-By Keifer Johnson-
The Challenge Studios, held by Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) at their annual “In The Game” conference, bring Colorado local governments’ most pressing discussions to the forefront of a conference setting. They allow dozens of cities and towns to learn from each other’s challenges by bringing attendees together to brainstorm solutions. After a widely successful event in 2018, the Challenge Studios are coming back to the DCI Conference stage at the City of Aspen in April of 2019.
This event is anything but a normal conference session. Registrants from across the state bring issues their communities are facing, and hold brainstorming sessions to solve them. Municipal leaders, city and town staff, and experts from relevant fields participate in each of these sessions to find the best strategies. The result helps cities and towns take action on specific problems, and is a great learning opportunity for all attendees.
The Challenge Studio is a chance for professionals from many fields to come together and discuss common issues in downtown development. “Economic development professionals, small businesses, medium business, primary employers, as well as municipality employees [should] come to this conference to learn what we’re doing to help downtown districts,” said Steve Art, the City of Wheat Ridge Economic Development Manager and Urban Renewal Authority Executive Director.
Downtown Colorado, Inc. is a nonprofit, membership association that works to improve communities across the state. They offer assistance to downtown areas, town centers, and commercial districts of Colorado cities.
DCI’s “In the Game” Conference is more than just a sit-down class for local governments. It is a three-day interactive experience. Every year, dozens of municipal leaders from across the state gather to brainstorm, discuss, listen, and learn.
The 2019 conference is coming to Aspen soon, and it is full of fantastic opportunities. Making a comeback are crowd-favorites including the Governor’s Awards, the Challenge Studio, and sponsored Dine-Around Lunches & Tours. This year features a dynamic roster of keynote speakers such as Charles Marohn, the Founder and President of Strong Towns, a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities across the U.S. and Canada, and National Research Center, Inc.’s own Vice President, Michelle Kobayashi.
Preparing for a new set of issues to address brings up strategies derived from the 2018 Challenge Studios. In Boulder, CO last year, nine cities and towns from across the state collaborated with peers and industry experts to transform problems into opportunities. They tackled a wide range of issues, everything from community branding to housing and mobility. Then throughout the year, each local government began to put their Challenge Studio plans to work. In these videos, representatives from each Challenge Studio group describe a problem in their community and the solutions discussed during their brainstorming sessions.
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