President and CEO Dr. Eric Lee is leaving the position to become executive director of Colorado Community College Online.
Prior to working for the Chamber, Lee was assistant to the president at Suffolk University in Boston, and taught at Suffolk's Sawyer Business School and the College of Arts & Sciences. In April 2009, Lee replaced former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb as leader of the Chamber.
The Chamber is searching for a new leader. Lee's last day is Nov. 9.
DR. ERIC LEE LEAVING COLORADO BLACK CHAMBER OF COMMERCE TO RETURN TO LEADERSHIP IN HIGHER EDUCATION
7 November 2012 (Denver) - After four years of leadership Dr. Eric Lee, President and CEO of the Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce to become Executive Director of Colorado Community College Online, Chairman Richard Lewis announced today.
"Eric has done a tremendous job at the CBCC, where he has worked tirelessly on behalf of our growing membership. I am sorry to see him go," Lewis said. "However, the good news is that Eric and his family are staying in Colorado and in his new position will continue helping to serve people in our community."
Lewis praised Lee's accomplishments during his tenure at the chamber: "Eric increased the number and quality of programs offered to chamber members; he led a strategic visioning and merging with the African American Construction Council; he saw beyond barriers and forged a partnership with the Hispanic Contractors of Colorado to develop the highly successful Contractor Academy program; he provided the and he broadened the chamber's reach with nationally recognized programs to support black entrepreneurs. While it is always hard to lose dedicated, talented people, I am confident that with the processes and procedures established by Eric; the chamber will continue to function at a high level."
Lee's resignation is effective November 9th and a search for Lee's replacement will begin immediately.
"It has been an honor to work with Richard Lewis and former Mayor Wellington Webb and their colleagues on the board of directors," Lee said. "I have been privileged to work with an incredibly dedicated, hard-working and talented board at the chamber."
"This has been a difficult decision for me," Dr. Lee said. "The work at the chamber has been rewarding - and much remains to do. However, the opportunity to return to higher education in a leadership role returns me to my core expertise as an educator. The CBCC served as a tremendous opportunity in my professional career and for that, I'm eternally grateful to the board and the individuals who recruited me to Denver."
In his new role, Lee will provide leadership and administrative direction for all of CCCOnline's operational, academic, educational and technical activities. CCCOnline is an extension of and a service to each of the 13 Colorado Community College System (CCCS) colleges offering students an entire virtual educational option and greater access to all the CCCS colleges.
About Dr. Lee and Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce
Dr. Eric Lee was appointed President & CEO of the Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce in April 2009.
The Colorado Black Chamber (CBCC) began in 1985 with just a staff of one and a handful of Black business members. Now, the organization boasts more than 50 corporate members and nearly 1000 business members. The Chamber remains a solid voice for the Black business community while continuously refocusing its efforts to meet the ever changing needs of its members.
The CBCC provides extraordinary customer service, reasonable member rates and value-add resources. It works with other area chambers to give members a broad range of opportunity for networking and visibility. It's more than a business as usual membership organization. It's the best friend and partner of its members, working exclusively on their behalf and providing the assistance and support they need.
Prior to coming to the chamber, Lee spent fourteen years in higher education developing, and administering programs to serve the needs of students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Suffolk University.
Lee has a doctorate degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
After my lengthy inquiry last year into the success (or lack thereof) that local restaurants experienced from Groupon and LivingSocial deals, I remain partially skeptical of the advertising method.
As I essentially said then, the sites clearly work for some businesses but not for others, often times depending on how they're structured.
That argument aside, I came across a Groupon deal this morning, here, in which it's clear that everyone involved wins.
It's an $11 donation to Not Alone toward mental-health counseling and support services for veterans.
From the campaign details:
Veterans can take part in all of the services offered through the program, including online group therapy, in-person counseling sessions, and the eClinic for 24/7 emergencies.
For every 100 donors, 10 veterans will be served. At the time of this posting, some 640 deals have been purchased.
"The Fine Print" section of the deal does say that 100 percent of donations go directly to Not Alone, so it appears that Groupon isn't taking its typical cut as the matchmaker.
Without kittens and infographics, we're certain the Internet would cease to exist. To prevent that kind of heartache, we proudly present Best Of 2012 Food & Drink tidbits in a tasty infographic.
If stats aren't your thing, just know that this graphical representation includes sushi, cake, pizza, pickled eggs, pubs and live music. (Click to enlarge.)
Look for the second installation of the Indy's Best Of Colorado Springs awards next week. Until then, may we recommend Googling "kitten videos"?
Step one came earlier this year when the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce merged with the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp., retagging the organization as the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC.
Now, the group has a new name: the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance.
The new title shaves one word from the group's title, but still is a mouth full. Chamber officials say the new name signifies that the alliance is covering both bases for the two organizations. (The chamber used to provide support to existing businesses, and the EDC recruited new business and industry.)
"These two leading organizations dedicated to business growth and prosperity are now working as one, powerfully bonded and strategically aligned with our partners in the region and with the broader Front Range," the alliance said in a news release.
“One of the primary focuses of this new organization is its commitment to serving our existing companies in the region, both those engaged in interstate commerce and those that survive on the local economy,” said Joe Raso, president and chief executive officer of the Business Alliance. “Businesses already operating and prospering in our region play a vital role in our efforts to grow the local economy and recruit new enterprises. They know the resources that have madetheir companies successful, and are excellent ambassadors for our market. They are also the first to identify opportunities for changes that will help ourbusiness community grow, and that is why they are the primary focus of our work.
“Our name and logo establishes a single identity for two organizations that merged in February 2012,” said Raso. “This is a big step as we set our new course and continue to work as the primary advocate for the business community in the Colorado Springs/Pikes Peak region dedicated to serving businesses of all sizes and to building regional economic growth and prosperity.” While the two organizations merged earlier this year, they moved under one roof in late August with offices in downtown Colorado Springs at 102 S. Tejon Street, Suite 430.
The board is working on a 20-year "vision for our region," the release said, focusing on existing businesses of all sizes, pumping up its "leadership role in government affairs," improving communications, creating a way to develop the workforce to satisfy businesses' needs, and "establishing a culture of innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit that will attract and retain the young, diverse and educated minds important to the survival of our businesses and region."
The merger of the Chamber and EDC, both of whom claim to want to create jobs, ironically, resulted in layoffs within its own organization. Several of those wound up with government jobs, most notably Stephannie Finley, now working at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs in a newly created half-time position that pays $57,500 a year.
But Raso says in an interview that there's no irony. He says the two merged organizations, which at one time had 35 positions combined, now have 20 and will rely on outsourcing for some functions. It's hired Lisa Bachman for communications work and Kevin Walker to handle governmental affairs, for example, he says.
"The first thing we need to do is be effective with our resources," he says. "Our job is not to make our organization grow." He adds the alliance will continue to change to meet the needs of the business community.
The alliance will continue and enhance the Chamber and EDC's role in the following public initiatives, according to the release:
· Supporting the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority sales tax extension for transportation infrastructure improvements, which will be voted on this November, and will pump tens of millions of dollars into the local economy and contractors' hands.
· Exploring governance/ownership of Colorado Springs Utilities, owned by its customers for roughly 100 years, and the future of the Drake Power Plant, which provides more than a quarter of the city's base load of power.
· Supporting the lease of Memorial Health System to University of Colorado Health, a 40-year deal that closes Monday and gives the city an upfront payment of $259 million that's already tied up in a lawsuit the city filed to try to get out of paying money the Public Employees Retirement Association on behalf of Memorial's 4,000 employees.
“We’re also visiting national leaders for discussions on the military, transportation, sports economy, fire mitigation and education,” Raso said in the release. “These are sectors critical to our economy and the Business Alliance is going to establish itself as a visionary leader in designing a strategic plan of action and community vision based on our assets and competitive advantages.”
The Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, with more than 1,500 members, is the primary advocate of the Colorado Springs/Pikes Peak region business community.
For information, go here.
Dave Neumann, owner of Neumann Systems Group, which developed the NeuStream emissions control technology being installed on coal-fired Martin Drake Power Plant, is exploring moving his business elsewhere.
In an exclusive interview with the Indy, Neumann says Councilman Tim Leigh's crusade against his company and his efforts to kill Colorado Springs Utilities' contract with Neumann Systems could lead to the loss of 60 jobs and a multimillion-dollar benefit of the city receiving a cut from the firm's gross sales.
"You can't have somebody out there that is just hammering away and damaging your company," Neumann says.
For the past four months, Leigh has called Neumann's technology "unproven" and "experimental," and challenged the roughly $120 million contract's fairness to ratepayers. Neumann says Leigh has told him the opposition to his technology has been mounted at the behest of Mayor Steve Bach. (We have contacted the mayor's office and will update if and when we receive a response.)
The latest tirade from Leigh came in his so-called "market report," in which he again challenges the technology has the most economical available.
"My colleagues agreed to undertake and study Drake issues at yesterday’s [Wednesday's] CSU Board meeting," writes Leigh, who didn't attend the meeting. "They did not go far enough. We must stop the Neumann spend at Drake now. If there were less costly other options available previously, we must find out if there still are. We don’t have the answers and until we do, we can’t continue to spend, spend, spend."
Springs Utilities officials have repeatedly said the Neumann technology is a third cheaper than other options available today, and energy chief Bruce McCormick reiterated that position today in an interview with the Indy.
"The damage that's been done to our company by Tim Leigh and the feedback we've gotten from prospective customers is unreal," Neumann says. "We're being very badly hurt by the mayor and Tim Leigh."
Although Neumann wrote a letter threatening Leigh with a legal action if he didn't stop disparaging his company with untruths, and said Leigh has "opened himself up to incredible liability," he says he believes it's bad policy to sue a City Councilman.
Neumann says he's met with officials in another state and has a meeting next week with a governor in another state. He also wants to meet with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to explore possible locations in other parts of Colorado.
If Neumann leaves, he'll vacate 45,000 square feet of space on Elkton Drive and the possibility of ultimately occupying 150,000 square feet when his manufacturing operation gears up with orders.
But if the city honors the contract and allows the technology to become functional on Drake, Neumann Systems will stay put, he says. Other utilities are eagerly awaiting a full build-out on Drake to be assure the technology works. The NeuStream has been shown by multiple tests and multiple examinations by experts to work in a test on 20 megawatts of power production. Because the technology is simply an add-on for larger loads, Neumann and Utilities are confident of its efficacy, he says.
"We have been treated great [by the city] up until the last three to four months," Neumann says. "I think we've constructed this win-win partnership with the city and we're delivering low cost emissions control to the city, cleaning the air. Up until that point when the mayor and Leigh decided to take down the Drake plant and us along with it, it's been great. We've had a tremendous opportunity here. There are great people on Council. I think very highly of the vast majority of the people on City Council."
He says Leigh's commentary has led potential customers to question the system. If the city succeeds in driving away his business, it would miss out on a cut of gross sales in a firm that holds 36 patents in nine countries and is working with international distributors.
"There's an awful lot in the works here," he says. "It's a waste of our effort if we're going to be in a community that has a few people who are trying to run us out of town."
Leigh says via email: "Nothing could be further from the truth! I'm an entrepreneur and I love other entrepreneurs. The norm for a business like Mr Neumann's is to let the free market fund his experiments, not unaware ratepayers who can't afford venture capital style risks. If Neumann's stuff proves to be as good as he says, I will be labeled the town clown for questioning it and him, and (rightfully so). That he lashes out in this manner continues to fan my flame of suspicion."
No surprises here.
The Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and EDC has issued a letter calling for Colorado Springs City Council to speed up a study about removing coal-fired Drake Power Plant from downtown.
The Chamber also wants the Council, sitting as the Utilities Board, to study selling off not just the electric utility, but all four utilities that are now owned by ratepayers. Utilities officials and City Council members have often boasted about having low rates because the utility is owned by ratepayers, not stockholders.
The Sept. 10 letter from board chairman Doug Quimby says the Chamber urges "the Utilities Board to consider commencing a process to address larger issues, including whether our utilities should continue to be municipally owned, and, if the city does maintain ownership, whether the governance structure of CSU should be changed."
Then Quimby calls for a process of exploration to be "independent, perceived to be independent, transparent and credible," and likens the prospective process to the lease of Memorial Health System, to which the business community was embarrassingly late. In fact, business representatives completely ignored a 10-month Citizens Commission process and study before elbowing their way in to a city task force that wrote a request for proposal and eventually chose University of Colorado Health to lease Memorial.
That transaction closes Oct. 1 and could bring $259 million to the city in an up-front lump sum, but there might be some major bumps on that path, as you can read tomorrow in the Indy.
The letter gives the Council marching orders on what to include in the Drake study:
• Costs and timelines for possible decommissioning
• Replacement power options
• Impact on customer rates
• Overall economic impact of decommissioning the plant, including remediation of the site and "the accompanying economic development opportunities of the site and surrounding area"
But Quimby and his followers then graciously allow Council to take up what to do about its contractual obligation to Neumann Systems Group, which is installing pollution control technology on Drake to meet Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
"The Chamber and EDC takes no position on that issue, as deciding how to proceed is the responsibility of the Utilities Board," the letter states.
The Chamber's letter was written on the same day that Councilors Angela Dougan, Brandy Williams, Tim Leigh and Val Snider, demanded a special Utilities Board meeting be called for Sept. 26 to revisit the decision to put off such a study of Drake until 2013. Here's the full story about that, which we posted last night at 6:03 p.m.
In closing, Quimby writes: "The wise development and use of our community's utility infrastructure is something this organization takes very seriously, as we know its impact on the economic well-being of our region."
Here's the whole letter:
It's not surprising the Chamber would jump into this issue, considering developer/godfather Steve Schuck already has arranged a private meeting of all the influence-brokers for next Thursday, Sept. 20, to talk about how much the city could get from selling its electric utility. That story, also broken by the Indy, can be found here.
Local businesses who rely on tourism are hoping that a $100,000 federal grant will help attract new visitors this fall and next year.
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., announced in a press release that he helped secure the grant for the Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau in the wake of the Waldo Canyon Fire, which ignited June 23 and burned more than 18,000 acres and claimed 345 homes in the city on June 26.
The money, from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, will be used to advertise the region as a destination for travelers and business meetings and draft a strategic plan for 2013, says Amy Long, VP of marketing at the CVB, in a news release.
“We are very pleased to have been awarded this grant from the EDA to market Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region to leisure travelers, meeting planners and event organizers. It was a true team effort, from the introduction to the EDA by Senator Bennet’s staff, to the many community letters of support, to the donations to assist with reaching our grant match. These incremental funds in addition to our base budget are critical to communicating to the world that Colorado Springs and the entire Pikes Peak region is open for business and open for fun.“
Specifically, the grant will aid the development and implementation of a business recovery strategic plan to promote tourism in Colorado Springs. The Waldo Canyon fire struck the area during the height of the 2012 summer season, significantly lowering hotel and tourism revenues. This campaign will help local tourism-related businesses recover by driving additional travel to the region during the fall travel season and by setting the foundation of the Convention and Visitor Bureau’s 2013 marketing campaign.
How long will the leash be on oil and gas drilling in Colorado Springs? Pretty long, it appears.
The city Planning Commission convenes at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, and will take up proposed regulations on the drilling industry later in the meeting. To read the backup materials, go here.
One specification under review is the allowance for drilling to take place right next to homes — potentially without a public hearing of any kind. Here's a recap of the regulation:
Code Provision: The proposed regulations permit oil and gas operations in any zone.
However, Planning Commission review is required for permit applications for oil and gas
operations located one-thousand feet (1,000’) or less from a building unit, educational
facility, assembly building, hospital, nursing home, board and care facility, jail or
designated outside activity (all as defined in COGCC rules). All other applications are
reviewed administratively. Planning Commission review of applications in high density
areas allows for fuller engagement of property owners impacted by the proposed
That gets the goat of some observers, including a reader who e-mailed us his thoughts, calling the proposed regs "a disgrace."
"They do absolutely nothing to protect the citizens of Colorado Springs from oil and gas pollution," he wrote. "They do not provide any adequate setbacks and do not prevent drilling in residential areas."
Here's an advisory from Lotus, who goes by one name and is a renewable energy advocate:
Colorado Springs City Council has consistently ignored most of the input from its citizens. In contrast the City of Longmont and Routt County officials have not only listened, but they are standing up as best they can to the State of Colorado and the oil companies to defend their citizens’rights, health, water and land as they are required by the common law to do.
Longmont’s regulations are 48 pages long, the draft Colorado Springs regulations are 11 pages long.
Colorado Springs Councilor Angela Dougan even claimed at a City Council meeting that the oil and gas industry is the most regulated industry in the U.S. With leaders as gullible and unaware as this the citizens of Colorado Springs are clearly not being protected by their own City Council. These unaware Councilors apparently think the State of Colorado (and at least in one case the federal government) is going to protect us. Not so according to Longmont and Routt. Hopefully at some point the Colorado Springs public officials will listen to the public officials in other cities and counties. If not, then we need to get creative or continue being unprotected.
The Colorado Springs City Council and citizens will have an opportunity on Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 5:30pm to attend Fracking Colorado Springs: Debunking the Myths and Stating the Facts, East Community Meeting Room at East Library (5550 N. Union Blvd.)
Meantime, Ultra Petroleum of Houston, which is the reason for the stir over oil and gas regulations in the city, reported a strong second quarter.
Ultra Resources, a subsidiary of Ultra Petroleum, bought 18,000 acres of the 23,000-acre Banning Lewis Ranch on the city's east side in spring 2011 out of a developer's bankruptcy action. (Ultra paid $20 million, and some think the city should have jumped on that one.)
In any case, the city and Ultra are still wrangling in bankruptcy court over the annexation agreement. Ultra doesn't want to abide by the agreement, which would require the company to build roads and other infrastructure. The city has paid Hogan & Lovells law firm more than $20,000 this year in legal fees to work on the bankruptcy action. The firm was paid another $2,200 to work on the annexation agreement.
We wrote about how the city has taken a shine to Hogan & Lovells on June 13, and cited its work for the city in other stories as well.
There's been no disclosure of where the bankruptcy and annexation matters stand.
But you can bet money, marbles or chalk that the city is doing everything it can to clear the way for oil and gas drilling, because a vigorous exploration program would go a long way to adding 6,000 jobs per year, as demanded of the Chamber and EDC by Mayor Steve Bach last week.
Whatever is happening in the bankruptcy action might have given Bach the confidence to make such a demand that otherwise might seem impossible to reach. But turn loose the oil and gas boys, and watch what happens.
Wanna learn how to help a small business get off the ground? Wanna learn how to get your own small business off the ground?
Sen. Michael Bennet is co-hosting a crowdfunding seminar from 5:30 to 7 p.m. tomorrow at Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave., for small and start-up business owners and entrepreneurs looking to raise early stage capital, his office says in a release.
The seminar will outline how crowdfunding works and how businesses can make it work for them.
Co-hosts of this free event include Epicentral, Startup Colorado Springs and the Small Business Development Center of Colorado Springs. Space is limited, so those wanting to attend should sign up on the senator's website.
From the release:
Bennet included the crowdfunding provision in the JOBS Act, which was recently signed into law. It allows small, young and rapidly growing businesses to raise funds from small, individual investors online and through social media. The law seeks to address the difficulties small businesses, young businesses and start-ups face in securing capital, compared with larger companies.
Participants will hear from local entrepreneurs and business owners, legal experts and representatives from traditional investment firms in Colorado, including venture capital, banks and microfinance. Scheduled panelists will include: Paul Lizer, CEO, Devium; Jeff Thomas, founder, Invertual; Ben Sparks, attorney, Sparks Willson; Justin Vause, Accion; Robin Roberts, President, Pikes Peak National Bank; Chris Franz, entrepreneur, Angel Investor; John Street, entrepreneur, Angel Investor; Ric Denton, Colorado Springs Technology Incubator.
In addition to learning about crowdfunding, participants will have an opportunity to weigh in on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s rulemaking process and offer key input for the commission to keep in mind as it develops specific regulations.
In our current issue, the Indy tells stories of several business owners who are trying to stay afloat after the Waldo Canyon Fire. While none of the businesses along Ute Pass were burned, like 345 homes in northwest Colorado Springs, they were fried by publicity that's kept shoppers away.
So we wanted to pass along a couple of opportunities for those businesses. First, UCCS is offering assistance. Here's the press release:
Small businesses in the Pikes Peak region suffering from reduced sales or customer traffic because of the Waldo Canyon Fire can receive assistance from the Colorado Springs Small Business Development Center hosted by the University of Colorado Colorado Springs College of Business.
The Colorado Springs Small Business Development Center, in conjunction with the Springs Alliance and the Regional Entrepreneurial Alliance, will offer in-person assistance at the El Paso County Disaster Relief Center, 105 N. Spruce, Colorado Springs, or by appointment at the SBDC offices on the UCCS campus.
“We are here now and will remain long after the ashes have settled,” Aikta Marcoulier, director, Colorado Springs Small Business Development Center, said. “The SBDC will assist businesses for as long as it takes. Our mission is to help small business recover and advance from this disaster.”
The SBDC is part of the Pikes Peak Region Business Recovery Team which is working to identify federal, state, local and private resources to assist small businesses in the wake of the June/July 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire, the worst in Colorado history.
The SBDC is sponsored by the UCCS College of Business and the U.S. Small Business Administration. It offers business consulting and training that assists small businesses in El Paso and Teller counties. For more information about the SBDC and services it offers, visit www.cssbdc.org or call (719) 255-3844. Businesses interested in receiving assistance may begin by completing a form available at http://cssbdc.org/site/images/pdf/intake%20form%207-2-12.pdf
Next, the state has announced a program of unemployment assistance for which business owners might qualify. The following release was conveyed to us by El Paso County:
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) has announced availability of Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) to help workers who lost their jobs, and self-employed individuals who are unable to work, recover from the effects of the High Park and Waldo Canyon wildfires that began on June 9, 2012.
Affected individuals who live or work in El Paso and Larimer Counties must submit applications for DUA by August 8, 2012. Claims filed after the deadline will be considered untimely and benefits denied, unless the individual provides good cause for filing late. The first possible week of DUA compensation is the week beginning June 10, 2012, and ending June 16, 2012. Benefit payments may continue through December 29, 2012, as long as the unemployment continues to be a direct result of the disaster.
DUA is available to people who:
Do not qualify for regular state unemployment benefits.
Worked or were self-employed or were scheduled to begin work or self-employment, but were unable to do so because of the disaster.
Can no longer work or perform services because of physical damage or destruction to the place of employment as a direct result of the disaster.
Cannot reach their place of employment as a direct result of the disaster.
Have been prevented from work or self-employment because of an injury as a direct result of the disaster.
Establish that work or self-employment they can no longer perform was their primary source of income.
Have become the major support of a household because of the death of the head of the household.
To file a claim for DUA, applicants may visit a local Disaster Recovery Center (DRC), the Pikes Peak or Larimer County Workforce Centers, or call the Wildfire Unemployment Resource phone line at 1-888-843-8382 (outside Denver-metro area) or 303-318-9038 (Denver-metro area). The
Wildfire Unemployment Resource phone line requires applicants to leave a message with their name, social security number, callback number, and best time(s) to return their call.
The Waldo Canyon DRC is located at 105 North Spruce Street Colorado Springs, CO 80905
The Pikes Peak Workforce Center is located at 1675 Garden of the Gods Road in Colorado Springs (719-667-3700).
The High Park Fire DRC is located at Johnson Hall, south entrance, 950 E. Drive, Fort Collins, Colorado, 80523, room #222.
The Larimer County Workforce Center is at 200 West Oak Street, Suite 5000, in Fort Collins (970-498-6600).
To receive DUA benefits, you must provide documentation to support that you were working, were self-employed, or had prospective employment at the time of the disaster. Self-employed individuals must provide federal tax forms (including all schedules) for the 2011 tax year. The documentation must be submitted within 21 days from the day the DUA claim is filed.
In addition to DUA benefits, individuals may contact their nearest workforce center to receive job-search assistance. A full list of all workforce centers is available online. Visit www.colorado.gov/cdle and click on Workforce Center Services.
Additional information is available online at www.colorado.gov/cdle.
Perhaps the biggest help to our hometown business owners will be at the cash register. So if you have a few bucks to spend, find your way to the Rockrimmon area, Green Mountain Falls and other areas where some businesses are barely hanging on. Have lunch. Buy a souvenir. Support them.
UPDATE: Neumann Systems Group's Denver attorneys have issued a letter to Tim Leigh demanding he stop passing out wrong information about the company and that he retract his earlier statements. Here's the letter:
Dear Mr. Leigh:
My firm, along with Krendl Krendl Sachnoff & Way, P.C., represent Neumann Systems Group, Inc. (“NSG”). I am writing in response to the libelous statements in your company’s “Weekend Market Report” (the “Report”), which our client received earlier this week.
In the Report, you and your company (Hoff & Leigh) raised a number of “questions” about NSG and its business and compared Mr. Neumann, NSG’s CEO, to Harold Hill, the notorious con man in the “Music Man.” You further stated that CSU extended money for the contract to NSG for the “Neumann Scrubber System” on “the wings of hope & prayer.” These statements are false and libelous.
You and your company clearly have had access to the many public documents that address the questions you raise. In your other roles as City Councilperson and Board member for the $1.1B CSU municipal utility, you have access to much more detailed information about the “questions” to which you imply you are lacking answers. It is disturbing that you have chosen, in the Report, to raise so many questions to which you have already have the answers and therefore imply the organizations responsible are not doing their job. In addition, you and your company seem intent on reporting other inaccurate information which casts aspersions on our client and his company. In short, you have no reason to believe that our client is a con man and no reason to believe that CSU extended this contract on “the wings of hope & prayer”.
Accordingly, we demand that you immediately cease making the aforementioned libelous statements and issue a retraction of the Report. Our client will stand on the truth but will not be intimidated by deliberate lies.
Joel S. Neckers, Esq.
Cathy Krendl, Esq.
City councilman Tim Leigh is blithering about a pollution-control technology and other Colorado Springs Utilities matters by citing incorrect figures and inflammatory language. You know, Leigh is being Leigh.
But when he chooses to mislead on something as important as compliance with environmental regulations or millions of dollars in ratepayer investment, someone needs to set the record straight.
Don't count on the local daily newspaper, which simply posted Leigh's erroneous blather in a blog with no vetting whatsoever.
In his so-called "market report," Leigh likens Neumann Systems Group's emissions control equipment that's in the process of being installed on the downtown Drake Power Plant to Professor Harold Hill, the con man in the Broadway musical, The Music Man. Hill's ploy is to collect money in advance for musical instruments and uniforms and skip town before he has to actually teach the kids to play. When he lingers and is forced to teach them, he devises the "think system" of urging them to play simply by thinking about it.
In his newsletter Leigh says: "In reality, the Neumann System is not without risk. The system has never been proven to work on the currently planned scale. Recall the admonition from Professor Harold Hill trying to get his throng of adolescent musicians to play never before played musical instruments, 'think boys; think!'"
He then quotes wrong figures for Neumann Systems and raises questions, such as whether the city could simply ignore EPA regulations for emissions control. Right. That usually works out fine.
In an interview this morning, president Dave Neumann and Rob Fredell, Neumann's vice president of development, discredit Leigh's assertions.
"We're not selling musical instruments and skipping town," Fredell says. "It’s not very fair to talk like that."
In fact, the $30 million that Springs Utilities committed this year to the Neumann project was approved by the current City Council, who acts as the Utilities Board, which included Tim Leigh, making Leigh's question of who approved the R&D project more than outrageous. Everyone knows the Utilities Board approved it several years ago and every board since then has done likewise, including the current one on which Leigh sits.
Moreover, the Neumann deal is much better than any other available. Not only will the city pay tens of millions of dollars less for the technology, but it also stands to gain a cut of the action if and when the technology becomes widespread and lucrative, not to mention all the manufacturing jobs the new system will create locally. Neumann is marketing to 50 companies nationwide who are standing by to sign contracts based on the technology's performance at Drake. And by the way, three years of exhaustive testing has shown the technology to be sound.
No surprise considering Neumann has worked on some of the most sophisticated laser systems the nation possesses during his Air Force career.
"Money has been appropriated in the last three CSU budgets," Neumann says. "This is all public. The work that was done in validating the technology and leading up to the contract has all been presented to the board. They’ve all had time to read and digest this. They, the new board, agreed to the $30 million appropriation for this year. We’ve got lots of money that has been spent, more than $40 million, and the equipment is arriving at Drake today. What are they going to tell the ratepayers?"
Here are some points on which Leigh is flat-out wrong:
Leigh: The Neumann technology will cost
$240,000 $240 million.
Fact: The technology will cost about $112,000 for Drake and between $75 million and $85 million for Nixon Power Plan. Total cost: Less than $200 million.
Leigh: The Nixon solution is priced at $120 million.
Fact: $75 million to $85 million.
Leigh: "Can we renegotiate a better deal now that we know more about the product? Can we renegotiate a better deal that rewards us for the risk? Can we get at least a 50/50 share of profits?"
Fact: "He’s a real estate guy," Fredell says. "He knows a contract is a contract. This was done in the light of day, not in some dark room, and it’s disingenuous to suggest that just because he’s decided to raise this issue, he should come back and get a better deal."
Leigh seems to be stirring the waters to improve Mayor Steve Bach's chances of getting Drake moved from downtown to make way for a sports stadium. According to legal billings obtained by the Independent, the City Attorney's Office retained Hogan Lovells lawfirm to study such a prospect and paid for consult with Craig Umbaugh in January. Umbaugh has worked on nearly every major professional team and its facilities in the Denver area. Here's part of what the Hogan Lovells website says about him:
Craig Umbaugh focuses his practice in the areas of governmental and legislative law, finance, sports and sports facilities law, and banking and commercial transactions. Craig works with public entities and private clients advising them on issues such as urban redevelopment, negotiation of governmental agreements, elections, financing, construction, design, operation of stadiums and public venues, and the acquisition or relocation of teams. Craig serves as general counsel to the Denver Urban Renewal Authority, the Metropolitan Football Stadium District, the Denver Metropolitan Major League Baseball Stadium District, and The Colorado Bankers Association. He has extensive experience in drafting legislation and counseling clients with respect to state legislative issues. He has advised various clients on election matters, including the conduct of elections, campaign finance reporting, ballot titles, and initiatives and referenda.
It doesn't take a Columbo to decipher what Bach has in mind. He's called not only for the removal of Drake, but also for the sale of the electric utility. Cha ching! Money to pay for the stadium.
When all of the attendant businesses flock to the stadium zone, if they do, who might be there to help them with their real estate deals? Gee. Could it be commercial real estate broker Tim Leigh?
Bach, who has no authority over Utilities policy, persuaded the Utilities Board to spend money on a study of moving or decommissioning Drake, which provides a quarter of the city's power producing capacity.
Today, the Utilities Board will discuss the impact that decision will have on Neumann's plan to install the emissions technology on Drake. Neumann believes in his technology. He's spent a good portion of his professional life creating it. He's ready to debate the ups and downs of adding the technology to Drake, even if for a limited time until another source of power is developed, or installing it at Nixon where additional costs will be necessary to retrofit it there, or scrapping it altogether. (The city does have a "termination for convenience" clause in its contract.)
But Neumann isn't ready to deal with someone who can't get their facts straight, and seems to intentionally want to inflame the public.
"The community at large doesn’t have all the information," Neumann says. They don’t study the budget’s strategic plan for CSU. They don’t study the integrated resource plan. So by throwing this out in the way that he does, he creates an environment that causes people to lose confidence in Council and CSU and their ability to run a $1-billion-a-year corporation."
Here's Neumann's recent letter to City Council.
We called Leigh but haven't heard back. We'll update when we do. We'll also update after this afternoon's Utilities Board meeting.
The 26 S. Wahsatch Avenue club, which over the last six years has hosted touring artists like the Supersuckers, T-Model Ford, Hacienda, Kepi Ghoulie, Gringo Star and Antique Scream, was also a strong supporter of the Colorado music scene, booking local acts like Edith Makes a Paper Chain and the Haunted Windchimes, as well as the Fort Collins band Drag the River, which J.J. plays bass in.
Although the club owner wasn't immediately avaiable to provide further details, interested parties can contact him through his Facebook page. Or you could just check with him in person when his other band, the Nobodys, plays this Saturday at 6 p.m. during Front Range PunkFest 3.
Meanwhile, read more about PunkFest 3, including an interview with organizer Dann Kieta, in this week's Reverb.
When we wrote about the revival of downtown Providence, R.I. — a feat helped largely by arts organization AS220 — one of the successes we documented was the establishment of video game company 38 Studios.
38 Studios, founded by former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, had set up shop right across the street from one of AS220's three buildings and symbolized Providence's success in attracting multimillion-dollar businesses to its formerly troubled downtown. The state had offered the company a $75 million loan guarantee to move there in 2010, which "officials said would bring jobs and tax revenue," the New York Times reported last week.
The reason why it's in the news now? 38 Studios was late on last month's payment of $1.1 million to the state economic development agency. Worse, it's laid off its entire 400-person staff.
Perhaps worse still is that the state of Rhode Island is now responsible for part of 38's debt, according to an article posted today by CNNMoney. The cash-strapped state now owes $112 million in loan principal, interest and fees, and taxpayers have little chance of making up even a quarter of their potential losses.
The article points to evidence that the entire enterprise was flawed from the beginning. Despite good intentions of attracting jobs and setting up a skilled technology business with the hopes of attracting others, 38 struggled both internally and externally. Those outside the company feel the state didn't do its due diligence in the deal, either. The article says that nearly all the members of board of directors for the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation have resigned or asked to not be reinstated when their terms end.
"I think Rhode Island was star-struck by Curt Schilling," says Alexander Sliwinski, news editor for the video game site Joystiq. "You didn't see Rhode Island give Harmonix, Irrational, Turbine — all companies with established track records — $75 million to move."
Though analysts estimate 38 Studios is worth about $20 million, its staff (cut with no pay) is where the value of the company lies, intellectual property and half-finished products aside. It's expected that the state will sell all the assets to Electronic Arts.
Forbes, however, sees a silver lining in the fallout. Per an article published Saturday, often the death of a large video game company can prove to be fertile ground for other smaller companies to grow.
The message for state governments looking to boost their economies is to make themselves attractive as a place for games companies to set up. The trick is to achieve a critical mass of developers under your roof, so even if games companies go under, new ones will arise and take root in your soil.
About 40 people gathered at the City Administration Building last night to hash out what should or shouldn't be required of oil and gas drilling companies within the city limits of Colorado Springs. The issue has been triggered by Houston-based Ultra Resources' plan to drill on 18,000 acres of the Banning Lewis Ranch.
It was part of efforts by the City Oil and Gas Committee to deliver a recommendation to the full City Council on June 26 about what's to be done. The funny thing is, the committee can't recommend anything specific.
The main problem: The City Attorney's Office is under the thumb of Mayor Steve Bach and can't follow instruction from Councilors unless there are at least five Council votes directing him to write detailed ordinances for Council consideration. There are only three Council members on the Oil and Gas Committee.
During the five months of meetings, this has meant those Councilors have been unable to request additional research or information from City Attorney Chris Melcher or his staff. Councilor Brandy Williams, who with Val Snider and Angela Dougan represent Council on the committee, admits that the committee hasn't had enough detailed information for members to form opinions on some potential areas of concern.
What's more, when the committee formulates its recommendation on June 4, it can only make general recommendations to the rest of Council. For instance, whether it might consider creating specific zones for drilling, setback requirements, water quality, impact fees and site plan regulations.
"I cannot ask staff to make it any clearer than that because [the city attorney's office is] in the mayor's branch of government," says Williams.
Some residents, unsurprisingly, aren't happy with how the committee process has gone. Several have complained the public was given no chance to comment until Thursday night, and then the format forced people to meet in groups rather than voice their opinions to everyone, as is commonly done in such circumstances.
"It's a poor replacement," resident Lotus told committee chair Snider, referring to the group format. "It's not what we came here for."
One resident labeled the entire process FUBAR, a military acronym for Fucked Up Beyond All Repair.
Other residents complained that the committee never invited residents and officials from other communities that have experienced problems from oil and gas drilling to share their experiences with the city committee.
Lotus said in only three weeks, he's gathered a stack of documents and information about problems that the committee apparently never addressed in a meaningful way.
For example, he said the committee visited Greeley, where drilling is rampant, but left many rocks unturned. "There was no mention of asking for any chemical analysis," Lotus told Snider as other residents huddled around tables. "How many lawsuits have been filed by the people in Greeley? It was like, 'Why did you go there? Doesn't it make sense to go to the communities that are complaining?' I'm baffled by the way this committee can stifle the public the way it has."
Huerfano County is one place where people are up in arms over drilling. Groups have formed to protest and try to stop further drilling by Shell Oil. But the committee didn't consult with those groups or visit Huerfano County.
Snider responded by saying the public wasn't allowed to comment during the committee meetings, because "I was looking to educate the committee. Now we're getting public input, which is great."
Speaking of educating the committee, Williams says outside counsel Howard Boigan with Hogan and Lovells, an international law firm chosen by Melcher to advise the committee, was charged with setting up experts to give presentations to the committee about aspects of the business. Boigan has long represented oil and gas companies, which Williams called "perfect" for the committee, because he brings a great deal of familiarity of the industry to the table.
In any event, Snider admitted the entire process was put off-kilter by the restrictions on the committee that kept it from obtaining staff support, notably from Melcher's office. Asked if he was frustrated, Snider replied, "What's a word for 'politely frustrated'?"
Although some friends of the environment wanted to hand out some information, the city didn't allow it at first. At the end of the meeting, it was given out, but many had left by then. Here's the text of one of those handouts:
POTENTIAL TALKING POINTS
Oil and gas development in Colorado Springs has the potential to cause significant harm to our health and lifestyles. Consider raising the following concerns with City planners and elected officials.
● Restrict Oil and Gas Activities to Appropriate Locations: Do not allow oil and gas activities in residential zones or zones that allow mixed residential and commercial use. Allow oil and gas exploration and development only in industrial and agricultural zones. City regulations would apply everywhere and must take into account impacts to developed areas as well as the undeveloped Banning Lewis Ranch.
● Require Reasonable Setback: Where permitted, oil and gas activities must be set back as far as reasonably possible from homes, occupied buildings, businesses, and sensitive locations such as hospitals, nursing homes, and schools, parks and public gathering places; and in all cases a minimum of 500 feet. (Current COGCC setbacks range from 150' to 350' for wellheads.)
● Develop Additional High Density Requirements: Require applicants to undertake a more detailed public notice/public participation process where operations would be located in high density areas. This would include preliminary public scoping meetings to identify specific impacts to surrounding properties.
● Require Detailed Site and Operation Planning: Require operators to prepare a site plan, describing the site and the surrounding neighborhood, and how drilling or location of facilities would impact both the site and surrounding properties. Require operators to prepare a detailed operating plan and reclamation plan. These plans must contain details necessary to allow impacts to other property owners to be identified and mitigated.
● Require Adequate Water Quality Monitoring: Analyze all drilling permit applications to determine potential impacts to aquifers and surface water. Require pre-drilling baseline data gathering and periodic groundwater monitoring to detect spills or leakage of oil, gas, or drilling chemicals and products into aquifers. Require reporting of all spills to City officials.
● Require Applicants to Address Other Environmental and Safety Concerns: Require applicants to address wildlife impacts, impacts to sensitive areas such as streams or wetlands, geohazard or fire hazard areas. Require applicants to prepare a traffic control and safety plan and demonstrate that roads can support heavy equipment traffic or that adequate upgrade or remediation measures will be taken.
● Develop Standard Conditions of Approval: City requirements should be incorporated into standard conditions of approval. By incorporating these conditions into city regulations, the City’s Local Government Designee would be able negotiate agreements with operators and the COGCC with the power of binding local land use regulations at his back. The conditions of approval contained in the COGCC permits for the first two permits should be the standard minimum, included on all permits.
● Impose Impact Fees Covering Actual Costs of Oil and Gas Activities: Require oil and gas permit applicants to pay an up-front fee covering the City’s cost to analyze the application and to inspect oil and gas operations, plus actual impacts to roads, other city infrastructure. Require operators to fund the cost of city inspections if the state lacks adequate staff or funding to conduct needed inspections.
● Limit Waiver of Local Rules to Cases of Actual Hardship or Operational Conflict: Require oil and gas operators to comply with all local rules and restrictions unless this is proven to be technologically or economically impossible or in actual conflict with state regulatory requirements. Require applicants to seek relief through standard City processes, by requesting zoning changes, variances, special use permits, waiver of standard permit conditions, and the like. The burden should always be on the operator to show that it cannot reasonably comply with City oil and gas regulations.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
● No Oil and Gas Operations Near Residential Neighborhoods
● Adequate Local Controls on All Oil and Gas Operations
● Oil and Gas Operations Could Occur Anywhere. City Regulations Must Recognize That.
Ultra Petroleum shareholders will have a third chance to vote on a resolution that calls for the company to report impacts of hydraulic fracturing, as proposed by advocacy group As You Sow at Ultra's annual meeting Wednesday.
We wrote about As You Sow in the context of Ultra's operations in January. Ultra has obtained two state permits to drill in the Banning Lewis Ranch on the east side of Colorado Springs after the company bought 18,000 acres there a year ago.
The city has a moratorium in place until the end of May, which was supposed to give the city time to come up with local drilling regulations, but none has been adopted so far.
Now, As you Sow is trying again to gain momentum on the resolution. Here's the group's press release:
For the third consecutive year, the shareholder advocacy group As You Sow is challenging Ultra Petroleum over its failure to provide investors with sufficient information on steps the Company is taking to address and mitigate the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing (fracking). The environmental, social, and public health impacts of fracking and natural gas drilling are leading to increased community opposition and regulatory scrutiny, which has significant financial and business implications. Shareholders will vote on the resolution on Tuesday, May 22 at the Company’s annual shareholder meeting.
Shareholders are asking the Company to report on the financial impacts of fracking bans, moratoriums, and public opposition that are being felt industry-wide. Ultra has also failed to disclose the fines and enforcement actions they face, stemming from environmental and operational infractions associated with fracking, including air quality violations, pollution of wetlands, improperly lined impoundments, and lack of pollution control measures. The Company has one of the highest rates of violations per well in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale, and has incurred over 200 violations in both Pennsylvania and Wyoming in the past five years.
In Wyoming, Ultra has already spent tens of millions of dollars to reduce its hazardous air emissions and will pay several million more to a Wyoming air quality mitigation fund. Shareholders submitted documentation on these and other related concerns to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Last year shareholders had the opportunity to vote on a similar proposal. Support doubled from the 2010 vote to 42% — one of the highest votes ever for a shareholder vote on an environmental or health issue. Nevertheless, Ultra has refused shareholder requests to dialogue on this issue for more than two years; in contrast to many other companies. Ultra also refused to allow shareholders the right to present this resolution at the 2011 annual meeting. The resolution was co-filed by As You Sow and the Green Century Equity Fund.
Chevron and ExxonMobil shareholders will be voting on similar proposals related to their fracking practices at their annual meetings on May 30th.
WHAT: Ultra Petroleum's Annual and Special Meeting of Shareholders
WHEN: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time (MDT)
WHERE: The Sheraton Suites Calgary Eau Claire, 255 Barclay Parade SW, Calgary, Alberta T2P 5C2
Here's the resolution: