As a fourth-generation native, Sarah Harris is dedicated to the success of Colorado Springs and its downtown core. Harris joined the Downtown Partnership last month in a newly created position as development manager, helping local professionals succeed in the marketplace. Before returning from Denver, where she graduated from the University of Denver, Harris worked in and studied real estate, urban development, planning and other areas that she sees as integral to her job. Harris, 24, talked about what she does and how she would like to see Colorado Springs grow.
What is your role at the Downtown Partnership?
I primarily work with new businesses coming into downtown and help them to get established. I work with them to get licenses, permits, and just make sure that they are fully prepared and have the tools they need to get their business started and to be successful. Right now I am also doing some research and compiling some information about downtown, because we really want to know how people are experiencing downtown, how we might be able to grow, and how we can bring more young people downtown.
How did you get involved in this field?
I went to the University of Denver and in their business school they have a school for real estate and construction management. That program is pretty much the only one of its kind in the country and it really prepares you to be able to work in construction, to be a real estate professional, and to understand the fundamentals of development. Development has always really been my passion — creating places where people can thrive.
Why did you choose to come back to the Springs to start your career?
Because I love the mountains, and the state of Colorado is really such an incredible place and there are a lot of things happening here that I think are exciting. I grew up in Colorado Springs and my family still lives here — I’m actually a fourth-generation Springs resident. My family has always been pretty involved in the development of Colorado Springs in general, so it’s something that I’ve always been passionate about.
What is Colorado Springs like for you as a young professional?
I think there is a lot of criticism about young professionals feeling like they aren’t able to thrive here, and I sometimes question where that comes from. From my experience so far, I find it much more inclusive than Denver was to me as a young professional, and I think there are a lot of leaders in this community who are willing to put in the time and effort to help young professionals grow in their careers. I just feel like there is such an incredible support system in Colorado Springs for young professionals. I think it’s a great place.
How do your values align with those of the Downtown Partnership?
I have a strong value for the arts, and downtown is all about the arts. We’re actually working to become a certified creative district. … I really believe in small business, and startups, and entrepreneurs, and downtown is the place to do all of that.
What are your professional aspirations?
I’m really still developing my goals. I think ultimately, though, I want to be a leader within the city and help businesses be able to succeed. I think that is my ultimate goal — to be that support system to others and to support other businesses and other professionals here in the Springs.