Craig business owners ponder proposal

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Four members of the Downtown Business Association, in search of inspiration and direction, met last week with experts about main street revitalization.

"We just kind of need to have some guidance on what to do to revitalize the downtown," Association President Karen Brown said. "We want people to stay in town and enjoy shopping. What can we do to make it better for the people who live here?"

In March, Jon Schler, of the Colorado Center for Community Development, said Craig's downtown has all the elements needed to implement a successful main street program. At the time, he spoke to a group of 40 Craig residents, business owners and elected officials about what it takes to create a viable -- and profitable -- business district in a community.

"The main part is that it's not someone coming in from the outside, it's you working on the project to get it done," he said. "There's no magic about it; it's you working and following through."

Schler returned last week with Barbara Silverman, the executive director of the Colorado Community Revitalization Association. The association is a nonprofit, membership organization that provides assistance to downtowns, commercial districts and town centers in the state.

The association partnered with the Department of Local Affairs to create the Colorado Mainstreet Program, which provides technical assistance and services in four areas: economic restructuring, design, organization and promotion to competitively selected communities.

The department of local affairs set aside funds to pay half the cost of the assessment. Communities that are selected for assistance by the association are expected to come up with the rest of the funding.

The cost of the initial assessment is about $6,000, City Manager Jim Ferree said.

Meeker and Rangely have participated in the program. Those attending last week's meeting reviewed the plan created for Meeker.

"It looks like it's probably worthwhile," Ferree said.

But Downtown Business Association members have yet to decide where to go from here.

Brown said members haven't discussed their options. And she said she doesn't know whether they'll pursue the grant opportunity.

"It depends on the cost, and it depends on what group thinks," Brown said. "We need to make a plan of action."

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com

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