As recently reported in the Monte Vista Journal, certain community members have taken it upon themselves to criticize the city council because there are vacant storefronts in downtown Monte Vista.
The basic criticisms range from we should be “doing it like Del Norte” to insinuating that the council doesn’t feel its role is to create new businesses.
The council has done a good job defending our City’s efforts to create a positive environment for the development of new and existing businesses. Being on the front-end of those efforts, I can tell you that I often work with folks from the community and outside of the community that have ideas for new businesses. Those efforts do not always result in a new business, but sometimes it does work out and that’s always a positive for our community. This is a time-consuming task with a low rate of return, but that doesn’t mean we won’t keep on trying.
Council has engaged the city in a number of organizations such as Upper Rio Grande Economic Development (URGED) and San Luis Valley Development Resources Group (SLVDRG) who on a full-time basis are actively working to bring economic growth and prosperity to our communities in the Valley. The City also offers an economic development assistance program to help expand existing businesses or to assist in the creation of new businesses.
With the direct effort of council members and the mayor, the City has expanded its economic development efforts to bring in people who have helped communities expand their economic base by creating and expanding businesses. The notion that economic developers from outside the Valley can’t help us with their knowledge and successes is simply false. Economic development is as much an art as a science and we are learning valuable lessons.
How do all of these efforts translate into filling storefronts in downtown Monte Vista? Our positive attitude and direction of the council has helped create some new businesses in the downtown. However, it takes a community to really make it all happen, not just the positive efforts of our elected officials.
The business community, the owners of the buildings downtown, the chamber of commerce and the citizens are all part of the solution that can help to attract new businesses and support the existing businesses in our community to thrive and expand.
By accentuating the positive, showing community pride and a willingness to work together, we can have a more vibrant downtown. But, new and expanding businesses face a different environment and challenges then those from 20 years ago. If we hope to revitalize the downtown we are going to have to embrace the challenges and work together as a community to turn this around.