Business

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Sunshare: The one that got away

Posted By on Wed, Jan 6, 2016 at 12:34 PM

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David Amster-Olszewski, 28, the founder of SunShare, has landed on Forbes' 30 under 30 list in the energy category.

As the magazine reports: "This year’s standouts are perfecting innovations that could lead to new sources of low-carbon energy and massive energy savings."

Amster-Olszewski's blurb is as follows:
Sunshare is one of the nation's leading developers of community solar, in which communities chip in the cost of building a solar installation on  underutilitized land, then share in the power generated. The first project was in Colorado Springs where he worked with community members,  including the local utility, city council members and businesses to create a 500 MW Solar Garden. He previously worked at PowerLight Corp. and SunPower.
SunShare was born in Colorado Springs where Amster-Olszewski graduated from Colorado College. It's true he's built several solar gardens here, but when the Utilities Board in spring 2013 rolled back its solar program, he moved his company to Denver. Now, he also has an office in Minneapolis, Minn. So much for retaining the much coveted young professionals, eh?

We've written numerous times about SunShare, including here and here.

In July, the company said in a news release:
SunShare’s 2.5 megawatt (MWac) Pikes Peak Solar Garden Site has been turned on and is producing solar energy into Colorado Springs Utilities’ grid. The project is one of five solar garden sites that SunShare has developed throughout Colorado’s largest counties this year, in addition to two solar gardens in operation in Colorado Springs since 2012. These five solar gardens represent one of the largest Community Solar portfolios in the nation. At full capacity, the combined 8.2 MWac Community Solar portfolio is expected to generate approximately 350 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy over 20 years, which is enough to power 1,600 typical U.S. homes.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Apartments coming to downtown

Posted By on Mon, Dec 21, 2015 at 3:02 PM

This is an artist's rendering of the Wahsatch project. - COURTESY NOR'WOOD DEVELOPMENT GROUP
  • Courtesy Nor'wood Development Group
  • This is an artist's rendering of the Wahsatch project.

Nor'wood Development Group
and Griffis Blessing are teaming up on two apartment complexes in the downtown area, the companies announced recently. The two projects will add a total of 356 units.

Chris Jenkins, with Nor'wood, says rents will start at $1,000 a month for one-bedroom units and go up to $1,800 or more per month for the premium two-bedroom units.

That might sound pricey, but according to the news release, plenty of amenities will be available, including views, proximity to micro breweries and art galleries, parking and a swimming pool.

Here's the release:
The first purpose built urban apartment project of this size in Downtown Colorado Springs will be located at the southwest corner of Colorado Avenue and Wahsatch Avenue and will anchor the emerging East End neighborhood with 169 new 1 and 2 bedroom apartments and loft style units located on the street and alley.

The building will provide residents with secure parking, fitness/yoga studio, resident clubhouse opening onto an outdoor pool/hot tub and lounge deck. Other building amenities include a dog wash, bike storage and repair shop, co-working spaces and a rooftop lounge with sweeping views of downtown and the Front Range. The project is steps away from micro breweries, art galleries, unique restaurants and more. Site preparations and demolition will begin in early 2016 and begin leasing to residents in the summer of 2017.

The second project, located in the 600 block of South Cascade Ave will have 187 new 1 and 2 bedroom apartments and will add life and vitality to an emerging area of Downtown; leasing to residents in 2018. Similar building amenities will offer residents a complete and active urban lifestyle in an established neighborhood setting adjacent to restaurants, coffee shops and recreation/trail connections.

“With these two apartment projects, the standard for urban living in downtown Colorado Springs will be set for years to come,” said Chris Jenkins, President of Nor’wood Development Group. “As our Downtown’s Renaissance gains momentum, urban living will be the cornerstone to transformation. We have seen urban living explode in every thriving middle weight city and believe now is the right time for our downtown. We are thrilled to
be working on such great infill projects in downtown.”

“More and more millenials and empty nesters are in search of a more compact and maintenance-free urban lifestyle rather than large suburban homes with time-consuming and costly maintenance and upkeep,” said Steve Engel, Chairman of Griffis Blessing. “A lock and go lifestyle, within walking distance to the best restaurants, boutique shops and cultural activities in downtown make these properties unique and desirable.

These properties will offer residents unprecedented access to leisure amenities that complement their urban lifestyle.”

Nor’wood Development Group is a locally owned full service real estate development and management company operating only in the Pikes Peak Region for more than 40 years with a diverse and growing portfolio of real estate. Griffis Blessing owns and manages over 8,500 apartment units throughout Colorado and Idaho.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Catalyst Campus gets grant for high-tech lab

Posted By on Mon, Dec 14, 2015 at 4:37 PM

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 The Catalyst Campus for Technology & Innovation, which seeks to advance technology in Southern Colorado and create jobs, was awarded a $750,000 grant from the Colorado Economic Development Commission to build out IT infrastructure and create a research and development lab and operations center. Partners plan to provide $1.5 million in matching funds for the projects.

The new center will produce satellite, space and GPS technologies for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and commercial purposes. Construction will begin in summer. 

Read on for more details:

Catalyst Campus lands $750,000 grant to build
private research, shared ‘collaboratory’ R & D lab


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Dec. 14, 2015 – The Catalyst Campus for Technology & Innovation was awarded a $750,000 grant from the Colorado Economic Development Commission, to build out IT infrastructure and a unique industry-sponsored, cyber- and space-based research and development laboratory/operations center.

Partners of Catalyst Campus will provide $1.5 million in matching funds to establish the Cyber and Space Operations Center (CSOC), where satellite, space and GPS technologies will be tested and developed for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory and ultimately for commercial applications.

With financial support from Catalyst Campus partners, Braxton Science and Technologies Group, LLC, and The O’Neil Group Company, LLC, the CSOC will provide a technology platform for industry partners to collaborate and deploy two SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) contracts recently awarded to Braxton by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

“Catalyst is grateful to Braxton and The O’Neil Group for supporting the launch of an R&D ‘collaboratory’ at the campus,” said Ingrid Richter, Economic Development Director for Catalyst Campus.

Construction on the CSOC will begin this summer and is expected to be completed by September 2016. After these initial AFRL contracts are deployed in 2016, the laboratory will be made available to other private companies, providing a co-working and co-utilization platform that allows start-ups, entrepreneurs, established companies and R&D projects to use the CSOC laboratory without initial start-up or exorbitant operating costs.

This unique operating model will make the Cyber and Space Operations Center the only space and satellite private research laboratory of its kind in the nation.

“We are honored that Catalyst Campus was chosen to receive this Advanced Industries Accelerator grant,” said Kevin O’Neil, CEO of The O’Neil Group Company. “This grant will support building an environment around cyber, satellite and space operations that is unheard of in the private aerospace industry. The opportunity for commercial application and workforce training in this environment is exponential.”

“The CSOC will create a synergistic opportunity to educate civilians, cadets, veterans and active military personnel in the practical application of cyber security, satellite research and operations, and software development.”

Once the infrastructure is in place and these projects are deployed, Catalyst Campus and industry partners plan to engage commercial companies in R&D, technology acceleration, and satellite testing capabilities.

Building the CSOC opens the door to innovations such as improving signal accuracy technology that can be used to enhance military operations and also be cross-pollinated to commercial markets to increase accuracy for Google mapping applications, Garmin devices, and GPS applications – all part of a multi-billion-dollar industry.

“I congratulate the Catalyst Campus for receiving this significant grant from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. This funding will be used to create a Cyber and Space Operations Center on the campus, and it is further evidence that Colorado Springs is rapidly becoming a national leader in cyber security.”

-John Suthers
Mayor of Colorado Springs

According to the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade, the Advanced Industries Accelerator Programs grants are awarded to companies that “promote growth and sustainability in Colorado's seven advanced industries by helping drive innovation, accelerate commercialization, encourage public-private partnerships, increase access to early stage capital and create a strong ecosystem that increases the state’s global competitiveness.”

Catalyst Campus applied for the grant in September 2015 and received the award on Dec. 10 at the Colorado Economic Development Commission hearing, where several companies in Colorado received grants, ranging from $300,000 to $2.5 million.

ABOUT CATALYST CAMPUS FOR TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION
Located in downtown Colorado Springs, Catalyst Campus advances technology in Southern Colorado. Catalyst Campus creates a centralized ecosystem to promote industry, education, and venture capital for these advanced industries: aerospace, defense and homeland security, electronics, technology and information, and advanced manufacturing.

Given the diverse resources of Southern Colorado, the Catalyst Campus aims to accelerate economic growth across multiple advanced industries and support workforce development for the Pikes Peak region.

Catalyst Campus offers 100,000 square feet of office/R&D lab space where start-ups as well as small- and medium-sized companies collaborate on innovative and emerging ideas to promote technological advancement, create high-skilled, high-paying jobs, and stimulate the commercialization of new products.

In addition, Catalyst Academy will be a training center that will fill workforce gaps in today's changing and high-demand technologies.

For more information, visit CatalystCampus.com or call 719-244-0507.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Building trails with thrifted clothes

Posted By on Tue, Sep 29, 2015 at 8:27 AM

Unfortunately, not everything sold at our yard sale. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Unfortunately, not everything sold at our yard sale.
Over the weekend, my friends and I had a yard sale.

We thought we had done a pretty excellent job of it — placing signs at major intersections, letting our social networks know about the sale on Facebook and Twitter, pitching a big tent, and setting up an iPad for credit card sales. Despite our efforts, it was slow going throughout the day, and we eventually turned to our smartphones to post photos of our merchandise in an attempt to drum up sales.

It worked — to an extent. But at the end of the day, there were plenty of leftovers for the the thrift store. It was just a question of which thrift store to go to. Then I remembered that a new thrift store, Shift Thrift, had replied to one of my tweets, saying they'd love the leftovers.

I had recently heard of the store from a press release, and Susan Davies, executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition, had also emailed me to tell me about the store. It was a new shop, she wrote, and a new concept.

Shift Thrift is a social enterprise. It gives 30 percent of its proceeds to local charities — and donors get to choose what nonprofit they want to give to. Right now, donors can choose Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Trails and Open Space Coalition, Kids on Bikes, The Home Front Cares, Blue Star Recyclers or Springs Rescue Mission.

Davies let me know that a similar model at Mountain Equipment Recyclers was feeding $300 to $400 per month into TOSC.

"For a small non profit like mine," she wrote, "that’s a big deal!"

Mike Mazzola, Executive Director of Shift Thrift Store, wrote that as far as he knows, this is the first thrift store of its kind in the country. He's hoping to grow the store and expand it regionally, or maybe even nationally.

For now, though, the store is just getting started in a temporary location at 218 W. Colorado Ave. (under the Colorado Avenue bridge). The store hopes to find a permanent downtown location soon. 

After we wrapped up the garage sale, my friends and I decided to reward Shift Thrift for their social media savvy. The friendly staff were excited to see us and more than happy to help us unload our bounty.

And since Davies bothered to email me, we chose to give the nonprofit proceeds to TOSC this time around. 

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Colorado + $100 million = Biking state

Posted By on Wed, Sep 16, 2015 at 11:49 AM

Bikes are bigger business than you might think. - CASEY BRADLEY GENT
  • Casey Bradley Gent
  • Bikes are bigger business than you might think.

As a cyclist, I might have done a little dance this morning when this landed in my inbox: Gov. John Hickenlooper will spend $100 million over the next four years on bicycling infrastructure in an effort to make Colorado the No. 1 state for biking.

Say it with me: "We're No. 1!"

Now, I know some of you may be eyeballing this announcement with some cynicism. I mean, $100 million is a lot of dough. But bicycling infrastructure has been found to pay off big time for local economies. And, it can be a big plus for locals and tourists. I actually wrote a story not that long ago about the strides our city is taking to try to improve bicycling infrastructure. One would hope such a large statewide initiative will help Colorado Springs meet it's goals more quickly.

The announcement was just made, so we'll have to wait and see how it plays out. But here's all the information that's been released from the governor's office:

Gov. Hickenlooper announces $100 million commitment to Colorado’s biking infrastructure

DENVER — Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015 — Gov. John Hickenlooper today announced the state’s commitment of more than $100 million over the next four years to enhance Colorado’s ability to become the best state to ride a bike.

“Our goal is to make Colorado the best state for biking in the country,” said Hickenlooper. “These investments will help fuel our economic growth and tourism industry, move us toward a cleaner environment and advance our goal of being the healthiest state in the nation.”

Colorado is often ranked the fittest state, and was recently ranked the most physically active state in the country. Even with these stats, Colorado has an obesity rate of more than 21 percent, up from 16 percent in 2004. In addition, a nationwide study found that kids are only spending 4-7 minutes outside in unstructured play every day, but are spending 7-10 hours a day staring at screens. Biking is one of the ways Colorado is aiming to change these stats.

The four year plan and $100 million budget will allow Colorado to add bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, better understand and market the cycling industry and support awareness and education efforts to promote safety.

“We want to encourage riders of all shapes, sizes and abilities and make biking as safe and accessible as possible statewide,” said Ken Gart, Colorado’s bike czar. “With more than 5,000 miles of biking trails throughout the state, and events like Pedal The Plains and the USA Pro Challenge, Colorado is poised to take this lead.”

The Colorado Pedals Project, Bicycle Colorado, Great Outdoors Colorado, and many more are working with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Office of Economic Development, Colorado Tourism Office, and other state agencies, to develop the overall strategy, distribute money, and accomplish shared goals.

CDOT is committed to spend at least 2.5 percent of its construction budget on bike and pedestrian programs including infrastructure.

“Coloradans have put a high priority on providing choice in how they get from A to B, whether for commuting or for recreation, and cycling for many is a key alternative," said Shailen Bhatt, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation. “At CDOT we believe that including cycling plans into road planning and construction will help us reduce congestion and contribute to solving the transportation challenges facing the Colorado."

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests Lottery proceeds in Colorado's rivers, parks, open space, wildlife, and trails and has been the state's single largest funding source for trails.

“GOCO is excited to be a part of this new initiative and any opportunity to leverage funding to provide places for people to get outside from the backyard to the backcountry," said Lise Aangeenbrug, GOCO executive director.

Bicycle Colorado, one of the first statewide bicycle advocacy groups in the nation, and now the largest, encourages and promotes bicycling, increased safety, improved conditions and provides a voice for people who ride bicycles in Colorado.

“Bicycle Colorado is excited that more children, families and new cyclists will ride thanks to the improvements this funding will provide,” said Dan Grunig, Bicycle Colorado executive director. “Improved health and a stronger economy are other perks to come from this investment in better bicycling.”

Hickenlooper made the announcement at the Interbike Conference, the largest bicycle trade event in North America, bringing together manufacturers, retailers, industry advocates and media to conduct the business of cycling. He is the first governor to ever speak at the conference.

###

About GOCO
Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 4,500 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. For more information, visit goco.org.


About Bicycle Colorado
The mission of Bicycle Colorado, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is to encourage and promote bicycling, increase safety, improve conditions and provide a voice for bicyclists in Colorado. Incorporated in 1992, Bicycle Colorado has a sustained and successful history of protecting and improving access for bicyclists on Colorado roads, paths and trails. For more information, and to become a member, please visit bicyclecolorado.org


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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Can't pay the bills? Maybe this will help.

Posted By on Thu, Sep 10, 2015 at 12:41 PM

J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
According to a recent survey, rents in this city are pretty low — at least compared to other Colorado cities.

I actually wrote about the survey for the paper (read it here). Anyway,  I recently read through the Facebook comments on my article and, well, a lot of you are pretty pissed off. Rent may be lower in Colorado Springs than it is in Boulder, you pointed out, but that doesn't mean that every family can afford to pay it. 

I get it. The economy has recovered, but that doesn't mean most of us are seeing those improvements in our paychecks. If we even get a paycheck.

Which brings me to the point of this blog: There's a job fair coming up at the end of the month. Pikes Peak Workforce Center has lined up over 120 companies for the event, which will be held September 30 at the Hotel Eleganté Conference and Event Center.

If this one is anything like the last job fair I saw there, you may want to line up early. Best of luck to all of you!


SAVE THE DATE!
Over 120 Hiring Companies Onboard for
PPWFC Fall Job Fair


September 10, 2015, Colorado Springs, CO – Over 120 companies have signed up for the PPWFC Annual Fall Job Fair. The Pikes Peak Workforce Center says that companies must have open positions to attend the Fall Job Fair and estimates there are potentially over 3,400 open positions available to the job fair attendees. With unemployment rates decreasing and hiring increasing, discouraged workers and those looking for a better job are encouraged to attend the Fall Job Fair, which is sponsored by KKTV 11 News.

WHERE: Hotel Eleganté Conference and Event Center, 2886 S Circle Drive, Colorado Springs, CO, 80906

WHEN: Wednesday, September 30, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Veterans, transitioning military and eligible spouses are allowed early entry
at 9:30 a.m.

WHO: For all job seekers, 18 years or older. Over 120 hiring companies are planning to attend. A list of those companies is attached. Estimated job openings per industry are:

• Transportation: 1,163
• Customer Service/ Hospitality: 1,062
• Healthcare: 346
• Financial: 150
• IT: 65
• Education: 63
• Manufacturing: 60

Please note that the above numbers do not add up to the total openings.

HOW: Job seekers should register by signing into their accounts at www.connectingcolorado.com. To prepare for the Job Fair, job seekers should:

• Attend the How to Make the Job Fair Work for You! Workshop
• Research companies and apply online before the job fair
• Dress in business professional clothing and
• Bring their PPWFC scan card for express entry into the job fair.

NOTE: All Pikes Peak Workforce Center’s offices will be closed on September 30 so that staff may assist at the job fair.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Springs Airport hosts firefighting tanker

Posted By on Wed, Aug 12, 2015 at 3:59 PM

An air tanker operation will move in at Colorado Springs Airport. - GILA NATIONAL FOREST
  • Gila National Forest
  • An air tanker operation will move in at Colorado Springs Airport.

After losing out earlier this year on the state's Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting, which chose Rifle instead, Colorado Springs has something to crow about.

The Springs Airport has been selected by Global SuperTanker Services, LLC, as its operating base for the "world’s largest firefighting tanker," the company announced on Wednesday.

From the release:
Today, the company announced the completion of a definitive agreement to convert and operate Boeing 747-400 aircraft to be the fastest, longest-range, and most effective aerial firefighting platform in the world.

President, Jim Wheeler stated, “The Colorado Springs airport is centrally located and has the ideal support infrastructure to allow immediate response to virtually any national or global emergency.”

“The Global SuperTanker is a firefighting resource that can be called upon to help communities across our country and around the world. Having a critical resource like this in Colorado Springs will spotlight our beautiful City and enable us to position ourselves on the leading edge of aerial firefighting,” said Colorado Springs Fire Chief, Christopher P. Riley.

Bret Waters, Director of the Colorado Springs Office of Emergency Management, stated “Strong partnership is a key component to community emergency preparedness. We welcome the employees of Global SuperTanker and the tremendous capability they bring to our region.”
The company's news release:
Global SuperTanker Services, LLC, who today announced their project to build the world’s largest aerial firefighting tanker on a 747-400 platform, also announced plans to make Colorado Springs the operating base for the SuperTanker.

Global SuperTankers President Jim Wheeler stated, “The Colorado Springs airport is centrally located and has the ideal support infrastructure to allow immediate response to virtually any national or global emergency.” He further noted that “The principal factor in our decision has been the exceptional support of Mayor John Suthers, Airport Director Dan Gallagher and their teams, who have worked closely with us in finalizing our search for the SuperTanker base. We look forward to being an active part of the Colorado Spring’s community. We also believe Colorado Springs will benefit by not only having the SuperTanker firefighting presence, but will gain new jobs and services as a result.”

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers stated, “Our community has seen, firsthand, the importance of aerial firefighting during the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires. We are fortunate to welcome Global SuperTanker employees and services to our city and our airport.”

“The selection of Colorado Springs Airport as Global SuperTanker's operating base further demonstrates the Airport's potential for job creation and community benefit. The entire Airport community welcomes them and we look forward to growing our partnership,” stated Airport Aviation Director, Dan Gallagher.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Medveds gain honor

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 2015 at 4:04 PM

The Medveds: A lifetime worth honoring. - COURTESY OF UCCS
  • Courtesy of UCCS
  • The Medveds: A lifetime worth honoring.
Local business couple Jon and Becky Medved have been chosen to receive the 2015 University of Colorado Colorado Springs College of Business Lifetime Entrepreneurship Award at a May 8 campus luncheon.

The couple has deep roots here and have been involved in a variety of business. Most recently, Jon Medved was named to the Colorado Springs Health Foundation board of trustees. The foundation disperses the proceeds from the city's lease of Memorial Hospital to University of Colorado Health.

From the news release:
Community and campus leaders will fill Gallogly Events Center in celebration of the Medved’s excellence in business and advocacy of several non-profits over the past 30 years.

“Jon and Becky have an inspiring record of transformative leadership both individually and as a couple,” Venkat Reddy, dean, College of Business, said. “We are delighted to select them as joint honorees for ourseventh annual event.”

Jon Medved's career primarily focused on organizational turn-arounds, leading companies such as Current, Walter Drake and CHEFS Catalog. Becky Medved, an MBA alumna of the UCCS College of Business, found her niche with start-ups as a principal in a marketing services company, Saligent, Inc., and a partner in two aging service technology businesses, RSCPros, LLC and Peak Age, Inc., both launched in collaboration with the UCCS Aging Center. The couple first met while working as colleagues at Current in the early 1980’s and today are married with two grown children.

The Medveds are dedicated volunteers and supporters of the Myron Stratton Home, the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, UCCS Theatreworks, Discover Goodwill, Colorado Springs Conservatory and others. Becky Medved serves on the boards of the UCCS College of Business Alumni Association and Pikes Peak Community College, and she is also a trustee of both the University of Colorado Foundation and Penrose- St. —Francis Health Services Board. Jon Medved currently serves on board of directors for Woodford Manufacturing, G.E. Johnson, and Nehring Associates.

Jon and Becky Medved follow a list of distinguished past award recipients including Gary Loo (2009), Bruce Shepard (2010), Joe Woodford (2011), Cari Shaffer (2012), Chuck Murphy (2013), and David Jenkins (2014).

The award luncheon is a fundraising event to support the College of Business and its alumni and student initiatives including a newly launched Career Coaching Program. The luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m. May 8 in the Gallogly Events Center on the UCCS campus. Tickets are $150 each, $95 for UCCS College of Business alumni, and are available at www.uccs.edu/LEA or by calling (719) 255-5174.

Dean’s Circle sponsors of the award luncheon include Kirkpatrick Bank, Luisa Graff Jewelers, Nunn Construction, Inc., Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, Gray Line Tours of Colorado, Inc., and GE Johnson Construction.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

GE Johnson wins honor

Posted By on Wed, Apr 15, 2015 at 5:28 PM

An early rendering of the museum. GE Johnson is the contractor.
  • An early rendering of the museum. GE Johnson is the contractor.
Local contractor GE Johnson Construction Company gets a blue ribbon as one of Denver's Top Workplaces of 2015, as named by the Denver Post.

The company works in multiple states and is based in Colorado Springs. Its highest profile local job at the moment is the Olympic Museum and Hall of Fame, a topic we wrote about this week.

Here's more from the release about the company's honor:
The newspaper’s rankings designate the Top 100 work places in Colorado, broken out into large companies, midsize companies and small companies. GE Johnson was ranked #17 among midsize companies, and is the highest ranked construction firm in the Top 100.

The Denver Post invited 1,400 organizations across the state to participate in employee surveys to determine the Top 100 rankings. Anonymous surveys were distributed to employees, and evaluated in several categories, including company direction, execution, connection, pay and benefits, and overall employee satisfaction. This is the first year GE Johnson employees completed the Top 100 survey, so the ranking comes as a tremendous accomplishment.

As part of the survey process, employees were given the chance to provide testimonials of their experience with their company. One GE Johnson employee complimented the company’s leadership, saying “There is a family-like atmosphere. The executives are approachable and the owner is connected to the pulse of the company.” Another took the opportunity to speak about career development in the company, saying, “There is freedom to do as much as you want to do. The job is rewarding and the atmosphere is general happiness and excitement.”

“It’s an incredible honor to be recognized by the Denver Post as one of the best workplaces in the state of Colorado,” said Jim Johnson, President and CEO of GE Johnson, “My father founded the company with the idea that we should always act more like a family than a corporation. Now, nearly 50 years later, I’m proud that our employees feel valued because they truly are. The culture we have all helped build at GE Johnson is rare in our industry and in business in general; it’s a privilege to come to work with these folks every day.”

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Loyalty through leather — fight the trade

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 11:53 AM

Early in 2014, the Indy ventured to India with local nonprofit Yobel International to report on a business training aimed partly at combatting the sex trade.
Purchasing a satchel bag is one way to aid the combatting of the sex trade in India. - THE LOYAL WORKSHOP
  • The Loyal Workshop
  • Purchasing a satchel bag is one way to aid the combatting of the sex trade in India.

We brought you this feature, "Trading Places." 

One source that was intentionally left out of that story was a couple named Sarah and Paul Beisly, who we did later introduce you to here, who are also working in Kolkata to liberate women from the trade via the sale of fair-trade craft items. 

Their business, The Loyal Workshop, finally, recently, launched with an "ethical leather goods store" featuring wallets, satchels and belts, currently. 

Shop there to support the company's mission or give them a like on Facebook to track their progress. 

You can also buy an "Advocate Wristband Pack" aimed at helping spread the word, which comes with several perks. 

Sarah and Paul Beisly, displaying a prototype in early 2014 in Kolkata. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Sarah and Paul Beisly, displaying a prototype in early 2014 in Kolkata.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Laura Neumann returns to the leisure biz

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 4:26 PM

Neumann: Back to her roots. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Neumann: Back to her roots.
Laura Neumann, Mayor Steve Bach's former chief of staff, has taken on the general manager position at Garden of the Gods Club and Resort.

But as she explains in an email:
The new owners of Garden of the Gods Club and Resort are true pioneers in every sense of the word. Not only with their vision for expanding the Club and Resort to include a Wellness offering (Spring 2016), but allowing me to “job share” the lead role—which is still considered rather unorthodox in our business.... They recognized the time I want/need to be with my teenagers (calling it a season in my life) and embraced it—versus resisting it. It’s pretty cutting edge in the hospitality world to allow an executive level person to do such—and I am very thankful!! 

Neumann worked for Bach from summer 2012 to March 1, 2014. She's also has worked under a consulting contract for the City for Champions tourism projects.

The employment announcement:
Garden of the Gods Club and Resort owners Judy Mackey and Brenda Smith, along with Gemstone Hotels & Resorts; our management partner, are pleased to announce the permanent appointment of Laura Neumann as General Manager.

Laura has proven herself as a transformative and collaborative leader whether through her role as strategic leader and public spokesperson of "City for Champions" this past year; or her role as Chief of Staff for the City of Colorado Springs; or her 24 years with Benchmark Hospitality International. During her tenure with Benchmark, she served seven years at Cheyenne Mountain Resort and The Country Club of Colorado as Vice President and General Manager where she was responsible for successfully repositioning the owner's asset and secured the AAA Four-Diamond award for the first time in property's history and achieved "Best Companies to Work for in Colorado" and led Benchmark’s philanthropic efforts for all 32 properties for three years prior to her departure.

When asking Laura where she gets her greatest professional fulfillment; she will quickly say her joy is in leading and developing people; which is echoed by many who have worked for her over the past two and half decades; with eleven of those years here in the Springs.

Laura, who has consistently stated her priority is with her family, was honored that Judy and Brenda not only recognized such, but embraced similar values. To learn they were willing to design a job-sharing proposal with Gemstone that respected her time limitations while aligning her experience and expertise with their business needs was compelling. "To have the opportunity to do work I love, at a destination rich with history, with owners of legendary vision, with a group of dedicated people with unlimited potential while not working a traditional schedule? How could anyone possibly resist? These women and the management group they have partnered with are remarkable in so many ways!"

As Judy and Brenda explained; "Our vision of wellness and life enrichment focuses on the well-being of the individual. All of us have seasons in our life where the devotion of our time shifts from one area to another; career, family, education, creative pursuits. We recognized Laura's need for time with family, know she shares our vision, and were willing to make accommodations for her in order to have her leadership and expertise. We're simply ‘walking our talk’ on our own life journeys".

Noted as "One of the Top Women to Watch in Colorado Springs in 2015" by Colorado Springs Business Journal, Laura Neumann has set excellent performance as her standard. With intelligent direction, compassionate leadership and skillful execution, Laura will be a significant catalyst for elevating the prominence of the Garden of the Gods Club and Resort in the hospitality industry. We are exceptionally honored to have Laura as the Resort’s General Manager and welcome her in her new role.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

USOC developer in bankruptcy

Posted By on Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 10:12 AM

MIKE FLEMING
  • Mike Fleming
Ray Marshall, the developer who won a bid to provide a headquarters building for the U.S. Olympic Committee in a 2009 deal with the city is in bankruptcy.

First reported by The Gazette in today's edition, the case was filed Feb. 20 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Denver, and states Marshall has assets of less than $500,000 and owes $3.9 million. The bankruptcy includes dozens of entities controlled by Marshall, which are all listed in the petition:

MarshallBankruptcy.pdf

Marshall was acquitted a couple of years ago of criminal charges in connection with siphoning money from investors. He was charged again shortly thereafter, accused of stealing $1 million from the USOC deal. The Gazette reports the earlier dismissal, by Judge Barney Iuppa, was appealed by the District Attorney's Office and overturned by the Colorado Court of Appeals but that Marshall has appealed that ruling to the state Supreme  Court.

Marshall says in the filing that he owns $265,422.50 in personal property that's exempt from attachment by the bankruptcy court. Of that $250,000 is apparently an amount owed Marshall by Terry M. Miller, Lincoln, Neb., who filed for bankruptcy in November in Nebraska, according to bankruptcy records.

Marshall's single most valuable possession are two mountain bikes valued at $1,600.

This is the third bankruptcy with which Marshall has been connected. He declared bankruptcy himself in 1997, and his Colorado Materials Holding Corp. filed for bankruptcy in 2003.

He's living in a leased property owned by Classic Homes, and his spouse, who isn't named in the filing, is working part-time at Starbucks in Monument.

According to the filing, Marshall claims he and his wife have $9,740 a month in income, and $6,020 a month in expenses, leaving him with $3,720 a monthly net income.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Local firm lands VA cemetery contract

Posted By on Tue, Mar 3, 2015 at 10:36 AM

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After a process that lasted nearly four years, a consortium of businesses that includes William Guman & Associates Ltd. of Colorado Springs has been chosen to plan and design the Veterans Cemetery southeast of Colorado Springs.

Guman is a former Springs City Councilor, serving from 1993 to 2001. He also served on the city Planning Commission.

Here's the news release from his company:
William Guman & Associates, Ltd., a long-time Colorado Springs based landscape architecture and land planning firm, has been selected by the Veteran’s Administration as project landscape architect to develop construction documents for the long awaited National Cemetery to be constructed in El Paso County. Guman is part of the AES Group team that was awarded the primary contract to plan and design the cemetery. AES Group, Inc. is a certified service disabled veteran owned small business (SDVOSB) with primary offices in Parker, CO. Land planning for the new cemetery will be handled by The L.A. Group, PC, Saratoga Springs, NY, which has planned more than forty national cemeteries throughout the country.

Bill Guman, a licensed landscape architect, is pleased that there will be local representation on the National Cemetery’s consulting team hired by the VA.

“We think it was a wise decision for the VA to retain the services of prime consultants who are familiar with the unique requirements of our area,” said Guman. Design criteria for which the VA expressed much concern included long-term sustainability of the cemetery’s landscape. “The VA recognized that this region does not have the water resources that many other national cemeteries have to help keep them green for much of the year,” Guman said. He acknowledged that it will be challenging to design a drought tolerant landscape for the cemetery that is still attractive and in keeping with the National Cemetery Administration’s (NCA) design guidelines.

“There is an expectation for a national cemetery to always appear lush and manicured,” said Guman. “But Southern Colorado is a high plains desert and is obviously different than Arlington, Virginia” he added.
“The design team will be looking at xeric landscape alternatives that require far less water and care than acres of bluegrass lawn found in most national cemeteries.”

The El Paso County National Cemetery master plan will provide for up to for 125,000 grave sites across the 375 acre Rolling Hills Ranch property the VA purchased earlier this year. Schematic documents for approximately 50 acres of the property are being planned to support 10 year burial projections (approximately 15,300 gravesites) for the Phase 1 build out. The project will include pre-placed crypts, columbarium niches and in-ground cremains pre-placed urn crypts. The completed design will include a main entrance area, roadways, irrigation, utilities, landscaping, signage, committal service shelters, memorial walls, combined public information center and administration building, maintenance building complex, honor guard building, parking, public restrooms and temporary structures necessary to operationally support an early construction turnover of a limited number of gravesites. The VA’s estimated cost of construction for this project is between $28 million and $50 million dollars.
The project will be designed to LEED silver certified standards and meet all Federal Energy and Sustainability mandates. Planning and design of the new National Cemetery is anticipated to commence in December, with construction scheduled to begin in late 2015. Early turnover scheduling for Phase 1 should allow interments at the cemetery to commence in 2017. The National Cemetery’s Rolling Hills Ranch site is located on Drennan Road, approximately one-quarter mile east of Peterson Air Force Base and Marksheffel Road.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Respect: The Mill Outlet turns 50

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 11:18 AM

GOOGLE
  • Google

As of this week, the Mill Outlet Fabric Shop officially turns 50 years old. For those in the know, that means the biggest sale in its history with daily giveaways and prizes.

For those scratching their heads, welcome to the party. The Mill Outlet, nestled in a very unassuming building across from an old bowling alley off Fillmore Road, is THE place to buy fabric and sewing supplies. I'm no sewer, but my mom is, and growing up we shopped there for school costumes, cotton for pillows we'd craft, and whatever fun stuff we'd dig out of the remnants bins.

We'd marvel at the lovely Asian-style silks, the cotton prints that come in any color and interest under the sun (I'm serious, there's a fabric for every sports team, every hobby, every holiday ...) and admire those crafty types who could upholster their own furniture or stitch their own wedding dresses. Any kind of cord or fringe you desire, they have it; all manner of buttons to pick through, those too; all those bolts of luminous satins or some other difficult material to work with, they've got them and the people who know how to do it shop there.

I even remember hanging around in the box-like play area for kids. So yeah, basically the Mill Outlet and I go way back. And it's hung on despite the surge in online shopping and big box stores and the decline in mass interest in sewing.

Do your thing Mill Outlet.
Mill Outlet Fabric Shop Keeps Springs In Stitches for 50 Years

In the half-century since it first opened in 1965, many things have changed at Mill Outlet Fabric Shop. One thing that hasn't changed is that they still have the largest selection of fabric in southern Colorado. But they have had to adapt from a time when they first opened in the mid 60’s and sewing was booming in America. At that time, women spent record amounts on sewing, including fabric, patterns, notions and sewing machines.

Although the numbers of people sewing clothes for themselves have declined in the last 50 years since they first opened, there has been a boom in people quilting, home decorating and “do it yourselfers” buying fabric.

DIY trends like upcycling old furniture keeps people buying fabric, as people spend time repairing and reupholstering quality-made used furniture. Quilting continues to grow in popularity with over 12.5 million American households reporting an active quilter, spending over $2.25 billion on fabric and supplies.

Enthusiasm for fabric has allowed Mill Outlet to continue to flourish even in an era of big box stores and online shopping.

“Because of our size, we have been able to stay true to what we are: ‘a Fabric Shop’. While the big fabric chains move away carrying fabric for sewers and chase every crafting fad that comes along, we continue to find quality fabric that people that sew are searching for,” said store owner, Johann Kuehn.

This week marks Mill Outlet’s 50th anniversary and the store is having the biggest sale in its history, including daily giveaways and special prizes for shoppers.

“The move to online shopping has affected us a bit the last 10-15 years,” said Beate Dietrich, the stores General Manager. “But the reality is that people shopping for fabric want to touch and feel the fabric they are purchasing.”

“If someone is going to take the time to make something themselves, they want to start with quality fabric,” added Dietrich.

Even the store's central location near Fillmore and Prospect is a symbol for how much things have changed in the last 50 years. “For 50 years we have been telling customers who call we are located next to the ‘North End Post Office’," said Kuehn. “The reality is that 50 years ago this was the north end.”

A quick drive (or Google search) around the surrounding neighborhoods shows the effect Mill Outlet has had by being anchored down in the same location for five decades. There are a dozen upholsterers, interior decorators, sewing rooms and other fabric related businesses within a half mile radius of their location at 2906 N. Prospect.

“We’ve been doing business with them for over 20 years,” said Phillip Bodjanac, owner of European Upholstery located just a few blocks away on El Paso. “They are very convenient and a pleasure to work with”

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Mill Outlet Fabric Shop is located in prides itself on bringing the best, service, fabric & supplies to sewers, upholsters and weekend project warriors in the rocky mountain west. In business for over 50 years at the same location at 2906 N. Prospect, Colorado Springs.

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Friday, February 6, 2015

Competition is stiff for fire aviation center

Posted By on Fri, Feb 6, 2015 at 5:21 PM

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Colorado Springs faces a lot of competition for the Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting.

Six proposals were received by the close of business at the state's Division of Fire Prevention and Control.

We were the first to report about the local application, "Lofty proposal," Jan. 28, 2014, which was spearheaded by the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance.

Today, we learned that the following communities have applied for the center:

Centennial
Clear Creek County
Colorado Springs
Fort Collins-Loveland Airport
City of Rifle/Garfield County
Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport/Jefferson County

So it won't be a walk in the park when Paul Cooke, the Division of Fire Prevention and Control director, sits down to make a decision with Public Safety Department Director Stan Hilkey.
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