New Economic Development Initiative Combines Local Collaboration with Citywide Support
The Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) today launched a new initiative, aimed at strengthening business districts and their surrounding neighborhoods citywide. Mayor John Hickenlooper, City Council members and community and business leaders celebrated the launch of the Denver Neighborhood Marketplace Initiative (DNMI) at a kickoff event today.
“Neighborhood Marketplace will capitalize on Denver’s strong small-business culture and abundant entrepreneurial spirit to drive business growth and investment in our neighborhoods,” Hickenlooper said. “When neighborhood businesses succeed, surrounding communities flourish – with local retail, services and jobs.”
The initiative’s goals are to foster capacity building for the City’s many diverse neighborhood marketplaces, develop stronger public-private partnerships and build long-lasting relationships that connect neighborhoods with businesses. Through the initiative OED will annually select 2–5 districts for participation. Together with OED, each district will develop a long-term district development plan that outlines the district’s goals, work plan and benchmarks to gauge the district’s progress.
“When neighborhood businesses work cooperatively together, they’re better poised for success,” said OED Executive Director Andre Pettigrew. “In Denver, this is evident through a number of successful business improvement districts, local maintenance districts and other formal and informal networks of geographically-concentrated businesses. DNMI is all about helping business districts succeed, at every level.”
The initiative seeks to address each district’s unique context, market dynamics and physical characteristics. District development plans will outline which resources — ranging from technical assistance, to small business lending, streetscape improvements and many others — can be deployed to effect meaningful change in the district. Availability of resources will vary, depending on the district’s stage of development. District development plans will be implemented and reviewed annually.
“Ultimately, our goal is to work closely with each of these districts so that after three to seven years they advance and continue to progress in becoming a thriving and sustainable neighborhood asset.” said Pettigrew. “We’re looking for a commitment to establish private sector funding that continues to promote the district and its needs.”
OED has selected the following pilot districts for the initiative:
• Morrison Road (Morrison Rd., from Knox Ct. to Sheridan Blvd.)
• Welton Street Corridor (Welton St., from 20th St. to 30th St.)
• Bluebird District (Colfax Ave., from York St. to Colorado Blvd.)
• Berkeley/Tennyson Street Corridor (Tennyson St., from 38th Ave. to 45th Ave.)
• Cherry Creek North (district boundaries include 1st Ave. to 3rd Ave., and University Blvd. to Steele St.)
OED’s selection of pilot districts was based on many factors, including the district’s evidence of leadership, community investment, ability to leverage resources and neighborhood engagement. The districts represent a range of development stages, from challenged to thriving.
Beginning in 2009, a citywide competitive process will be initiated by OED, inviting neighborhood business districts to submit an application for inclusion in DNMI. Districts will be selected based upon their ability to articulate goals and demonstrate committed private-sector leadership.
Under Pettigrew’s leadership, OED recently realigned staff to implement this citywide initiative. Changes include deploying staff geographically to cover the 11 City Council Districts to work in partnership with neighborhoods and businesses throughout the City.
Other elements of the initiative include:
• Development of neighborhood marketplace profiles for selected districts throughout Denver. The profiles will feature background information on the district, demographic data, businesses mix, development activity and other factors.
• Partnership with Social Compact, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit organization, to develop a neighborhood market analysis plan to be used to attract investment and capture underserved market potential.
• Formation of a Business District Alliance that will represent the diverse group of business and property owners’ interests in districts throughout the City.
DNMI was developed based on input from more than 200 stakeholders, including the Mayor and City Council, business and property owners, real estate professionals and representatives from business and community development organizations. OED conducted a review of current tools and plans and researched best practices from other cities actively supporting neighborhood business district programs.
For more information about the initiative, call 720-913-1999. Information is also available through the Denver Business Assistance Center, located in the atrium of the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building, 201 W. Colfax Ave.