ONE ON ONE WITH EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE DBA MICHAEL SHORT

In late December after serving almost four years
as Executive Director of the Downtown Business
Association (DBA), Scene Magazine had a
chance to sit down with Short and talk to him
about his perspective on the ups and downs of
what has been happening downtown, his new role
as a consultant to the DBA, and where he thinks
things are heading for Downtown Fort Collins.
The seasoned professional spoke about his
upcoming plans and how he envisions himself
working with the DBA now that he has assumed an
advisory role.

“My time as Executive Director of the DBA was
very rewarding, both personally and professionally.
I’m very proud of all the accomplishments we as an
organization have made over the last three and half
years,” commented Short.

“I am looking forward to sharing the institutional
and tribal knowledge that I have gained while at the
helm to help the organization plan their upcoming
year, and potentially help them identify new
opportunities for the organization going forward.”
Short’s role as a consultant will continue until
mid-April of 2015 as he helps the organization ease
through the leadership transition that will ultimately
result in the DBA hiring a new Executive Director. He
will also continue serving on the Fort Collins Parking
Advisory Board and on the Executive Committee of
the Downtown Colorado, Inc. Board of Directors.
The DBA experienced phenomenal growth and
attention during Short’s tenure. With a staff of
four in 2011, the organization today has grown to
support a staff of eight. The staff provides member
services, promotions and advocacy for it’s 260+
members, as well as generates and manages over
one million dollars of media value that drives
Downtown’s advertising/marketing/PR efforts
annually.

“We have been very successful in leveraging the
many successes of Downtown into partnerships
with local print and electronic media outlets
such as I-Heart Media, TownSquare Media and
Scene Magazine,” says Short. “These incredible
partners are critical in helping us build marketing
relationships with many iconic Fort Collins
businesses and organizations who have now
become sponsors and helped the DBA. We have
moved our revenue model from being event-centric
to one in which net revenue from sponsorship
now contributes over 60% of the dollars needed
to run the organization, and provides the financial
resources to hire a staff which can fulfill the
board’s mandate to become a marketing-centric
organization.”

Short recounted many things that we all hold
dear and, in some respects, help to define us as a
downtown, including the continued success of the
annual Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest, and the
wonderful partnership the DBA enjoys with the
Bohemian Foundation. Also cited was last year’s
25th Anniversary Colorado Brewers Festival (COBF),
which was re-invented and drew large numbers
of attendees, a record number of Colorado craft
breweries, and national attention— including an
article in the New York Times heralding the event
as “one of the five oldest and most successful beer
festivals in the USA.” Short also cites the successful
launch of the now three-year-old FORToberfest, our
own local celebration of Bands, Bikes & Beer.
Successfully advocating for the creation of the
parking advisory board, the Fort Collins Brewery
District, and the adding of year-round police officers
in Old Town were also mentioned by Short, who is
integrating the new staff and redesigning the DBA
organizational chart.

Despite the recent turnover, Short was able
to finish out 2014 with a new, experienced and
enthusiastic DBA staff fully in place. Erica Vander
Sande was recruited from her marketing role at
Woodward at Copper Mountain to lead the DBA’s
marketing efforts. Tamara Odell, who in addition
to being a marketing consultant and in economic
development for the City of Colorado Springs, was
brought on as Membership Manager.
“Both of these individuals bring significant
marketing expertise to the DBA and Downtown.
They are real pros,” said Short. Staff members who
stayed on in expanded roles with the organization
include James Yearling, who has now been bumped
up to Events & Entertainment Director, about whom
Short reports, “James has proven himself to be an
exceptional event organizer, and also brings years
of experience in the entertainment industry as an
outstanding guitar player and band leader (Better
Than Bacon, 2013 SpokesBuzz band.) These skills,
combined with his communications background,
will make for exciting new talent selections and
contribute to an even more robust marketing
strategy for Downtown in the years ahead.”
Also providing staff continuity are long-time DBA
Director of Sponsorship & Electronic Media Bob
Zigman, who manages the DBA’s ten radio station
partnerships and uses his 20+ years of experience
to oversee the development and execution of
the DBA’s many sponsor relationships, and the
crackerjack accounting team of Kathy Cardona and
Linda LoRusso.

Asked about the future of Downtown, Short
is quick to tout his top ten items for the DBA to
be focusing on going forward: uses for the newly
renovated Old Town Square; Woodward’s move
Downtown; the River District; Foothills Mall; the
new stadium; finding ways to partner with the
Bohemian Foundation on their Music District
initiative; developing the brewery district concept;
the on-street pay parking discussion; multimodal
transportation options in Downtown, and
embracing the concept of regionalization.

As Michael Short wrapped up his duties as the
ED in mid-January, he reported that his immediate
plan for the future is to take a break from the
fast track with a couple weeks on the beach in
Mexico, followed by a goal to top 40 days of skiing
in the Rockies. For the DBA, Short would like to
provide consulting services to a few well-chosen
clients using his expertise in marketing, events,
sponsorship, entertainment, and downtown
management to help them achieve their goals and
strategic objectives.

Asked for any final thoughts, Short replied, “The
future of Downtown Fort Collins has never been
brighter, and I am honored to have been able to play
a part. When I was selected for the leadership role
at the DBA, I was instructed to get us a seat at the
table and take the organization to the next level. As
I now begin my next adventure, I feel good about
being able to say, ‘Mission accomplished’.”

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