About the business community:
For 15 years, the Laramie Main Street Alliance has strived to preserve the town's historic heart while enhancing its economic and social vitality. Today, Laramie's bustling downtown boasts 280 businesses that provide almost 4,000 jobs in the community. Its eclectic dining options, fun bars, creative public art projects and lively events cater to locals, visitors and the college population.
How COVID affected things:
COVID hit Laramie hard as it did everywhere. Quarantines and public health orders slowed the typical bustling college social scene to a trickle. University of Wyoming students were in town for a limited time, taking much of their courses online. With downtown so focused on shopping, entertaining and coming together, the pandemic halted much of what makes downtown Laramie a hub for the community.
How Laramie reacted:
In partnership with the City of Laramie and Laramie Public Art, Laramie Main Street helped create Hollyhock Commons. This innovative outdoor dining area provided additional opportunities for the community to enjoy local restaurants. Eight picnic tables with umbrellas were set up by the Hollyhock mural for Laramie residents and visitors to enjoy takeout food and alcoholic beverages with the approval of an open container district for the summer. Planters and signs created by local artists made the area cozy and bright.
They also launched Window Display Contests based on the Shop Smart Shop Safe themes. They put together a map so consumers could go vote for their favorite displays in three categories: Best Use of Theme, Best Collaboration, and People’s Choice. The goal was to drive more foot traffic downtown so folks would start feeling more comfortable getting back out and about in the community. It also got business owners thinking about their windows and how they could collaborate with others businesses in their displays.
What the future holds:
Laramie Main Street Alliance plans to continue many of the initiatives implemented this year, and the group is excited about a bright future for their community because community members have been so supportive of small businesses throughout a hard year. The Main Street group is excited to continue to think outside of the box for future support of their downtown businesses going forward.
“We’ve had to change a lot this year but so many good things have come from trying new things and thinking outside the box. Our future is bright. I am confident we’ll pull through this better than before.”
-Jennifer Power, Laramie Main Street Alliance