Downtown Cheyenne

A Cheyenne Police officer drives along Lincolnway on Monday, Jan. 29, 2018, in downtown Cheyenne. Wyoming Tribune Eagle/file

CHEYENNE – In an effort to become more financially self-sufficient while still lifting up downtown businesses, the Downtown Development Authority is currently considering creating a business association as part of its strategic plan.

The association would likely be run through the DDA with a separate board, and interested businesses would pay into a certain tier and receive support services like advertisements, sponsorships and business development classes. At a merchant meeting Wednesday morning, DDA Director Amber Ash laid out more possibilities and got positive feedback from downtown business owners.

Though the idea hasn’t been totally pinned down, the parties leaned toward supporting the association while acknowledging that it has to be done right.

“We’ll be looking for ideas on how we provide more value through this without taking away from what the DDA does currently for the businesses,” Ash said. “Because we don’t want to exclude people who can’t afford or choose not to do this.”

Under the proposal, businesses would choose the level of services they want to receive, though what’s included in each package is still evolving.

DDA members threw out suggestions for higher-end possibilities, including printing businesses’ logos on drink cups for events like Summertime on the Street or golf balls for the DDA golf tournament.

Additionally, some categories are proposed for residents and businesses outside of the downtown area – “Friends of Downtown” and “Downtown Allies” – in case they want to support improvements downtown.

Then, those funds paid by the businesses to the association would go right back into furthering the downtown area. Ash gave examples of possibilities, including advertising that would draw folks up from Colorado and additional events that would attract folks downtown.

While one goal of the association is to benefit downtown businesses, Ash said, “the other goal is to generate revenue for the DDA so that we can continue to do additional (promotions), as well as maintain our existing operations.”

With the DDA having received a cut in funding from the city of Cheyenne this year, Ash said the association idea could help the DDA on the path toward self-sufficiency. Planning events and promotions can be a challenge when the budget is unknown, and the city will also have tough budgetary decisions ahead, with the state’s direct distribution being affected by the decline in oil and gas prices and production.

Initially, the DDA doesn’t expect to be able to hire outside help for the association. Rather, it would be run by a board of the association, which calls for even more support from downtown business owners, since they need to be the drivers.

Red Bison Home owner Breck Collier said, “I think it can make a pretty big impact in terms of advertising, marketing and creating a destination for downtown.”

The DDA is currently collecting more feedback on the proposal, which will be discussed even further by the DDA board in coming weeks.

Margaret Austin is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. She can be reached at maustin@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3152. Follow her on Twitter at @MargaretMAustin.

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