MONTE VISTA— The City of Monte Vista partnered with Downtown Colorado Inc. to host the second Business Development Institute last Wednesday evening, Nov. 15. The institute was attended by about 25 current and potential Monte Vista business owners and city officials and was held at the Chamber of Commerce/Information Center. The event was organized by the city’s Best and Brightest Program Intern, Azarel Madrigal.
Following introductions, City Manager Forrest Neuerburg opened by telling attendees about the city’s Economic Development Assistance Policy. The mission of the policy “…is geared to aid new and existing businesses in the City of Monte Vista for the betterment of the economic health of the city and to provide competitive quality employment opportunities and services to the community.” Neuerburg added there is “a broad spectrum of what’s an eligible business” and explained there are tax rebates available for up to 40 percent of the city sales tax for up to four years, waivers or reductions for water tap fees and rebates on water/sewer bills up to 50 percent for three years. The cap on benefits is $50,000. The plan has only been utilized by one business in the city and Neuerburg stated it is geared toward those looking to purchase their building/land but there are also options for those renting too.
“If you come talk to me or Azarel… we’re here to help the community grow and expand,” said Neuerburg.
Brian Corrigan presented first; he is an owner of yespleasemore, a pop-up store in the Denver area which sells “100 percent Coloradoan-designed goods.” Before discussing the elements of design for a retail business, Corrigan discussed his background, coming from Anaconda, Mont., a town previously known for their smelting plant. He pointed out the similarities between Anaconda and many places in Colorado, where the economy was built around one industry and when they lost that, have been struggling to find a new identity and economic base.
Corrigan discussed how business owners should look at the three layers of “what, how and why” with “why” being their core principle and motivation behind both designs within their business and their business model in general. Corrigan emphasized the point of design was is “transformation not just transaction” and creating an experience so customers can feel themselves in a business.
Corrigan pointed out the importance of finding creative marketing strategies; “if you think you’re doing enough marketing, you’re wrong.” He told attendees the importance of telling customers the story of their business and the story of the contributors, because it creates a connection. Corrigan used the acronym C.R.A.P. to discuss the principles of design within retail spaces, highlighting contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity for items in a store.
Corrigan also discussed the importance of collaboration across sectors of businesses, pointing out the important ingredients of collaboration are shared perception of need, collaborative leadership, trust, mutual benefit and stakeholder support.
Attendees provided some feedback to Corrigan, mainly supporting his vision. Charlie Spielman with the Monte Vista Economic Development Corporation, stated many local businesses can create the retail experience Corrigan described, but suffer from a lack of foot traffic in the area, citing the example of the last venture to utilize the Fassett building and Coloring Outside the Lines.
John Nelson, owner of the Monte Villa Inn, stated he liked Corrigan’s ideas but because of the income level of the area, the city needs to attract more middle class jobs to create a bigger wage base, arguing if people have more disposable income they can sustain businesses like Corrigan’s.
Corrigan answered by pointing out the city has to work on collaborative efforts to create an experience for people visiting the town as well, in addition to the individual business owners.
Bonnie Asplin with Upper Rio Grande Economic Development agreed with the idea of projecting the retail model as an economic development model too. Keven Herrera, owner of Salon Herrera, pointed out how creating a buzz about your business and executing a vision does work, as his products are not discounted and he is successful.
Other presenters included Rachel Trignano discussing branding and David Lively who spoke about “E-commerce and Trends.” See more on their discussions in part two in next week’s Monte Vista Journal.