Grand Lake becomes creative district, a hub of economic activity |

Grand Lake becomes creative district, a hub of economic activity

Grand Lake has been invited to become one of Colorado’s two newest state certified creative districts this year.

On Tuesday, representatives from Colorado Creative Industries, which oversees the state’s creative district program, and 40 West Arts, one of the first creative districts set up in the state, gave a presentation to local residents about the program and what benefits Grand Lake can expect to see from the designation.

Over 60 citizens showed up to a community meeting in Grand Lake Tuesday afternoon to hear from Christy Costello, Creative Districts program manager for CCI, DiAnn Butler, Grand County Economic Development Coordinator, and Bill Marino and Kevin Yoshida, representatives from 40 West Arts. The meeting featured the formal announcement that Grand Lake has been invited, along with Grand Junction, to become one of two new creative districts in the state this year.

Costello presented attendees with a slide show on CCI and creative districts in general. She discussed other projects CCI affiliated with or provides funding for, including Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre, as well as a history of the creative district program. Established in 2011 the creative district program allows CCI to officially designate communities as cultural and arts districts.

Costello explained the purpose of creative districts saying the designation is meant to, “attract creatives, build economic and civic capital and create a hub of economic activity,” centered around creative industries.

Costello highlighted a variety of ways creative districts reach their goals, from professional development workshops, to marketing and event campaigns. She stressed that CCI provides basic help to creative districts, in the form of district designation and access to unique grant opportunities, but that decisions about the direction a particular creative district will take is, “up to the vision of the community.”

Costello discussed potential changes and by way of analogy show statistical data covering changes the southern Colorado community of Trinidad saw after receiving designation as a creative district.

Costello offered statistics from Trinidad showing impacts to the small town over several years after receiving designation as a creative district. According to Costello’s data investment in commercial real estate in the community exploded after the designation and jumped from $1.2 million in 2012 to $7.6 million in 2016. Additionally the town’s lodging tax revenues went from $150,000 to $254,000 over the same time period.

Trinidad’s downtown building vacancy rate dropped from 63 percent in 2012 to 28 percent in 2016 while commercial real estate sales ballooned from a total of six sales in 2012 to a total of 42 in 2016.

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