Hayden Hayden High School senior Mallory McGowen said Wednesday she is learning a thing or two about her hometown as she updates and manages content for a new website designed to promote it.
“I used to think there were just a few people who wanted to see it grow, and the rest wanted to keep it small and the way it has always been,” she said Wednesday. “But it’s nice to see there are more people who are interested in growth and stimulating our businesses.”
McGowen is earning a business credit as she updates the site’s business directory and prepares to upload pictures and video interviews her classmates put together that aim to give people a taste of what it’s like to live, work, play and learn in the small town just west of Steamboat Springs. The site, www.welovehayden.com, is part of a larger effort to attract more tourists and revitalize businesses in Hayden.
“I think this is a really good opportunity for me because not only do I get to learn about website design, I also get to help out my town,” McGowen said.
The website that launched last week is the result of a partnership between Hayden’s Economic Development Commission and its Chamber of Commerce. In September, they introduced a new logo that is being used to rebrand the town.
EDC Chairman Stef Nijsten hopes the new Web presence and logo boost business in Hayden.
“This is going to be a great way to give businesses more exposure,” Nijsten said. “The website creates a good way for the people in our community to communicate, but it also gives people who are looking to move here a chance to see what we have to offer.”
Although the site is still under development, Nijsten said it soon will allow local businesses to sponsor pages and develop a Web presence for the first time. In the meantime, separate pages outlining the town’s recreation and business offerings have gone live alongside a calendar of upcoming town events.
Yampa Valley Feeds owner and EDC Secretary Tammie Delaney said Hayden business owners last year came together to chart a course for a stronger Web presence after Gigi’s Coffee Shop closed in December. Delaney on Wednesday predicted the new website will allow Hayden to effectively advertise to smartphone users and convince some commuters who travel each day between Craig and Steamboat Springs to stop and shop at one of Hayden’s small businesses.
“Craig has gone large retail, and Steamboat is more upscale retail, and that makes it hard to have new businesses get their foot in the door,” Delaney said. “But we’ve got 1,400 commuters traveling every day through our town, and there is a tremendous opportunity for small businesses to come here to Hayden.”
And in addition to the website and rebranding efforts, the EDC is offering potential small-business owners in Hayden an incentive to open up shop.
According to the EDC’s incentive plan, new businesses are, on a case-by-case basis, eligible to have up to 20 percent of their building permit fees waived as well as to have up to 50 percent of their property, use and sales taxes rebated for up to four years.
“Hayden is a pretty extraordinary community,” Delaney said. “What we nurture here thrives.”
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email ScottFranz@SteamboatToday.com