Steamboat, Hayden lose out on creative district designation


2012 Colorado creative districts designees

Creative districts

Downtown Salida

Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe

Prospective creative districts

Longmont Arts & Entertainment District

Town of Ridgway

Downtown Pueblo

Town of Telluride

Denver’s River North Art District

Emerging creative districts

Downtown Parker

City of Trinidad

Downtown Greeley and the University District

Downtown Colorado Springs

40 West Arts District in Lakewood

Aurora Arts District

Durango Business Improvement District

North Fork Valley in Delta County

— Steamboat Springs and Hayden are not among the latest Colorado communities to have officially designated creative districts.

Both Routt County communities applied for the designation from Colorado Creative Industries, a recently formed division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Had they been named creative districts, Steamboat and Hayden would have received grant funding that could have been used to enhance their downtown areas as districts that use arts and culture to promote tourism and create jobs.

“Once I heard there were (44) applicants, I was pretty sure we weren’t quite ready for that, to be designated,” said Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Manager Tracy Barnett, who applied for the designation. “While we have a lot of pieces in place in the community, the organization itself of the district hasn’t been done at all. That’s what we would have used the funding for, to get that together.”

Downtown Salida and Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe were named creative districts Friday and each received $15,000. Another five were named prospective creative districts, with each of those receiving $8,000. Eight others were named emerging creative districts — the category Barnett and Tammie Delaney, of Hayden, applied for on behalf of their communities — and received $2,000.

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed legislation into law last year that encouraged the formation of creative districts to promote economic development.

“Colorado is filled with vibrant centers of commerce, culture and creativity and is a magnet for creative workers,” he said in a news release. “The formation of creative districts provides visitors and residents with an opportunity to participate and invest in the arts, while contributing to the economic vitality of the region and attracting creative entrepreneurs and artists.”

Delaney said everything for a future creative district is in place in Hayden, with its Western and Quarter Horse history, Babson-Carpenter Career and Technical Education Center and emerging arts industry.

“Recognizing the importance of that is a step forward,” she said. “I don’t take it as a huge disappointment. It would have been great. It’s certainly not a setback. I think understanding the potential there is a tremendous start.”

Delaney added that Hayden has a number of arts events scheduled for the summer that further illustrate the town’s commitment to creative endeavors.

The news release from the state indicated that those communities not selected as creative districts are eligible for the “Colorado Creates” grant program that supports arts activities in communities. And it stated that they also can get assistance through Creative Industries Summit and Colorado Creative Industry’s website.

Delaney and Barnett said both communities would apply for creative district designations next year.

Barnett said she still would work to connect Steamboat’s arts and culture entrepreneurs before next year. She said the formation of a creative district, with or without state assistance, is important for economic development.

“There are a lot of people out there using their brains in creative ways to do economic things rather than the traditional retail (and) restaurant businesses,” she said. “The model is changing and people are using their creative energies to create businesses that drive economies.”

To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email


max huppert 5 years, 1 month ago

it is crazy to think steamboat did not win with the new bus stop art.


Tammie Delaney 5 years, 1 month ago

...a great example of an event this summer around creative arts is the 'Hayden Heritage Weekend', July 6-7 in Hayden with author Dorothy Wickenden of 'Nothing Daunted' fame. Art exhibitions; bird-watching; heritage tours to the Elkhead schoolhouse (featured in book) and a BBQ barndance at the Granary are all in the works. Two recent articles that also share this approach - NY Times: and CS Monitor:


Scott Ford 5 years, 1 month ago

I know I often sound like a broken record – but what is the Hayden Heritage Weekend worth to the Hayden’s economy? My guess it is not much and in reality likely nothing. It is likely yet another in a very long series of “feel good” about ourselves activities we engage in. I am all for feeling good. Hey, we all know that some of the best things in life are free.

From my perspective not being officially designated as a “creative district” is a good thing because it would be a distraction from where economic development energies in Hayden need to be focused.

I look at being a “creative district” is like “flower pots” Walnut Street. Flowers are nice but they are not an economic catalyst let alone economic driver. Agreed?


Tracy Barnett 5 years, 1 month ago

Scott makes a good point, both for Hayden and for Steamboat. We often concentrate on creating community when community already exists. The point of a creative district is to enhance economic development by featuring the "creative sector" within our communities. MainStreet recently gave up the idea of sponsoring the Easter Egg Hunt, a standing Steamboat tradition that the City could no longer afford, realizing that, while it was a feel good event for the community, it didn't generate any economic benefit for the downtown (which is our mission), and it would have used volunteer resources (which are in short supply) that could be better used for other events that generate business for the downtown or income for MainStreet. I know it sounds very mercenary, but what our communities need now is a shot in the economic arm. If we are going to do events, we need it to help our communities economically (as well as building "community"). The goals don't have to be mutually exclusive.


Scott Ford 5 years, 1 month ago

Tracey – Locally, we toss around the term “economic development” almost as freely as we toss around the term “It’s good for the kids” in our education discussion.

The key question we need to answer is, “What is economic development?” We say the term all the time but we do not define it; let alone decided how it is going to be measured.

Is economic development everything that we can do in the economy that involves money? For example, if I get a new Hawaiian shirt from Zirkel Trading is that somehow – economic development? Some would think so. I had City staff making the case that the City’s contribution to economic development involved their buying office supplies locally.

Using the Hawaiian shirt illustration – If I stole the shirt – it would have an economic impact on the owner. (Inventory they were not able to convert to cash). This would be a negative impact.

If I bought the shirt it would have impact and likely have some economic benefit. Depending on the price and the margins on the shirt, the act of buying the shirt generated some sales tax for (state/Routt/city/school dist. /air support). The owner hopefully made a profit depending on their margins and expenses.

So did the act of me buying a Hawaiian shirt impact and benefit the economy? Yes. Since I did not steal it the activity did have benefit to the economy – in the form increased sales taxes and hopefully owner profit. (Although as you and I both know owner profit is not a guarantee.)

So in this Hawaiian shirt purchase illustration we have established “impact” and “benefit”, however, did the act of buying this Hawaiian Shirt result in any economic development? Simply put - NO.

One measures economic development if the activity results in diversifying sources income and/or employment, and activities that contribute to personal income growth greater than the rate of inflation. Ideally for an activity to be considered “economic development” it should improve all three to some degree. What is equally important we have the means to measure all three of these.

We engage daily in activities that have economic impact. Hopefully most of these activities have economic benefit as well. I do not want to be misunderstood - these types of activities are good economic things. However, we should not fool ourselves that these economic activities have anything whatsoever to do with economic development.

Hopefully we can stop calling economic (impact/benefit) activities – economic development. This allows us to feel as if we are doing someting for local economic develoopment when we often are not. Agreed?


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