Colorado Blueprint: A bottom-up approach to economic development

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Here’s the link to the full report from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. The user interface is very clumsy. Here’s the executive summary:

Colorado Blueprint: A bottom-up approach to economic development

Since Jan. 11, 2011, the Hickenlooper Administration has engaged more than 5,000 Coloradans from all 64 counties in developing a comprehensive and collaborative approach to economic development. A state team composed of representatives of a dozen state agencies and statewide organizations traveled more than 6,000 miles to gather input from every corner, valley and plain that makes up Colorado.

Every county put together a summary expressing the needs, priorities, vision, strengths and weaknesses of its local economy. These county summaries were rolled up into 14 regional statements. Based on the county and regional input, we identified the following six focus areas to promote economic development in Colorado:

I. Create a Business-Friendly Environment

o Coloradans deserve a government that is responsive to their concerns and priorities, is frugal with their tax dollars and promotes economic development. That means knowing when to regulate, how to regulate, and when to get out of the way. This is one of the important roles of government. To this end, the Hickenlooper Administration is focused on the Three E’s of good government: efficiency, effectiveness and elegance.

II. Recruit, Grow and Retain Businesses

o Colorado is a great place to do business. Through more targeted marketing of the state, as well as increased coordination within the economic development community, Colorado is poised for economic growth. It is also important to build on existing successes, such as the Sustainable Main Streets pilot program championed by the Department of Local Affairs, as we work to ensure economic vitality in communities and on main streets in every corner of Colorado.

III. Increase Access to Capital

o Every county and region expressed the need for capital formation and increased access to capital, whether that takes the form of debt financing, equity investment or access to grants – and often all three. The state is expanding current venture and angel capital programs, while also designing a new cash collateral program to support businesses trying to get operating loans.

IV. Create and Market a Stronger Colorado Brand

o Colorado is one of the best states to live in or visit, being a premier place to work, play, explore and conduct business. Together, people across Colorado can define a vision for how we preserve and enhance the Colorado Advantage. A common brand and vision for all of Colorado will provide a strong foundation for increasing Colorado’s market share in overnight visitors, relocating companies and direct investment—both on a nationally and globally.

V. Educate and Train the Workforce of the Future

o One of Colorado’s key economic drivers—and selling points to potential business–is a highly-educated population and world-class institutions of higher education. To maintain and grow this globally competitive workforce, we need a strong and coordinated education system, including workforce, that leverages the boot-strapping “can-do” attitude of all Coloradans.

VI. Cultivate Innovation and Technology

o There is a strong spirit of innovation found around Colorado, with bright and adventurous people making discoveries and working to make new ideas thrive. Most regions of the state require improved communications technologies, including broadband, as a foundation of economic development and innovation.

This is not a comprehensive collection of all-encompassing end-goals for all of Colorado, but rather a first set of achievable objectives to undertake together. It is a working document, which means plans and partner names may change as we work to ensure that the benefits balance or outweigh the costs of implementing an initiative. We need public engagement and analysis, especially on the actions undertaken to “move the needle” in these six focus areas. We want to continue to update and adapt this Blueprint through sustained conversations about what Colorado’s economy should look like in the future. Together we can achieve measurable progress on our initiatives, and build the momentum needed to drive economic recovery.

We are committed to collaboration. We will return to every region four times in the next three years (every nine months) to evaluate and celebrate measurable progress on state, regional and county work plans. As we hit targets, we will desire new goals for the upcoming nine months. Through these feedback loops, state and local leaders will maintain open lines of communication and become better partners in supporting entrepreneurship and job creation across Colorado.

Special Note: During the “bottom-up” process, we captured thousands of valuable inputs and comments across a wide range of topics. A significant number of these comments and priorities will live at a local or regional level, where they can gain maturity and momentum and possibly be elevated to the Blueprint at a later date.

More coverage from the Northern Colorado Business Report. From the article:

The Weld-Larimer goal statement included similar business-related focus areas as the statewide plan but also included a goal to “develop, preserve and enhance water storage and delivery options in the region.”

That goal was later objected to by the Fort Collins city council, which wrote a letter to the governor’s office expressing the city’s nonsupport for the goal based on its reservations about the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project that would include Glade Reservoir.

The NISP project, proposed by Berthoud-based Northern Water, is currently under review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Colorado Blueprint will continue to be updated over time and Hickenlooper administration officials said they intend to re-evaluate the plan every nine months to measure progress on its goals.

More coverage from Patrick Malone writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“There are 100 different things people say they need,” Hickenlooper said. “We’ve distilled it down to six things. We can’t do 100 things. Six things we can do.” He said the “Colorado Blueprint” sets a course for the state’s economic recovery by focusing on the most pressing economic development challenges identified by Colorado residents…

The plan was culled from dozens of public meetings throughout the state that began in January. Each of the state’s 64 counties offered a plan, which gelled into 14 regional plans. Some county and regional plans targeted specific job-creation numbers and reductions in joblessness, a level of specificity that does not appear in the state plan.

“I think what you’re asking us for is to pull a number out of a hat,” Hickenlooper said. The governor said finite goals such as those reflected in some county and regional plans would have doomed the state plan to constantly shoot at a moving target. “The economy is so complex,” Hickenlooper said. “If you look back over the last four years at every economic prediction that the top economists have used it’s probably about half as reliable as the seven-day weather forecast.”[…]

The backdrop for Hickenlooper’s speech was the site of TAXI and Freight, a revitalized business park that has undergone a metamorphosis in the past two years from a taxicab and trucking yard into the cradle of Colorado’s creative class. Office fronts are glass garage doors more commonly found at radiator shops. Inside them, employees in their 20s and 30s toil in T-shirts and shorts. Bicycles, ping-pong tables and foosball tables adorn the offices and provide pastimes during breaks. Building angles are sharp with vivid trim and paint just weathered enough to make the park contemporary chic. Businesses at the park may look like recreation centers to the untrained eye, but they produce highly advanced microchips, manufacture research microscopes, offer intricate Web design and sell fine art…

“One of the things that surprised me in rural Colorado — both in mountain towns and on the Eastern Plains — was that innovation and technology are part of their everyday language and their everyday life,” Hickenlooper said. “Until you’ve spent a day with a dryland farmer in Southeast Colorado and see how innovative they have to be to make a profit out of very difficult landscape, you haven’t seen anything about innovation.”

More coverage from Patrick Malone writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“The local communities, as they push through their own recoveries, are still going to be focused on their own objectives as they stated in their own local summaries,” [Dwayne Romero, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Information and Technology] said. For Pueblo County. those objectives are increasing primary jobs with an emphasis on manufacturing, increasing the flow of tourism dollars, supporting existing industries and small businesses to expand, promoting Pueblo as a regional health care destination, developing a leadership counsel to enhance the agriculture economy and expanding offerings at Colorado State University-Pueblo and Pueblo Community College to produce graduates whose skills appeal to innovative employers that might want to relocate to Pueblo…

The lawmakers [Sal Pace/Keith Swerdfeger] also agree that expanded graduate, engineering and hospitality offerings at CSU-Pueblo and forging a dual-credit relationship between the university and the community college are longer-term goals, but vital parts of the city’s economic future.

Protecting water throughout the Arkansas Valley will be imperative if Pueblo County is to attain its goal of promoting agriculture, Swerdfeger said.

Colorado Farm Bureau mid-summer meeting: Water committee chair urges the state to fight the United Nations’ Agenda 21 Wildlands Project

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From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

After discussing various issues Monday afternoon and into Tuesday morning, representatives of the organization’s wildlife and environment, water, specialty agriculture, crops and animal agriculture committees each outlined the county, state and federal policies that sit atop their watch lists.

Giving the water committee’s final report, John Stroh of Walsenburg in Huerfano County – the committee’s chairperson – said he wanted legislators to address special water districts, fight against the United Nations’ Agenda 21 Wildlands Project plans that could prevent diverting snowmelt in certain areas of Colorado’s mountains for usable water, and look into giving the Colorado Division of Water Resources more flexibility.

Stroh further explained that the privately owned special water districts “seem unregulated” and don’t give users a voice in what happens with the water.

“There just apparently isn’t much oversight. It seems like a good business plan,” Stroh said with sarcastic laugh. “Maybe I’ll do the same thing.”

Stroh said the United Nations’ Agenda 21 Wildlands Project would turn portions of Colorado’s mountain areas into an “uninhabited wilderness area.”

“If that were to happen, which means we would lose access to that water, that could really affect our ability to farm,” he said. “We’re really quite concerned about it.”

Regarding the Colorado Department of Water Resources, Stroh said the office’s lack of flexibility is the reason Colorado is sending its water surplus to neighboring states that are getting more than their allotted amount.

“You have the South Platte River, where we now have over-watered aquifers full and flooding basements, and yet there are still wells shut off and can’t be pumped,” Stroh said. “It’s the prime example of where more flexibility for our state’s engineer could do us a lot of good.”

More Colorado water coverage here.

Arapahoe County appoints 5 to Arapahoe County Water and Wastewater Authority

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From the Arapahoe County Board of County Commissioners via the Centennial Citizen:

The Arapahoe County Board of County Commissioners recently appointed five citizens to serve on the newly-expanded Arapahoe County Water and Wastewater Authority Board of Directors.

ACWWA is a water and wastewater authority responsible for the day-to-day operation of providing water and sanitary sewer services to its customers in a roughly eight-square mile area located in central Arapahoe County and a small portion of northern Douglas and Elbert counties.
Serving in their capacity as the Board of Directors for the Arapahoe County Water and Wastewater Public Improvement District, the Commissioners expanded the ACWWA Board of Directors to nine members from its current seven-member board.

The Commissioners appointed the following citizens to serve on the ACWWA Board for staggered, one-to three-year terms:

– Mikkel R. Anderson, an executive with the International Risk Group.

– Steven H. Davis, developer/investor with Community Builders Inc.

– Linda Lehrer, president of Sierra Consulting, who served on the ACWWA Board from 2007– 2009.

– Geri G. Santos-Rach, a Medical Billing Analyst for IMED, who previously worked for the Colorado Public Utilities Commission until she retired in 2009.

– Dr. Phyllis R. Thomas, Utility Application Specialist with Phyllis Thomas Consulting.

In April, the commissioners requested applications from citizens interested in serving on the ACWWA Board of Directors. The County received 16 applications and the Commissioners conducted interviews with seven candidates before making its appointment.

“We want to thank all the citizens who took the time to apply for these positions and for their interest in helping to shape their community,” said Commissioner Rod Bockenfeld, who serves as Board Chairman.

“The citizens we appointed today bring a good balance of expertise and knowledge to the ACWWA Board of Directors.”

For more information about the Arapahoe County Water and Wastewater Authority, visit their web site at http://www.arapahoewater.org.

Colorado Supremes uphold the Water Court Division One ruling in the FRICO case

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There’s always a back story or two in any big water court case. Here’s a report from Karen Crummy and Eric Gorski writing for The Denver Post. From the article:

It’s going to be hard to plan for the future,” said Len Pettinger, 76, who farms 500 acres near Brighton. “We’re already living day to day. I guess now we starve to death.”

A Denver Post investigation into the union of two public water districts and shareholders in the Farmers Reservoir and Irrigation Co. and two related systems found that those who held the farmers’ fate in their hands took significant risks, appeared to gain personally and professionally from the arrangement, and failed to accept an out-of-court settlement that could have saved the farmers, some of whom will lose half their water.

More South Platte River basin coverage here.