One Year After COVID-19 hit, Arvada Thrives
In March 2020, communities throughout Colorado were rocked by COVID-19 as schools and businesses shut down. Arvada, a Denver suburb, quickly took action to create the Arvada Resiliency Taskforce and instead of losing businesses, residents and revenue, the town worked hard to transform into a dynamic, thriving community.
“Although 2020 was a difficult year, we are grateful for the many ways our community has responded to the pandemic,” said City of Arvada Mayor Marc Williams. “From the work of our public safety personnel and front-line workers to local partnerships and neighbors helping neighbors, I’ve never been more proud of Arvada.”
“We are also proud of the City’s role in distributing more than $9 million in CARES Act and other funding to the community, including more than $5.5 million to local businesses. Through local partnerships like the Arvada Resiliency Task Force and the hard work of business owners and workers, we have seen our local economy remain relatively steady during an unprecedented crisis. With the benefit of a 10-year model and conservative financial planning, our City organization remains in a strong financial position. Now in 2021, we look forward to continuing our recovery efforts along with our commitment to building and maintaining Arvada as an outstanding place to live, work and play.”
President of the Arvada Chamber of Commerce Kami Welch and Arvada Economic Development Director Daniel Ryley spearhead the Arvada Resiliency Taskforce which was created at the onset of the pandemic to support efforts to understand the impact of COVID-19 closures and respond quickly. Programs, resources and policy shifts including business surveying and comprehensive needs assessments, curation of local, state and federal resources and information, responsive programming to help maintain economic vitality and communication platforms to connect and inform residents and businesses were immediately developed. A cross-section of local partners make up the Arvada Resiliency Taskforce, including the Arvada Chamber of Commerce, Arvada Economic Development Association, Arvada Visitor’s Center, City of Arvada, Olde Town Business Improvement District, Apex Parks and Recreation, Red Rocks Community College, Community First Foundation, Thrive Workplace and The Arvada Center.
“We originally created the taskforce because our local businesses are the heart of our community and we knew we needed to act immediately in order to make a difference,” Arvada Economic Development Director Daniel Ryley said. “What we didn’t anticipate is that the impact of our fast actions would help turn our town into an area that people from all over Colorado are now flocking to.”
There were 361 new businesses licensed in the past year out of a total of 3,449 businesses and only 223 Arvada businesses closed. While Kline’s Beer Hall, Marco’s Pizza and the Cereal Box were among those that closed, Arvada is welcoming many new establishments including a new version of Kline’s in the former space of the Cereal Box.
Restaurants and retail stores already open or coming soon include Perdida, Teocalli Cocina, Cochina Tacos, Cupbop – Korean BBQ, La Tavola, Lot Que, Candelas Bluegrass, Social Capitol Events, Freedom Street Food Hall, Giordano’s Deep Dish, The Stockroom and Apricot Lane.
According to realtor Vanessa Kendrick, Arvada has always been a desirable place to live due to its proximity to Denver, Boulder and I-70 plus the attractiveness of Olde Town and the RTD G-line, but it is now more popular than ever. Home inventory though low throughout metro-Denver prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, has dropped significantly since. With less than 150 listings in Arvada at any given moment since the start of 2021, homes are going under contract a median of five days and selling well above listing price.
People are flocking to Arvada in part because of its 120 parks, nearly 150 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, and 4,000 acres of open space. The nationally recognized Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities offers theatrical performances, galleries and educational classes and vibrant dining, shopping and entertainment can be found in west Arvada, north Arvada and in historic Olde Town.
“I own a production studio that creates branded photo and video content for a variety of businesses and we chose to open Kaddie Studios in Olde Town Arvada during the pandemic because we wanted to plant roots in a community that celebrates small business and has that unique special-sauce blend of creative, collaborative and entrepreneurial spirit,” Mike Dusman, Co-Founder of Kaddie Studios said. “I see Olde Town as one of the Front Range’s worst kept secrets — and from my view, that’s a great thing.”
Lauri Dannemiller, Executive Director of Apex Park and Recreation District also jumped on the band wagon when COVID-19 hit. “We were forced to get creative, become leaner and evaluate how we can use the lessons learned to adapt to the need for a more flexible operating model,” Dannemiller said. We now offer many classes in a hybrid model and are exploring ways to make outdoor classes become more of the norm and focus on those populations hardest hit by COVID like active older adults and young kids. So much like the business community has had to grow, Apex is growing strong, and will get stronger in 2021 and in to the future.”
According to Kelly Dunkin, President of the Community First Foundation, it wasn’t just businesses that needed immediate help and got it.
“Jefferson County is our home and we want our communities and neighbors to thrive,” said Kelly Dunkin, CEO and president of Community First Foundation. “We launched the Jeffco Hope Fund in response to COVID and in 2020 we distributed more than $1.5 million in grants to 151 Jeffco nonprofits. Local food banks and community partners leveraged Jeffco Hope Funding to distribute nearly 200,000 pounds of food and more than 128,000 meals to Jeffco families. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was delivered to first responders, domestic violence shelters remained open, telehealth physical and mental health was delivered, and support groups networked in virtual environments thanks in part because of funding from the Jeffco Hope Fund.”
For more information, visit Arvada Resiliency Taskforce