For two years the Telluride Business Task Force has been working to create an organization to represent Telluride’s commercial core. Last year, a proposal for a downtown coordinator to be the voice of the business community for the town failed to pass by a 4-3 town council vote.
At the time, the concept lacked merchant representation, and how to fund the position remained an open question.
But this month members of the business community are taking the lead on the proposal.
“We’ve put a lot of time and energy to put this together, and now we are ready to pass on the torch to the business people,” said Councilmember Andrea Benda. “Now we are trying to pass the enthusiasm on and try to keep that tender flame going.”
That tender flame is the idea that a downtown business entity is needed, as well as a point person to run the show. As a result of a recent series of meetings led by the Community Revitalization Partnership Assessment Team, which consists of business district development experts from across the state, a group of approximately 20 local business people has formed to try to achieve that goal.
In August the CRP team, after meeting with 50 people in Telluride involved with local business, issued a report that serves as a mission statement for a new downtown business organization.
According to the report, “The Town of Telluride needs a downtown business entity that gets people organized and involved and that interfaces with Town government and the established tourism entity. Specific needs include a review of the main street program feasibility, work plan development and visioning, and creating a mission statement for a downtown organization.”
The CRP group has recommended that the business organization be formed “to open up communications, channel input and build trust” between the town government and the interests along the commercial core. In addition, it has recommended, in its report written after meetings with local businesses conducted in August, that a legal entity in the form of a special district be created.
Colorado law allows for several types of special districts, including Downtown Development Authorities that can do capital projects and bond funding, as well as Special Improvement Districts and General Improvement Districts, which can do capital improvements only. If the desire of those operating the emerging entity wanted to do maintenance, marketing, capital improvements, operations and management services, then a Business Improvement District, is the concept most favored in the report.
The Business Community Task Force is working this month to spread the word to local businesses about the plan, with the intention of circulating a petition to ask the Town Council to approve a funding mechanism for the coordinator position, which would initially be a town employee.
The plan is to have a merchant-signed petition turned in by Oct. 1, with the town taking action on the item by November.