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Minicozzi returning to Durango

These days, many of us are thinking about the uncertainty of the future – I know I am. The past two years have put the reality of uncertainty on display in a way that can’t be ignored. We are now used to adapting our mindsets, changing our behavior and collaborating to problem solve on a dime.

I recently participated in a workforce housing task force meeting hosted by the Economic Development Alliance where Jenn Lopez from Project Moxie discussed the reality of and possible solutions to the housing crisis we are experiencing in Durango and surrounding communities. It paints a scary picture. La Plata County, like many other areas of the country, is struggling to meet housing demand, and it will take a long time to catch up.

In the presentation, Lopez put an emphasis on solutions and underlined the collaborative opportunity that is available to our community of business owners to overcome the housing crisis. I appreciated Lopez’s framing of the situation at hand. By working together to address housing needs across industries and economic levels, we can address the problem in a way that will have a lasting, sustainable impact – rather than reactive stop-gap measures. All of this dialogue makes it clear to me that we are lucky to call ourselves locals in La Plata County, where area business leaders are looking beyond their own hiring and employee retention to collaborate and create accessible housing opportunities for the whole workforce.

As we look to the future of development and redevelopment in our community, the only way to address the issues our community faces – and set the next generation up for success – is to work together and look at the long-term impacts of our decisions. And this goes beyond housing. The need to come together and lay intentional groundwork includes commercial redevelopment, multiuse zoning, and mindful planning for our public entities.

Back in 2016, Local First partnered with several local businesses and organizations to bring economist and urban planner Joe Minicozzi to La Plata County to assess the economic opportunity within our community. The resulting study illuminated the importance of the tax revenue generated by our local, independent businesses. We are pleased to announce that Local First has invited Minicozzi back for a second time to look at the immense opportunity present in Durango’s ongoing development and harnessing this growth for the health of residents and a circular economy that builds community resilience.

In his presentation, Minicozzi will focus on contextualizing the opportunities available in historic redevelopment projects, including the former 9-R Administration Building. Harnessing Opportunity in Durango: A Perspective on Development will take place on Zoom at 2:30 p.m. March 30. Register online at local-first.org/event/harnessing-opportunity-in-durango. local-first.org/events.

Minicozzi is known for introducing new ways to think about and visualize land use, urban design, and economics. He founded his company, Urban3, to explain and visualize market dynamics created by tax and land-use policies. Urban3’s work establishes new conversations across multiple professional sectors, policymakers and the public to creatively address the challenges of urbanization – which they’ve done across the globe in 30 states, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The future may be uncertain, but it is also full of opportunity. We hope you can join us to hear Minicozzi’s perspective on how our community can harness our opportunity to build a bright and resilient future.

Emily Bell is managing director of Local First in Durango. Contact her at director@local-first.org.