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. 1. Community Selection
  2. 2. Team Building
  3. 3. Challenge Studio Workshop
  4. 4. Financing Approach
  5. 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 [email protected] 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!
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