Manitou Springs applying to be a Creative District

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Like the Pueblo Creative Corridor and downtown Colorado Springs before it, Manitou Springs is applying to become a creative district through the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

Facilitated by Colorado Creative Industries, the creative districting program offers communities grant monies as well as professional assistance in marketing and networking, or however the community chooses to use such person-to-person help. Ultimately, the hope is these areas will attract tourism, boost local economies and revitalize neighborhoods.

As of today, there are seven certified districts and seven candidates. The Pueblo Creative Corridor, along with the Salida Creative District, and the North Fork Valley Creative District, are certified, while Downtown, with the Greeley Creative District, the RiNo Art District and Old Town Parker are candidates.

Communities begin as candidates for a two-year period (often referred to as an incubator program) in which they are aided through the process of applying for the formal certified designation, which then lasts for five years.

While the process to become a candidate district is far less rigorous than the certified part, Manitou must complete multiple applications and there will be a site visit on April 21. CCI only chooses a few applicants out of the dozens upon dozens it gets.

Manitou will find out if it's been chosen June 16. Natalie Johnson of the Manitou Art Center is leading the process, and will serve on the governing board of the district (a requirement for acceptance), which is the Manitou Springs Arts Council. Applicants must also have clearly defined district boundaries, which in this case run east/west from the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce to the Smischny Lot and focus on the Manitou Avenue corridor, though businesses along CaƱon and Ruxton avenues will also be included, along with the Manitou Springs Community Library, Manitou Springs Elementary School, Miramont Castle, and the Sun Water buildings on El Paso Boulevard.

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