NEWS

Chamber of Commerce cranks up in Five Points

Date: Aug. 31st, 2010
Contact: Kathryn Richert published in Denver Post

Chamber of Commerce cranks up in Five Points

Owner Ryan Cobbins unwraps a pastry display case last week at the soon-to-open Coffee at The Point in Denver's Five Points neighborhood. Cobbins is looking forward to being one of the first business owners to join the new Five Points Chamber of Commerce. (Kristin Morin, YourHub.com )Five Points is opening a chamber of commerce as the neighborhood is prepping for revitalization.

Networking opportunities will be available to businesses that join the Five Points Chamber of Commerce, said Wil Alston, executive director of the Five Points Business District.

"We're looking to bring businesses together to learn from each other," Alston said.

In April, Five Points was declared a pilot community for the Sustainable Main Streets Initiative. Although there is no designated funding with the program, the distinction directs multiple state agencies to help look for solutions to challenges faced by Five Points. A master plan also is in its beginning stages to help develop a new vision for the neighborhood.

The chamber is the second tangible effort to take place in the neighborhood, following on the establishment of the Five Points Business District, which opened in 2009 to guide the long-term stabilization efforts.

The chamber will operate as a traditional chamber of commerce under the Five Points Business District umbrella. Several years ago there was a business association in the area, but this is the first time a formal chamber has been formed, Alston said.

"We really want a formal look and feel to it because this area hasn't had that kind of structure to it," Alston said.

The corridor's struggles to redevelop economically over the years are, in part, because of perception, Alston said.

"There had been no effort to market the corridor as a place that you ought to do business," Alston said. "We have literally started from scratch."

One business owner excited by the possibilities offered by the new chamber is Ryan Cobbins, who is opening Coffee at The Point at the end of October at the former Blackberries ice cream and coffee shop in the heart of Five Points.

"I think being a member of the chamber is definitely an opportunity to help grow the business, whether it's networking or adding credibility," he said. "We have that community feel, which is in line with the chamber."

Cobbins said he's already felt a shift in the neighborhood, where he also lives.

"In the last year and a half, you can see the growth in the area and the positive change in the area," he said. "You come out in the morning and there's people riding their bikes and walking their dogs."

The chamber is targeting the 1,200 businesses between East 20th Avenue on the south, Blake Street and East 40th Avenue on the north, 20th Street on the west and York Street on the east.

For more information, go to fivepointsbiz.org or call 303-832-5000

A free rollout Five Points Chamber of Commerce event open to the public will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library, 2401 Welton St.