ALAMOSA– Center’s downtown revitalization is on target by Downtown Colorado, Inc. according to executive director Katherine Correll in speaking to about 100 attending the third annual Economic Development Summit Monday at Adams State University.
Correll was introduced by Brian Lujan, Center town manager who has been working with Downtown Colorado, Inc. in trying to fill eight empty downtown buildings there. He said the town board has been working with the organization and “engaging the community” to improve Center’s downtown, adding that Colorado’s recently adopted “opportunity zones” could be a big help.
Correll’s presentation on “building your place economy” was the second presentation at the summit hosted by Adams State and Trinidad State Junior College whose respective presidents, Dr. Cheryl D. Lovell, and Dr. Rhonda M. Epper, gave welcoming comments.
Other highlights included a hemp update from Monte Robertson, founder and general partner of SLV Hemp Company, and presentations from local and state economic development leaders and a keynote speech from Stephan Weiler, professor of economics at Colorado State University. Also featured were representatives of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT).
Correll, who is working with the Center Town Board on downtown revitalization, has also worked with the Town of Saguache, particularly on future use of the downtown theater there. She said Downtown Colorado, Inc. takes a challenge and tries to find a solution.
The Center project has focused on youth engagement, attracting businesses, filling the eight vacant buildings and plans for the town’s catalyst site that could draw more businesses. With the organization’s involvement Center is possibly eligible for Brownfield grants to assist with business development and housing.
One project underway is to develop window displays in vacant buildings to demonstrate what could be there.
“We want to brand the Center experience,” she said “and develop a community outreach coordinator perhaps through the VISTA (volunteer) program who could possibly later become a town employee.”
Correll said Colorado communities are resilient, entrepreneurs are innovative and diversifying, mentioning “Woods” potato vodka distilled in the SLV as an example.
Calling downtown the “smile of the community,” she said the principles of downtown vitality are being the economic center of the town, and being inclusive, vibrant, authentic and resilient as a “sense of place.”