Thriving Through the Chaos: Wellington Main Street 2020

(Top row left to right) Trustee Rebekka Kinney, Board Members Curtis Smelker, John Jerome, Anita Hardy, Brian Graves, and Gary Green (Bottom Row left to right) Mayor Troy Hamman, Trustee Ashley Macdonald, Executive Director Kallie Cooper, and Board Member Megan Larson. Photo courtesy of Wellington Main Streets Program.

Kallie Cooper, Executive Director Wellington Colorado Main Streets Program

It is difficult to find the small bits of success hiding among the struggles and chaos that overwhelmed communities over the last nine months.  For the Wellington Main Street Program, success came in spite of all that 2020 had to offer.  Through community collaboration and the hard work of many volunteers, the organization closes out the year celebrating huge achievements.

The launch of the social media campaign #FrontPorchFriday, highlighted downtown businesses and weekly specials. The program hosted monthly “Front Porch Friday Happy Hour” events, sharing the program’s achievements and goals with previously unreached community members, and ultimately bringing in over 100 new volunteers.  

The Main Streets Program participated in ongoing training throughout the year, provided by their State partners at the Department of Local Affairs and Colorado Main Street, including a three-year Strategic Plan and Window Display Consultation for downtown businesses. These services totaled over $18,000 worth of training and support.

Photo by Wellington Colorado Main Streets

In May of this year, Josh Griffin and his team at Dynamic Image completed Wellington’s fourth mural, “Greetings from Wellington, which can be seen on the South facing wall of The Filling Station on Cleveland Ave. This project incorporates themes that came directly from community members on what they felt makes Wellington special.

In March and July of this year, the program organized two downtown clean-up days, bringing together over 60 volunteers to help prepare the downtown for the film crew from Tastemade’s “Beyond the Block.”  The Fort Collins/Wellington episode aired on September 24th, highlighting the Wellington community and surrounding neighborhoods on an online platform that reaches over 31 million viewers worldwide.  The episode is available online at www.tastemade.com/shows/beyond-the-block.

Although many of the program’s regular events were canceled, with the help of local businesses and community partners, the Main Street program and Wellington Area Chamber of Commerce hosted Trick or Treat Down Main Street, which hosted 40 businesses downtown, utilized over $1,700 in sponsorships, and saw more than 2,500 attendees.

When the coronavirus pandemic forced county-wide shutdowns and the cancellation of downtown events, the Main Street Program had to pivot and adapt.  Along with members of the Wellington Chamber, a COVID-19 Task Force was developed to provide ongoing support and resources for Wellington businesses.  The Main Street Program developed a dedicated COVID-19 business resource website and federal loan informational packet.  The Task Force purchased dedicated parking signs to promote to-go options and hosted monthly promotional events including the #WellingtonStrong Bingo Card, the Virtual Town Hall Q&A, the Show Us Your Mask Challenge, Window Decorating Contest, Back to Business Friday School Supply Drive, Wellington Food Drive, and the Serve 6.8 Fundraiser, which raised over $15,000 in support for local businesses.

The most significant achievement for the program was the advancement into the top tier of the Colorado Main Street Program. Wellington joins just six other communities across the State at the Graduate level.  The program’s Board of Directors worked throughout the year to provide the prerequisite materials needed to accomplish this task and were awarded the honor on October 6th. This achievement provides the program with additional support funding and continued recognition throughout the State.