2023 Year-End Blog or an alternate AI title “Downtown Diaries: Colorado's Year-End Fiesta of Resilience and Revelry!”

Last Updated 12/21/2023

In this special end-of-year blog, we invite you to join us in revisiting the milestones, successes, and shared experiences that have defined this transformative year. Together, we've navigated challenges, embraced innovation, and forged resilient pathways toward a brighter future. This is a moment to honor the dedication and resilience of our members, partners, and supporters whose unwavering commitment has been the cornerstone of our collective journey. From collaborative initiatives to impactful projects, from invaluable networking opportunities to educational endeavors, our organization has been the nexus where ideas converge, partnerships flourish, and aspirations turn into realities. 

This isn't your average year-in-review. It's a party! A celebration of YOU - the dynamic, passionate members who bring the magic to our community. Get ready to dance, reminisce, and raise a toast to the laughter, the learning, and the friendships that have made this year one for the books.

+ Sharing is Caring

We have so many partnerships that we value throughout the state that help us bring you amazing content as well as the opportunity to share the value of building vibrant communities with their members. Here is a highlight of some of the educational content we created with our partners this year. 

Policy 101 Advocacy. Good Business Colorado is an amazing organization that works together with entrepreneurs and businesses for equitable communities, a sustainable environment, and a prosperous economy. In January, we hosted this highly interactive Policy Advocacy 101 workshop with GBC. The session walked through the basics of how the Colorado legislature works, deep dove into the many points of access to the tables where decisions are being made that impact your community. 

Redevelopment Financing. In February, we partnered with Kansas State University Technical Assistance for Brownfields (KSU TAB), CDPHE, and History Colorado to continue the discussion surrounding the best financing and funding practices and resources to redeveloping brownfield and historic sites. KSU TAB and DCI have partnered this year and in 2024 to build community capacity for redevelopment work and presented at CDPHE’s Colorado Brownfield’s Conference.

EDCC Regional Economic Development Forum. In May, DCI collaborated with Economic Development Council of Colorado to speak about Building Stronger and More Connected Communities. EDCC is an amazing partner dedicated to successful and responsible economic development across the state.

CML-DCI Metro Mobile Tour. Every year, DCI partners with Colorado Municipal League to get downtown professionals out of their offices and communities and on the road to see how other TIF districts get creative and partner for amazing projects. CML is well-known for advocating, educating, training all Colorado municipalities in exceptional governance.

If you would like to partner on a presentation or event in 2024, reach out to us!

+ We LOVED Loveland

This year we headed north to Loveland to experience all of the amazing development that has made their downtown truly VIBRANT. We had an amazing time walking around the Foundry Project, a super fun awards ceremony at the historic Rialto, and competition at the arcade! We were excited to welcome amazing speakers like Jim Heid, Renise Walker, and Cleo Parker Robinson. We even wrote love notes to send to our loved ones! Thank you to the Downtown Loveland team for making us feel so welcome and loved!

Here are a few highlights:

  • 300+ registered attendees
  • 18 Community and Downtowner of the Year Governor’s Award Winners
  • 80 Different Speakers and Facilitators
  • 57 Sponsors and Community Partners
  • 20 Dine-Around Lunch Sessions
  • 12 Community Tours highlighting Colorado Springs, CO
  • Colorado Challenge Program communities

DCI continued to serve communities through our unique technical assistance program, the Colorado Challenge program. This year, we focused on small scale manufacturing and job quality. Overall, we always focus on building teams that are dedicated to building vibrancy in their communities. Here are some testimonials from the communities who participated this year:

“The Challenge studio is such a great opportunity to hear that others have successfully done what you are trying to do.  You get to learn from other's experience and have a great group of cheerleaders encouraging you!” - Jennifer Henninger, City of Littleton

“Having just attended the Main Street Now conference, this was a refreshing break from the rooms of hundreds of people listening to one speaker. While that can be valuable in its own way, spending time with groups of 10-20 people allowed for more room to explore specific projects and hear from experts in a variety of fields. The more intimate setting allowed for us to really dive into the challenges and projects that are happening in our small town.” - Teddy Leinbach, Town of San Luis

+ Building the new Challenge boat (as we’re sailing into the new year)

DCI's Challenge Program is a unique technical assistance program with a proven track record over six years to transform community challenges into opportunities. In 2024, we are excited to provide extended resources for redevelopment of opportunity sites and brownfields for six pilot communities. Over the end of 2023 and into 2024, these pilot communities will access extensive training, workshops, and technical assistance to consider community revitalization and property redevelopment. The 2024 Colorado Challenge Accelerator Program will help them to establish a list of opportunity sites for investment, building a stronger community team to connect public and private resources to get things done, and help shape a funding strategy with a timeline and talking or proposals points to share with funders. 

The most exciting part is that we will be taking the program statewide in the second half of 2024. If you are interested in learning more go to the Challenge Page, fill out the Community Vitality and Capacity Check, and contact us.

+ Tax Increment Financing for the WIN!

We value our members and sponsors that work on Tax Increment Finance. We know it’s an ever-evolving, complicated, and valuable tool so we devote much of our year creating educational sessions that will help our districts take revitalization to the next level. One of the new sessions created was called Understanding Your Assessment. Presented by Ricker | Cunningham, the session was based on understanding the county assessors’ preliminary and final certifications of value. The discussion focused on the assessors’ three sentence estimate of assessed value, base value, and increment value and asked - how were they calculated? In addition to this summary, the presentation included key dates that urban renewal authorities should monitor, as well as detailed examples of forms, processes, and protocols that can be used to ensure that tax increment resources are maximized.

Beginning the in the late summer and through the fall of 2023, Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) facilitated a series of educational sessions around the purpose, process, and practice of using tax increment finance to further community goals and realize community vision. This series traveled to the Southern, Western, and Northern regions to make sure this important education could reach our members! Our focus has been to build an understanding and awareness of the purpose and structure of tax increment finance and identify the processes for using this tool by urban renewal authorities + downtown development authorities. 

Participants and facilitators discussed ways to shape the community culture to better work with and attract private sector investors. The following steps outline a strategy to begin to create a community friendly to public-private partnerships.

  • Know your Vision
  • Communicate the Processes to Invest in the Vision
  • Regulations Aligned with Vision
  • Be Time Conscious + Transparent 

We ended the year facilitating a number of board retreats with DDAs and URAs including Glenwood Springs DDA, Sterling URA, Golden DDA, and Nederland DDA. These retreats were interactive discussions providing the districts expertise, analyzing input, and shaping a manageable strategies for the districts to shape and evaluate future projects.

+ Creating a Vibrant Commercial District

This year, Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) was pleased to kick off a series of virtual meetings for communities looking to create a vital commercial district when there is no traditional downtown. When a community doesn't have a traditional downtown, they might have to get creative with different tools and techniques to attract retail, activity, and vitality to a new or existing commercial corridor.

The first two webinars in the series featured Julie Jacoby, City of Thornton Economic Development and Stephanie Otte, City of Westminster as they shared a toolbox for retail recruitment. Jill Mendoza, Town of Superior Economic Developer moderated for this dynamic and interactive webinar discussion. READ THE BLOG HERE. The second webinar dove deeper into the idea of Activity Nodes and the connection between community planning and the retail recruiter or economic developer with Susan Wood, Regional Transportation District (RTD) to joining. This series will be continuing in 2024 with the next session diving into the developer perspective. Register for the February 20 webinar here!

+ Adventure Awaits in 2024!

As we eagerly await the adventures that 2024 holds, we extend an invitation to all potential partners eager to join us in shaping the future. Together, let's continue to build bridges, foster collaborations, and create impactful experiences that elevate communities and celebrate the essence of vibrant downtowns. Here's to a year of growth, friendship, and endless possibilities! Cheers to the memories we've made and the adventures yet to come!

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