Hotchkiss, Colorado

Rethinking Economic Priorities in the Midst of a Global Pandemic

Hotchkiss, Colorado | Completed 2021

The Challenge

The Challenge

Key Activities


In January of 2020, the City of Hotchkiss, Colorado reached out to us about capitalizing on the town’s light manufacturing. With many small businesses, inventors, and sellers in Hotchkiss, the town felt bringing a light manufacturing center, such as a makerspace, to Main St. would assist in their vision of a vibrant downtown. We began working with stakeholders and entrepreneurs to identify the existing light manufacturing, but also to determine future opportunities and challenges in the community.

In March of 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic put the project on hold. In the midst of economic turmoil, neither Community Builders or the City of Hotchkiss felt the project could continue as planned. Supporting economic growth and recovery became the new focus, and it wasn’t clear if light manufacturing was what the community needed in the midst of COVID. We took a step back in order to develop a stronger, cohesive community vision and create buy in from the community that would support their economy through the pandemic.

The Coronavirus hit soon after we hosted a discovery and assessment workshop in Hotchkiss, and the project switched gears after a two month pause. Once re-grouped, we discussed ways to support the Hotchkiss economy following COVID, and discovered that Hotchkiss had several individual projects happening, but there was not a clear, sustainable vision for downtown.


We hosted two virtual workshops in Hotchkiss, which brought together stakeholders included the mayor, city council members, Region 10, and the broader community. These gatherings sought to accomplish two things: (1) use community feedback to create a set of downtown guiding principles, and (2) discuss the opportunities of the Public Works building, a publicly owned asset that will be vacant as of 2021.  
The project resulted in a set of deliverables that will advance downtown economic activity. First, a list of downtown guiding principles that provide a framework for action and and can be used to guide decision-making for downtown Hotchkiss. In January 2021, the principles were unanimously adopted by city council.
In addition, a vision for the Public Works building was created following community input. The vision of the public works building is a flexible commercial space that can accommodate multiple vendors including eateries, retail, maker and/or light manufacturing uses. 
The town will be working with the Colorado Brownfields Partnership in 2021 to determine any potential environmental contamination of the building and begin revitalization.