Hundreds of business and government people flocked to the Antlers Hilton today to hear El Paso County Commission Chair Amy Lathen's report on the "State of the region."
From the look of things, you'd think the region's economy was racing ahead at warp speed. The place was packed.
Lathen spoke for 22 minutes, some of which came as a voice-over for a video made by county public information officer Dave Rose, about the county's accomplishments of the past year. Among them: Helping to attract business, including the Walmart data center and Bal Seal manufacturing operation; upgrades in the county's energy systems to save money on monthly utility bills; partnerships with various nonprofits to host the "Feed the Children" event that helped 6,000 people last year and is coming up on its 11th year this Saturday; meeting with the Springs City Council three times this year; helping set up a public shooting range, for which the groundbreaking is tomorrow at Fort Carson; and the challenge of seeing to it that a new Veterans Cemetery proposed for land southeast of Fountain has adequate water supply.
She also talked about what still needs to be done, including formation of a regional approach to stormwater management; coordination with other governments on funding animal control; and a more robust economic development program.
Noting that local government is all about serving citizens, Lathen said she's proposing a 3-1-1 system that would allow people to call that number for information about almost any government program or service. The idea's still in its early stages.
"There's so much more to be done," she said. "What's important is that we all agree on one thing: This is a very special place to live, work, play and raise our families."
Among the awards given by the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the event, was regional leader of the year, which went to County Commissioner Dennis Hisey.
All the commissioners turned out for the event, including Commissioners Darryl Glenn and Peggy Littleton.
Fountain had a table, where Mayor Jeri Howells and newly elected Councilman Jim Coke sat with other Fountain officials and El Paso County Treasurer Bob Balink, shown in the background.
The Gazette's new director of content, Carmen Boles, was there. The newspaper served as one of the sponsors of the luncheon. "They are more than sponsors," said the Chamber's Stephannie Finley. "They are true friends."
Fellow reporter Chet Hardin and I sat at the back of the room where we met some new faces, including Jason Schneider, with Seigneur Gustafson LLP, a CPA firm that recently opened an office in Black Forest. Schneider moved here in July from Denver, and he gives the local Chamber high marks.
"Compared with the ones I've been involved with in Denver, it's been a lot more friendly and welcoming and active in getting people involved," said Scheider.
I promised Jason his spot in the blogosphere, so here you go, Jason.