Wyo4news Staff, [email protected] [PRESS RELEASE]
ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING — 2021 was been a lively year for the Rock Springs Main Street/Urban Renewal Agency. The Rock Springs Main Street/Urban Renewal Agency is proud to share some highlights in the 2021 Annual Report.
Behind everything the Rock Springs Main Street/URA does is the economic vitality of Downtown Rock Springs. To that end, Downtown saw the opening of eleven new businesses in the district, creating 13 net full-time jobs:
- Mi Ranchito Family Restaurant
- Kneeland Fine Art
- Play and Learn School
- Studio 307 Dance Center
- Leap Services, LLC
- Guardian’s Watch
- Hair Candy
- Cherry Creek Mortgage
- Stef and Co.
- Loaded Waffle
- Crafting on a Budget
One of the foremost goals is to expand the business base in Downtown Rock Springs and grow the retail mix, according to the organization’s annual report. To that end, the agency continued Project Pop-Up program 2021. The program is designed to give potential new businesses three months of free rent to get them started with a storefront.
To assist property owners with the restoration of their buildings, the Rock Springs Main Street/URA provides a Façade and Paint Grant program, when our funds allow. During 2021, six grants were approved to the following businesses:
- 307 Dance Studio
- High Alpine Archery
- Mi Ranchito
- Mint Motel
- Nobel K Investments
- Stellar Cellar
Many private businesses also update their buildings without financial assistance from the Main Street/URA. Overall, Downtown saw 24 private buildings restored or updated.
In addition to providing grants to property owners, the URA is always looking for new funding streams and mechanisms for their projects. “We were blessed to receive thirteen grants throughout the year,” URA Board Chairperson, Maria Mortensen expressed.
Those grants include:
- Dominion Energy – Snowman Stroll
- Rocky Mountain Power Foundation – Snowman Stoll
- Sweetwater Joint Travel and Tourism Board (three separate grants)
- Sweetwater Blues n’ Brews
- Snowman Stroll
- Wyoming Arts Council – Broadway Theater season
- Wyoming Community Foundation – Snowman Stroll
- Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund (two separate grants)
- Brown Bag Concert Series
- Snowman Stroll
- Wyoming Main Street (three separate grants)
- Summer Placemaking Grant
- Winter Placemaking Grant
- Technical Assistance Grant
- Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) – First Security Bank
Volunteerism continues to be the driving force behind the Rock Springs Main Street/URA and that is reflected in the volunteer hours donated to the community through the organization. In 2021, 1,401 volunteer hours contributed to the betterment of Downtown Rock Springs.
The organization continues to prove that Downtown Rock Springs is the hub of economic activity while creating a positive image that highlights our community’s unique character. Events are starting to return to Downtown Rock Springs following the shutdowns from the pandemic. Bunning Hall alone hosted 79 events in 2021 with attendance just under 10,000; nearly reaching pre-pandemic levels.
Promotions help position Downtown Rock Springs as the center of our community and the hub of economic activity while creating a positive image that highlights Rock Springs’ unique character.
One such promotion was the very popular “Downtown-osaurs” which took place during the summer. Working with local artists Don and Kaye Tyler, ten large dinosaurs were created and placed around Downtown Rock Springs. Scavenger hunts, coloring pages, and special dino-themed events were created throughout the summer to engage families and draw them Downtown.
Another of our popular promotions was the holiday Downtown Shopping Sweepstakes Utilizing funding from the Wyoming Main Street program, the Sweepstakes was designed to drive sales to Downtown merchants while allowing us to develop a benchmark to track sales in future years. Over 300 entries were collected with sales totaling more than $16,000. While thrilled with the response, it was just a small portion of the local sales generated.
They also launched the first-ever Downtown Craft Cocktail Week to help promote the Downtown bars. During the ten-day promotion, participating bars each showcased a unique cocktail for just $5.
All of the URA staff members completed the Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) program from Sweetwater Joint Travel and Tourism in order to ensure great experiences for the visitors (and locals) they interact with daily.
Arts and culture continue to expand in Downtown Rock Springs and 2021 saw the installation of one new, large-scale mural located on 5th Street. This mural is part of artist Kayla Newman’s “Murals on the Move” project, which aims to paint a mural in all 50 states. Six smaller “boot” murals were also created by local artists and are located on C Street.
Working with Mayor Kaumo and the Community Fine Arts Center, the Rock Springs Main Street/URA helped create the first-ever Mayor’s Arts Awards. The awards are designed to elevate the arts in Rock Springs and highlight those doing good work. Four awards were presented in 2021 – two to organizations and two to individuals.
Out of the partnership with the Community Fine Arts Center, the “Pledge to Attend” was also developed. The initiative encouraged locals to take the pledge to attend at least one arts or cultural event each month.
The Broadway Theater remains the center of activity in Downtown Rock Springs. They’re also seeing the return of events following the shut-downs over the past 18 months. While they haven’t quite reached pre-pandemic levels, in 2021 they held a whopping 42 public events, with attendance topping 6,100. That number doesn’t include attendance for Actor’s Mission rehearsals and auditions as well as routine meetings and gatherings.
A few of the most popular events at the theater included:
- Actor’s Mission production of The Rocky Horror Show
- “Dear Sirs” movie premiere
- The Polar Express
- Rocky Mountain Puppets
- Survivors of Suicide Loss Day
- Tracy Byrd
- Bar J Wranglers (farewell tour)
- David Archuletta
- Kip Winger
The organization worked with local scout, Shane Meats, to install a “Blessing Box” at their office to help those less fortunate.
The Rock Springs Main Street/URA was once again accredited by the National Main Street Center; a particular point of pride for them. They continue to operate under the National Main Street Center’s Four-Point Approach. In order to better educate the public about that approach, they hosted Four Point Friday in February. Four Point Friday featured one of the four points (promotion, design, organization, and economic vitality) each Friday and what that has meant for our community and program.
Historic preservation is also a key element to the National Main Street Center’s accreditation. During May, National Historic Preservation Month, the Rock Springs Main Street/URA developed a historic architecture scavenger hunt featuring Downtown Rock Springs buildings.
The entire 2021 annual report can be downloaded from the Rock Springs Main Street/URA’s website – DowntownRS.com. Hard copies are also available at their office, 603 S Main Street.
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