As we enter the final days of 2019, the Durango Business Improvement District encourages everyone to shop local for Christmas this season. Did you know that December has become the biggest shopping month of the year for downtown businesses? This is an extremely important time of the year for our local businesses – please frequent them.
I have also been thinking about BID’s accomplishments for the year and our top priorities for 2020. For 2019, three accomplishments come to mind. For starters, BID successfully rolled out a new brand for north Main Avenue – the North Main District. We have a long way to go before this is fully used and embraced by everyone, but we are off to a good start.
BID also believes that the impacts of the 416 Fire were, for the most part, limited to one year. I was told by long-standing businesses that it took two years to recover after the Missionary Ridge Fire. Looking at key performance indicators like hotel occupancy, sales tax data, train ridership, airport passengers and Durango Welcome Center door counts, we are slightly above 2017 numbers. This is certainly not the case for every individual and business impacted by the fire, but collectively, we weathered that storm and are now on track with 2017 figures.
BID’s Ambassador Program has grown tremendously since its inception in 2016, and it improved again in 2019. BID began tracking certain counts in 2017. In that year, the ambassadors averaged five interactions per hour. In 2018, that number increased to eight interactions per hour. In 2019, that statistic jumped again to 10 interactions per hour. This created a positive experience for the people the ambassador interacted with every six minutes they were working. In total, 6,850 of these positive interactions were initiated by a BID ambassador.
In 2020, there are two big initiatives for BID. First is BID’s participation in and support of an Urban Renewal Authority. An Urban Renewal Authority is a way to jump-start redevelopment of under-performing areas by creating public funding that can be matched with private funds. There are many times where a development project does not make financial sense for the developer due to one or two cost areas. An Urban Renewal Authority can bridge that gap by partnering with the developer to remove some of these obstacles. For example, perhaps the demolition costs of an old building make putting up a new building not financially viable. If the conditions are right, an Urban Renewal Authority could take on that cost for the developer. This gives leverage to the Urban Renewal Authority to have community needs addressed by the development.
BID believes the vision for the North Main District and Camino del Rio will be jump-started by the formation of an Urban Renewal Authority in 2020.
Bid is also excited about a performing arts and conference center for Durango, and expects to present a plan to City Council this spring. It is our hope that this long-awaited and needed facility will be well received, and specific plans can then be developed for its location, financing and operations.
BID wishes you a great holiday season!
Tim Walsworth is the executive director of the Durango Business Improvement District. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.