Profile: Sarah Harris

Posted on Oct 14, 2015 | 0 comments


sarahharrisCheck out our newest Fresh Perspective Profile, the amazing Sarah Harris!

1. Tell us about yourself!

I grew up in Colorado Springs, went to Palmer High School and graduated from the University of Denver, with a 1 year hiccup studying music business in Nashville. After receiving my degree in Real Estate and Construction Management at DU and working for a few years in project management, I moved back to Colorado Springs in late 2013 to work with the Downtown Partnership in a newly created role. As the Director of Business Development & Economic Vitality, I serve as a central point of contact for businesses and developers looking to start, expand, enhance their services or initiate projects in the downtown area.

I am the 4th generation in my family to live in Colorado Springs and my parents own a museum that has been in the family over 50 years. Growing up in a multi generational, family run small business has allowed me an understanding of the challenges small businesses face, and the essential role of developing and strengthening supporting conditions for the business community.

I have a passion for linking people and places together and love that my career allows me to work in both the realms of strengthening the business community and land use planning and place making. These are two worlds that don’t often collide but are interdependent.

2. What are the top 3 issues you see facing Colorado Springs?

First, We need to practice some self-love and take pride in being citizens of Colorado Springs. This is an incredible place that is poorly perceived, but the more we showcase the incredible opportunities, the faster we will see positive change.

Second, we need to start making firsts. We are consistently the community that watches other cities do unique things, then think our best idea is to replicate. It’s like the little sister that adopts her older sisters hand-me-downs a season too late; it’s no longer “cool” “unique” or “innovative” if it’s already been done, and it may not even fit our unique community.

Lastly, we need to celebrate and showcase the “firsts” that we have accomplished, and stop culturally accepting (and even promoting) mediocrity. First tiny house jamboree and tiny coffee shop? Colorado Springs. First symbiotic brewery system built inside an old school? Colorado Springs. First retro movie theater turned climbing gym? Colorado Springs. We are awesome; let’s stop pretending our best restaurant is Applebee’s and our favorite place to shop is Kohl’s.

* Side note: If Kohl’s wins “Best of women’s Fashion” one more time in the Gazette, you may see me protesting and staging a citywide fashion intervention.

3. What do you love about Colorado Springs?

What I love about Colorado Springs is probably more personal than for someone who hasn’t grown up here. With such a long family history in Colorado Springs, I love the stories that connect me to the places in this city. I look up at Pikes Peak and think of my grandfather giving tours on the mountain. I shop in University Village and think of the history of that corridor, where my great- grandmother decided to build a motel on Nevada back when it was the main drag. Watching students at lunch downtown, I remember my experiences as a Palmer student and hope that someday this city will be a place where my children can create their own memories. I believe that our lives are a continuum of the work of those that came before us, and I love that this community gives me daily reminders of why I invest myself here.

4. What would you change about Colorado Springs?

We need to learn to embrace changes that will support future generations and not be afraid to make decisions that support a healthier, sustainable and culturally rich community.

5. Would you ever consider running for office in Colorado Springs?

Being an elected leader is a tough job that requires a lot of patience, of which I have little as an always-on-the-move-don’t-slow-me-down-20-something. Quite honestly, I think that private citizens can have just as much if not more influence on policy decisions and community direction than elected officials; it just requires commitment, passion, a willingness to learn, and strong relationships in the community. I prefer being an involved citizen, but if it made sense for me and for the community in the future, I could consider running for an elected position.

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