Gayle Jetchick, leader of On Havana, others honored by local hall of fame

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AURORA | Brava.

Gayle Jetchick, executive director of the Havana Business Improvement District, was inducted into the Aurora Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame on March 10 for her continued dedication to the Aurora community.

“It was a shock, and a pleasant surprise,” Jetchick said of the honor.

A member of the local Hall of Fame’s second class of inductees, Jetchick joins community activist Sue Bodis,  formal Councilwoman Nadine Caldwell and the late Edna Mosley, Aurora’s first black city councilwoman, in this year’ s class. A public ceremony honoring all the new inductees is scheduled for March 21 at the Community College of Aurora.

“We’ve tried to honor people who work hard for Aurora and who might be underappreciated,” Linda Berry, chair of the Aurora Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame said in a statement. “But we certainly hope Gayle understands that she is very appreciated.”

Gayle JetchickFounded in 2011, the Aurora Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame held its first induction two years ago with an inaugural class including former Aurora City Councilwoman Ruth Fountain Eide, Colorado State Rep. Rhonda Fields and late community activist Ellin Mrachek.

Since the creation of the Havana BID in 2007, Jetchick has been dynamic in the ongoing revitalization of the 4.3-mile area, spearheading both the annual Cruzin’  Havana Car Show and Poker Run — which drew over 20,000 attendees last year — as well as the Art 2C Havana Sculpture on the Street Project.

“It totally changes the whole look and feel of the district,” Jetchick said in December of the four-year-old Art 2C program. “The first year I really had to do some arm-twisting of business owners, saying this could really be a big tool for us and they all thought I was crazy. Now I have a waiting list of business who want to be included in the program.”

Funded by a 4.5 mill commercial tax levy, the goal of the Havana BID is to brand the area as one for businesses and consumers alike to invest in a district that for years was riddled with crime, vandalism and little to no return on investment for prospective business owners.

The district added 75 new businesses and 430 jobs in 2014, bringing the total number of tenants in the Havana BID to more than 500, according to the organization’s last annual report. With the addition of so many new businesses, sales tax revenue generated by firms in the district also rose significantly, up 14.8 percent in the first eight months of last year over the same period in 2013. Havana businesses make up roughly 12 percent of the total sales tax revenue for the city.

This year, Jetchick said that the BID is focusing on breathing life into the area north of Mississippi Avenue, with a focus on jumpstarting a long-anticipated redevelopment project at the vacant Fan Fare site at 333 N. Havana St.