Last October marked the fifth anniversary of my position with the city of Durango. The job of Downtown Business and Event Coordinator was created to address a need and demonstrate a commitment.
The "need" was determined by a group of downtown merchants, officials, property owners and individuals, all of whom shared a common belief that both the city and the downtown business community would benefit from a liaison person to communicate and coordinate downtown activity.
The city manager's office agreed and the City Council approved the creation of such a position. The council's action demonstrated recognition of the importance of downtown to Durango, and a "commitment" to building closer relationships with the downtown business community.
The program exists today much as it was created. The scope of work focuses on business development through people, projects, programs and events. It is a one-person department with a modest budget, but with access to the many resources of both the city and the community.
For efficiency, the city's downtown office coordinates its activities with the work plan and budget of the Business Improvement District. We share office space, coordinate our marketing programs and leverage our resources.
We also draw perspective and gain insight from industry and trade organizations such as National Main Street, the International Downtown Association and Downtown Colorado Inc.
As it turns out, Durango is not unique in its present or past investment in maintaining downtown viability. Going back 60 years, the National Trust for Historic Preservation was created and later introduced the National Main Street program.
Durango was one of Colorado's earliest participants in applying Main Street's preservation principles, which resulted in most of the downtown building and street characteristics we enjoy today. But, historic buildings and tree-lined streets alone do not guarantee economic success or social vitality; they simply create "place." That place must then be kept alive and competitive with the help of dedicated people and a sufficient amount of programming, promotion, events and ongoing capital improvements.
Today, a worldwide industry of professional downtown managers exists and is thriving. Major cities and small towns realize the importance of a healthy downtown, so local governments either hire staff or support independent downtown organizations, or both. Using limited resources, every downtown seeks to promote their unique attributes while addressing their shortcomings. Whatever approach is taken to dealing with downtown challenges and opportunities, they all have the same goal: a clean, safe and thriving downtown.
As this office moves into its sixth year, there's much to look forward to with so many exciting projects, now and in the future, planned for the betterment of downtown.
To learn more, attend What's Up Downtown? every second Friday of the month at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall. Also, visit the www.DowntownDurango.org and opt-in to receive BID e-mails and newsletters.
firstname.lastname@example.orgBob Kunkel is special events and business coordinator for Durango's Central Business District.