Recently, I met with the directors of the following economic development organizations in Durango.
These organizations, referred to as the A,B,C,D, & L group, are as follows:
“A” stands for Alliance – or more formally the La Plata County Economic Development Alliance. Headed by Roger Zalneraitis, the Alliance “is a public-private partnership whose mission is to help grow quality jobs and diversify the economy of La Plata County, Colorado.” Among the many initiatives it develops, the Alliance sponsors the annual Economic Summit, this year at the Sky Ute Event Center on October 25, 2017, which is a must for anyone interested in the economic health of our area.“B” stands for BID, – or the Business Improvement District. Headed by Tim Walsworth, BID is a self-taxed district of central downtown to North Main which exists to improve conditions for businesses in that area, attract and retain businesses and improve the overall experience for those who use the district. Among many other activities, BID promotes Singing with Santa, Children’s Halloween, Downtown Clean Day and Labor Day Weekend. They also partner with United Way for the annual San Juan Brewfest.“C” stands for the Durango Chamber of Commerce. Headed by Jack Llewellyn, the Chamber is a member-based organization that promotes and supports the local business community. With more than 800 members, the Chamber operates networking and educational programs, the most notable of which is Leadership La Plata. Each Year, 18 diverse, civic-minded and active community members are selected into this intense 9-month program with graduates then producing the next year’s program under the guidance of previous graduates. (I am an LLP graduate.) The Chamber also produces the popular Durango Rocks, a community-wide awards ceremony celebrating both personal and business contributions to our community. “D” stands for DATO, the Durango Area Tourism Office. Headed by me, DATO provides visitors with detailed information on world-class events, attractions, restaurants and accommodations in the Durango area. We do that by marketing Durango to the world. We also run the Durango Welcome Center located at 8th Street & Main Avenue. With tourism being the single largest industry in our county, DATO’s success ensures a strong, viable economic future for our area. “L” stands for Local First. Headed by Monique DiGiorgio, Local First exists to provide locally owned, independent businesses and organizations with opportunities to thrive. It is most notably known for that fabulous Be Local Coupon Book which is worth its weight in gold. In these days of easy online ordering, it is critically important to the long-term survival of small towns to support local, independent businesses. Working together, these organizations can form a powerful voice in the future direction of our community. There are many other worthy organizations in our community that I have not mentioned and I apologize to them for that. Limited time and space in our local newspaper prevents me from covering them all. Suffice it to say that proactive work in these types of organizations can move forward progress in what sometimes seems like a futile exercise of making positive change.
Durango and La Plata County are very special places. They are not only composed of stunning natural beauty and quaint, small-town living, but driven by smart, diligent and caring people who participate in designing our community’s future. We don’t always agree on how to go about moving us forward and that is for the best. What we can do is respect and listen to each others’ different perspectives and approaches and develop an approach that works for all of us. We rarely get exactly what we want, but we frequently move forward to continue to support and build a sustainable future for our community.
Please consider joining at least one of these organizations and take an active part in choosing your community’s future. Next to raising a healthy family, making a difference is one of the most satisfying ways to spend one’s time.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Frank Lockwood is executive director of the Durango Area Tourism Office.