By Kelly R. Kirkpatrick
The Town of Fairplay is embarking upon a variety of economic development efforts to assist local businesses.
Most recently, The Town of Fairplay applied for and received CARES Act funding through the Department of Local Affairs to use for COVID-19 related expenses and quickly decided to put it to use assisting local businesses affected by the pandemic.
As a result, $79,000 in Small Business Grants was distributed among 23 Fairplay businesses.
Town Administrator Tina Darrah said she was pleased that the town was able to accommodate each of the businesses which applied.
“The Town of Fairplay is excited to help local businesses with Small Business Assistance Grants totalling almost $80,000,” Darrah said. “We were so pleased that we were able to fund every single business that applied.”
Needless to say, local business owners were pleased as well. Middlefork RV Park in Fairplay was among the businesses that received grants, and provided the following comment to The Flume via email:
“The administration team at the Town of Fairplay really came through for the struggling businesses of Fairplay with grant money. March, April, and May, when COVID- 19 really hit the Town of Fairplay hard, was a tough time for most businesses, us included. The Middlefork RV Park is most grateful for the work the Town of Fairplay put in to help us and other businesses gain access to grant funds, keep operations running smoothly and our employees employed. It’s great to know the Town of Fairplay supports local businesses, and we in turn support the town wholeheartedly.”
Kristin Farr, co-owner with Chad Farr of Salado Restaurant in Fairplay, wrote and submitted the following statement with regards to grant assistance from the Town of Fairplay:
“Our restaurant of almost two years was shut down abruptly on March 16, 2020 due to orders mandated by our government for COVID-19. We tried to stay open with take-out only because we had just placed a large food and beverage order to prepare for our spring break crowd that never came. Take-out, although well received by our locals, was not enough revenue to sustain our business operating costs. As a result, we decided to close our doors temporarily until the restrictions were lifted. We were able to apply for loans and grants to help us get back on our feet and reopen our business, one of which was from the town of Fairplay which has helped us keep up with our utilities and rent so we can prepare to pivot once again in the fall when our outside seating decreases and we are limited to 50% capacity inside. Our plan is to purchase more outdoor heaters and possibly tarp and weather-proof a section of our courtyard to enhance our seating capacity and keep our business thriving. We hope to have continued success so we can remain open through the winter. Thank you to the town of Fairplay for helping our small businesses so our town can continue to serve our locals and tourists.”
In addition to another grant cycle to small businesses this fall, the Town is developing a website that will function as a “virtual marketplace” for Fairplay businesses - including the sale of gift cards/certificates, and for artists, makers and creators in the South Park area.
Town Staff is in the process of collecting information from those businesses and artists that want to participate and looks forward to having it “live” by the end of October. Businesses interested in participating should contact the Fairplay Town Hall at 719-836-2622.
Virtual Market Concept
The Town of Fairplay was recently approached by a number of residents who wanted to know how they can support the local business community. Their idea was that the Town could facilitate the online sales of gift cards to local businesses.
Additionally, Cindy Jones, a local artist, approached the Town about a Virtual Marketplace through which local area artists and makers would be able to advertise and sell their wares.
Those at Town Hall were impressed with both ideas and have engaged the town’s web developer about how this could be done in a way that supports local businesses, artists, makers and others.
“The best part is that we can use CARES Act monies for this project,” Darrah said. “In our research, we found that virtual marketplaces are becoming a popular way to innovate around decreased in-store sales due to COVID-19, and we found several excellent examples of how we could structure our site.”
The Town of Fairplay owns several domain names, including www.FairplayArtsNow.com and www.FairplayForward.com. The town’s web developer will structure the site so both of these domain names funnel to one landing page.
For example, one can reach the Town of Fairplay website by typing www.fairplayco.us, or www.townoffairplay.com. This allows The Town of Fairplay to tie this project back in with its Fairplay Forward mission.
“We hope that the Economic and Business Development and Advisory Board (EABDAB) will help us ensure the site is effective as an economic driver for our local area businesses, makers, artists and more,” Darrah said.
Darrah stated that the town has three primary goals it would like accomplish through the use of the site:
1) Fairplay Arts Now: This link off of the main landing page would take visitors to a page that would have various art categories (fine art, jewelry, fiber, glass, etc.) that would be used by local makers and artists by providing direct links to their business websites, etsy pages, etc. This puts the responsibility on each business to interact with customers, price and ship its goods.
2) Fairplay Forward: This link off of the main landing page would take you to a page that would have various business categories (restaurants, retail shops, services, etc.). This would again be modeled as above. So if one visits the Fairplay Forward site, he or she would land on a page with a Fairplay Forward logo that could be used to access a page with the various categories listed.
By clicking on the restaurant category, for instance, visitors could access a page with local restaurants and then on to the individual sites for each restaurant.
3) Fairplay Gift Cards: This link off of the main landing page would take visitors to a page that would list all of the Fairplay businesses that would like to participate in selling gift cards. The Town of Fairplay would actually sell the gift cards via a shopping cart on the page, and rather than businesses being responsible for shipping gift cards, this would be done at Town Hall.
The Town of Fairplay would also include small cards advertising the virtual marketplace and Fairplay Forward as part of each order.
“This website will be organized to allow for a diverse but easy shopping experience,” Darrah said. She encouraged those interested to look at www.shoplocalcolorado.co for an example of a website similar to what the town envisions.
Downtown Assessment Project
The Town of Fairplay recently finished a downtown assessment project dubbed “Fairplay Forward.”
The Town worked to engage all facets of the community in a conversation about the type of place they want downtown Fairplay to become. In other words, how could the town best address the assets, opportunities, needs and challenges in its downtown areas? The purpose of the project was to develop a community-driven strategy to be used to guide the physical and economic development of downtown Fairplay. According to Darrah, the town ultimately created a document that sets forth specific and obtainable goals for downtown. It includes recommendations for achieving stated goals and an implementation action plan for getting things done. The plan can be viewed at www.downtownfairplay.com.