DURANGO, Colo. – To help further its efforts to enhance and sustain Downtown Durango, the Durango Business Improvement District (BID) has established the “Downtown Durango Enhancement Fund” under the auspices of the Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado. The fund will open up the grant arena to the BID and allow businesses and individuals to make tax-deductible donations in support of Downtown Durango.
“The goals and wishes we have at the BID far surpass our available budget,” said Bob Kunkel, BID executive director, noting that the BID’s funding is limited to the property tax mill levy, which generates about $275,000 annually. “We’ve been very fiscally conservative over the years, and done a lot with a little, but we’ve been warned that property taxes revenues are declining, so we decided to get creative and uncover new sources of revenue to help Downtown.”
Though the BID functions as a not-for-profit organization, including a volunteer board of directors, it is not a formal 501(c )(3) non-profit. By establishing the fund with the Community Foundation, the BID can now take advantage of the foundation’s legal non-profit designation. This opens the door for entities to actually “sponsor” Downtown enhancements, and receive both a tax benefit and public recognition for doing so. The Enhancement Fund can also function as an endowment fund that would help provide monies to continually polish the gem that is Downtown for generations to come.
According to Kunkel, investing in Downtown enhancements quickly chips away at the BID’s available funds, as the BID has seen in the past when it funded the permanent business directories at the Railroad Depot and Buckley Park.
The BID annually supports (along with the City and Parks & Rec) event equipment such as tents, stage, sound system, which facilitate Downtown special events. Additionally, the new Downtown Welcome Center to come on line in 2012, will need on-going financial support to maintain it as an attractive cornerstone of the Downtown.
“BIDs across the country are tasked with a lot of different things, but many have much larger budgets than we do here in Durango,” said Bob Allen, BID presiding officer. “We need to keep our Downtown competitive, especially as we see further growth south of town – but enhancements take money. We’re hoping this effort can allow us to fund physical and visual improvements we couldn’t have dreamed of otherwise.”
Initial creation of the Enhancement Fund was spurred by the BID’s exploration of the grant arena. Grants are typically not available to BIDs, but for Durango they can potentially be awarded to the non-profit Enhancement Fund through the Community Foundation. To maximize the grant effort, the BID has retained Lamberson Capital to research grants locally, regionally and nationally, as well as complete the grant applications.
“The Community Foundation is very pleased to work with the BID,” said Lon Erwin, executive director of the Community Foundation. “We exist to enhance this community on a broad variety of levels. Sustaining Downtown Durango is vital to the health of the overall community, and we encourage community members to invest.”
Funds donated to the Downtown Durango Enhancement Fund will be retained in a designated fund at the Foundation. To donate to Downtown Durango, visit the Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado at www.swcommunityfoundation.org.
For additional information about the Durango Business Improvement District and its projects, visit www.downtowndurango.org or call 970.375.5067.
The Durango Business Improvement District was formed in 1997 with a goal and mission to support businesses within the District by assisting with special event marketing, providing research on topics of concern to the District (facilities, special events, best practices), planning and development of new facilities, and providing capital budget for equipment that enhances business in the District. Funding is generated by a 2 mill levy on property owners within the district, with additional marketing dollars contributed by the City of Durango and Durango Area Tourism Office.