The impacts of the prolonged economic recession have touched everyone in some negative way. Sure, there is a new economic reality, and its a few clicks down from the good life weve known. Sure, this sluggish economy is here for a time to come. But not all change is a result of a lousy economy as some would have you believe.
Time marching on is a noneconomic factor causing local change.
As our general population is aging, our downtown business community is aging. Retirement, succession, boredom, burn-out and sell-out continue to introduce new business owners with new energy and ideas.
And take notice that some of our most successful businesses are operated by an under-40 group of hard workers with young families and a strong commitment to Durangos future.
Also, notice the changing of the leadership guard.
Aside from spoofy election noise about change, our local leadership continues to turn over and reflects a more diverse, youthful orientation and openness to progressive ideas. On both the private and public sides, new faces have taken the helm, and more are sure to come.
Preference for living a healthy lifestyle is also a noneconomic issue. The attractive characteristics of our Southwest Colorado community and vital downtown core will continue to lure relocations of young professionals, active and educated retirees, and innovative start-up companies.
And regardless of the economy, Americans value vacation time. Not withstanding the new conservative vacation-spending patterns of tourists, Durango offers a high-quality, affordable and unique experience. This is because our primary attractions are genuine and cannot be duplicated: the train, Mesa Verde, rivers and mountains.
Also, our secondary tourism attractions are expanding in quality and visitor appeal; art and culture, museums and science, culinary and spirits, and heritage and history.
Most interesting, there is change at the Main Avenue level not reflective of a bad economy but indicative of solid business practices and smart marketing.
Savvy small-business owners are changing their business models to address opportunity. Restaurants and drinking establishments are demonstrating more differentiation and are becoming hipper. Small retail stores and artists are partnering under one roof to expand their product offerings and benefit from lower occupancy costs. Our relatively small number of vacated spaces continues to attract new retail concepts, and the spaces are receiving overdue capital investment in remodel and upgrades.
Those Main Avenue merchants who are prospering in tough times are doing so with creativity, products that appeal to changing consumer tastes and good hands-on management: factors necessary in any economy.
Finally, community business development organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Business Improvement District, La Plata Economic Development and Local First have increased cooperative partnering.
Partnerships and collaborations are leveraging resources and operating with clearer vision because its effective and efficient, not because the economy is stalled.
Look beyond the present economic woes. Theres a future there, and its happening.
firstname.lastname@example.org Bob Kunkel is special events and business coordinator for Durangos Central Business District.