colorado on a Business Survey. When ready, you can create a community profile on Polco. The community is able to see and keep their own results once they have at least 10 respondents. 

    3. Business Support Survey: DCI and NRC/Polco are working to create a comprehensive list of the organizations supporting business throughout the state to collect information about what is being done and how we can support local efforts.


    CONSIDERING EFFECTIVE ENGAGEMENT 

    TOOLS + RESOURCES

    • 2 way engagement: comments, feedback from businesses, residents, etc. to be used in decision making efforts

    • Speed: get info and feedback tools out to people

    • Inform Policy Decisions: hope that sharing of struggles will get to policymakers

    • Tap into Wisdom of Crowds: sharing of experiences, creative innovations, and new ways of running businesses

    • Empower Community Stakeholders: things they can do to have some power over the pandemic

    Virtual: zoom, google hangouts

    Slack. One sheet instructions for using Slack.

    DCI COVID-19 Resource Webpage

    Colorado Main Street Resources


     

  • 03/24/2020 10:13 AM | Stephanie Owens (Administrator)

    In response to the closures resulting from social distancing measures to address impacts of the Coronavirus, DCI has started a webinar series, which will occur every Thursday from 9:00-10:00am covering various topics on the response to COVID-19 and how people can support each other while maintaining the CDC’s recommendation of social distancing. DCI’s Thursday calls are part of DCI’s initiative to convene commercial districts to share resources and ideas during this time of COVID-19. With only two days notice, 94 people registered for the first call.

    DCI’s Commercial District Members, from Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), Downtown Development Authorities (DDAs), Main Streets, Creative Districts, and local governments are taking the lead in supporting small business and communicating with citizens. These unprecedented closures caused by COVID-19 are encouraging the sharing of resources, streamlining communications. innovative thinking, and creative solutions to support local businesses and members of the community. DCI’s goal is to help establish a go to resource for you to access peer community responses and share ideas on a regular basis throughout this crisis. 

    On Thursday, March 19th DCI had our first webinar of the series. The first webinar was led by DCI board member, Terri Takata-Smith of Downtown Boulder and her colleague Julia Simpson, who shared the Downtown Boulder response to COVID-19 as it is evolving. DCI also shared a spreadsheet for commercial district leadership to add the links resources and contact information for each community’s response efforts so that we can collect and share the information being developed in each community. The bulk of the call was different districts sharing their ideas and responses to generate a great list of things we can do right now! 

    Read some of the ideas generated and join us this Thursday to share more ideas to grow this list! 


    COMMERCIAL DISTRICT RESPONSE TO COVID 19 
    BUSINESS COMMUNICATION TOOLS

    Develop stronger communication networks and use tools that make it easy for businesses to receive and share information! 

    • Slack
    • General Channel for all businesses to communicate
    • Business type specific channels (ex: restaurants, retail, second-story)
    • Private Facebook Groups
    • Segmented Conference Calls
    • Email lists
    • WebEX meetings 
    • Experienced Business Leaders are hosting the calls, providing help/advice for younger businesses


    COMMUNITY COMMUNICATION TOOLS

    Make sure the community knows how to support businesses and protect their safety! 

    • Hashtags (#LovetheLocal, #SupporttheSprings)
    • Selfie contest #keepingoldtownestrong (Arvada)
    • Sharing pictures of people in the community
    • Google Doc with business updates, closures, event cancellations
    • Website with all the information in one place -- https://supportthesprings.com/ 
    • Support Local Campaign
    • Business Directory update with current state of each local business
    • Website from BID – shows new ways businesses are operating  -- www.DowntownDurango.org/supportlocal


    INITIATIVES FOR DIFFERENT TYPES OF BUSINESS

    Different types of business can respond in different ways so be sure to think through how to help each kind! 

    1.     RETAIL SUPPORT 

    • Encourage Gift Card Sales
    • Gift Card Drawings for people who buy card and post to social
    • “Bonus Bucks” – add $5 for every $25 gift card purchase  (Laramie Main Street)
    • Possibility of being supplemented by local Main Street or DDA
    • Downtown gives $10 gift card for every $25 spent downtown until end of March (Grand Junction)
    • Local business matching gift card purchases to $1000, encourage other businesses to match (Leadville)
    • Free Candy Giveaway (Grand Junction)
    • Every $10 purchase, free candy from larger local business


    2.     RESTAURANT SUPPORT

    • Takeout Takeover (Olde Towne Arvada)
    • Use Arvada App, businesses can sell gift card through app
    • Creativity from Businesses Videos from bartenders on how to mix drinks
    • Delivering liquor
    • Restaurant Week adjustment – making website adjustments to go with takeout etc.
    • Employ food workers/restaurants workers/chefs to serve senior citizens
    • Have restaurants cook for transient populations temporarily housed in hotels/motels


    3.     SERVICE SUPPORT INITIATIVES

    • Workout Wednesdays
    • Zoom Yoga or other online classes offered from local gyms or studios
    • Online music lessons
    • Virtual Paint and Sip



    PARTNERSHIPS IN RESPONDING

    Community networks are there for just this reason and many groups are working to help. Make sure to convene the groups and share your initiatives so that they can support and add to the resources available. 

    • Work closely with the Chamber of Commerce. Have one stop for business resources (use chamber’s website)
    • Colorado Restaurant Association. Ideas for advocating for restaurants, and supporting them during this time include Rent/loan abatement, waive penalties, delay payments of fines, suspend sales tax on non-essential goods (paper for takeout)
    • Partner with Philanthropists Partner with housing and medical facilities to have small business provide additional servicesPartnerships with Property owners. Hold initial conversations about the possibility of rent abatement so that businesses can survive. Consider the idea that street-level tenants and active businesses keep property value up over time. 


    NEXT STEPS

    1. Sign up for the Thursday 9AM call this week - on DCI EVENTS PAGE
    2. Create a list of the resources that exist for businesses and around COVID in your community and share them on the DCI RESOURCE GUIDE SPREADSHEET 
    3. Listen to the March 19 Webinar Recording if you missed it. 
    4. Keep an eye out for our business survey that we will try to reach small businesses around the state to create a list and find out how to help them. 


    WANT MORE RESOURCES?


    WHAT IS DCI DOING TO HELP DURING THIS CRISIS? 

    ·        Weekly Commercial District + COVID calls. DCI will convene weekly calls for commercial districts to discuss responses and resources to identify the items we can do right now as the crisis is unfolding. DCI is writing up the conversation and will begin recording the webinars for your convenience.

    ·        COVID Response Resources. DCI will house a COVID response page on our website that shares resources and links to community resources for easy access. 

    ·        State-wide Business Survey. DCI is partnering with National Research Center and POLCO to distribute and analyze a state-wide survey of businesses to understand their needs and establish a response network.

    ·        Regional Council. DCI maintains a Regional Council of representatives around the state who are in place to share and collect information specific to each region. We are going to start hosting calls through this group with our members and other interested communities to ensure that we are planning for and communicating the needs of each region appropriately. 

    ·        2020 IN THE GAME. DCI will revise our Colorado Challenge Community Summit on April 14th to be a virtual event geared toward developing multi-faceted approaches for our national, state-wide, and local responses to this type of pandemic. We will look at our demographics and sales tax trends, and impacts of Coronavirus, and flesh out an action plan for housing, workforce, and small business support. 


  • 03/12/2020 2:39 PM | Kylie Brown (Administrator)

    Did you know that Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) has an AmeriCorps VISTA program with VISTAs placed around the state working towards build capacity for better community development? DCI currently has 8 VISTAs that make up our team. We make it a priority to develop awesome and useful professional development tools and trainings so our VISTAs can best serve their communities and their careers.


    Recently, Angelica Wedell, Director of Marketing and Communications for Polco/National Research Center gave a training on The 6 Persuasion Principles and Getting Residents to Engage. 

    Local governments these days are using multiple channels to reach out to the community. From digital to in-person opportunities, well-connected communicators are using them all: social media, apps like NextDoor, surveys online and by mail, press releases, public meetings (streamed and in-person), city-sponsored events, and more. Even with all this, many local governments still struggle to get more residents (especially from traditionally hard-to-reach demographics) to engage. One way we can improve on everything from response rates on our surveys to convincing folks to sign up for the town e-newsletter is to pay more attention to the words and language we are using to promote and to ask people to engage with us. This is where the 6 Persuasion Principles come in. These principles draw on human psychology to help us understand WHY and WHAT makes people take a desired action. This is knowledge that effective marketers rely on - and that local government communicators can benefit from too. You can draw on one or more of these persuasion principles to help you write more compellingly - in everything from a Tweet to a sign at a booth at the fair.


    The 6 Principles Include: Scarcity, Reciprocity, Authority, Consistency, Consensus, Liking. To bring it all together Angelica presented The Conversion Trinity. Why should your audience care? You need to be able to answer that question yourself and set up the call to action with relevance and showing the value.

    The VISTAs will use these principles to engage their communities with their projects addressing Transit & Mobility, Workforce Housing, Branding, Resiliency, and more!


    If you want to find out more about Polco and Angelica's work, click here. Also, if there are plenty of times where you are asked to do small surveys or single-question polls. And there are times where you'd like to be able to easily do your own web surveys for your members, your residents, and more. I'm pleased to say that the Polco civic engagement - web survey platform is now free!  It's designed specifically with municipal organizations in mind! So it gives you dashboard results - right away - that give you great analyses, it's easy to use, and the more consistent you are with it - you can even grow a following of people who keep answering your questions over time! Really cool. You can sign up for the free version here: https://polco.us/n/admin/registration

    If want more webinar goodness - check out the one I'm doing this March! I'm talking about Top 8 Priorities for Local Governments, and how resident feedback can help you best focus your efforts. You can get all the details and sign up here:  https://www.n-r-c.com/keynote-webinar/ 

    Learn more about the VISTA program, here. Contact Kylie Brown, vista@downtowncoloradoinc.org for more details!

  • 02/26/2020 4:16 PM | Stephanie Owens (Administrator)
    Colfax Ave, Denver’s historic main street is an integral part of the city’s culture,
    history, character, and contributing component to Denver’s identity. The identity,
    nature, and character of the ‘longest, wickedest street in America’ is composed of
    all the buildings, public spaces, and people in the corridor. An important part of
    placemaking is the preservation of historic buildings as well as smaller scale
    development.
    The preservation of Colfax is currently under pressure with the various barriers and
    rules that discourage reuse, renovations of older buildings, and transit-oriented
    development. Hilarie Portell, Executive Director of the Colfax Mayfair Business
    Improvement District pointed out that “under current zoning, 93% of new
    development in the past 10 years on Colfax has been single-story, national chains
    and drive-throughs.” The regulations in place encourage new buildings over the rich
    in character, smaller scale, historic focused developments. Portell pointed out that
    “it’s easier and cheaper to demolish an old building and build a new one.”
    The lack of consideration for smaller-scale development, protection of historic
    character, and the corridor’s atmosphere negatively affects the economy and
    people’s well-being. Areas with smaller scale, multi-use buildings, and variations of
    building ages, and types contribute to positive economic activity. The National Trust
    for Historic Preservation found that “older, smaller buildings provide space for a
    strong local economy.” In addition to the effect on economy there is an effect of
    people’s well-being through poor air quality from the traffic on Colfax because there
    hasn’t been a focus on enhanced transit options. People’s well-being is also affected
    by increasing taxes and cost of rent. Property taxes are increasing which increases
    rent cost, and affordability of living in an area. As Portell emphasized “neighbors
    along Colfax and in the East Area are experiencing homelessness, hunger, and
    displacement—
    now
    .” All of these topics needs to be addressed with a new approach
    and some creativity.
    Join us
    Thursday, March 5 from 4:30 – 7:30pm
    at the Carla Madison Recreation
    Center Rooftop for a discussion and brainstorming session to address building small
    solutions to the missing commercial middle on main street corridors.
    In this forum
    we’ll share new approaches to zoning, adaptive reuse, business support services
    and property taxes. Lessons learned on Colfax may be applicable to other
    neighborhood nodes, community corridors and main streets in Colorado. Let’s start
    a wave of development possibilities that protect and enable small business and
    property owners to stay put, grow, and thrive!
    For more information similar to what will be discussed at the event check out Hilarie
    Portell’s article, “We Can Do Better on Colfax” and the National Trust for Historic
    Preservation’s Report, “Older, Smaller, Better: Measuring how the character of
    building and blocks influences urban vitality”
    Colfax Ave, Denver’s historic main street is an integral part of the city’s culture,
    history, character, and contributing component to Denver’s identity. The identity,
    nature, and character of the ‘longest, wickedest street in America’ is composed of
    all the buildings, public spaces, and people in the corridor. An important part of
    placemaking is the preservation of historic buildings as well as smaller scale
    development.
    The preservation of Colfax is currently under pressure with the various barriers and
    rules that discourage reuse, renovations of older buildings, and transit-oriented
    development. Hilarie Portell, Executive Director of the Colfax Mayfair Business
    Improvement District pointed out that “under current zoning, 93% of new
    development in the past 10 years on Colfax has been single-story, national chains
    and drive-throughs.” The regulations in place encourage new buildings over the rich
    in character, smaller scale, historic focused developments. Portell pointed out that
    “it’s easier and cheaper to demolish an old building and build a new one.”
    The lack of consideration for smaller-scale development, protection of historic
    character, and the corridor’s atmosphere negatively affects the economy and
    people’s well-being. Areas with smaller scale, multi-use buildings, and variations of
    building ages, and types contribute to positive economic activity. The National Trust
    for Historic Preservation found that “older, smaller buildings provide space for a
    strong local economy.” In addition to the effect on economy there is an effect of
    people’s well-being through poor air quality from the traffic on Colfax because there
    hasn’t been a focus on enhanced transit options. People’s well-being is also affected
    by increasing taxes and cost of rent. Property taxes are increasing which increases
    rent cost, and affordability of living in an area. As Portell emphasized “neighbors
    along Colfax and in the East Area are experiencing homelessness, hunger, and
    displacement—
    now
    .” All of these topics needs to be addressed with a new approach
    and some creativity.
    Join us
    Thursday, March 5 from 4:30 – 7:30pm
    at the Carla Madison Recreation
    Center Rooftop for a discussion and brainstorming session to address building small
    solutions to the missing commercial middle on main street corridors.
    In this forum
    we’ll share new approaches to zoning, adaptive reuse, business support services
    and property taxes. Lessons learned on Colfax may be applicable to other
    neighborhood nodes, community corridors and main streets in Colorado. Let’s start
    a wave of development possibilities that protect and enable small business and
    property owners to stay put, grow, and thrive!
    For more information similar to what will be discussed at the event check out Hilarie
    Portell’s article, “We Can Do Better on Colfax” and the National Trust for Historic
    Preservation’s Report, “Older, Smaller, Better: Measuring how the character of
    building and blocks influences urban vitality”

    Colfax Ave, Denver’s historic main street is an integral part of the city’s culture, history, character, and contributing component to Denver’s identity. The identity, nature, and character of the ‘longest, wickedest street in America’ is composed of all the buildings, public spaces, and people in the corridor. An important part of placemaking is the preservation of historic buildings as well as smaller scale development.

    The preservation of Colfax is currently under pressure with the various barriers and rules that discourage reuse, renovations of older buildings, and transit-oriented development. Hilarie Portell, Executive Director of the Colfax Mayfair Business Improvement District pointed out that “under current zoning, 93% of new development in the past 10 years on Colfax has been single-story, national chains and drive-throughs.” The regulations in place encourage new buildings over the rich in character, smaller scale, historic focused developments. Portell pointed out that “it’s easier and cheaper to demolish an old building and build a new one.” 


    The lack of consideration for smaller-scale development, protection of historic character, and the corridor’s atmosphere negatively affects the economy and people’s well-being. Areas with smaller scale, multi-use buildings, and variations of building ages, and types contribute to positive economic activity. The National Trust for Historic Preservation found that “older, smaller buildings provide space for a strong local economy.” In addition to the effect on economy there is an effect of people’s well-being through poor air quality from the traffic on Colfax because there hasn’t been a focus on enhanced transit options. People’s well-being is also affected by increasing taxes and cost of rent. Property taxes are increasing which increases rent cost, and affordability of living in an area. As Portell emphasized “neighbors along Colfax and in the East Area are experiencing homelessness, hunger, and displacement—now.” All of these topics needs to be addressed with a new approach and some creativity.

    Join us Thursday, March 5 from 4:30 – 7:30pm at the Carla Madison Recreation Center Rooftop for a discussion and brainstorming session to address building small solutions to the missing commercial middle on main street corridors. In this forum we’ll share new approaches to zoning, adaptive reuse, business support services and property taxes. Lessons learned on Colfax may be applicable to other neighborhood nodes, community corridors and main streets in Colorado. Let’s start a wave of development possibilities that protect and enable small business and property owners to stay put, grow, and thrive!

    For more information similar to what will be discussed at the event check out Hilarie Portell’s article, “We Can Do Better on Colfax” and the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Report, “Older, Smaller, Better: Measuring how the character of building and blocks influences urban vitality.”


  • 01/23/2020 9:19 AM | Kylie Brown (Administrator)

    According to a national survey that interviewed 752 college graduates (aged 24-27) across the country, twenty-somethings nowadays transition into adulthood in one of three ways—they’re either Sprinters, Wanderers, or Stragglers:

    • Sprinters (35% of the young adults surveyed) jump right into their career after college or are on a path to a successful launch after completing additional education.

    • Wanderers (32% of the young adults surveyed) take their time—about half of their twenties—to get their start in a career.
    • Stragglers (33% of the young adults surveyed) press pause and spend most of their twenties trying to get their start.

    Note: the survey did not take family wealth or income into account, so some of these “Sprinters” could arguably have other advantages.

    While we expect most graduates to find their way in life after college, Sprinters make up only about one-third of today’s graduates. And despite our current low unemployment rate, only a third of college graduates believe they will leave college with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace. As for me, I left college more unclear about my future than ever, and majoring in Economics, Sustainability & Society—a subject with no direct career path—didn’t help me narrow my focus one bit. 

    So, I was one of those two-thirds of graduates. But what I’ve found out so far in my career journey, is that regardless of the stigma that young professionals should follow the herd, and rush off into the professional world—there is more than one pathway to success after college. And for that reason, I decided to take a gap year before I went full-steam-ahead into my professional career.

    Why I Chose AmeriCorps VISTA


    AmeriCorps is often thought of as the internal Peace Corps for the US, where volunteers work in a broad spectrum of public service sectors including community development, children and youth, education, environment, health, homelessness, housing, hunger, and eldercare. Since the AmeriCorps VISTA program offers a temporary position within nonprofit and public sector spaces, this opportunity was very appealing to me during my post-college transition. 

    For VISTA, service terms are only 1 year, and during that year your student loans can be deferred. Once you've completed your year of service, you receive 1 year of non-competitive eligibility for employment in the federal government, as well as an education award that can go towards a graduate degree or help repay a decent-sized chunk of your student loans. 

    The only catch for me was, like the Peace Corps, your Americorps VISTA living allowance is based on the poverty rates for a single individual living in your geographic area. So, as someone who has had the privilege to live above the poverty level my entire life, I knew that if I was going to follow through with completing the entire year of service, it would have to be somewhere in the US that had many free activities to do outside of work. For me, that meant living in the Rocky Mountain West. More specifically, in the state of Colorado. 

    I was very strategic about where I wanted to serve. And luckily, Community Builders (CB) nonprofit presented the perfect opportunity for me to get my feet wet in strategic communications and digital media. But, before I decided to move across the country, I did what most people do when making big life decisions - I made a pros and cons list.

    Moving to Glenwood Springs, CO & doing VISTA: Pros and Cons

    Pros

    1. Colorado
    2. Loans deferred/education award
    3. Get to work in sustainable development AND communications/PR
    4. Location. Close to outdoor activities, National parks, etc.
    5. Non Competitive Eligibility (NCE)
    6. Only 1 year
    7. Networking in that part of the country
    8. Job opportunities afterwards
    9. No more living at home
    10. Own space
    11. Personal development/maturity
    12. Independence
    13. Adventure!!

    Cons

    1. Living below poverty level 
    2. Few minorities in the small town 
    3. Cold and long winters  
    4. Being financially responsible 
    5. 3 day drive to get there 
    6. Have to get snow/winter tires or just invest in a new car

    Clearly the pros outweighed the cons, and a year later, these benefits don’t even begin to scratch the surface of what I actually gained from this experience. For starters, I obtained valuable professional experience in digital media and strategic communications—and ended up thriving in it.

     

    When I first joined Community Builders, there was no one doing social media, or strategic communications work, except for me and our Communications Director (who was hired 2 months before)—so, we were both extremely new to the organization. Since then, I have engaged in a wide array of communications capacity building activities. VISTA life is, for the most part, very cohesive to typical #nonprofitlife, so I have worn many hats and was tasked with a wide array of priorities over the past year. 

    For example, I managed and crafted social media content, pitched, interviewed and wrote stories for our website’s Insights page, and contributed to a comprehensive brand and website redesign. I also interviewed nationally-renowned leaders, such as Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler (to name a few). From collaborating on all aspects of CB’s digital content and social media planning, to facilitating and documenting their Brownfields redevelopment workshop in Silverton, Colorado. The thing that I am most proud of after working for CB, is being able to learn, grow and connect with a progressive team of professionals, while contributing my voice and perspective to a robust nonprofit organization. 

    My advice for future VISTA’s 

    VISTA is not for everybody—and it’s built that way. Being able to resource, make and sustain connections with people in your community is vital—not only for completing your year of service, but thriving in your professional career after. I have benefitted so much from knowing that I wanted to gain digital media experience while also working within nonprofit spaces. Now, going forward into my next job, I have a larger range of both hard and soft skills, quantitative ways to talk about my achievements, and confidence in client-facing roles.

    Overall, this year has opened doors for me in ways that I had never thought were possible. I have been able to grow and develop my skills in such a way, that following my year of service, I am working as an independent contractor, with a client list that is growing by the day. This goes to show that for Wanderers and Stragglers like me, taking your time to figure things out, can benefit your career journey in monumental ways. Even the Harvard Business Review, found that college graduates who took a gap year through a rapidly expanding programs, including AmeriCorps, BridgeEDU, and Global Citizen Year, reported that they were more comfortable with risk and more resilient in their professional journey. 

    With that being the case, if it’s right for you, slow down the conveyor belt from college into the professional world, and take the time to figure out what is best for you. I can happily say that by doing a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA, I was able to more fully consider my career options, brush up on my skills, and pinpoint what truly interests me. At the end of the day, if it’s a good match for you, a gap year can be one of your best years yet.




  • 01/16/2020 1:38 PM | Stephanie Owens (Administrator)
    Swoop of the Cranes: Monte Vista, Colorado
    Many festivals include public art, community projects, local culture, and community
    engagement but The Swoop of the Cranes in Monte Vista, Colorado has it all. This
    year, the town has something very special planned between the months of March
    and September!
    Monte Vista will have 5’ tall 12-gauge steel silhouettes of Sandhill Cranes mounted
    on lamp posts up and down I-160/1
    st
    Avenue. The Steel art pieces are painted and
    decorated by local artists of the San Luis Valley and will be up at the start of the
    Monte Vista Crane Festival until September.
    The project is community focused with consideration of local business sponsorship
    opportunities of the steel cranes and the inclusion of local artists. Monte Vista
    encourages locals and visitors to participate in the enjoyment of the steel cranes
    through voting for their favorite. Prizes will be given out in September based on
    votes.
    The cranes will be auctioned off in September unless they are purchased by the
    sponsors or artists. The proceeds from the auction going towards downtown Monte
    Vista beautification efforts.
    Cranes are an important part of Monte Vista culture and community identity.
    Sandhill Cranes make a migratory stop in Monte Vistas Wildlife Refuge each year in
    March, which of course sparked the creation of the annual Monte Vista Crane
    Festival. The hope for this community art project is that there will be a continued
    commitment to and recognition of cranes in Monte Vista and that it will continue for
    years to come.
    Swoop of the Cranes: Monte Vista, Colorado
    Many festivals include public art, community projects, local culture, and community
    engagement but The Swoop of the Cranes in Monte Vista, Colorado has it all. This
    year, the town has something very special planned between the months of March
    and September!
    Monte Vista will have 5’ tall 12-gauge steel silhouettes of Sandhill Cranes mounted
    st
    Avenue. The Steel art pieces are painted and
    Monte Vista Crane Festival until September.
    The project is community focused with consideration of local business sponsorship
    opportunities of the steel cranes and the inclusion of local artists. Monte Vista
    through voting for their favorite. Prizes will be given out in September based on
    votes.
    The cranes will be auctioned off in September unless they are purchased by the
    sponsors or artists. The proceeds from the auction going towards downtown Monte
    Vista beautification efforts.
    Cranes are an important part of Monte Vista culture and community identity.
    Sandhill Cranes make a migratory stop in Monte Vistas Wildlife Refuge each year in
    March, which of course sparked the creation of the annual Monte Vista Crane
    Festival. The hope for this community art project is that there will be a continued
    commitment to and recognition of cranes in Monte Vista and that it will continue for
    years to come.

    Many festivals include public art, community projects, local culture, and community engagement but The Swoop of the Cranes in Monte Vista, Colorado has it all. This year, the town has something very special planned between the months of March and September!

    Monte Vista will have 5’ tall 12-gauge steel silhouettes of Sandhill Cranes mounted on lamp posts up and down I-160/1st Avenue. The Steel art pieces are painted and decorated by local artists of the San Luis Valley and will be up at the start of the Monte Vista Crane Festival until September.


    The project is community focused with consideration of local business sponsorship opportunities of the steel cranes and the inclusion of local artists. Monte Vista encourages locals and visitors to participate in the enjoyment of the steel cranes through voting for their favorite. Prizes will be given out in September based on votes.

    The project is community focused with consideration of local business sponsorship opportunities of the steel cranes and the inclusion of local artists. Monte Vista encourages locals and visitors to participate in the enjoyment of the steel cranes through voting for their favorite. Prizes will be given out in September based on votes.

    The cranes will be auctioned off in September unless they are purchased by the sponsors or artists. The proceeds from the auction going towards downtown Monte Vista beautification efforts.

    Cranes are an important part of Monte Vista culture and community identity. Sandhill Cranes make a migratory stop in Monte Vistas Wildlife Refuge each year in March, which of course sparked the creation of the annual Monte Vista Crane Festival. The hope for this community art project is that there will be a continued commitment to and recognition of cranes in Monte Vista and that it will continue for years to come. 

         


  • 12/19/2019 12:03 PM | Kylie Brown (Administrator)

    The decade is almost over and DCI has been helping Colorado communities through it all. We have been so blessed this year, as every year, this decade and for 37 years, to work with all of you downtown champions. As always, we would like to specifically thank all of our members, sponsors, and partners for making our work possible. We had an incredibly fun and busy 2019 (including more than a few deviously timed snow storms). We expanded our Challenge Program to make more of an impact than ever, held several series of symposiums and trainings for redevelopment and reinvestment, and completely revamped our brand. In 2020, we will have a strong focus on our membership with the help of our Membership Coordinator VISTA, Becca Elder. So, look forward to hearing how to get more  from your membership with DCI!

    We want to say thank you to two people that moved on to new adventures this year from DCI. 

    First, thank you to Andrew Curtis who served as DCI’s VISTA Leader for two years. Andrew not only helped to grow our VISTA program, but he also used his incredible gift and skill for graphics and design to make us look better than ever. Andrew is now using his design skills getting his Masters of Landscape Architecture at Cornell.We miss Andrew as a presence in Colorado as well as his curiosity, passion, and intellect he brought to our office.

    And a special thank you to Val Peterson who served as our Communication Capacity Builder VISTA the past year. During her service, Val was able to coordinate everything that DCI does including all communications, events, the conference, and grant communities. She has helped DCI members, board, and staff build community and economy in Colorado. Outside of all the incredible work she did during her year, the most important thing Val contributed to DCI was her passion for people and her truly caring spirit. We already miss you Val.

    We started the year having conversations about downtown improvement districting in Greeley and Glenwood Springs. This theme continued through the year with our multi-part series focusing on strategies for increasing investment and financing development on the Western Slope starting with Durango and Montrose. The goal of these symposiums was to blend informal connections, case studies, and interactive dialogue to reshape ideas for redevelopment and reinvestment in Western Slope communities. You can see the recaps for Durango here and Montrose here. The third part of this series will take place on February 13th in Grand Junction!

    This year, we have focused a large portion of our programming on our Urban Renewal Training Series centered on urban renewal in rural communities. In some ways the combination of urban and rural is counterintuitive, however, rural Colorado is faced with a pattern of disinvestment that results in a loss of historic buildings, housing, and workforce. Urban renewal helps these communities engage with leaders from the public and private sector to review the tools, opportunities, and components for designing quality partnerships and projects to enable successful redevelopment. The communities who learned about how urban renewal might best help finance their development goals were: Lamar, Breckenridge, Florence, Fountain, Montrose, Wheat Ridge, and all that attended our 3rd annual Southern Colorado Urban Renewal Summit.

    Testimonials from these events:

    [My biggest takeaway from the event was] The importance of collaboration and partnerships in accomplishing community goals. Also, the necessity of strong and clear leadership in shaping the organizational culture needed to implement an ambitious vision. – Attendee, Durango Western Slope Redevelopment and Reinvestment Symposium



    The positive role that Urban Renewal has played in Western Slope communities and the challenging process involved in establishing a URA and crafting the plan to suit your community. I also learned a lot about affordable housing and what is involved in pro forma development for projects. - Kim Grant, Colorado Preservation, Inc. 


    Despite the Bomb Cyclone 2k19, IN THE GAME 2019 was our most successful conference yet! As we continue with our out-of-the-box conference format, IN THE GAME, the more we see how much collaboration, energy, and inspiration it provides for all of our attendees. As always, our conference differs from most where instead of using the typical formula of session, break, session, etc., we got our participants out of their seats engaging with one another and seeing the City of Aspen first hand. This year we took our conference location back into the mountains in Aspen, and showcased the innovative ideas coming from the community through our speakers, lunches, and tours. Our theme for this year's conference was "Stewardship, Equity, and Unintended Consequences" where our discussions investigated ensuring that all members of our communities are heard in the process of building stronger communities. You can see the entire recap here. We hope to continue these themes of resiliency and collaboration and we can't wait to see you all IN THE GAME in Colorado Springs in 2020! Registration is now open here! Early Bird prices will end on January 31st!

    Here’s what attendees had to say:

    IN THE GAME was so beneficial for me. Working for a Downtown is a unique job, so to be surrounded by other like-organizations is a great way to brainstorm, ask questions, and share issues or topics that may be going on in other downtowns. I'm really looking forward to next year! – Caitlyn Love, Downtown Grand Junction

    Each year gets better and better. We find value in the ideas, people and connections that this conference creates. As a consulting firm, it's great to have dialogue with our current and potential clients across the state – Karen Current, DHM Design

    IN THE GAME was an immensely useful, inspiring, thought-provoking experience. Seeing the passion and commitment with which leaders from all over the state are addressing their communities was very energizing. - Alan Fletcher, Aspen Music

    IN THE GAME isn't your typical conference. Not only does it provide valuable content and opportunities for collaboration, it creates actionable economic development opportunities with the challenge studios that are pursued throughout the year. I developed lasting relationships as well and was blown away by how well thought out the programming was organized. I will definitely be returning next year! – Lauren Kloock, Colorado Lending Source


    Our Colorado Challenge Program expanded once again this year to become a comprehensive approach to technical assistance. DCI has expanded the program to act as a year-round team-building accelerator focused on pin-pointing and implementing a plan of work and proposal that engages public, private, and nonprofit partners to transform challenge into opportunity. The five-phase challenge program focuses on:

      1. Community Selection
      2. Team Building
      3. Challenge Studio Workshop
      4. Financing Approach
      5. Program Continuation


      The work is rooted in a community driven process supported by seed investment, connections, mentorship, educational components and a financing institute. Outcomes of the program are focused on using place-based initiatives to strengthen economies; increase community health and wellness; build civic engagement and resiliency; achieve housing affordability and equity; and improve quality of life for all residents.DCI has also created a special Colorado Challenge Accelerator Program (CCAP) Membership type this year that is exclusive to Challenge Communities and Program Partners. New and previous communities will all benefit from this membership type. Contact membership@downtowncoloradoinc.org for more information!

        The Challenge Communities this year were Aspen, Center, Eagle, the Southwest Corridor, and Trinidad. The outcomes of the challenge studios this year included:

        • 5 action reports following the IN THE GAME Challenge Studios (read the reports here)

        • 4 community activations – including beautiful community dinner tables and human arcades

        • 1 Downtown Assessment report for Eagle

        • 1 VISTA site creation for Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre


          Here’s what the communities had to say:

          It was my first time and by participating in the Center Studio Workshop, I saw the immense amount of expertise all of the attendees brought to the table to learn and glean from. It was invaluable. I also loved being able to learn about local projects and gain lessons learned for my part of the state. – Jeff Owsley, Community Relations – San Luis Valley, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority


          We had a challenge studio at the In the Games conference and for the first time collaborated with our neighboring communities of Silverton and Ouray. You can try to do a lot over phone calls and emails, but there is nothing like working on a project in one room together. The addition of conference attendees from across the state helped to provide insight into our challenges and ways to refine our project with an outside lens. As a result, our three communities are working together to pursue grants at a state and national level for our region. -Kiki Hooten, Local First La Plata

          Reflecting on 2019 and the decade, we can’t believe the progress that our communities all around Colorado are making! Whether you’ve worked with DCI for a long time or just got involved, we appreciate each and every one of you as community champions who will fight to make a difference. We work FOR Colorado and to make the whole state more connected and vibrant. We hope you will keep working with all of us at DCI through the next decade. We are the DOers. THANK YOU!
        • 12/11/2019 3:21 PM | Stephanie Owens (Administrator)

          On December 5th, Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) co-hosted an entrepreneurship studies webinar with Jeremy Wickenheiser. Jeremy has years of experience providing opportunities for youth to prepare for the modern workforce through experiential learning with his entrepreneurship studies (E-Ship) programming.

          The webinar started out with setting the basis of the value experiential learning brings, especially in the modern workforce where many people have college degrees. College graduates have a hard time finding jobs since employers are looking for people with skills and experience outside of a classroom. The entrepreneurship studies program equips youth while they are still in middle school and high school to confidently face the various situations that arise outside of a classroom.

          Important questions and learning transpire through the program which include the deeper understanding of who the person is, what talents and gifts they bring, and seeing how they will create impact. The problem solving, and opportunity to deal with real world situations at a young age encourages the youth to understand their place, and where they come from. The work focuses around the question of “what problems do you want to solve?” instead of “what career do you want?”.  

          Through the experiential learning opportunities youth were able to problem solve, present ideas to local business leaders, gain feedback from businesses, conduct interviews of customers, and gain mentoring. The skills gained teach youth resilience, and how to overcome failure. The entrepreneurship studies program can be curated depending on what works best for the area one is working in, which may include an after-school program, weekend event, or a summer intensive program.

          Jeremy has experience and first-hand knowledge of successfully leading these types of youth programs and is a great resource for anyone interested in starting one. The programs give young people the tools to do what they want to do and support the thoughts and genius they have within themselves.

          Questions and Answers

          • How does one go about starting a first weekend, and getting the ball rolling on these types of programs? There are many different ways to do this, which could include going around to some schools, or to a single school and show video clips which show the programs and opportunities young people have had. Have a well-known entrepreneur come in and talk about the potentials and values a program like this would bring. Hold a weekend event and have youth on teams where they bring their own ideas and have to pitch the ideas to business leaders from the community. Have different informational sessions throughout the weekend to further support the pitch section of the event.
          • Do you charge the students any sort of fee for attending the event?    The events are always free for the students. The only cost would be the time, food, and venue.   


          These resources further show the Entrepreneurship Studies (E-Ship) programs: 

          Article 

          Podcast



        • 10/03/2019 10:14 AM | Stephanie Owens (Administrator)

          MONTROSE URBAN RENEWAL WORSKHOP

          September 16 , 2019

          On September 16th-17th, Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) worked with the City of Montrose to develop a Western Slope Reinvestment and Redevelopment Symposium on urban renewal tools and practices for the Montrose Urban Renewal Board and partners. The event was supported by City of Montrose, City of Durango, City of Grand Junction, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, and Dean Brookie Architecture.

          The first evening included a private workshop for attendees including Montrose City Council, Montrose Urban Renewal Authority, and the Montrose Development and Revitalization Team (DART). Presentations by DCI’s Katherine Correll and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck discussed how the city vision shapes the projects, the toolbox of funding options, how to right size tax increment financing areas, and how to encourage the types of development and redevelopment that communities are looking for.

          Symposium attendees were invited to come early and conduct a project area tour of the recently developed Mayfly Outdoors. This project combined private investment, tax increment, and Great Outdoors Colorado (GoCo) funds to develop a top notch manufacturing facility and a trail that connects the development to downtown while enhancing river access to neighboring communities. We also enjoyed a fabulous reception at Horsefly Brewing. Reception sponsored by Dean Brookie Architects.

          On day two, the Western Slope Reinvestment & Redevelopment Workshop in considered how to maximize impacts using Urban Renewal and the benefits of downtown management programs. Speakers included Bill Bell, City of Montrose; Katherine Correll, Downtown Colorado, Inc.; Kim Grant, Colorado Preservation, Inc.; Karen Harkin, CHFA; Alex Rugoff, City of Durango; Mike Scholl, City of Loveland; and Carolynne White, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.

          Attendees included representatives from Montrose DART, Colorado Workforce Development Council, La Plata County, City of Montrose, Town of Collbran, City of Grand Junction, Town of Pagosa Springs, Grand Junction Downtown Partnership, City of Durango, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Development Research Partners, Colorado Housing & Finance Authority, Colorado Preservation, Inc, City of Loveland, Town of Walsenburg, Community Builders, Art District on Santa Fe, Colorado Main Street, City of Monte Vista, and the Department of Local Affairs.

          The dialogue included an introduction to urban renewal and how it can support catalyst projects and community priorities. Speakers shared some background on important factors for a successful downtown, including historic preservation, housing, and brownfield sites. The conversation explored each area and why projects cost more as well as the resources that help to level the playing field to make these projects feasible for the private sector to address. Participants were then walked through a project pro forma, the financial road map to financing a development project, and were able to discuss in small groups the details of the pro forma, the private sector gap, and the purpose and process for the Third Party Review.

          Ideas Shared

          • As the City moves forward with the Comprehensive Plan, consider how to build plan goals into the work of the URA will help to provide a means of encouraging private sector development. It is important to recognize that goals for one part of the community may not be applicable in all sections of the city so not all projects may not achieve all goals.
          • The goals of the public sector may differ significantly from the goals of the private sector.
          • Historic tax credits may need be isolated from TIF projects, so to maximize access to the tax credits, the developer can carve off the affordable housing piece as a separate project.
          • Opportunity Zones timing from project identification to breaking ground is very fast so communities who can expedite planning and zoning efforts to make those happen.
          • Raising capital with historic preservation projects is only half the challenge, but developing the plan for future use is often a significant challenge as well.
          • Housing and utilities should not require more than 30% of income or people are financially burdened and qualify for affordable housing.

          Questions and Answers

          • When you write the URA Plan, focus on the blight conditions that link the area to other areas of focus where you may want investment later. TIF can be used for anything that remedies the blight identified in the URA Plan.
          • What is 1348? 1348 means both Governance and Negotiation. Governance is included entities on your board. Negotiation is looking each plan area and the use of increment in the area. Adding a URA plan area would require negotiation if it was going to use property tax TIF from any entity.
          • What are the pros and cons of a larger TIF area versus a smaller TIF area?
          • Developing very specific and narrow boundaries for a TIF area makes tracking of impacts easier and reduces the risk of one or more project failure taking away from the increment for all. It can be one large urban renewal area, with small individual TIF areas focused on only the narrow project.
          • Timing of TIF is important and it is impacted by the assessor’s office, whether it is an assessment year, etc. Adopt the plan when the value is a low as possible but at a time where investment will happen in the near future. Turning on TIF Clock  in area 1, and wait on area 2?
          • How do you deal with Naysayers who think URA is public welfare?Invite them into the process. Go to the people rather than making them come to City Hall.
          • How did you implement the TIF – from the County Treasurer – Montrose invited the County Assessor to be the County representative on the board. The State Assessors Office also does an annual technical training.
          • What kinds of comments are coming as the URA formation is evolving?Very positive response for the most part, businesses and government are focused on housing for employees, banks are also interested in how it can work with a line of credit, private sector is seeing that Durango is serious about redeveloping. There is a lot of overlap with Opportunity Zones and they are building prospectuses around that effort.
          • Assessors’ Reference Library says that infrastructure is an increase in value that qualifies, but they don’t always record the value and attribute to increment to the base until the permits to go vertical are issued.


        • 09/05/2019 9:11 AM | Stephanie Owens (Administrator)

          Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) is honored to work with The City of Brush! is as we continue efforts around the revitalization of Central Platoon School and the Brush! Challenge initiated in 2017.

          As we look to the future of Central Platoon School, the DCI Colorado Challenge Accelerator Program will use a holistic approach to focus on a vibrant downtown with sustainable partnerships increased entrepreneurship and economically vital businesses, and clear communications to assist with marketing opportunities in and around the community. Our efforts will outline the steps and help drive the process for the public sector to access and focus private sector investment toward the community vision of a sustainable and thriving community with a revitalized activity hub in the Central Platoon School Building.


          The Colorado Challenge Program is a unique team building accelerator focused on establishing a plan of work and proposal for funding over the course of twelve months. The program includes planning and development that will help to engage citizens in the strategy for moving forward toward a sustainable business-ecosystem for entrepreneurs and creative innovations and intervention. The Brush Challenge objectives for the next phase include:

          • Showcase Downtown Brush! and the opportunities that exist
          • Further discussion around the Central School as a community center
          • Explore mechanisms to help the City of Brush! be a strong partner in working with the private sector
          • Highlight new uses for Central Platoon School and vacant buildings in Downtown Brush!

          Join Brush! Leaders as we share our efforts, invite regional and state-wide guidance, and establish a plan for the future! Please review our proposed agenda and plan to join us for this dynamic event to share our vision and find partners and resources. The agenda is an work in process and may be subject to change!

          Read the Brush! 2017 Challenge Report


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