Economy

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The arts community backs City for Champions

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 10:46 AM

Vick - EDIE ADELSTEIN
  • Edie Adelstein
  • Vick
Last night, to a packed house in Studio Bee, local arts leaders formally came out in support of City for Champions

Organized in part by COPPeR, the forum featured brief speeches from seven in the creative community, as well as COPPeR executive director Andy Vick: David Dahlin, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center; George Preston, general manager of Classical 88.7 KCME-FM; Jon Khoury, executive director of Cottonwood Center for the Arts; Marta Lacombe, 2015 Colorado South President, American Institute of Architects; Lara Holman Garritano, creative district manager at the Downtown Partnership; Nathan Newbrough, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic; and David Siegel, executive director of the Bee Vradenburg Foundation.

Their support for C4C ranged from a variety standpoints, varying from a simple 'What do we have to lose?' to more serious arguments. Newbrough, citing Colorado Springs' early artistic history, urged the audience not to "squander our inheritance," and that C4C, though not without risks, could lead to an entirely new local paradigm, if we choose to take advantage of it. "Idleness is not love," he said.
Dahlin - EDIE ADELSTEIN
  • Edie Adelstein
  • Dahlin

Dahlin called it a "once-in-a-generation opportunity," and Vick and Siegel pointed out the economic benefits (by way of recent Americans for the Arts studies) that the arts could have, piggy-backing off C4C. Each urged the early and often involvement of the arts in these planning processes, something that C4C spokeswoman Laura Neumann says is already happening, as the speakers have connected with the four C4C project managers for further planning.
Siegel - EDIE ADELSTEIN
  • Edie Adelstein
  • Siegel

Neumann said that this was the best crowd she'd seen yet at a C4C public event, and that this would be the last meeting for several months as planning goes forward.

It's not clear yet what arts involvement will look like for C4C, but Siegel was blunt: We can't just "slap a painting on the wall after the ribbon cutting and congratulate ourselves for [supporting] the arts."

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Big money: County apparently reels in the inheritance dollars.

Posted By on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 2:05 PM

When we're not busy fantasizing about winning the lottery, many of us turn to an old standby — the dream of inheriting a ton of cash from some distant relative.

I would guess that most El Paso County residents aren't inheriting fortunes from their great aunt Mildreds, but they are inheriting a lot of dough. So says a new study from financial software and data company SmartAsset. The company examined Colorado data on wealth transfers made during estate settlements and life insurance payouts, then ranked counties according to the amount of the annual inheritance

El Paso County made No. 3 in the state, though it's probably worth noting that we're the most populous county in the state.

The Top 10 counties are:

screen_shot_2015-02-17_at_1.51.55_pm.png

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Army coming to town, cuts on the horizon

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2015 at 4:18 PM

On Tuesday, Army brass breezes into town to conduct a "listening" meeting from 4 to 6 p.m. at Centennial Hall, 200 S. Cascade Ave., about possible budget cuts.

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
  • Department of Defense
The Regional Business Alliance is encouraging citizens to wear green in support of Fort Carson and show up and express support for the post.

Here's an email that went out earlier this week:
The Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance Military Affairs Council (MAC) and the Army invite you to Wear green and support Fort Carson!
The Department of the Army is conducting a Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment and is attending listening sessions across the U.S. Find out how you can support Fort Carson in this process on the Business Alliance website, or read more below. Read full news release.
Keep-Carson-Strong_1-27-15.pdf  
Turns out, Colorado Springs is but one of 30 stops for the Army.  Others will take place in Georgia (Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Fort Stewart), Texas (Fort Bliss, Fort Hood, Fort Sam Houston), Kentucky (Fort Knox and Fort Campbell), as well as at least 10 others states, reports pacifist Bill Sulzman.

His point?

"Sounds like the Army itself lobbying against any cuts by trying to orchestrate 'listening' sessions put on by boosters everywhere they can," he writes via email. "The Army is using taxpayer dollars to lobby locals to oppose any cuts in their area hoping this means that there won't be any cuts anywhere. Using government funds to lobby for more government funds. Military Industrial complex shenanigans."

We asked the Army to respond to Sulzman's impression, and got a long response, the upshot of which is that the Army is very interested in what local community folks think and that, surprisingly, not all communities support their installations.

According to Lt. Col. Don Peters, Team Chief, Operations, Intelligence and Logistics, Army Public Affairs at the Pentagon:
A Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment is necessary to meet the Army’s statutory obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq.) and to help inform stationing decisions and potential Congressional notification requirements under 10 U.S.C. § 993.

NEPA requires the Army to consider the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of its actions and proposed alternatives and to involve the public. The NEPA process provides Army decision-makers with information on the environmental and socioeconomic impact that may result from the realignment of Army units, to include the concerns of the public and stakeholder organizations. This analysis allows decision-makers to compare and contrast the environmental impact at sites proposed for unit restationing, force restructuring, and unit deactivations. The PEA process is also designed to inform the public of potential environmental and socioeconomic effects associated with the proposed action and to provide the public with an opportunity to provide feedback.

Environmental impacts associated with the implementation of the proposed action include impacts to air quality, cultural resources, biological resources, noise, soil erosion, wetlands, water resources, facilities, socioeconomics, energy demand, land use, hazardous materials and waste, and traffic and transportation.

While not required by law, the Army will conduct community listening sessions at the 30 installations that could potentially be affected by cuts. These sessions are designed to enable community members to provide their concerns and perspectives, and will help Army senior leaders to make informed, yet difficult, decisions regarding force structure changes. These are not question and answer sessions – we are there to hear the community’s voice, and we welcome anything participants have to say.

These listening sessions are in complete compliance with Federal Law, which specifically prohibits lobbying by Active Duty soldiers.
To add perspective, after the 2001 terrorist attacks, the Army built up to 570,000 soldiers. By September 2015, that number will be reduced to 490,000. Due to budget constraints, a further reduction to 450,000 is expected, and sequestration — automatic budget cuts built into a budgeting bill a few years ago — could cause yet another cut to 420,000

Meantime, Sulzman is trying to rally opposition to military expansion, notably its proposal to intensify use of the Pinon Canyon Manuever Site.

The RBA, on the other hand, is trying to combat any reductions, noting any cutbacks could have a devastating impact on the local economy.
 

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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 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 https://www.youtube.com/user/ElPasoCountyCO.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Good news, bad news on mill levies

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Our economy is almost frozen in time at the moment. - STEVEN DEPOLO
  • Steven Depolo
  • Our economy is almost frozen in time at the moment.
Today, the El Paso County Assessor's Office is informing each taxing entity in the county the total valuation of all property in its taxation district. This figure is the one upon which property tax bills will be based that are issued in January.

For Colorado Springs and the County, it's a good news, bad news notification.

This year, the value of property in the city totals $4,636,060,080, compared to last year's total of $4,608,210,390.

That's an increase of $27.8 million, or less than 1 percent. The change represents new construction only. It does not include any change in value of existing property due to market fluctuations, because next year, not this year, is a reappraisal year for tax purposes.

The good news from those figures is that the city won't have to further reduce its property tax mill levy for next year's budget, because growth has been lower than the 5 percent limit imposed by the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. TABOR limits how much new revenue governments can collect.

Once a mill levy declines, the only way to make it go up again is with a vote of the people, due to TABOR's provisions. Twenty years ago, the city's mill levy was 6.869 mills. As property values rose and new construction resulted in the city collecting more revenue, TABOR, which became effective in the early 1990s, forced the city to reduce the mill levy.

Today, it stands at 4.279 mills, or 38 percent lower than 1994.

El Paso County is in the same boat. Last year, the county's valuation stood at $6,337,964,970. This year, it's $6,395,103,330. That's $57.1 million more this year than last, or just under 1 percent higher. 

The county's mill levy in 1994 was 12 mills. Today it stands at 7.714 mills, or 36 percent less than 20 years ago.

The bad news to all that is it's another indicator that our economy has stagnated.

But take heart. Assessor Mark Lowderman says the new reappraisal, which will affect tax bills mailed in January 2016, is showing some recovery. Residential property is running roughly 8 percent higher in value than the last reappraisal two years ago, and homes in some areas have gone up in value by up to 12 percent, he says.

"It looks like the single-family market is starting to recovery," he says.

But vacant land, commercial and industrial property remains flat, he adds.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Annexed tract will bring jobs, city says

Posted By on Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 5:38 PM

PHOTOLOGUE_NP
  • photologue_np
Colorado Springs City Council has approved the annexation of property for a manufacturer of oil and gas products and services, which will spark hiring, the city says in a news release.

As first reported by the Independent in early September, the company is headquartered in Switzerland and wants to expand its facilities here.

Here's the city's news release:

 Today City Council, on second reading, approved the annexation of the property located at 3445 Marksheffel Road which is home to one of the largest global providers of products and services for the oil and gas industries, Weatherford International. Weatherford sought the annexation to enable Colorado Springs Utilities to provide new and upgraded utility service necessitated by an expansion of its existing facility. The annexation will further enhance Weatherford’s expansion and the hiring of 84 manufacturing employees.

“We are grateful to Weatherford for making this investment in our community and for adding 84 quality manufacturing jobs to the city. This is a great example of collaboration among Weatherford, Colorado Springs Utilities, City Planning, City Economic Vitality, City Planning Commission, and City Council," said Mayor Steve Bach.

Headquartered in Switzerland, Weatherford International is one of the largest global providers of products and services that span the drilling, evaluation, completion, production and intervention cycles of oil and natural gas wells. It operates in more than 100 countries across the globe and employs more than 58,000 people. Weatherford International has operated in the Pikes Peak region since 2001 to manufacture piping to serve the oil and gas industry.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

UPDATE: C4C Downtown stadium: 10K or 8K seats?

Posted By on Mon, Oct 20, 2014 at 4:16 PM

c4clogo2.jpg
UPDATE: This just in from Bob Cope to explain things:

Regarding the seating for the indoor and outdoor venues at the Colorado Sports and Event Center, the resolution is simply allowing for some flexibility with the understanding that the final design will be determined based upon expert advice from a formally engaged professional design team.

The 13,000 total seating requirement is based upon the desire to have the necessary total capacity to accommodate the projected events and projected net new out of state visitors.

Appropriate parking is now a required element as part of the United States Olympic Museum. Under previous drafts, the 1,500 car parking facility was an eligible and approved improvement, but not required. This is simply a trade off by making the parking a required element but allowing for some flexibility in return.

———ORIGINAL POST OCT. 20, 2014, 3:51 P.M.———

The final resolution between the city and the state Economic Development Commission has been released.

In it, the state requires the outdoor downtown stadium to have at least 8,000 seats, and the indoor arena to have 2,000.

This is a decrease from the original resolution, which called for the outdoor venue to have 10,000 seats, and the indoor one, 3,000, for a total of 13,000.

The new resolution, oddly, still requires the combination to total 13,000.

Also, the original resolution said the city would build a 1,500-vehicle parking structure as part of the infrastructure upgrades in the southwest downtown area where the stadium and an Olympic Museum will be built.

The final resolution states "appropriate parking facilities."

We've asked Bob Cope with the city's economic vitality department to further explain. If and when we hear back, we'll update.

Meantime, here's the final resolution:

FinalSignedEDCResolution.pdf
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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:

screen_shot_2014-09-30_at_11.13.51_am.png

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Olympic museum strikes deal with USOC

Posted By on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 12:21 PM

Olympic Museum makes an important announcement.
  • Olympic Museum makes an important announcement.
The effort to build a U.S. Olympic Museum as part of City for Champions tourism venture has hit a milestone by reaching an agreement with the U.S. Olympic Committee, museum backers said in a news release today.

In the release, Dick Celeste, who's heading the museum effort, says fund-raising will now begin in earnest, with hopes of raising $70 million in donations.

City for Champions is a tourism package that proposes to build four projects. Besides the museum, it would build a downtown stadium, sports medicine center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and a visitors center at the Air Force Academy. The state has agreed to allocate $120.5 million in state sales tax in the next 30 years to C4C; the money would come from 13.08 percent of the state tax collected beyond the baseline taxes collected as of December 2013. The rest of the money will come from donations and local sales taxes, officials have said.

We asked the museum folks whether the agreement with the USOC includes permission to use the logo and were told: "We are not at liberty to discuss specific terms of the agreement."

Here's the release:

The United States Olympic Museum announced today that it has signed a 30-year agreement with the United States Olympic Committee, renewable in 10-year increments.

Richard Celeste, President of the U.S. Olympic Museum Board of Directors, stated, “This agreement is the result of nearly two years of effort on the part of a group of dedicated citizens who share a vision of building a world-class museum dedicated to the values of the Olympic and Paralympic movements and the efforts and achievements of the U.S. athletes of the modern games. We are grateful to the leadership of the USOC for the confidence they have placed in us. We will strive to achieve the same level of excellence in the planned museum experience that characterizes the very best of our Olympians and Paralympians.”

The agreement acknowledges that the non-profit U.S. Olympic Museum was formed to develop, build, own and operate a state-of-the-art, iconic museum in downtown Colorado Springs to include:
1) A curated collection of historically significant artifacts associated with the United States’ participation in the Olympic and Paralympic Games
2) Interactive exhibits with video and audio presentations, facilities for temporary exhibitions and permanent collections relating to the U.S. and global Olympic and Paralympic movements to immerse visitors in the drama and exhilaration of Olympic and Paralympic competition, and capacity to host special celebrations and events
3) Home to the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame dedicated to American athletes who have followed their dreams

Scott Blackmun, CEO of the USOC stated, “The agreement reached this week ensures that the U.S. Olympic Museum will be the type of world-class experience that fans of Team USA and the Olympic and Paralympic Games expect, and we’re pleased to contribute to the museum’s long-term success. I’d like to thank Dick Celeste for his tireless efforts on behalf of the museum and his continued commitment to making the Pikes Peak region an even better place to live and work.”

Celeste added, “With the signing of this agreement, the effort to raise the funding required to move forward will begin in earnest. Our goal is to secure at least $70 million in private donations in order to build an inspiring and extraordinarily dynamic venue. In the process, we believe this can significantly lift tourism visits to Colorado Springs, kick-start activity in the Southwest Urban Renewal Area, and ideally create a corridor that links downtown directly into America the Beautiful Park.”

Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach stated, "This is a significant milestone in the process of building a United States Olympic Museum in Colorado Springs. I appreciate the efforts of the United States Olympic Committee and the United States Olympic Museum Corporation in completing this agreement. We are proud to be the home of the USOC and a future Olympic Museum and we are truly becoming America’s Olympic City."


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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Privatizing: Is it really the way to go?

Posted By on Tue, Mar 11, 2014 at 10:58 AM

Snowplowing is one place the city is looking for savings by contracting service to private companies. - COURTESY CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • Courtesy city of Colorado Springs
  • Snowplowing is one place the city is looking for savings by contracting service to private companies.


Placing city services in the hands of contractors isn't always the deal it's cracked up to be.

That's the finding in a new study by Daphne Greenwood, professor of economics and director of the Colorado Center for Policy Studies at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Released today, the 43-page study explores the extent of social and economic impacts from outsourcing public services, including reduced accountability and transparency. In addition, quality often suffers, the study found.

From a news release about the study:
The study found that contracting with private corporations generally reduces worker wages and benefits, which leads to a host of negative effects for the community at large:

• Reduced spending in local communities and declining retail sales

• Risks to public health and safety with less experienced employees and more bureaucracy

• Fewer opportunities for middle-class jobs and upward mobility

• Higher wage gaps between men and women and blacks and whites

• More workers and retirees on public assistance, especially in female-headed households

• Larger share of “at risk” children in low-income families

To help leaders assess the full impacts of outsourcing decisions on their own communities, the report includes a guide for calculating the social and economic consequences to a state or community. Examples of statutes that address broader economic and social issues are included.
”There is a wealth of evidence that outsourcing public jobs often diminishes quality without substantial cost reduction," Greenwood says in the release. "Unfortunately, few states and cities have a serious oversight process to let citizens evaluate what is happening. Elected officials often talk about wanting to boost the economy and create opportunity. But many don’t realize how the decisions they control can contribute to the problem... or be part of the solution.”

The study was funded by the Jobs with Justice Education Fund, Washington, D.C. and is available here:
Greenwood_study.pdf
It's worth noting that one source cited in the study is the Independent's story ("Cold Comfort," Jan. 22, 2014) about the city's efforts to outsource snow plowing.

From the study:
Governments across the country are exploring more outsourcing based on long‐term pension obligations. Getting out of pension obligations is the reason city officials in Colorado Springs give for contracting out many services this year. Following a one year experiment in contracted snowplowing where audited costs were 489% higher than in areas the city plowed, the mayor’s office plans to expand the experiment and make it longer
term to get “enough data to analyze it.” All this, for some savings on pensions?
Greenwood goes on to note there's a cost to everyone for slashing pensions:
State and local governments need to keep the big picture in mind. Terminating or sharply reducing worker pensions will have a whole series of negative effects on local economies, well‐being and the sustainability of existing pension funds. The short‐term effects of eliminating or reducing pensions may appear quite small, since many workers will not be immediately affected. But the movement away from traditional ‘defined benefit’ pensions has already put more senior citizens at risk. 16.4% of older households without a defined benefit pension received food stamps, rent subsidies, energy assistance or supplemental social security (SSI), averaging $6,494 per household. This was over triple the rate (4.7%) of cash transfers for older households with a defined benefit pension.

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Local businesses thrived on Small Business Saturday

Posted By on Tue, Dec 3, 2013 at 3:01 PM

Sparrow Hawk Cookware shows some love
  • Sparrow Hawk Cookware shows some love
For all you supporters of Small Business Saturday, your purchases did not go unnoticed. If you sought out an alternative to the Black Friday madness, you helped contribute to the $5.7 billion spent on the fourth annual Small Business Saturday. 

Local businesses like Sparrow Hawk Cookware gave a shout out on their Facebook page to all those who came out for the cause. All across the nation, this day has helped to "support the local businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods," according to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). 

With consumer awareness at 71 percent this year, a four percent jump from last year, businesses across the national saw a boost in both consumer traffic and sales, according to the 2013 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey. 

"We are very pleased that so many Americans sought to give back by shopping small this Small Business Saturday. We hope that support of small firms, retailers, restaurants and other independent businesses continues throughout the holiday season and all year round," says NFIB CEO Dan Danner in a press release. "Continued support of this vital sector is one important way to ensure our economy fully recovers and a healthy private sector is restored.”

So, to all those who spread the word via social media and came out to support local businesses such as Sparrow Hawk, among many others, the huge turnout shows that this small day is getting bigger each year. 
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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

UPDATE: City for Champs gets a $22 million boost

Posted By on Tue, Nov 26, 2013 at 10:12 AM

UPDATE: The City for Champions folks released this statement regarding its application:

City for Champions is looking forward to the Dec. 4 presentation to the state’s Economic Development Commission and providing the commissioners information and analysis that demonstrate the positive impact of City for Champions for the state, city, county and region. The third-party analyst report by Economic & Planning Systems, Inc. (EPS) is a component in the Regional Tourism Act process, and the group’s input is helpful. In particular, our response to the EPS report gave us the opportunity to make a great application even better by adding context and detail about the Colorado Sports and Event Center and the UCCS Sports Medicine and Performance Center. Our application has become stronger through this process, and we are ready to make our case to the commissioners.


——————————————-ORIGINAL POST, TUESDAY, NOV. 26, 10:12 A.M.————————————————
The state's consultant reviewing the city's revised City for Champions application for state sales tax rebates has concluded the tourist package warrants $53.1 million over 30 years, a nearly 70 percent increase from the original finding of $31.4 million.

The new figures might engender hope among supporters of the application, though the $53.1 million is still far short of the total price tag of roughly $250 million.

The latest analysis by Economic & Planning Systems, Inc., says the city's four projects warrant these amounts of state sales tax rebates:

logo.png
U.S. Olympic museum: $28.3 million over 30 years, or $942,000 per year. (The initial analysis said the project was worthy of $20.8 million over 30 years.)

Downtown stadium and events center: $15.4 million over 30 years, or $512,000 per year. (Previous analysis concluded the project, then a baseball stadium, warranted only $3.8 million over 30 years.)

UCCS sports medicine center: $9.2 million over 30 years, or $307,000 a year. (EPS eliminated this project in its earlier analysis, saying it was too undeveloped to analyze fully.)

Air Force Academy visitors center: $260,870 over 30 years. (The earlier analysis awarded $6.8 million over 30 years.)

From the report:
No funding participation from the USAF has been identified, although the Application states that there are no federal funds available for this type of project, and as a result of military downsizing, this project would likely have a low priority. No funding commitments for the private funds have been identified, although it is noted that the USAFA Endowment is beginning an extensive capital campaign.

As for the downtown stadium, here's the consultant's take on the city's projection of events it could attract:

The Applicant’s consultants met with representatives from the National Governing Bodies (NGBs) in Colorado Springs and other sports management groups to estimate the number of annual events, athletes and other visitors (coaches, family/friends, spectators) that the proposed Colorado Sports Events Center (CSEC) could attract. Included in the Supplemental Material, an analysis by Summit Economics estimates 53 annual events as follows. The NGBs estimate that 9 new NGB-sponsored events could be brought to Colorado Springs, and 23 events could be brought back to Colorado that are currently held elsewhere. The Applicant would target an
additional 15 multisport organizations (a wide range of sporting activities) and other large national events averaging 6.2 per year considering that some may not come to Colorado Springs every year, and some are more competitive to attract. 
Within the “New Non-Olympic Events” category, the Applicant is assuming that major events such as the X Games and the Mountain Dew Tour will be recruited each year. These are highly competitive and sought after events.
The facility would also target sports conferences and gatherings estimated at an average of 3.6 events per year. Among all athletes, 80 percent are estimated to be from outside Colorado based on information from the NGBs, and 73 percent of accompanying coaches, trainers, family/friends/spectators, are from outside Colorado. 

On Page 74 of the report, EPS lays out financing plans for the museum as follows (note the fourth bullet):

The status of the Museum’s funding commitment and development readiness is summarized below, from information provided in the Original Application and in the Supplemental Material.
Nor’wood Development provided a letter to OEDIT indicating its “enthusiastic commitment to sell, lease, condominiumize or otherwise convey the property needed for these amazing anchor venues”. Earlier in the process, it was reported that Nor’wood owned the Museum site, and that the other required sites for the Stadium and Sports Events Center were not owned or controlled by the Project Team. The status of land ownership, options, or other commitments is not clear.
 The funding and financing plan does not contain any specific funding commitments from individuals, foundations, the USOC, or the City. The Application does contain letters of interest from two foundations, the Chapman Foundation and the El Pomar Foundation. Specific funding commitments are not made, but a high level of interest in receiving a funding request is stated.
 A letter from Mayor Steve Bach indicates the City’s intent to utilize its bonding capacity to fund a portion of the City for Champions projects.
 A letter from four of nine City Council members states that they do not support increasing the City’s indebtedness or committing increases in General Fund revenues or expenses to the Project without a vote from the citizens of Colorado Springs approving such financial commitments.
 A letter from the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority (CSURA) supporting the Application. The letter cites a Resolution that approves CSURA’s involvement in the City For Champions Project and its intention to utilize CSURA’s tax increment financing powers. The current Urban Renewal Plan estimates TIF capacity of $50 million in bonds. No documentation on the timing of these TIF revenues and bonding capacity was provided. TIF bonding capacity estimates are often based on real estate development projections which are highly uncertain. The CSURA is an arms-length independent agency of the City. Only one of CSURA Board Members is also on the City Council.
 RTA funds are assumed to provide the initial funding and financing source. The Applicant proposes to raise other public, private, and philanthropic funds after RTA funds are approved.
 An operating pro-forma was submitted rather than a project development pro-forma. A project development pro forma would include land and construction costs, estimates of other funding and financing sources, operating revenues, debt service, and the resulting funding/ financing gap for the project with and without the RTA funds. EPS therefore could not evaluate the project’s financial need given the uncertainties in the funding and cost assumptions.

For a rundown of the other projects funding outlook, go to Page 75 and 76 in the report:

Final_EPS_report.pdf
The city will present its proposal next week to the Economic Development Commission. A decision is expected later in December.
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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Meet Colorado's new logo

Posted By on Thu, Aug 29, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Making Colorado, an extension of the state's economic department, unveiled the product of its year-long process to create a new state logo and slogan, and here it is:

MAKING COLORADO
  • Making Colorado

The Indy first reported the undertaking back in April, when it was announced at the Colorado Creative Industries Summit back in April. The project sought graphic designers, youth ambassadors citizen reactions to build a new, copyrighted logo to be used in the tourism industry and state government affairs, such as vehicle emblems, letterheads, business cards and much more. Chief marketing officer Aaron Kennedy said at the time, "We can do it the easy way, which is, hire the New York place branding agency. The hard way to do it is, 'Made by Colorado for Colorado.' So we do it ourselves, and that’s the way we’re going to do it.”

Reaction so far has been mixed at best. On Making Colorado's Facebook page, the comments were pretty hot.

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In today's Denver Post article on the subject, Colorado chief marketing officer Aaron Kennedy explained that the team decided against using the state flag or some iteration of the "C" because in a nation-wide study, most identified it with the city of Chicago.

Kennedy adds that the team expected some negative feedback, citing the Nike swoosh, which was at first disliked by the public. However, marketing expert Darrin Duber-Smith, who was consulted for the article, was completely unimpressed, telling the Post, "It looks like something my students could have put together in five minutes. It reminds me of a haz-mat symbol, or something you'd find on a construction hard hat. It's a very weak and non-creative effort."

What do you think?
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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Making Colorado seeks Youth Ambassadors

Posted By on Wed, May 8, 2013 at 5:33 PM

In an effort to effectively rebrand the state, Making Colorado isn't playing around. The initiative, launched just last month, wants to incorporate as much public input as possible. And in order to cast a wide net, it's enlisting the help of one high school junior from each of Colorado's 64 counties.

Each teen would be an ambassador of the program and keep their hometowns and county residents apprised of progress in the branding process. They'll publish information on MC on social media and also supply MC with a "multi-media story that showcases what makes their community special, which will be highlighted on the Making Colorado blog."

Making Colorado

These go-betweens will not only learn some valuable ombudsman-esque experience, but interact with the MC branding team through webinars happening this summer "to learn about marketing and social media strategy from some of Colorado’s top professionals in the industry." And a lucky few will be selected to serve on MC's Making Colorado Brand Council, where they'll learn from the pros firsthand.

Being a junior and a Colorado resident are the only stipulations, and you can nominate teens (or yourself, oh precocious one) easily through the MC website. Applications will be accepted through June 6.

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