Junior Achievement relocating, selling former Goodwill building in OCCJuly 13, 2018
The changing business world is affecting the Westside. As evidence, Junior Achievement of Southern Colorado is selling its Old Colorado City building rather
This does not mean JA SoCo is abandoning its long-time extracurricular outreach to primary and secondary students, explained President and CEO Carrie McKee.
Instead, she said in an interview with the Westside Pioneer, the nonprofit's board of directors recently decided “to shift our focus from a simulated city to a more mobile and virtual approach. We will take our simulated city on the road, rather than bring the students here. It's a significant transition, but we're excited about it. We want to be relevant, offering our students the most innovative programs possible.”
JA SoCo has owned and maintained its offices in the building on the north side of West Colorado Avenue's 2300 block since buying it from Goodwill in 2014. With its large warehouse-type space, the nonprofit saw it then as ideal for the construction of two business “towns” that JA instructors could use to give visiting students hands-on entrepreneurial experiences.
Also appealing was the property having plenty of off-street parking, plus space along the avenue for school buses to load and unoad.
But school districts are budgeting less and less money for field trips now; also significant is what McKee called “the Amazon effect,” in which “more products and services are delivered to clients. Store owners in Old Colorado City and all over the country are moving away from storefronts to a more digital delivery.”
Since 2012, a fundraising campaign has been under way to build a “Biz Town” for fifth-graders and a “Finance Park” for eighth-graders in the OCC building, at an estimated cost of just under $4 million. To date, according to McKee, about $3.4 million has been pledged or given.
How that style will be implemented is being fleshed out by a JA SoCo task force. “We're exploring how to set up programs that will be sustainable and viable for years to come,” McKee said.
One aspect being mulled is based on the fact that some physical materials, which McKee described as “pop-ups,” will still be needed for the virtual type of instruction. But it's not yet determined how and where they should be stored.
Some direction is available from the national JA, which in recent years has developed programs with virtual elements in 52 locations around the United States, McKee said.
A need seems to exist. A JA brochure asserts that 60 percent of American teens “don't know the difference between cash, credit cards and checks."
A for-sale sign had been displayed on the 2300-block building for a few months. Originally, it was just the warehouse being marketed, McKee clarified. “Now we're going to put up a sign to sell the whole building.”
The space being sold does not include the Goodwill thrift store at 23rd and Colorado.
A new location for JA SoCo and its eight employees has not yet been determined. One thing is certain: Without a center on-site, the organization will need less space than previously perceived, McKee noted.
A year ago, the Center for Free Enterprise was named after Karl and Mary Flemke, who had both been deeply involved with JA, and a sign with their names was put on the building. Karl had died in 1994 and Mary died later in 2017. That sign has been removed, McKee said, out of respect to them, and they will be honored in another way.
Interviewed July 13, McKee did not have at hand JA's asking price for the building. When JA SoCo bought the property in 2014, the price was $600,000, which also included two older houses just west of the main building that JA since has sold.
JA has operated in the area since 1954, according to the JA SoCo website. The organization as a whole was founded in 1919.
Westside Pioneer article