What’s Working: What a Colorado city of 600 residents plans to do with a $500,000 grant to draw guests

With its 15 almost life-size bronze sculptures depicting Jesus’ demise, its Spanish Colonial-style adobe chapel overlooking an agrarian unfold and its exhibit honoring Mexican clergymen martyred in a non secular battle within the late Nineteen Twenties, the city of San Luis, 18 miles north of the Colorado-New Mexico border, looks as if the right vacation spot for a historical past buff, artwork historian or non secular vacationer.

In case you haven’t been there, Colorado Solar reporter Tracy Ross takes readers to this southern Colorado area at present as we combine issues up this vacation weekend. There’s nonetheless extra financial information beneath about jobs and monetary tendencies, however first:

Ross, who covers rural improvement and different points exterior the Entrance Vary, wished to study extra a couple of new $500,000 grant to redevelop areas of the city to higher entice guests.

Susan Sanderford amid sculptures on the Stations of the Cross walk in San Luis
Susan Sanderford, the city supervisor of San Luis, stands amid sculptures alongside the Stations of the Cross stroll on Nov. 15, 2022. The 15-station artwork set up was created by native sculptor Huberto Maesta. The city “wished a spot of prayer and solace open to members of all faiths,” and the stations have develop into its largest tourism driver. (Tracy Ross, The Colorado Solar)

But the city, formally based by Hispanos in 1851 however with roots stretching again to the 1500s, has struggled to get its footing after job progress stalled and financial onerous instances moved in. Immediately, in keeping with census information, San Luis’ inhabitants of simply over 600 is in decline and the poverty fee in Costilla County is 23.1%. And that inflames Susan Sanderford, San Luis’ city supervisor.

“Our important attraction is the Stations of the Cross, which is so good there’s a second set on the Vatican,” she mentioned, referring to a maquette, or mannequin, of the sculptures created by native artist Huberto Maestas that has completely resided in one of many Vatican Museums since 1991. “However regardless that it’s helped our financial viability, it’s not sufficient. There’s a tough wrestle in rural cities since you don’t have sufficient folks spending cash.”

That’s why Sanderford, who moved to San Luis in 2006, spent three years in town board of trustees drumming up methods, along with her colleagues, to assist the second-poorest county in Colorado develop into extra economically viable. They wished jobs paying wages that flowed to the households of youngsters consuming free and reduced-price lunch. They wished outlets open for enterprise and eating places with ready lists. They usually wished the explanations the city is so distinctive — its artwork, tradition and historical past — to develop into the financial driver that will enhance its residents’ high quality of life.

However throughout her second time period as trustee, Sanderford realized nothing significant was being accomplished to maneuver the city towards monetary stability. “So in 2017, I mentioned why not put me on as part-time city supervisor,” she advised me. City officers did, however she quickly realized 20 hours per week was inadequate for the affect she wished to make. With the city’s approval, she wrote a grant to fund her full-time work for 3 years, beginning in 2018. That job is now funded by the city, and regardless that Sanderford has no formal coaching in grant writing, she has remodeled herself right into a fundraising machine.

She says she has by no means been turned down for a grant and that her present whole quantity gained is within the neighborhood of $2 million. That funding — virtually completely for city revitalization — has come from inside Colorado. However the record of enhancements San Luis must make it tourist-ready is a beast all the time hungry for more cash. Which is why San Luis, like a number of different Colorado rural communities, lately utilized for, and acquired, $500,000 from the Environmental Safety Company via its Brownfields Multipurpose Grant program funded via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation.

The grants are for property cleanup and redevelopment initiatives in rural communities hoping to make their cities extra attractive to guests and increase the native economic system.

EPA cleanup and revitalization grants for Colorado

In Could, $4.78 million was unfold amongst Pueblo, Trinidad, Buena Vista, Silverton, Telluride, Norwood and Ophir. The awards are all revitalization-focused, with initiatives starting from the elimination of asbestos, mercury and different hazardous supplies from Keating Junior Excessive Faculty in Pueblo for future use as a theater, flats and townhomes, to the cleanup of dangerous contaminants and restoration of Trinidad’s Holy Trinity property, which is able to develop into housing, resort and rental area. Silverton will use $800,000 to deal with mining-related contamination at downtown properties and alongside the Animas River and Cement Creek corridors, and Buena Vista will restore the falling-down McGinnis Gymnasium as a chief leisure, instructional and performing arts area.

However Sanderford mentioned getting this a lot wanted funding wasn’t almost as straightforward as making use of for state grants. For help, she turned to Ayers Associates in Fort Collins, whose workers “labored hand in hand with me in our neighborhood to establish the initiatives that will make the very best use of those funds,” she mentioned. “Six native enterprise homeowners walked Ayers via their buildings to see how they might get them again up and operating.”

The cash arrived in October and now the city has to dial by which initiatives it desires to maneuver ahead. Sanderford mentioned San Luis will definitely retain its “taste” because the oldest constantly inhabited city in Colorado with the oldest market (presently closed for renovations and owned by a nonprofit so not eligible for the brand new EPA funding) and the primary Colorado River water proper, for water flowing via the hand-dug San Luis Individuals’s Ditch, which hydrates one in every of solely two formal commons areas in the US, La Vega, the city’s 633-acre neighborhood pasture.

San Luis could have three years to make use of the cash to finish its initiatives, Sanderford mentioned. Final week, she took me on a tour of the locations she and the city hope to evaluate for hazardous supplies, clear up if want be, and restore, revitalize and revive into spots that can make folks wish to go to San Luis.

That’s all on this story for now, however search for a follow-up within the coming weeks that dives into the San Luis buildings presently into account for brownfields grant funding. They’re all lovely, historic and filled with artwork and tradition. There’s a rectory, too, with 15 beds and loos Sanderford hopes in the future might be was an Airbnb. All of this to encourage folks to remain in San Luis as an alternative of driving via to Taos.

~ Tracy Ross

Acquired suggestions, story leads or ideas for Tracy? E mail her at [email protected].

That’s what it’ll take to get 99% of the state’s households related at 100 Mbps web speeds by 2027, in keeping with the newest Colorado Broadband Workplace report. Almost 2,000 jobs are wanted in building with one other 1,591 in telecommunications. To get there, the state will use a number of the $826 million allotted by the federal Broadband Fairness, Entry and Deployment program and spend money on new or present workforce coaching packages.

Listed below are the sorts of staff which can be wanted probably the most by 2026, plus the median annual pay (as of 2021):

>> Learn report

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➔Candy lease offers: How ’bout a free month? Transfer-in specials like a free month of lease have been again for Denver-area condo listings final month, in keeping with actual property website Zillow. In October, 43.4% of listings in Denver provided at the least one concession, similar to a $300 low cost, waived move-in charges, or a free month or extra. That’s greater than the 34.7% in July and the best fee since March 2021. It’s additionally effectively above the 30% of all leases nationwide. Anushna Prakash, an financial analysis information scientist at Zillow, credited the inflow of newly opened flats, versus two years in the past when there was much less renter demand whereas the nation was nonetheless in pandemic mode. Denver didn’t make Zillow’s prime 10 record although. That may be Salt Lake Metropolis, with 54.4% of rental listings providing a concession, a fee that was up 26.5% from a yr in the past. >> Learn

➔ This vacation season, Denverites plan to buy extra, er, spend extra because of inflation. At the same time as retailers from Greatest Purchase to Lowe’s and Nordstrom’s lower gross sales forecasts this week, a lot of the 401 Denverites who took Deloitte’s 2023 vacation purchasing survey plan to spend greater than final yr — a mean of $1,902, up 15% from a yr in the past, and far greater than the U.S. common of $1,652. That shouldn’t be too stunning. It does value extra to stay right here, proper? Retailers anticipate deal hunters and, apparently, Denver customers are relying on it. On account of inflation, locals plan to purchase fewer items (9 as an alternative of 10), store at fewer shops (4.5 versus 5.7 final yr) and principally (54%) keep on with a hard and fast funds. >> Survey outcomes

I’m grateful to Colorado Solar members who help impartial journalism and reporters like myself and Tracy. Thanks for sticking with me for this week’s report. Bear in mind to take a look at The Solar’s day by day protection on-line. As all the time, share your 2 cents on how the economic system is preserving you down or serving to you up at cosun.co/heyww. ~ tamara

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