Opinion | Patrick Brower: Grand Lake gets $3 million community revitalization grant for space to create

Patrick Brower
Grand Enterprise Initiative
Patrick Brower, Grand Enterprise Initiative
Patrick Brower/Grand Enterprise Initiative

Grand Lake and the Grand County creative community have just heard the good news about Grand Lake receiving a $3 million Community Revitalization Grant.

I know, that sounds vague, but it isn’t. That $3 million is the foundational funding for building a Grand Lake and the state-certified Grand Lake Creative District Space to Create Project, which is a downtown building intended to provide a year-round, sustainable and affordable home for the community’s creative class.

This has been in the works for three years, largely through the work of DiAnn Butler, Grand County’s economic development coordinator, the Town of Grand Lake and the associated arts communities.

What’s so good about this project is that it provides housing, that ever-so-needed commodity, in Grand County, while also nurturing those who create the very wares and artwork that are sold to our visitors and locals. It also attracts visitors to our community.

The completed project will include 18 units of living and workspace, as well as a gallery, commercial and community space on the ground floor. This would be located in the town-owned land one block east of the town hall one block off Main Street.

The goal is ultimately to stabilize the year-round economy in Grand Lake. This will help retain our area’s workforce all year, creating a spark for the economy in Grand Lake. Artisans who create for Grand Lake should be able to afford to live here with this space — a space that will also nurture their craft as a “working” art exhibit.

Units may also be available to vital workers who currently struggles with housing.

An important point to remember here is that many of our artisans are not “full-time” artists in the sense that they can make a full living off their art alone. In fact, many of these artisans work at other jobs that support our local economy. Think of the store clerk who is a great potter, the waiter or waitress who is a good photographer, or the carpenter who is also an artful sculptor of wood. In other words, the artisans are also local employees.

And it will help boost the local economy. As a tourist town, Grand Lake will be able to offer yet another commodity in the space to create project. That’s because part of the vision of this facility is that some of the artisans will want visitors to stop by and observe them as they work on their craft.

This gives visitors yet another thing to do while also giving artisans mote stuff to sell. All this serves to enrich and move forward the local arts community.

Even better, the facility’s design envisions a placement that will provide adequate parking.

Work is already taking place in this realm in Grand Lake. The Grand Lake-based Rocky Mountain Folk School is an effort launched last winter that seeks to create a folk school workshop destination in Grand Lake. The Rocky Mountain Folk School operates, with pottery classes and more, as well as with visiting artisans, in the old town hall and library building in Grand Lake next to the town hall, and not so far from the proposed space for the Grand Lake Space to Create building.

This venue hosts potters, weavers and other creative artisans who have skills that can be taught in destination-oriented events. Even better, the Folk School helps artisans make crafts to be sold in local stores and at the work space of the artisans.

There’s still money to be raised to fill out the budget of this $12 million project. But this is a great start for an innovative way to provide housing, nurture local artisans and jump start our economy.

Patrick Brower is the Enterprise Facilitator for the Grand Enterprise Initiative. He offers free and confidential business management coaching to anyone who wants to start or expand a business in Grand County. He is also the author of the book “KILLDOZER:  The True Story of the Colorado Bulldozer Rampage.” He can be reached by calling 970-531-0632 or at

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