Written by Morgan Cullen of Colorado Municipal League
In August, the Colorado Municipal League conducted its first ever economic development mobile tour in partnership with Downtown Colorado Inc. (DCI). The day-long outing offered an opportunity for CML’s members to learn more about Downtown Development Authorities (DDA) and the potential economic benefits they can provide for a city or town’s central business district.
The tour bus departed from CML headquarters for Ft. Collins and Windsor, Colorado whose DDAs have revitalized the downtown areas of both communities. Participants met with the DDA directors from both municipalities as well as elected officials, business owners and developers who have all played a role in the success of these areas. Even Windsor Mayor, Kristie Melendez and Ft. Collins City Councilman, Ray Martinez were present to offer their perspectives on how local governments and DDAs can support each other for the long-term benefit of their communities. The tour also included two panel discussions the first over lunch at a Ft. Collins brewery and the second included desert at a coffee house that recently opened its’ doors inside the Windsor DDA.
Brinkman Developer Todd Park, discusses a brand new development in Ft. Collins that serves a business incubator for new business owners in the city. The development worked collaboratively with the Ft. Collins DDA to get off the ground.
Unlike the more common Urban Renewal Areas (URAs), DDAs are an economic development tool that has only been employed by 16 municipalities across the state. While each municipality is limited to jus one DDA, it can leverage a number of financing tools like Tax Increment Financing (TIF), mill levy increases and sales tax to make sizeable investments within the district. And the revenue generated can be used for many different purposes such as building renovation, infrastructure improvements, marketing, holiday decorations and landscaping. (If you would like learn more about the differences between the types of special districts, visit our partner PUMA's wonderful resource page)
Following the tour, a number of CML and DCI participants commented about the tangible benefits that a DDA can provide and are seriously considering implementing one in their hometown.
If you would like to tour an active DDA please join us on our Longmont DDA tour which will focused on activating plazas along with a progressive happy hour and a dìa de los muertos altar tour.