There is something to be said about the small town charm in Grand Junction and small towns like it across Colorado. The small businesses are often unique to each place, nevertheless, these businesses struggle to compete in an ever-growing global marketplace. With economies of scale and every commodity available, it can often be impossible to compete for small business.
This dilemma is what DCI, our volunteer consultants, and the Grand Junction BID tried to address in our Downtown Institute on August 27th. The first presentation from Brian Corrigan of Oh Heck Yeah described design interventions that attendees could implement immediately in their stores. He emphasize the importance of refining a store’s “story” or “the why” to attract people. People want to connect with a place in a way they cannot online, as a consequence, brick and mortar stores have an advantage of connecting with people- old style in reimagined ways. The goal of this presentation was to help the businesses create an environment for creativity in their stores.
Brian then spoke about the reasons for optimism in the face of the Amazon age. These reasons come from an article from a Forbes article stating that Millenials and Generation Z prefer real stores and that many people have an interest in experiences (i.e. being downtown). The emphasis is about providing more of an experience than simply providing goods. This includes partnering with local creatives and being flexible. Examples of flexibility could include an eye-glass retailer can also sell books and coffee or an auto-parts store could sell water.
The participants were also given the opportunity to learn about local resources, online outreach, and succession strategies for their business through three idea stations. The stations were facilitated by Elaine Brett, organizational development consultant, Rachel Trigano, Communications Consultant, and Rachel Hanson, Mesa County libraries.
The library is an especially important institution in many communities particularly in an online world. The library has physical space and resources for the community to take advantage of such as: meeting rooms, A/V equipment, and access to high quality business resources. Online outreach is also important for businesses to communicate with their customers and increase traction and loyalty. Participants also thought about the future of their business including if they would sell it once they retired or if they would consider selling it to their employees as part of an employee owned co-op.
Western Slope Now in Grand Junction did a story on the event! Check out the video and article.
If you are a small business interested about learning more about these topics and creating a better experience for your customers, please join us in Castle Rock on October 23 for a business bootcamp. Click here for more information!
Small business owners and employees are often pulled in numerous directions. In today’s digital environment, there are a lot of options for online marketing and branding and each platform comes with its own image and target audience. Many small business owners may not even have a website or Facebook page. But businesses must consider the best return on the investment of money and time for advertising and marketing. Most importantly, whichever platform they choose, they must maintain quality and current content.
On June 19th, 2017 consultants from DCI collaborated with the Brush Chamber of Commerce to facilitate a discussion about attracting outside audiences to stores in Brush! through various marketing platforms. We have found many of our members around the state desiring information on this topic.
Here are some of common concerns and the key takeaways from Brush!:
At Downtown Colorado, Inc.’s recent Urban Renewal Board Training on July 14th, we discussed the necessary topics of processes, best practices, and successes for Urban Renewal Authorities (URA) in Wheat Ridge, CO. Quite aptly, our venue was the Wheat Ridge Recreation Center which was a major project of the Wheat Ridge URA, lead by one of our speakers and board members, Steve Art. We touched on such topics as Tax Increment Financing (TIF), URAs in rural communities, presented case studies from around the state, financing and the new state legislation affecting the way URAs function.
Some of the speakers included Kimberly Bailey of the Fountain Urban Renewal Authority who talked about the recent number of rural URAs who have met success and keynote speaker Tracy Huggins of the Denver Urban Renewal Authority touched on supporting small businesses and entrepreneurship as well as public art. Our case study comes out of Colorado Springs, the Ivywild School development, in which the former school, closed in 2009, was brought back and repurposed for mixed use, public gardens, and common space to produce a vibrant built environment. Kristin Sullivan of Adams County spoke about being proactive in engaging with the recent state legislative changes regarding URAs and their experiences with this in Adams County. Finally, we had associates from the firm Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber, and Schreck talk about financing and negotiating with developers in the course of implementing a URA project.
Join us next time on December 8th for our next URA training where the theme will be “expanding opportunities” -- visit our website or give us a call at 303.282.0625!
Lake City’s Downtown Improvement & revitalization Team (Lake City DIRT) recently had an “Economic Vitality Summit” on June 13th in which some exciting presentations about small business assistance, historic preservation, and downtown events were given. Regarding the last topic, DCI gave a presentation about how events on one’s Main Street can be used as an economic driver for all in addition to the numerous services and assistance that DCI provides for small rural towns in Colorado.
As is known to most of us in the planning world, small businesses and downtowns have a mutually beneficial relationship: businesses develop innovative ideas and services, provide an ambiance, help market themselves and the town, employ workers, and get people to drop by. The collective downtown, with these benefits from small business, then cross-pollinates those new and innovative ideas, builds upon that ambiance into safe and fun urban environments, is an accumulative place to live, eat, and shop, and generally builds the vibrancy of downtown or Main Street.
Having events in your downtown solidifies and cultivates this relationship by making the downtown a destination and at the same time, improving local business. The amount of discretionary income spent on holidays and weekends is definitely an area to utilize for any town – as an example, the National Retail Federation expects Americans to spend 6.3 billion dollars on food items alone this Fourth of July.
Specific business assistance can be found in the presentations from the event on Lake City DIRT's website under publications including tax credits, loan programs, and helpful information, as well as resource contact information. Let DIRT know how they can help your Lake City business!
Join us and Lake City for an Economic Vitality Summit from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a working lunch at the Lake City Arts Center in downtown Lake City on June 13, 2017. Topics include “Events as Stimulus”, the “Economic Benefits of Historic Preservation”, and presentations on resources available for small businesses from USDA Rural Development, Small Business Development Council, and Region 10. We will also have several forum discussions about regional economic development topics – such as with CMAC (Creede Mineral Action Committee); RWEACT (Rio Grande Watershed Emergency Action Coordination Team); and an update on the Community Technology Committee’s work with Hinsdale County Commissioner Susan Thompson.
2016 identified transformational strategies for Lake City's community seek to strengthen arts and outdoor-recreation related commercial endeavors so current efforts will be discussed as well.
There is no cost for the workshop but a $10 donation is requested for lunch.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call / text 970-596-9071 to sign up.
Lake City Downtown Improvement and Revitalization Team (DIRT) is a nonprofit organization, dedicated to preserving and enhancing Lake City's historic and commercial district. Visit www.lakecitydirt.com.
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is hosting six telephone town halls beginning in early June, providing the public with a forum to ask questions and give input about a variety of transportation issues.
Between June 5 and June 13, residents in all 64 counties will be called at random through an automated system and invited to take part in their regional town hall (see dates and regions below). Coloradans who choose to join the conversation can listen in and also express their thoughts to their transportation commissioner and key CDOT personnel on how the Department is addressing the state’s transportation needs, important projects or initiatives and funding.
“Together We Go” is an on-going conversation about transportation with the citizens of Colorado,” said CDOT Executive Director Shailen Bhatt. “It allows everyone to take a look at what we’ve accomplished so far to make sure we’re all moving together in the right direction. It also gives us the opportunity to hear from people on how best to invest our limited funds and the projects they think should be prioritized.”
The interactive calls will reach out to approximately 350,000 people statewide. After answering the phone, the call will be automatically connected to the meeting. Anyone who does not receive a call but wants to participate can dial in, toll-free, at 1-877-229-8493, PIN 112034.
“It’s vital that we hear from the citizens in every county,” said Transportation Commission Chairman Gary Reiff. “Getting people to attend public meetings can be difficult. A telephone town hall is a fairly new approach that allows us to have these important discussions and people don’t even need to leave home. We’d like to hear from you.”
If you would like to see the telephone town hall listings, including time, date, and region, follow this link.
Over the seven years or so of its existence, Denver-based HistoriCorps has engaged almost 1,500 volunteers in the preservation of two hundred historic structures ranging from remote mountain cabins in Wyoming to the one room schoolhouse attended by George Washington Carver in the community of Neosho, Missouri. Although their geographic reach is great (24 states at last count), a huge number of preservation projects take place right here in HistoriCorps’ home state of Colorado. The work of HistoriCorps will be showcased in a planned documentary series by Boulder filmmaker Joe Daniel called SAVING PLACES®. Of the fifteen or so projects to be featured in the planned series, fully one third are in Colorado. They range from the restoration of the historic Rourke Ranch in the Comanche National Grasslands in South Eastern Colorado, the soaring structures of the Ute-Ulay Mine (the mine and townsite were included in the Endangered Places Program of Colorado Preservation Inc in 2015), the Skinner Cabin in Mesa County, Hahns Peak Fire Lookout near Steamboat Springs, to the Buffalo Peak Ranch near the historic town of Fairplay.
Fixing the roof while the sun shines at the Ute Ulay mine buildings, Hinsdale County.
Here in Colorado the vital connection between historic preservation and local communities is well understood. We instinctively know how a building saved can serve as a unique tourist attraction, or as the key to the interpretation of the whole region. This is as true of industrial structures such as the Ute-Ulay Mine buildings as it is of picturesque pioneer cabins like the Skinner Cabin near Grand Junction. The adaptive reuse of the Buffalo Peaks project (future home of the Rocky Mountain Land Library) offers a different example, where neglected buildings acquire a new lease of life, a fresh purpose that will likely draw visitors from far and wide. Indeed, it is a core belief at HistoriCorps that instilling a preservation ethic—inviting the public to a greater appreciation of our built history—provides the key to understanding the special character of a place. We work with local partners to preserve those vital assets for public benefit before they are lost forever. That is where the interests of HistoriCorps and Downtown Colorado converge.
Volunteers at Buffalo Peaks Ranch, future home of the Rocky Mountain Land Library, Colorado.
More information on HistoriCorps and the Kickstarter campaign to fund the completion of SAVING PLACES® is available at http://kck.st/2r0vuI6. (You can also visit Kickstarter and search for either HistoriCorps or Saving Places.)
HistoriCorps gratefully acknowledges Colorado Preservation, Inc., one of its founders, for permission to use the wonderfully apt title, SAVING PLACES® for the series.
Walsenburg is located in east-central Huerfano county and is the most populous city in the county. It is home to Colorado's first state park, Lathrop State Park, just 2 miles west of the city limits. Located just 10 miles away from the Spanish peaks, and nearby lakes, Walsenburg is known for its recreation opportunities including fishing, water skiing, boating, hiking and camping. Visitors enjoy the small-town charm, rich in history, natural wonders, and artistic inspiration.
DCI: Are there existing partnerships between the museum, theater, library, schools, and other amenities?
A partnership to operate the Fox Theater was established between the County and the Spanish Peaks Community Foundation (SPFC), a foundation supporting non-profit community groups who work on projects concerning youth, health, economic development, arts and entertainment, housing, and education. The Director of the Foundation, Mike Peter, has been very active on social media to advertise events and create funding for the theater. The theater has also collaborated with local community stakeholders and organizations to host events including a craft beer event, Peakview School theater field trips for movie viewings held twice a year, as well as other community events.
The theater is funded through its sales in movies and rentals. Movies comprise 60% of its income and concession sales total 40%. Movies are currently hosted three days a week on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The partners are also working on an informational reception to help develop a long-term financing plan for the theater planned for the upcoming month.
In addition, La Plaza Inn has partnered with the Fox Theater on promotional giveaways of hotel rooms and concert tickets through radio advertising. The SPCF and La Plaza Inn, along with other partners, have been working on the Creative Music District, a gathering hub, work space, and creative playground for the music community. Lastly, a calendar of activities is being organized to inform the community of local events.
The City of Monte Vista was laid out in 1884, and served as a water stop from the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. Early settlers in Monte Vista were primarily ranchers and farmers. Agriculture remains Monte Vista's largest economic contributor followed by Government, particularly the school system. Monte Vista is a diverse city with lots of culture and history. The racial/ethnic make-up consists of 61.3% Hispanic or Latino origin, while 36% are White.
Monte Vista is working to address the needs of its community and encourage the civic pride and engagement of its citizens. The Downtown District is geared towards promoting its economic potential while preserving the historical character of its downtown core. The future goals of the city include working with the San Luis Valley Development Resources Group and other to attract new businesses to improve the availability of services and local attractions for its community.
Downtown Monte Vista
We talked to Azarel Madrigal, the city's Community Outreach Coordinator about the civic pride and engagement of Monte Vista's citizens.
DCI: What are some examples of times when the community celebrated success together?
AM: I can honestly say that in the past year I have not witnessed any gathers or celebration where the town comes together to celebrate its success, history, or heritage. The city hosted its first open house last September. It was a nice barbecue but there weren't that many community members in attendance. The Monte Vista School District sports are a source of pride for the community. There is definitely a lot of room for improvement and a lot more the city can do to engage and foster a feeling of pride and place.
DCI: Is there one place or visual aspect to the community, natural or man-made, that people all relate to in the city?
AM: The community takes pride in the events that are hosted in the City of Monte Vista. The first one is the Crane Festival. This even happens every march and it celebrates the migration of the cranes from South America into the San Luis Valley, specifically at the Monte Vista Wildlife Refuge. The second event is the Ski Stampede Rodeo festival and concert. This event happens every year at the end of July. It is one of the oldest ongoing rodeos in Colorado. Both of these events attract a lot of people from surrounding communities and the state and country.
DCI: What are some challenges your community faces with community pride?
AM: Monte Vista faces some problems of inclusion. Although we have some great events that bring summer tourists into the city I do not think we do enough celebration of our community and citizens. Within the community, there is a historical divide between the Anglo farmers and Hispanic population that has been here for generations. I think the city has a lot of great natural assets within city limits and the immediate surrounding areas that are not being utilized. Another point of tension and lack of pride is the number of empty storefronts in our main street district.
DCI: What opportunities are there for youth to take leadership roles in the community?
AM: There are no opportunities for youth to take leadership roles at this time.
Be IN THE GAME. Join DCI at the Vibrant Downtowns: IN THE GAME Conference on May 2-5 in Breckenridge Colorado as we explore solve this challenge and 10 others that Colorado Communities are facing.