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Main Street group seeks members

Dan Bonner is willing to wager that most people don’t realize there are more than 280 businesses in downtown Steamboat Springs.

Bonner is chairman of Main Street Steamboat’s membership campaign and business inventory project. He’s also a downtown businessman and owner of Go-Fer Foods.

“It’s time for us to do an inventory of downtown businesses, and it’s also a good time to do our membership drive,” Bonner said. “We quickly drove around the town and counted 280 business.”

And that’s only between Third and 13th streets on Yampa Street, Oak Street and Lincoln Avenue. Teams of two Main Street volunteers will be visiting downtown businesses from 2 to 5 p.m. Jan. 25 to 27 to solicit members for the organization as well as to ask some basic questions of the business owners.

“We’re not going to ask for a lot of personal information,” Bonner said. “We’re not going to ask them for their lease rates or their sales volumes. We want to know what kind of business is it and how many employees does it have.”

Main Street officials also want to compile a database of current e-mail addresses so they can communicate more efficiently with all of the businesses within the project’s boundaries.

Main Street Steamboat is a year-old organization relying on well-tested methods to reinvigorate the city’s downtown shopping district. It has been endorsed and partially funded by the city of Steamboat Springs. Many of the hundreds of towns nationwide that have undergone the Main Street process were experiencing entire blocks of empty storefronts.

That isn’t the case in Steamboat, but the project still is very useful in securing its future prosperity, officials say. Lincoln Avenue is thriving today, but downtown business leaders want to make certain it’s well-positioned as a commercial district that will continue to attract residents and thereby continue to attract vacationers.

Main Street Steamboat board member Mike Forney said the city has provided the organization with $30,000 toward its 2005 budget of $100,000. That figure includes the cost of full-time manager Tracy Barnett and expenses relating to the ongoing effort to “brand” downtown Steamboat.

The membership drive is important in making up a large part of the funding gap. Annual membership dues will be $95 for individual nonbusiness members, $195 for businesses with fewer than four full-time employees and $395 for businesses with four or more full-time equivalent employees.

The Downtown Business Association has merged with Main Street, and the 55 members of the former organization, who have paid their membership through June, will be credited for the first six months of 2005.

For more information about Main Street Steamboat membership, e-mail Bonner at danbonner@mindspring.com, Forney at mikeforney@mindspring.com, or Barnett at Barnett@springsips.com.

— To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com


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