A collection of Littleton leaders took a walk down Main Street Friday morning, the group including city councilmembers, local business owners and Rep. Jason Crow.
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A collection of Littleton leaders took a walk down Main Street on Feb. 10, including city councilmembers, local business owners and Rep. Jason Crow.
The walk was part of the congressman’s “Crow on Your Corner” visit to downtown Littleton on Feb. 10, where he met with local business representatives to talk about challenges and hopes for the city.
“Small business stuff is near and dear to my heart,” Crow said to a group of business owners at a meeting before the walk. “I was raised in a small business family. I now represent a district where about 85% of the people I represent either own or work for small businesses. So it's really the lifeblood of our economy. It's how people support their families and I take that charge extremely, extremely seriously.”
The event was part of Crow’s annual start-of-the-year efforts to engage with communities in his district. Although Littleton residents have been part of Crow’s constituency for years, recent redistricting added the western part of the city to his district.
Topics of concern
At the meeting, business owners shared topics on their minds, from ideas for helping business owners buy properties to challenges regarding Littleton’s unhoused population.
Some also spoke about the recent closure of Bemis Public Library due to methamphetamine contamination in the bathrooms. They expressed challenges in knowing whether or not to test their bathrooms, what that testing and remediation would cost and how to prevent drug use in their businesses.
“I think as we were hearing about this, many of us wondered, ‘Oh should we be getting our bathrooms tested?’” Catharina Hughey, owner of DIRT Coffee Bar, said. “But if that happened, there are insurances that don't cover that renovation, that time for our us to be closed, like that’s scary.”
Crow also spoke with the group about workforce development opportunities, as he said that’s one of the largest issues he tends to hear from business owners.
“I'm a huge believer in apprenticeships,” he said. “I think we need to change the model by which we are educating folks and move more towards an apprenticeship model.”
He explained a program called CareerWise Colorado that businesses can sign up for to start apprenticeship programs for students.
Business development opportunities
Pat Dunahay, co-president of the Littleton Business Chamber, said he wanted more understanding among local business owners about loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
In response, Crow said he would work with local small business development centers to organize training and seminars about programs, grants and loan opportunities, as they did for other areas during the pandemic.
“We did (seminars and forums) virtually during the pandemic, but we can do them in person as well,” he said. “We’d be happy to put together a seminar or forum through the (Littleton Business Chamber) or the city, whatever you want.”
Littleton in focus
In regards to the homelessness crisis in the metro Denver area, Crow said he sees Littleton and surrounding areas working towards solutions in new ways.
“The Tri-Cities Homelessness initiative between Sheridan, Englewood and Littleton, I think really can be a model for others to follow,” he said. “Working across jurisdictions to address the problem is what we'll have to do to fix it.”
For Braxton Johnson, assistant vice president at Redstone Bank, the event with Crow was a great way to gain visibility as a small business.
“It was cool to see him come down and take time with the local businesses,” he said. “We struggle as a as a bank, right? Some people don't like banks, but we're actually a small community bank that doesn’t hurt people, so it's cool for us to get visibility and talk to people.”
Keven Kinaschuk, who started McKinners Pizza in downtown Littleton 18 years ago, said it’s nice to have focus on Littleton as it continues to grow into a more vibrant downtown.
“I'm glad that people are starting to take notice,” he said.
Mayor Kyle Schlachter said having Crow visit was a great way to connect the local community to its representative.
“It's always great having Representative Crow here to see and talk to people that are living here day to day,” he said. “It's always nice to let him speak to our residents and have them also share their thoughts and concerns with him because that's exactly what our type of government is all about -- is communication and listening and doing things for our community members.”
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