MEEKER I Cassie McGuire, owner of McGuire Auto Parts and former president of the Meeker Chamber of Commerce, is excited. She feels that getting Meeker involved in the state’s “Main Street Program” will help the community coordinate its efforts, set goals and accomplish needed projects.
McGuire is a participant in the steering group leading the town’s entry into the Main Street Program (MSP).
Meeker has been accepted as a MSP affiliate by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA). The state MSP dates back to the early 1980s, when initial efforts were made through a pilot program in Delta, Grand Junction, Manitou Springs and Sterling. The program was not continued in Colorado until 2000, when Downtown Colorado, Inc., supported by a grant from the Colorado Historical Society Fund, concentrated on providing educational and technical assistance to selected Main Street communities.
In 2011, DOLA took the reins of the MSP effort, which was originally envisioned to help towns plan and carry-out historic preservation-based revitalization of their old downtown areas. There are currently 18 Colorado Main Street communities including Rifle, Steamboat Springs and Leadville.
The MSP intent is to foster consensus and cooperation through effective partnerships among all downtown area stakeholders—merchants, property owners, civic leaders, local government officials and citizens. Any economic re-do is to strengthen existing economic assets in fulfilling their broadest market potential through thorough understanding of today’s market, enhancing existing merchants, recruiting new businesses, new anchors and converting old, unused space into new enterprise.
Last week, Meeker Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Stephanie Kobald called together a chamber and tourism committee group that’s been looking at the MSP as a possible benefit to the town. The chamber has succeeded in getting Meeker accepted as an early phase participant in the state program.
This early-phase status, given the name “Affiliate,” provides Meeker the opportunity to develop a framework for acceptance into the formal MSP construct. If the community meets certain criteria, including various trainings, devising a formal governing group, having a strategic plan [the Better City recommendations are a good start], and demonstrating community awareness and buy-in, Meeker could become a “MSP Candidate.”
To successfully become a candidate, Kobald said, the Meeker team needs to be looking at four specific program areas: organization—how the community will be involved in guiding and governing the effort; promotion—how the effort will sell a positive image and improve confidence in the commercial district by identifying and appealing to the district’s market niches; design—how to capitalize on Meeker’s best assets to make the area more attractive through analysis of such things as window displays, parking, sidewalks, lights, landscaping and street-scaping; and finally, economic vitality or downtown revitalization—how to strengthen existing economic assets while expanding and diversifying our economic base.
The steering committee group, which will be expanded in some fashion to include representatives of all the town’s stakeholders, will meet again March 2. In addition to the chamber, participants who have endorsed the effort now include the Heritage and Culture Center, the Rio Blanco County Historical Society, the town, the county and local businesses.
The group would like to include anyone who would be interested. Interested parties are encouraged to contact Kobald at the chamber, 970-878-5510, 710 Market St., or by email at: Stephanie@meekerchamber.com.