By Kaitlin Wasik
One year ago, Innovators Peak highlighted the opening of The Commons on Champa with a story about how The Commons came to be through an interview with Tami Door, President and CEO at the Downtown Denver Partnership.
As The Commons just held its one year anniversary celebration, we decided to check back in with Door to see how the last year went from her perspective.
More than four years ago, Door and the Downtown Denver Partnership proposed the concept of a center like The Commons on Champa to their board.
“We looked across the country and found components from various models, but we didn’t find anything that was exactly what we wanted to reach…the platform we created is unique to Denver,” she explains.
The Partnership focuses on placemaking, a multi-faceted approach to planning, designing and managing public spaces that involves community input and a lot of creativity. Door says, “If we build a great city, people will come,” and the first year at The Commons certainly supports that idea.
A Year in Numbers
In the first year alone:
- More than 16,000 people entered the doors of The Commons on Champa
- The Commons held 240 events, with 83 percent of those being free
- More than 100 different organizations utilized space at The Commons to hold their events or programs
(Want to know more about the exact numbers? Check out their most recent Impact Report for details.)
Door describes the vision for The Commons almost like a park — a place where one could go and experience it on their own, meet up with people or come to an event. Clearly, this has been one active park.
How has the First Year Gone?
“Incredibly well,” Door responds. “The quality and content of the programs has really been impactful.”
With the City of Denver and the Colorado Technology Association as founding partners, the Office of Economic Development (OED) is able to provide a variety of excellent programs at The Commons to support small businesses. The space at The Commons, along with the majority of programs being free to everyone, has allowed for a much greater reach across all members of the Denver community.
“We’ve been able to create a center that begins to merge all elements of the entrepreneurial community. This has catalyzed many opportunities that are difficult to track, but we know people are engaging in ways they wouldn’t have been able to, quite simply because their paths wouldn’t have crossed,” Door explains.
The OED also sees these successes. Paul Washington, Executive Director of the Denver Office of Economic Development and one of the greatest supporters of bringing The Commons to life, has seen stronger partnerships developing between the private and public organizations that serve the small business community.
“The Commons has provided fuel to help grow Denver’s culture of innovation. By having a public campus for entrepreneurship, we have developed a pipeline of ideas and innovation that will only further strengthen our position as a top city for business,” Washington shares.
What’s to Come?
After such a successful first year, there’s a lot to look forward to for the future of The Commons. Of course, this will continue to be a space for innovation, engagement, resources and support of small businesses. Maintaining a space that fosters community and provides as many free resources as possible will remain a priority.
In addition, The Commons is striving to reach populations that don’t always have easy access to startup resources. In this first year, The Commons has offered some programs specifically aiming to reach minority entrepreneurs, all socioeconomic levels, women and veterans. These populations will be an even greater priority moving forward, knowing there’s much opportunity to improve access and a great benefit to having more diverse voices around the table.
In the first year The Commons received an amazing amount of natural media coverage simply by telling entrepreneurial stories. Now companies that got started through the resources at The Commons are beginning to take off, which will undoubtedly lead to more sharing of stories and ultimately, more startups considering Denver as a home. As Door explains:
“This center was built by the community, for the community, for the future of the community. The funding came from established companies, the building came from established companies…The future of the center will come from the startups that we can help grow.”
We can only imagine what the future of The Commons on Champa may look like.