Continued Commitment and New Leadership for the Downtown Fort Collins Business Association

Apr 23, 2020 | Member News

After much deliberation, the Downtown Fort Collins Business Association (DBA) has taken prudent steps to adapt to the impacts of COVID19 and strives to maintain strong support for the downtown business community. This shift in strategic direction includes the cancellation of the Old Town Irish Party in early March and, most recently, Bohemian Nights at  ewWestFest, which was scheduled for August. It is likely that additional postponements and cancellations of other  ignature events will be necessary.

“The uncertainty related to COVID-19 serves as an existential threat to the DBA,” says Holly Wright, DBA Board President. “Its impact on large-scale events and community gatherings has resulted in a suspension of revenue streams and forced us to cut costs and re-purpose resources with the goal of continuing to provide meaningful business support.”

As such, the DBA board of directors recently enacted several personnel cost savings measures for its eight full-time staffers, including salary reductions, the furloughing of three employees and the layoff of executive director, Jason  Dennison.

“The board greatly appreciates Jason’s five years of service dedicated to advancing the vitality and prosperity of downtown,” says Wright. “While heartbreaking, these measures were necessary to sustain the organization in the near-term and to provide a solid foundation to quickly and efficiently scale back up after the pandemic.”

The organization’s deputy director, James Yearling, has accepted the board’s vote to become interim executive director, effective immediately. The internal appointment allows the DBA to move forward with an experienced and knowledgeable leader who has managed the organization’s operations since 2015.

“James’ track record, passion and demonstrated commitment to moving downtown forward is exactly what the organization needs amidst the unprecedented challenges that our member businesses are facing,” says Wright.

The DBA serves over 200 member businesses and produces over 75 days of annual programming each year, including dynamic business promotions such as Great Plates of Downtown, First Friday Art Walk, Old Town Spree, Fort Collins Foodie Walk and the recently created Support & Save campaign; community celebrations such as the Downtown Holiday Lighting Ceremony; and, signature events such as the Colorado Brewers’ Festival, the Downtown Sessions Concert Series in Old Town Square and the co-production of Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest.

Currently, the organization is exploring which of these popular programs could evolve into virtual and interactive events.

Proceeds from these programs make up the majority of the nonprofit’s annual operating revenues via concessions, participation fees and voluntary sponsorship support. Notably, the nonprofit does not receive revenues from sales tax, property tax assessments, downtown parking fees or other conventional forms of funding. In many ways, the nonprofit is facing the same challenges that small businesses across the country are experiencing.

Nonetheless, Yearling is ready to take the reins. He is acutely aware of the challenging tasks ahead but looks forward to the opportunity to work on behalf of those who make Old Town the vibrant heart of the community.

“It’s people that truly make a place special and our downtown businesses are comprised of real people doing real things to make a real impact in our community,” says Yearling. “While COVID19 has changed many things, my hope is that it does not change who we are, how we treat each other or how we will work together to bring Old Town back to life. The challenge is unprecedented, but I look forward to playing my part and bringing others along with me.”

If you are interested in supporting locally-owned downtown businesses and their employees, please visit the following:

Established in 1982, the Downtown Fort Collins Business Association (DBA) is a 501c6 non-profit organization that works to advance the vibrancy, vitality and prosperity of the downtown district. The DBA serves a membership base of over 200 active businesses, including retailers, restaurants, non-profit and arts organizations, entertainment venues and  professional service providers. With a 35+ year track record as a successful, self-funded non-profit organization, the DBA annually produces over 75 days of free familyfriendly programming, signature events, community celebrations and  business promotions that attract over 200,000 people to historic Old Town Fort Collins each year.