After seven years as chief executive officer, Will Temby announced on Aug. 16 that he is leaving the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce.
Temby is moving on to work for the University of Colorado Foundation. The chamber's president of business affairs, David Csintyan, will serve in Temby's CEO role, pending the results of a six- to eight-month search for a permanent successor.
It's a fond farewell for Temby, who says he's proud of what the chamber has achieved. Before he leaves on Aug. 31, we talked with him about the past and future of the local business-backing institution.
Indy: The chamber supported the defeat of Initiatives 200 and 201, and Amendment 38, and the passage of Referendum C. The voters agreed with you. Why is it important for the chamber to have a voice when it comes to taxes?
WT: Well, to us, it's not necessarily taxes. It has to do with the economic infrastructure of the state. I mean, when we look at the free-enterprise system, what better way to allow people to succeed than to have good transportation corridors; to make sure that we're investing in education; to make sure that tax policy is sound for businesses and its citizens?
Indy: You were involved in the Base Realignment and Closure-related expansion of Fort Carson. How do you think that expansion will continue to affect local business?
WT: I think clearly, when you look at the addition over the time between 2005 and 2011 of arguably 8,000 to 10,000 troops and another 12,000 to 15,000 family members, that is going to have an impact on the economy. Particularly with 60 to 65 percent of those soldiers and their families living off-post ...
Then [with] the expansion the physical expansion and the needs the post has created, I believe the projection over the five-year period is almost $2 billion in added construction.
Indy: Whoever comes after you will be faced with the issue of the Pion Canyon expansion. Why does the chamber feel this expansion is necessary?
WT: Our position is that the impact of the military on the state of Colorado is immense, and the military presence here has led to a very robust presence of aerospace companies ... We're certainly sensitive to any concerns about that expansion, but our position is at least [to] let the studies go forward on this issue, and let the studies and protracted dialogue dictate what goes on with the Pion Canyon Maneuver Site.
Indy: In the future, the chamber will likely be expected to take a leadership role in the redevelopment of areas like North Nevada and East Platte avenues. What are the challenges and the possible rewards?
WT: When you look at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, as of today it probably generates about $220 million of economic impact. If you can really optimize the development of North Nevada, particularly looking at university research parks and things to complement the commercial development on the west side of Nevada Avenue, and the university is able to optimize its long-term plan, you're talking about an economic impact that could be well in excess of $700 million for this community.
Indy: What about other blighted areas?
WT: I think that our role is not to specifically address different corridors that are in different stages of maturity from a commerce standpoint, but really look at the major things that affect access to them, such as transportation. We're very concerned with east-west arterials. North-south access, not just kind of the COSMIX expansion, but what happens on Powers [Boulevard] and Marksheffel [Road], and other corridors that allow people to have mobility around. Because mobility often translates to conveniences of getting to retail institutions and commercial institutions, so that often dictates how healthy they are.
Indy: How do you define affordable housing, and should the chamber be involved in supporting it?
WT: I think the issue of affordable housing is a difficult one because it is a relative issue, what is affordable ... And then, with the cost of building materials and permitting and different things that it takes to build a home, can developers or whatever be incented [sic] to build affordable housing? I mean, should there be subsidies to the developers who provide that? ...
I don't know that the chamber has a role other than to reinforce that there is a need, and will continue to be a need, for affordable housing.
Indy: You have fewer members now then when you started.
WT: Membership organizations around the country are seeing a lot of issues with kind of adding members at this point ... What I am happy to say is our membership by the way, it's been very stable over the past three or four years, in terms of numbers but our top-line kind of investment of our individual members, as they stand today, has increased. So our revenue has increased even though the pure number of member businesses has not.