It’s official: Granby is a Main Street town | SkyHiNews.com

It’s official: Granby is a Main Street town

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News

As American townscapes face challenges such as chain retail-and-restaurant homogenization and outward development, the town of Granby has been chosen as Colorado’s eighth Main Street-designated town.

The Colorado Main Street Program’s “Colorado Community Revitalization Association (CCRA)” is cousin to the national program created to stimulate economic activity and preserve historic character in struggling downtowns.

“The program uses an approach that advocates a return to community self-reliance, local empowerment, and the rebuilding of central business districts based on their traditional assets of unique architecture, personal service, local ownership, and a sense of community,” states a press release from CCRA.

The National program of the same name originated through the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the late 1970s and developed into a Main Street Four Point Approach in which towns focus on “economic restructuring, design, organization and promotion.”

The concept is currently being implemented in more than 1,800 communities across the country.

In the early 1980s, Colorado was chosen for a state pilot project through the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

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Delta, Durango, Grand Junction, Manitou Springs and Sterling were the state’s first Main Street towns on a trial basis. But the project was short-lived, only lasting three years.

A Colorado Main Street program was reborn with a grant from the State Historical Fund and the Colorado Historical Society in 2000.

Since 2000, the cities of Brush, Greeley, Arvada, Berthoud, Lake City, Monte Vista, Steamboat Springs and now Granby have joined the ranks of Main Street Colorado towns, partially sponsored by the State Historical Fund.

Once a town has been designated a Main Street town, “you really notice people start to take ownership of their downtown,” said Executive Director of Colorado Main Street Program Katherine Correll. “They get involved, share ideas and want be a part of bringing life back to their downtown.”

The Main Street selection committee recognized Granby for the amount of work its citizens have demonstrated thus far when it comes to improving downtown economic vitality, she said.

The Granby downtown enhancement committee has hosted speakers on the subject, created town-hub activities, implemented business assistance programs, and schemed ways to make the downtown more attractive.

“It’s a great community to work with, and they’ve demonstrated such dedication and commitment to the process for downtown revitalization,” Correll said.

The designation is the culmination of more than two years of trying, according to Granby’s Downtown Enhancement Director Betsy Cook.

Led by Cook, Granby applied last summer. But the program was in a restructuring phase, Correll said, and so the selection process was postponed.

Cook resubmitted an in-depth application, demonstrated public and private support and participated in a group interview with the Colorado Main Street Selection committee about citizens’ readiness to undertake the Main Street program.

More than 30 letters of support from local business owners accompanied the application. “It made a huge difference,” said Cook. “I thank everyone who had participated in the process. This opens a lot of doors for us in terms of branding, promoting and marketing Granby,” she said.

“We were very impressed by the strong commitment to downtown Granby,” said Jim Lindberg, selection committee member from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Business owners, residents and city leaders all seem to understand the importance of protecting what is unique about downtown Granby. They see it as a valuable asset to build on for the future. That’s what the Colorado Main Street program is all about.”

Main Street towns are said to benefit from heritage tourism, an industry that brings nearly $4 billion a year in tourism dollars to Colorado, according to the Colorado Historical Foundation.

Among the benefits offered to Main Street towns, communities gain quarterly training sessions, the next of which will be held in Granby on April 10-11.

Towns are also treated to annual “reinvestment figures” that show the progress of downtown revitalization by way of the number of new businesses, new jobs or new developers.

Brush, a Colorado town with a population of about 5,200 residents, has been in the Main Street Program since 2001, one of the first to be accepted in Colorado. It has acquired grants through from the Colorado Historic Fund aided by the program, according to Ron Prasher, executive director of the Brush Chamber/ Main Street program.

The town pays $1,500 a year membership to the Main Street program. In turn, Prasher believes the program has helped the town acquire grants for a historical survey of the town, marketing analyses and seminars on ways to improve a downtown threatened by interstate development elsewhere. It has also helped the town acquire a grant to purchase and renovate a downtown building where eventually their local Main Street program and Chamber will be located, he said.

“We’ve found we can contact the Main Street organization for answers to questions, and if they couldn’t find the answer, they found someone who could,” Prasher said.

He welcomed Granby to the gang.

“We look forward to working with you and sharing ideas. And, I think we can each learn from the other,” he said.

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.

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