DENVER -- Foot traffic is steadily increasing in downtown Denver and city leaders hope a new campaign aimed at getting people to return to the office will help bolster the city's recovery.
Officials with the Downtown Denver Partnership and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock stood in front of Union Station as they launched the Ready Denver initiative. Mayor Hancock said people returning to downtown will be a shot in the arm for businesses that are still struggling.
"This is a whole ecosystem that we’re trying to nurture here, and it’s very important that we bring folks back to downtown Denver," said Hancock.
The Downtown Denver Partnership is working with more than 135 businesses who have made a commitment to bringing employees back to the office by May 10. At the same time, safety continues to be top of mind and COVID-19 testing centers will be set up throughout downtown.
COVIDCheck Colorado set up two tents in front of Union Station to make testing easily accessible. Walk-up vaccine appointments also remain available at sites operated by the city.
"Downtown Denver is the economic hub of the Rocky Mountain west and one of the most innovative, resilient urban cores in the nation,” said Tami Door, President and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership.
Small businesses that cater to the office crowd are excited to see customers returning once again. The owner of the Corner Bakery Cafe says business was down 80% last year compared with 60% currently so it's trending in the right direction.
“Well it means everything and people are so excited to get back too, when you see them and customers we haven’t seen in a year and just catching up with everybody," said Jayme Cutter, owner of the Corner Bakery Cafe.
The lack of downtown office workers has kept the owner of a Denver food truck called Taste Bud Bullies from setting up in the area. He said he was losing money during lunchtime hours and was forced to move locations.
"Downtown has a great, great crowd to offer. I would just like the crowd to come to us. We keep going to them but there’s no one there so having a location downtown would be great," said Jarmal Smith, owner of Taste Bud Bullies.