DDA looks to the future to make impact

July 25, 2010
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Members of the Downtown Development Authority are looking for ways to continue the district’s long-running economic revival, and they agreed last week to spend $135,000 to determine how to reach that objective.

After soliciting bids from 19 consultants to help create what the board calls a “Downtown Framework Plan,” the DDA selected Progressive Urban Management Associates to head the effort. PUMA is a small consulting firm based in Denver that provides management, marketing and financial services to advance development in downtowns. Reportedly, PUMA has worked with more than 200 clients in 32 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. The firm’s specialties are creating economic development strategies and crafting strategic plans for downtown districts.

“I feel like they are well qualified,” said DDA Executive Director Jay Fowler.

Fowler added that he didn’t check the firm’s references, but said he has heard of PUMA’s work at conferences and meetings he has attended.

Fowler said two local firms, Urban Design Services and Clark Communications, will assist PUMA with the effort, which is expected to take six months. PUMA will receive $100,000 for its work, while UDS and Clark Communications will each receive $17,500.

DDA Chairwoman Kayem Dunn said she wants the work to give the board some solid ideas as to how the district’s revitalization can continue.

In contrast, board members did not select a new communications consultant last week. The resolution to do that was tabled for at least another month. A staff recommendation was to have come to the board last week on whom to choose. Wondergem Consulting has held that contract for the past year, but the agreement expired earlier this month.

The DDA issued a request for qualifications; four downtown firms responded. Joining Wondergem Consulting in making a bid were Clark Communications, Lambert Edwards & Associates, and Seyferth Public Relations.

Board members did approve the annual operating budget for the Downtown Alliance, a nonprofit organization that represents business owners in the district, manages the beautification and clean-up programs, and markets the sector to the public. The amount approved was the same as last year: $170,000. 

“Your marketing effort seems to be working because there are more people coming downtown,” said Dunn to the alliance’s executive director Sharon Evoy and her assistant Nicole Weichelt.

“I personally feel that you guys are doing a great job on the image and feel (of downtown),” said DDA member Brian Harris.

Evoy said the alliance’s marketing success has partly come about because the organization has been willing to hold small events downtown that have drawn people to the district and because it has been willing to take some risks. “We’re not afraid to try things that might fail,” she said. “It’s not important that everyone knows who we are.”

The board also adopted the DDA’s $17.5 million operating budget for fiscal year 2011.

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