Phil Castle, The Business Times
Robin Brown believes in a version of the old adage that two heads are better than one — in her case that two co-directors better serve the Downtown Grand Junction Business Improvement District than one.
“We work more productively as two,” said Brown, who’s been hired as co-director of the BID along with Allison Blevins.
While Brown manages downtown events under the management arrangement, Blevins handles communications and marketing.
Both women also run their own businesses, bringing to their duties established relationships as well as an entrepreneurial perspective they said benefit the downtown district and merchants that operate there.
Brown and Blevins assume their new roles following the resignation earlier this year of Harry Weiss, who served as executive director of both the BID and Downtown Development Authority. Weiss accepted a new position as vice president of urban revitalization and development with One Acadiana, a regional economic development organization based in Lafayette, La.
Because of the different missions and activities of the BID and DDA, Weiss suggested separate management going forward, Brown said.
The BID imposes an assessment on commercial property to fund advertising, special events and other promotions.
The DDA uses what’s called tax increment financing to fund capital improvement projects, economic development and other efforts that promote a viable downtown district. A ballot measure approved in 2011 allows the DDA to issue bonds for a total of up to $65 million over 20 years to finance projects. The BID and DDA are governed, though, by the same board.
Brown already had worked for the BID for more than a year as a special events coordinator. Blevins started working for the BID in May as interim communications and marketing director following the resignation of Aaron Hoffman.
Brown and Blevins decided to develop a proposal for a management team for the BID and take it to the board. The board voted in July to hire Brown and Blevins as co-directors, each half-time positions.
Meanwhile, the board continues to search for a new DDA executive director. The board interviewed some candidates, but opted to continue accepting applications through July 31.
Under their team approach with the BID, Brown is responsible for planning, coordinating and managing BID-sponsored events, including the Art & Music Festival, Downtown Car Show and Parade of Lights as well as the weekly farmer’s market. Brown also is involved with other special events downtown to coordinate parking, security and traffic control and make sure events benefit the downtown. In addition, she manages the Art on the Corner program.
Blevins serves as a primary contact for downtown business owners and also handles communications with the public and commercial, nonprofit and government organizations. In addition, she oversees advertising and marketing efforts through social and traditional media outlets and assists business owners with their own marketing and promotional efforts.
Brown and Blevins bring to their duties experiences in operating their own businesses. Brown owns West Slope Events, a firm that manages a variety of events for organizations and businesses. Blevins owns Tangle, a downtown store that sells yarn, fabrics and other materials needed for knitting, sewing and various crafts.
The two said they’ve established relationships that help them with their BID positions — what vendors to contact to assist with events, for example. Blevins said she brings to her role experience as a business owner who’s knows other owners and also knows how BID events and promotions affect retail operations.
Brown and Blevins said they have a number of goals for the BID, among them more sponsorships for events, more engagement with business owners, more streamlined office operations and, ultimately, a downtown district that contributes to the local economy.
“We both see tons of potential,” Brown said.
“We love downtown and we want to see downtown do well,” Blevins said.