13 small towns across Colorado are getting grants to improve historic downtown areas, businesses and more

Nathaniel Minor/CPR News
The R&R Market on Main Street in San Luis, Colorado, has been open since 1857. The current building, seen here, has stood since the late 1940s.

Five communities around Southeastern Colorado recently received a total of more than $1.8 million from the state Department of Local Affairs. They were among 13 statewide recipients of $6.7 million in Main Street: Open for Business (MSOB) grants, which are aimed at stimulating investment in traditional downtown areas and increasing sales and job opportunities, while lowering utility costs.

The funds will be used for façade and energy improvements. Many of the buildings house small businesses owned by economically or socially disadvantaged people. That includes the state's oldest family run business, the R&R market in San Luis. Money is also going to Hugo in Lincoln county for a complete renewal of its downtown. The historic theater in Flagler, a town of only 700 people, is slated for renovations too.

Here’s a complete list of MSOB grant recipients statewide from a DOLA press release:

Center: $114,588 to improve five buildings, four of which house traditionally disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs). Projects range from a new sign at the carniceria to lighting upgrades at the grocery store.

Central City: $327,727 to support new businesses in three buildings, including the second-oldest property in this historic town, with energy-efficiency upgrades and façade improvements. The city is heavily reliant on the gaming industry, which experienced severe losses during closures in 2020.

Flagler: $146,135 for façade and energy improvements on three buildings, including the historic Flagler Theatre. Located on the Eastern Plains, Flager has a population of just 700 with an average income of $27,500.

Granby: $757,140 for energy-efficiency upgrades, façade improvements and ADA accessibility on 11 buildings, after suffering the impacts of regional wildfires in 2020 in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grand Lake: $958,782 for projects ranging from adding energy efficient HVAC units to paint and stain on 23 buildings including 15 DBEs, in an area also ravaged by wildfires in addition to COVID-19.

Hugo: $602,169 for a complete renewal of their small downtown, with 11 buildings containing 11 DBEs. Improvements include Increased energy-efficiency with new storefront windows and doors, new decorative awnings, and new signage that will make businesses more visible from State Highway 287.

La Junta: $391,566 to improve six buildings, which includes doubling the retail space of one business by reclaiming an attractive storefront, and the restoration of the iconic Fox Theatre.

Mancos: $457,333 for six buildings, five of which are home to woman-owned businesses. Others include a historic opera house, and full rehabilitation of commercial storefronts to serve as a performance venue and event retail space.

Rangely: $53,126 for improvement to the aesthetic of the downtown automotive care center and better signage to attract more business on the western edge of the state.

San Luis: $560,722 to invest in five key businesses all owned by minorities and women including the R&R Market, the state’s oldest family-run business dating back to 1857. Fresh paint, new signs, windows, doors, exterior lighting and energy efficiency improvements will provide the oldest downtown in Colorado with a facelift.

Silverton: $612,849 to help preserve eight buildings through façade improvements, while looking toward the future of this National Historic District with a number of energy efficiency upgrades including windows and solar panels.

Wellington: $569,626 for painting, awnings, windows, brick repair, roof replacements, new signage and energy efficiency upgrades to 11 buildings in hopes to attract more of its growing population to downtown.

Windsor: $392,660 to improve the aesthetics of four buildings downtown including the removal of false-fronts, seeking to increase foot traffic in the historic downtown Main Street.