Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Gov. Hickenlooper highlights the economy in speech at Antlers

Posted By on Wed, Jan 28, 2015 at 5:33 PM

Hickenlooper has ideas to improve the Springs' economy. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Hickenlooper has ideas to improve the Springs' economy.
Gov. John Hickenlooper’s keynote address at the Antlers Hilton Hotel today focused on the economy, and ways the city can cooperate with the state to improve it.

“Pretty much in every national ranking Colorado is in the top two or three for job growth, business-friendly climate, regulatory environment, tax base — go down the list,” he said.

Hickenlooper noted that one of his first moves when he was elected to his first term was to have every state agency review its regulations. Over 13,000 regulations have been examined, and over half have been amended or eliminated. That has helped grow jobs, he says. But he noted Colorado Springs hasn’t seen as much of that growth — something he wants to address.

“We’re only strong when we are all strong,” he said.

While the state has recovered more quickly than Colorado Springs, Hickenlooper noted that the Springs is nevertheless performing better than many Western cities. A recent study by the Brookings Institute and the University of Nevada, he said, found that Colorado Springs posted the largest quarterly drop in unemployment in the country in the last quarter of 2014. Our unemployment rate, which stood at 5.1 percent in November, is also better than much of the nation. (Though not as good as the state’s which fell to 4 percent in December.)

What’s more, another study recently named Colorado Springs one of the top 10 cities for tech startups — it was one of four Colorado cities to rank. Between 1990 and 2010, Colorado Springs tech start-up activity doubled, Hickenlooper said. Other growth areas in the Springs include creative industries, exports and aerospace. He also noted that our high-end hotels are attractive for conferences, including a North American summit that he is hoping to bring to Colorado Springs.

The governor said the state was recently given a grant to advance research and technology in defense and aerospace, which could boost small and medium-sized businesses and create jobs in the Springs. He said the state is also looking at BRAC (Base Closure and Realignment), which could close or downsize Colorado military bases like Fort Carson. The governor’s office will lobby the general assembly to pass legislation addressing the BRAC, and has created a support office in hopes of keeping our bases intact.

The governor also had several ideas for growing the economy. For instance, he’d like to subsidize health insurance and office space with high-speed Internet for young workers. He’d then market the program near colleges, especially on the coasts, in hopes it would appeal to Millennials who are interested in being free agents rather than working for a large company. Such a program would be offered in conjunction with the city.

He also wants to offer free skills training to newly-hired workers who have been unemployed more than six months. That program would hopefully encourage businesses to hire long-term unemployed people. Hickenlooper said he would need the city’s partnership on the initiative and would have more information in a few weeks.

“We want to reach out to reach to businesses and say if you’re going to hire 10 people this year, we’d like one of them to be someone who’s been unemployed for more than six months.” he said.

On a side note, the governor said he was working to protect open spaces as the state continues to grow at a fast pace. He said he would like to work with the Springs to finish the Ring the Peak trail, and also connect long bike trails, including one that would stretch from Wyoming to New Mexico.

In closing, the governor said he hoped for cooperation from the legislature on divisive issues like fiscal constraints, highway infrastructure, oil and gas, and testing in schools. On the last, Hickenlooper said he was supportive of less testing, but that we need “rigorous” standardized tests of some kind. He said he believed the legislature was ready for compromise on many issues, and he that compromise will benefit the state.

“The bottom line is government’s got to work,” he said. 
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Thursday, December 18, 2014

The parking elf is baaaack

Posted By on Thu, Dec 18, 2014 at 1:13 PM

You've got to hand it to Richard Skorman. He'll do anything to get people into his Poor Richard's businesses on North Tejon Street, and he's not afraid to do whatever it takes to get publicity for it.

Once again, Skorman has put on his funny hat as the Parking Elf to plug meters with coins starting tomorrow from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. He'll also be out with his pockets full of change on Monday and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Christmas Eve from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

From a news release:
Since the City is graciously giving us this Saturday FREE parking, and Sunday is always FREE, Richard and Patricia decided to add four days as a gift to all our valued Downtown patrons! Friday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday(Christmas Eve), Richard, the meter Elf, will be plugging meters for people up and down “300” block of Tejon St.

If “Richard the Parking Elf“ didn’t catch you outside, and you need meter money, just ask for it in the Bookstore/Gift Store or Toy Store.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

State of the Region addresses good, bad news

Posted By on Thu, Dec 11, 2014 at 5:34 PM

Dennis Hisey - EL PASO COUNTY
  • El Paso County
  • Dennis Hisey
Board of El Paso County Commissioners Chair Dennis Hisey highlighted both the good and the bad in his State of the Region speech today, which was aptly named "The Glass is More than Half Full." 

The speech, as usual, didn't come with any groundbreaking announcements, instead offering a big picture look at what has changed in the region over the past year. On the good side, Hisey told the crowd at the Antler's Hilton:

• El Paso County sales and use tax collections are up 5.4 percent.
• New car registrations are up more than 10 percent.
• Unemployment in the region is down to 5.4 percent compared to 7.8 percent a year ago.
• Collections from Colorado Springs lodging and car rental tax are up more than 9 percent.

On the not-so-good side, he noted:

• Regional building reports the number of permits for new single family homes so far this year is down 5.5 percent.
• The total value of all building permits is down 18.7 percent compared to last year (though that's partially due to a drop in some government permits)
• The public trustee says foreclosures are down 3 percent from last year, but mortgage payoffs and default cures are down nearly 30 percent.
• The Department of Human Services reports that approximately 70,000 residents still qualify for food stamps each month.

But Hisey was eager to stress the good news.

He noted that stormwater improvements meant locals (or at least most locals) don't have to fear normal rain storms — only the biggies cause floods. Homeless service providers, he said, have banded together in a continuum of care which will allow them to better tailor services to the needy. And several organizations are considered El Paso County Enterprise Zone Projects — from Pikes Peak United Way to the Sports Corp to the Regional Business Alliance — meaning supporting those organizations can earn you a state income tax credit. The organizations are ones that are recognized as working to improve the economy. 

Hisey also said that he believed the Colorado Springs Airport was "on the verge of a big comeback," eliciting a guffaw from one of my table-mates. But Hisey went on to explain that the Commercial Aeronautics Zone, which helps businesses that are locating or expanding their businesses at the airport, has helped fill once-empty airport buildings. That, in turn, he said, helps reduce the costs of airport operations, bringing down costs for airlines. 

Hisey was excited about the opening of the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), which helps small businesses score government contracts. He said it had helped more than 3,000 Colorado businesses last year to secure more than $900 million in contracts. And he noted that the Colorado Springs Technology Incubator had recently partnered with the Air Force Academy to help bring air force-developed technologies to other applications. 

He also expressed hope in the City for Champions project, which he said is making progress, and in the development of a future stormwater program.

A presentation of the 2014 State of the Region will soon be posted online on the County’s YouTube channel at

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Trinity Brewing and Forbes disagree over Colorado Springs' IQ

Posted By on Thu, Dec 11, 2014 at 4:21 PM

  • Photo by Lisa F. Young / Shutterstock

As IndyBlog reported earlier this afternoon, the Colorado Springs-based Trinity Brewing Company went on Twitter yesterday with what was — at best — a counterintuitive PR move.

The company's 140-character tirades were inspired by local blog Focus on the Beer, which ranked Trinity third, behind Paradox Beer Company and Nano 108 Brewing Company. Trinity's rapid-response team quickly took to the social media network, declaring that such situations "pretty much guarantee" they'll be leaving the Springs. Trinity also says it's "pretty much accepted the education level of the city," underscoring the point with the hashtags #fastfoodnation #royalewithcheese and #winning. 

It's worth noting, however, that Colorado Springs' education level may be higher than Trinity's tweets would suggest. In fact, the city came in 8th this past September on Forbes' "Most Educated Cities in America" ranking. 

Actually, Forbes has had a hard-on for Colorado Springs for a while now. Back in July, the city also landed in its Top 30 "Best Places for Businesses and Careers."

Unfortunately, Forbes has yet to release a list of "Best Cities for Royales With Cheese." But at least we know who Trinity will be rooting for.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

More ethics for UCCS

Posted By on Wed, Dec 10, 2014 at 12:52 PM

  • University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
The business world isn't always thought to have the highest ethics — ahem, housing crash — but one charitable fund is looking to change that.

The Daniels Fund will expand an ethics program at eight universities, including the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Following the success of a pilot program at the eight schools, the Daniels Fund plans to pump $11 million more into the program, including $1.25 million over the next five years into UCCS. The money is used to integrate principle-based ethics teaching into classes at the UCCS College of Business as well as to create separate classes on ethics. There is also a community outreach component.
Daniels Fund approves $1.25 million UCCS ethics grant

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The board of directors for Denver-based Daniels Fund recently approved $11 million to continue the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative including a program at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.

In announcing its decision Dec. 8, the Daniels Fund said its board evaluated the success of the five-year pilot program at eight universities and opted to increase the number of participants and the number of students reached.

UCCS is part of an original eight-university consortium that in 2010 launched an ethics program designed to strengthen the teaching of principle-based ethics in the college, on the campus and in the community. The initiative reflected the late Bill Daniels’ personal commitment to ethics and integrity. At UCCS, the initiative is led by Tracy Gonzalez-Padron, associate professor, College of Business, and Liz Moore, coordinator, College of Business.

“I am pleased the Daniels Fund will continue to support our efforts to create a more ethical environment on campus and in the community,” Venkat Reddy, dean, College of Business, said. “We have demonstrated our ability to make a difference as well as the need for continued work in this important area.”

For UCCS, the renewal will mean an additional $1.25 million over the next five years to fund the objectives set out in the grant proposal that include community outreach efforts.

In its report to Daniels, the UCCS College of Business cited as its successes the integration of ethics discussions into existing courses in business, philosophy, nursing, communications, education, psychology, engineering, criminal justice and public administration. Additionally, ethics-specific courses were developed for undergraduate and graduate business students and ethic modules for Gateway Program Seminars. Fourteen faculty members were selected as campus Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative fellows and several competitions and seminars and workshops were sponsored with heavy community business leader involvement. The initiative also sponsored several high-profile speakers who visited campus.

Other schools that will continue in the initiative are Colorado State University College of Business, New Mexico State University College of Business, University of Denver–Daniels College of Business, University of New Mexico Anderson School of Management, University of Northern Colorado Monfort College of Business, University of Utah–David Eccles School of Business and University of Wyoming College of Business.

New schools include Colorado Mesa University Department of Business, University of Colorado Denver Business School, and University of Colorado Law School.

Executive leaders from all members of the Ethics Consortium work collaboratively to share expertise and resources.

Bill Daniels, a pioneer in cable television, established the Daniels Fund to extend his legacy of giving far beyond his lifetime. The Daniels Fund operates the Daniels Fund Scholarship Program, the Daniels Fund Grants Program, and the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. For more information, visit

The University of Colorado Colorado Springs, located on Austin Bluffs Parkway in Colorado Springs, is one of the fastest growing universities in Colorado. The university offers 37 bachelor’s degrees, 19 master’s and five doctoral degrees. UCCS enrolls about 11,000 students on campus annually and another 2,000 in online programs. For more information, visit .

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How about a job for Christmas?

Posted By on Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 2:15 PM

  • Vitor Lima
Firstsource Solutions is announcing its intent to hire 300 people for its call center in Colorado Springs.

Via email, the company sent us a news release about it, and also noted this to us:

I wanted to follow up and leave you with information on how local residents can apply for these 300 open positions, many of which are leadership roles:

· Open interviews (walk-ins) are held daily from 9:00am – 3:00pm and Wednesdays from 12:00pm – 7:00pm
· Apply in person at 5725 Mark Dabling Blvd., Ste 200 or online at
The entire news release is as follows:

Firstsource Solutions, Ltd. announced its call center in Colorado Springs will be hiring 300 new customer care representatives by the end of January 2015 to handle work for a new client in the healthcare space.

“We are making significant investments in the region and hiring at a rapid pace to support our growth plans,” said Michael Roy, Vice President at Firstsource. “This is just the beginning for us as we continue to expand and grow our client service capabilities. We look forward to filling these roles with talented professionals in the Colorado Springs market.”
Firstsource will also be adding leadership roles such as team managers, human resources, recruiting, facilities, IT and trainers to assist in managing its growth plans. Firstsource expects more business to be placed in the Colorado Springs office over the next year.

Firstsource employs over 27,000 worldwide at 48 centers in the U.S., United Kingdom, India, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, serving more than 100 clients in the banking, insurance, healthcare, media and telecommunications industries, including 21 companies in the Fortune 500.

About Firstsource:
Firstsource (NSE: FSL, BSE: 532809, Reuters: FISO.BO, Bloomberg: FSOL@IN) is a leading global provider of customized Business Process Management (BPM) services to the Healthcare, Telecom & Media and Banking & Financial Services industries. The company’s clients include Fortune 500, FTSE 100 & Nifty 50 companies. Firstsource has a “rightshore” delivery model with operations in India, Ireland, Philippines, Sri Lanka, UK and U.S. (

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Colorado marijuana: The taxman cometh

Posted By on Thu, Dec 4, 2014 at 3:23 PM

  • Shutterstock

The money side of the marijuana business continues to be a mess. Though Colorado may have a marijuana-friendly bank as soon as next year, there's a bigger question looming on the horizon: How are these businesses going to file their taxes?

Like any other business, Uncle Sam is going to want his due, and that brings up a few concerns. But never fear, the Internal Revenue Service is working on it. Casey Wooten of the IRS' Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) responded to a few frequently asked questions in a press release from Wednesday, December 3rd.

Here's the short version:

• The IRS and OPR are still hashing out the details (no pun intended). They'll put out an advisory guide soon.
• There is court precedent for taxing a marijuana business. You can deduct cost of goods sold. You can't deduct expenses for the marijuana part of your business. But you can deduct expenses for parts of your business not directly related to the marijuana.
• The IRS may or may not penalize marijuana businesses for paying withholding returns in cash. You can thank Colorado legislators for asking that question.
• Tax preparers will probably be able to help you file. The OPR just has to say so, and they probably will.

Here's the full release, via the IRS Newswire:
IRS Guidance Coming for Practitioners Preparing Returns for Marijuana Retailers
BNA Daily Tax Report by Casey Wooten

November 20, 2014

Tax preparers whose clients include marijuana retailers will get some guidance in early 2015 on how to perform due diligence and stay on the right side of the law, an official from the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility said.

It's important for the OPR to make a statement on ethical practices for preparers in the growing number of states where marijuana is legal, OPR Director Karen Hawkins said Nov. 19 at a public meeting of the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council.

“I'm going to stay away from the controlled substances issue and focus on what the tax courts have said, so cost of goods sold is in play, but anything else that's in play is going to depend on whether it's part of the trade or business of cultivating or sale, or whether it's a subsidiary trade or business that just happens to have a connection,”Hawkins told Bloomberg BNA.

Tax Compliance Headache.

In recent years, states such as Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational marijuana use, while California, Washington, D.C., and others have either decriminalized it or decided to allow it for medical use. Marijuana sales are still illegal under federal law, however.

Because of federal anti-money laundering rules, banks are reluctant to service marijuana retailers, who in turn must operate their businesses mostly in cash. This can create a headache from a tax compliance perspective, making it difficult for businesses to use government services such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System.

In July, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) wrote to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, asking him to stop the agency from penalizing marijuana businesses from paying their employees' withholding taxes in cash (135 DTR G-3, 7/15/14).

Legal Trouble.

Much like banks, practitioners are concerned that preparing returns for marijuana growers could lead to legal trouble, Janeen Ryan, a member of the advisory council, said.

“We were approached by people that are professionals and 230 legacy preparers and they said ‘we are concerned to even do their returns,”'said Ryan, who helped write the annual advisory report section on marijuana retailers.

The IRS can't change Tax Code Section 280E, which prevents deductions or credits for expenses if a business is involved in the trafficking of controlled substances; that change requires congressional action.

Until then, marijuana retailers are only able to deduct for the cost of goods sold, Ryan said.

But the agency can issue a clarification that preparers' practices won't be affected.

In their report, members of the advisory panel suggested that the IRS publish guidance clarifying that a tax professional won't be considered unethical, targeted for audit or considered in violation of Circular 230 rules solely for preparing a return for a marijuana business.

Court Action.

Hawkins said there are court cases defining what kind of deductions marijuana retailers can take that will help her shape the guidance on this issue.

She referred to a 2007 case, Californians Helping to Alleviate Medical Problems Inc. v. Commissioner, in which the U.S. Tax Court ruled that Section 280E didn't prevent a California organization providing medial marijuana from deducting expenses related to a separate part of the businesses (94 DTR K-1, 5/16/07).

“Within those parameters what we would essentially be saying to the preparers in those states is that you've got some hard conversations to have with your clients about what goes on to the tax return, but as long as you are adhering to what the tax law says about treatment, you're going to be within the confines of what Circular 230 expects of your due diligence,” Hawkins said.

To view a complete list of all articles relating to OPR visit OPR Press at

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Visualize the growth of fracking

Posted By on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 3:17 PM

  • Center for Western Priorities

We all know that there's an oil and gas boom underway in the state, but it's often tough to visualize what that means.

That's why I was so thrilled by the animated maps that the Center for Western Priorities just released. I'm probably revealing my geeky side by saying this, but these things are awesome. You definitely want to hit the link and see them for yourselves, but just to give you a quick preview, they show the number of oil and gas wells in the state from 1990 to 2013 as a series of red dots. You start in 1990 and watch the red dots grow as each successive year ticks off. 

The growth is truly astonishing.

Some might remember that Gov. John Hickenlooper forged a last minute deal that kept several oil and gas related initiatives off the ballot this month. Hickenlooper agreed to form an Oil and Gas Task Force that would explore ways to better shield communities from the impacts of the industry while also allowing it to grow. Many Colorado communities have passed or sought laws that either banned oil and gas development within their borders or created limitations like setbacks. The state has fought those restrictions.

DENVER — The Center for Western Priorities (CWP) released a series of animated maps today that show, for the first time, the tremendous pace and scale of Colorado’s oil and gas drilling boom as it progresses in and around communities across the state.

Using publicly-available data from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, CWP mapped and created animated GIFs of every oil and gas well drilled near the key population centers of Greeley (displayed below), Rifle, and Durango between 1990 and 2013. In total, almost 28,000 wells have been drilled over the last twenty-four years around these three communities.

“The scale of recent drilling around Colorado’s population centers is striking. We need to balance the economic impacts of the oil and gas boom with the quality of life needs of Colorado’s local communities,” said Greg Zimmerman, Policy Director at CWP.

Zimmerman also pointed to the relevance of these data and visualizations given the current task force process underway in Colorado: “Governor Hickenlooper’s Oil and Gas Task Force has a real opportunity over the coming months to design recommendations and policies that strike a balance between energy development and the health and welfare of Coloradans. As the energy boom continues to spread into populated areas, we need assurances that communities have a seat at the table and that their very real concerns don’t fall on deaf ears,” said Zimmerman.

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Downtown sales decline in 2013

Posted By on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 12:52 PM

In this week's edition, we report that downtown merchants are working hard to attract shoppers this holiday season.

It made us wonder: What percentage of retail sales take place in the city's downtown core?

So we asked the city's Chief Financial Officer Kara Skinner if she could provide us with sales tax collections in the 80903 zip code area, which includes downtown. Actually, 80903 covers an area roughly south of Patty Jewett Golf Course and north of Motor Way, west of Hancock Avenue and east of Monument Creek.

So that's a lot larger than just downtown.

But it's interesting to note that city sales tax collections in that area declined slightly (by 2.6 percent) in 2013, which runs contrary to the city's total sales tax collections, which are growing. In fact, the city saw a 5 percent overall increase last year, compared to the year before. (It's worth noting that 2012 was the year the Waldo Canyon Fire struck the city, which might have contributed to a decline in tourist spending, although rebuilding homes probably created a lot of sales tax receipts.)

Here's the chart Skinner provided for us. (Thank you very much, Ms. Skinner.)


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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Business Alliance chief resigns

Posted By on Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 2:17 PM

Like city managers, heads of chambers of commerce or economic development agencies apparently don't last long. Joe Raso, who came here less than three years ago, is heading out.

You might recall that Mike Kazmierski also left, in 2011, after working for the Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. for many years. He's now in Reno where, reportedly, jobs are flooding into that community.

Here's the release about Raso from the Regional Business Alliance, which is the organization that used to be the chamber/economic development corporation.
Raso: On his way out. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Raso: On his way out.
The Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance (Business Alliance) announced today that Mr. Joe Raso has tendered his resignation as the organization's President & Chief Executive Officer.

The Executive Committee has appointed Board member Mr. Toby Gannett to temporarily serve as the Board-designated leader of the Business Alliance until an interim President and CEO are identified. Joe is committed to assuring a smooth and seamless leadership transition.

It is with regret that we accept Joe's resignation. He has succeeded in positioning the organization for the next chapter of growth and we understand his desire to now pursue a new challenge that best makes use of his skills and expertise.

This is a pivital point in the organization as we move into our next phase of growth. Along with the Board leadership, we have determined the end of the year an appropriate time to transition the President & CEO position while our new Board members and Chair are beginning their terms.

The Board will seek the best qualified candidate to fill the President & CEO position, as it did when Joe was hired. However, it is our preference that both the interim and permanent candidate have extensive local experience and a strong community bond to take on the critical local issues we now face. We will look to the membership and the community to help us identify qualified potential candidates.

Joe was hired as President & CEO in March 2012 to lead the Business Alliance, created from the merger of what was then the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corporation and to navigate the transition stage of the organization's history. He possessed the exact skills and expertise we needed two and a half years ago, having led turn-arounds for several unique business development organizations. In the Business Alliance, Joe has strategically built a new business development organization and created a platform for economic growth in the Pikes Peak region. He has expertly led the Business Alliance and the community in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship, public policy, workforce development, and the retention and recruitment of base sector business.

The Business Alliance will continue to move forward implementing our five-year strategic business plan and will keep in place the governance structure that Joe and the staff, working alongside the Board, have developed. Joe has worked tirelessly to help us successfully develop the focal points of our mission in the areas of business development, defense development, community development/legislative affairs, and branding/communications/public relations. He has exceeded the goals we established for him and for the organization; he has provided us a compass for reaching new heights.

We now face numerous community issues that didn't exist two years ago, such as the City for Champions project, the Stormwater Initiative, the local political structure, defense industry sequestration, and local impacts of a potential military Base Realignment And Closure (BRAC)/downsizing.

Joe has built a solid foundation for us to now bring more community involvement around the organization for facing these critical issues by supporting, nurturing and taking the Business Alliance to the next level of innovation and vibrancy.

"It is with a great deal of pride in the stellar organization we have created together, coupled with a heavy heart because I will no longer be working with the volunteers, professional staff, and Member Investors as I transition my energy to other opportunities in community and business development," said Joe. "I am proud of our accomplishments over the past 30 months. Together, we have successfully undergone a transformation, having built a new organization that is poised to meet the challenges of the future."

"I am sincerely grateful for the support the staff and I have received from the Board of Directors, our Member Investors and community supporters. My hope and desire is that the Pikes Peak region will work to continue breaking down silos across major institutions that support economic growth - education, government, business, arts and culture, military, and non-profits," said Joe. "If this can be done in a way that supports and empowers young-minded talent, then the future of the region will be very bright indeed."

On behalf of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, we ask for the continued support of our Member Investors and supporters as we move into the next phase of growth as an organization and economic vitality as a community. We thank Joe for everything he helped us accomplish during the pivotal initial development phase of the Business Alliance. The organization and our community are solidly positioned for the truly great things we know are ahead as we work to realize our full economic potential.

Tom Neppl
Chair, Board of Directors
Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

UPDATE: Nor'wood buys Banning Lewis Ranch

Posted By on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 at 11:52 AM

The biggest section of the Banning Lewis Ranch is now in the hands of the region's biggest developer, Nor'wood Development Group. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • The biggest section of the Banning Lewis Ranch is now in the hands of the region's biggest developer, Nor'wood Development Group.

The sales price we reported earlier is wrong: Instead of $15 million, the sales price is $28 million. The county Clerk and Recorder's Office provided the cost to us based on only one deed, instead of the three deeds that transferred ownership to Nor'wood. Also, the deeds indicate that Ultra retained the mineral rights in the deal.

——————————ORIGINAL POST WEDNESDAY, NOV. 12, 2014, 4:27 P.M.——————————————— 

We've heard from Chris Jenkins, president of Nor'wood, who adds clarification about the firm's decisions regarding conservation of land in Banning Lewis Ranch.
It is our intention to assess the entire property, its relationship with adjacent uses, infrastructure, the unique natural assets - its relationship with the entire city and region. Taking the next 18 to 24 months to study this with the best local and national planning firms and coalition of community stakeholders is needed before we are in a position to quantify conservation, recreation and development spaces.
Also, according to land records, the sales price appears to be $15 million.

—————————————ORIGINAL POST WEDNESDAY, NOV. 12, 2014, 4:27 P.M. —————————————————-

In a news release just in, Nor'wood Development Group announced it has purchased the Banning Lewis Ranch from Ultra Petroleum, Houston.

Here's the release:
Nor’wood Development Group is pleased to announce that after careful consideration and much due diligence, the purchase of the Banning Lewis Ranch has been finalized. As a locally owned multi-generational business operating in the Pikes Peak Region for more than 40 years, we consider it a privilege to be the stewards of this great community asset and will ensure that the property’s long term potential is discovered and achieved. Responsible development, recreation and conservation will be foundational principles of the vision for Banning Lewis Ranch, which will take decades to fully realize.

We have previously outlined and restate our commitment to promote the stewardship of environmental resources, quality neighborhood and commercial design, support efficient public services and facilities, leverage opportunities for the long-term viability of our local Air Force installations, protect the property’s world-renown natural formations with a signature conservation effort, and encourage meaningful outdoor educational and recreational opportunities.

We will continue and expand our work with a knowledgeable and experienced team of local and national professionals, municipal leaders, conservationist, community stakeholders and citizens to develop land use and development strategies for the property. We look forward to sharing periodic updates, timelines and additional details when appropriate.  
As we reported this summer, the Jenkins family could decide to set aside two thirds of the 18,500 acres purchased from Ultra for public use.

No purchase price was disclosed, but we're trying to find out. Ultra paid $20 million when it bought the property out of bankruptcy in 2011.

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Ex-CSU manager takes job with pollution-control company

Posted By on Fri, Oct 3, 2014 at 5:31 PM

Neumann: plucks former Utilities manager from retirement. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Neumann: plucks former Utilities manager from retirement.
In a news release issued today, Neumann Systems Group announced the hiring of George Luke as a vice president for business operations.

NSG is the developer and owner of a pollution control device being installed on Colorado Springs Utilities' downtown Drake coal-fired power plant. The equipment is designed to remove sulfur dioxide, although Neumann is working on equipment that also would remove carbon dioxide.

The $130 million project has drawn skepticism from a few City Council members for several years.

Luke, who served as electric generation manager with Utilities, won't be directly involved in the NSG installation, due for completion in the next year or two.

Rather, says NSG owner Dave Neumann in an interview, he'll focus on working with oil and gas producers in using CO2, a byproduct of coal-fired power plants, in enhancing oil recovery. Luke has a degree in chemical engineering, Neumann notes.

Luke started with NSG late last month.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Collecting federal help while living in the Broadmoor area

Posted By on Tue, Sep 30, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Funny, this doesn't look like the Broadmoor area. - EDMUND GARMAN
  • Edmund Garman
  • Funny, this doesn't look like the Broadmoor area.
How many farmers do you know who live in the Broadmoor area? Turns out, there are more than 400. At least that's how many individuals who give 80906 as their zip code are listed as recipients of farm subsidies from the federal government from 1995 to 2012.

Together, they've been paid $13.1 million during that 17-year period, according to the Environmental Working Group website, which tracks farm subsidies.

The top farmer is Jay W. Kriss Farms Inc., which has received nearly $1 million during that time from land in Kansas and Colorado, mostly Kansas. The biggest subsidies came from land in Thomas County, Kansas, which is in northwest Kansas. Colby is its county seat. And the corporation's subsidies were mostly for wheat.

But that's peanuts compared to the $280 million collected from 1995 to 2012 in the Finney County, Kansas, area — my old stomping grounds from many a year ago — by 2,793 different recipients. Interesting that this staunchly Republican county has received so much largesse from the big, bad, evil federal government. In fact, Kansas ranks sixth highest for farm subsidies at $16.4 billion, which makes Colorado's $5.4 billion look like chicken feed. 

According to EWG, here's the top 10 states ranked by money received:


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Monday, September 22, 2014

SunShare keeps on burning

Posted By on Mon, Sep 22, 2014 at 2:09 PM

David Amster-Olszewski, SunShare founder, is gaining steam. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • David Amster-Olszewski, SunShare founder, is gaining steam.
The solar company formed three years ago by a Colorado College grad, David Amster-Olszewski, keeps sending out press releases about new "firsts" as solar power gains momentum.

The latest announces a contract with Hyland Hills Park and Recreation District for 1.4 megawatts of solar power.

For background on SunShare, check out this story from last year. And for the latest from the company, here's the news release:

Denver, CO – Denver-based SunShare announced today it has contracted with Hyland Hills Park and Recreation District to provide Water World, the largest community owned water park in the country, and its other district properties with 1.4 megawatts of clean, reliable energy from its Adams County Community Solar Garden. This is among the largest Community Solar deals to be signed between a Community Solar developer and a consumer. SunShare is one of the nation’s first Community Solar providers.

“We are proud to be part of this Solar Garden with SunShare,” said Harlan Bryant, District Engineer for Hyland Hills Park & Recreation District. “It is a win, win, win situation. We’re helping Xcel Energy meet its renewable energy requirements; we’re helping SunShare, a Colorado company, create jobs here in Colorado; and the District is saving money on our electricity bills.” Water World just celebrated its 35th summer in Denver.

Not only an environmental decision, but also an economic one, Hyland Hills will fix part of the District’s energy costs at today’s levels, protecting it from volatile fossil fuel prices. SunShare will be providing 1.4 megawatts to help power the recreation district and Water World, the equivalent of powering over 300 homes for 20 years.

“We are really excited to partner with such a high profile customer like Water World,” said Jonathan Postal, Senior Vice President of SunShare. “They are now our largest subscriber in Colorado, and we believe them to be the biggest customer of any Community Solar Garden in the nation,” said Postal.

“I’ve been looking for more than four years for a way to incorporate solar energy here at Water World and throughout the District. The Solar Garden business model is the first one that has worked for our Agency,” said Bryant. “I hope this program is very successful, so the District can convert more of our electric consumption to solar production.”

Community Solar allows customers who either can’t or don’t want to put solar panels on their homes to buy solar energy from a solar array located elsewhere in the community.

Electricity generated by SunShare’s Solar Gardens is fed into the main power grid. SunShare’s customers buy a specific amount of energy from the solar garden and receive a credit on their Xcel Energy bill for that amount.
SunShare has over 11 megawatts of Community Solar Gardens built or under development in Colorado’s Front Range. SunShare has projects underway with Colorado Springs Utilities and Xcel Energy with the capacity to serve over 2,200 homes.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Kirk and Hill left downtown, but that space won't be vacant long

Posted By on Wed, Sep 17, 2014 at 11:53 AM

As of Labor Day, Kirk and Hill has a fancy new location inside the Chapel Hills Mall, and per its Facebook page, business is booming. After nearly 30 years downtown, the women's clothing retailer decided to relocate up north, which, according to customer surveys, would be a more convenient location for its client base.

But what's to happen to its former location at 129 N. Tejon St.? According to the Downtown Partnership, nearby retail store State of Mind/Bang Bang will move in, and is planning to open Oct. 1. The new storefront will be bigger than the side-by-side locations the two joint shops share around the corner on 109 E. Bijou St.

State of Mind/Bang Bang opened downtown 15 years ago and has since enjoyed plenty of business, including foot traffic from tourists, says Laurel Prud'homme of the Partnership. Prud'homme adds that Bang Bang (which will lose the State of Mind moniker with the move) is one of the few downtown stores offering clothing for both men and women, and is more affordable than most of the stores nearby.

As for what will fill that Bijou space when Bang Bang moves, Prud'homme says there haven't been any concrete plans made just yet, though a business new to downtown has looked at the space. Meanwhile, To the Grave Tattoo on Bijou will move into the Bijou alley soon, with its former location to be taken up by Wooly Works Knit Shop, which will relocate from North Tejon.
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