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Stanford rehired as DHDC director





Less than a year after Traci Stanford's departure from the Downtown Hays Development Corp., she has returned to replace her successor.

Stanford's second stint in the position was announced Monday. Megan Colson, who took over for Stanford in September, resigned from the group July 23, effective immediately.

Stanford left Hays because her husband, Jerrod, took a job in Jackson, Tenn. Following the news she was pregnant, they returned in March to be closer to home.

"I've always loved downtown Hays. So when the opportunity came up, my husband and I talked about it, and we decided it would be best for us," she said.

"Downtown Hays is my favorite thing about Hays, so I'm excited to be back on board and working for such a great environment that's down there and continuing to grow."

The new director aims to build on the group's success, move forward with brick-and-mortar projects, implement the nonprofit's new marketing plan and rebuild her rapport with downtown businesses.

Stanford said she was attached to the district as a college student and expects her enthusiasm to remain through her retirement years.

"I think downtown Hays is the heart of Hays," she said. "I think it has every range of business that you can think of from professionals to shopping, dining, art, entertainment. I think it adds the most quality of life to Hays."

The new director encouraged locals to support downtown.

"Shop local, eat local and spend local," she said. "Just continue to do those things, and we'll all succeed."

Stacey Smith, president of DHDC's board of directors, said hiring Stanford after Colson's resignation was the best thing for the group's future. The DHDC is on an "honest and true path," Smith said.

"All of our past directors that we've had have all made great contributions to DHDC. There may be that perception out there, but Megan is following some things that she wants to pursue, which is great, and we wish her the best," she said.

"We at DHDC, with where we want to go in the future ... we are very strong and confident with our vision for where DHDC wants to go, and we wanted to put the right person in place for that, and we feel we have put the right person in place for that."

Colson said she hopes the nonprofit continues to thrive.

"I think DHDC is very important to our community and our downtown moving forward, and I wish them the best of luck in the future," Colson said.

Regarding the search for a new director, Smith did not reveal how many candidates were interviewed.

"We've hired our director. We went through our sound process, and we found the right person to put in place. And right now, DHDC is ready to focus and move forward, and that's what we're looking for," she said. "We'll put one foot in front of the other and go forward."

Stanford is a "visionary" and will contribute to downtown's progress with her marketing ability, Smith said.

"She has a knowledge base, a skill set and a passion for downtown Hays that is hard to find," Smith said.

"She's prepared to do great things for DHDC and the downtown community, and she's got her pulse on what the future initiatives should be."

Stanford will lead the charge by fostering relationships with downtown merchants, helping add more businesses to the community and increasing traffic, Smith said.

Listening to businesses and recognizing the latest trends also will be her responsibilities.

"We want to be an advocate for downtown Hays," Smith said.

"We want to help it grow, and we definitely feel that she is the person that can take us there."

New branding, advertising, events and projects are all possibilities under the new marketing plan.