Tiny Towns Meeting 5/4: Maintaining COVID-19 Gains in Tiny Towns
Downtown Colorado Inc. (DCI) works with Colorado's Tiny Towns - towns with 1,000 population or less - to provide resources and empower Colorado's tiniest towns towards success. DCI's Tiny Towns program convenes a group of Tiny Towns from across the state to brainstorm, network, and create solutions to the problems Colorado's Tiny Towns are facing alongside DCI's expertise and advising.
What Were Pandemic Wins in Tiny Towns?
- Increased use of the local food bank with both donations and participation. There was a big uptick as people didn’t want to travel to the grocery store. So, more food stayed out of the landfills.
- Sales Tax increases in many of the Tiny Towns as people moved to online shopping or at least using local stores.
- Increased participation in planning and engagement around events because people wanted to have local gatherings and things to do.
- Highway traffic increased with road trips and “staycations” that supported small stores in Tiny Towns.
- Vendors that used to manage booths at events moved to antique stores with more of a pop up function.
What are Some Ideas to Help Maintain Pandemic Wins?
Capturing Passers By. There is an opportunity for growth in capturing traffic coming through Tiny Towns.
- Use more signs on highway and in front of stores.
- Add a sign for “Coffee” with a simple machine that provides different types of coffee.
- Booth at events with coffee or snacks and options for donations.
Shared Spaces. Some venues have ample space that is underutilized on certain days, hours, etc.
- Consider how complimentary businesses support one another e.g. snowmobile rental business and restaurant sharing a two-story space
- Establishing shared spaces and co-housing businesses in a single building or space. Share a kitchen, have multiple vendors selling items in a restaurant or visitor center, etc.
Keeping Locals Engaged. Develop ideas to build more regular dialogue with locals.
- Identify and list local communication platforms (social. Media, other media, etc.). Consider Facebook Groups or Messenger Chats.
- Create regular posts about local news, events, opportunities, etc. Establish a list of local volunteer opportunities and service needs.
- Create ways for locals to share messages with the public.
- Delegate with specific needs for what projects and tasks need support.
Capacity Management. Tiny Towns have fewer people to fill the roles and must consider ways to get more done with less.
- Engage several different businesses or venues to partner so that there is an event every Friday but it doesn’t have to be supported by just one business or venue.
- Ask the question. Sometimes we assume there isn’t capacity but we just need to voice the need.
- Mentorship Programs. Create a program that includes jobs, internships, or roles that they can serve in to gain experience and help businesses or the wider community.
- Consider evolving hiring and job practices for attracting talent to Tiny Towns.
- Colorado Cottage Foods Act training to learn how to prepare food in home kitchen for sale within the state. Receive certificate to prepare food at home.
- Materials that show the resources available to Tiny Towns.
- DCI short video on shared spaces.