Thursday, March 12, 2015

USOC developer in bankruptcy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Local firm lands VA cemetery contract

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Respect: The Mill Outlet turns 50

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

  • Google

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Friday, February 6, 2015

Competition is stiff for fire aviation center

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


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

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

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

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

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

So it won't be a walk in the park when Paul Cooke, the Division of Fire Prevention and Control director, sits down to make a decision with Public Safety Department Director Stan Hilkey.
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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

DIA soars while COS crawls

Posted By on Wed, Feb 4, 2015 at 2:03 PM

COS' new lounge on a Friday morning. Welcoming, but not bustling. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • COS' new lounge on a Friday morning. Welcoming, but not bustling.

Denver International Airport
today reported that 2014 was its busiest year ever, with more than 53.4 million passengers.

The report comes at a time when Colorado Springs Airport is still trying to regain numbers that hit a peak in 2007 at 1.1 million passengers. One strategy is an executive lounge, which we wrote about in today's paper.

But it's difficult to stem the flow of passengers from our burg to the mothership of DIA, though local officials keep looking for ways.

As DIA reports in a news release:
A total of 4,397,292 passengers traveled though DIA in December 2014, bringing the year’s total passenger traffic to 53,472,514 – an increase of 1.7 percent over the 52,556,359 passengers who used the airport in 2013. The previous record for the airport was set in 2012, with 53,156,278 passengers.

Additionally, DIA set six monthly records for passenger traffic in 2014: January, February, April, May, September and October.

DIA also set new records for international passenger traffic in 2014, with a total of 2,208,209 international passengers. The previous all-time high for international traffic in Denver was set in 2008 with 2,200,036 passengers. Overall international passenger traffic at DIA increased 12 percent over 2013, and December 2014 marked the 32nd consecutive month of international passenger growth at DIA.

DIA served an all-time high of 191 destinations around the world during 2014, surpassing the 187 destinations served during 2013. New air service in 2014 included nonstop service to Panama City, Panama, as well as Guadalajara and Chihuahua, Mexico.

“Ending the year with record-breaking passenger traffic demonstrates the continued strength of the Denver market for air travel,” said Denver International Airport CEO Kim Day. “DIA has the third-largest domestic network for flights, and has seen sustained growth in international passenger traffic that has been bolstered by new service to destinations around the globe such as Tokyo and Panama City. We will continue to build on this momentum as we work to add new destinations, better customer amenities and services that ensures Denver International Airport’s place on the world map.”

Mail, freight and express cargo operations saw 51,112,206 pounds of cargo in December 2014, an 11.2-percent increase compared to the same month last year. In 2014, 519,434,240 pounds of cargo were handled at DIA, up 4.1 percent from 498,938,408 pounds of cargo handled during 2013.

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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 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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