|Tuesday, November 26, 2013|
|Much to be Thankful For|
With 50 degree weather forecast for the next week, it’s almost hard to believe that it’s Thanksgiving. But, this being Colorado, we’ll take it!
Thankfulness is something I try to practice every day, but it’s top of mind for most of us this time of year. With even just a little reflection, we realize how much is going right in our lives.
Here’s a short, short version of my ‘thankful’ list:
- Top of the list, my family, followed by my good health.
- America. People have never lived with more freedom, general prosperity and opportunity than Americans.
- The men and women of the National Guard, the sheriff’s deputies, police officers, firefighters, search and rescue teams and others on the front lines during the fires of 2012 and the flood of 2013.
- Free enterprise. The genius of free market economies is a marvel. Individuals acting in their own self-interests helping each other because it’s in their mutual self-interest. People railing against free enterprise don’t appreciate the nuances and underlying dynamics. Free enterprise deserves full credit for dramatically improving the human condition.
- Businesspeople in Northern Colorado. It’s our pleasure at the Chamber to work closely with professionals and businesspeople every single day. We see them give as much to the community as they receive. Just look at the “Thumbs Up” section on the editorial page of the Saturday Coloradoan. Usually, at least half of the ‘thanks’ are being directed at businesses for something good they’ve done.
- Chamber volunteers and members. Akin to the item above is this one. We get to work around the best and brightest people in our community every day. I shouldn’t start naming names because I can’t possibly acknowledge everybody who deserves it, but one example would be the people who have led the Chamber in 2013 and our highly successful Moving Fort Collins Forward! campaign. John Carroll, Ed Carroll Motors, Yvonne Myers of Columbine Health Systems and Chris Richmond of Flood & Peterson exemplify selfless and outstanding leadership.
- The Chamber staff. I’ve led chambers of commerce for over 30 years. This is the strongest group I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Every person is professional and competent, every one of them is a fine individual. I’m thankful to know them all.
Last but not least, I’m thankful for you and your decision to be part of our business community and the Chamber. Have a great Thanksgiving!
|Tuesday, November 19, 2013|
|Senate Majority Leader Rollie Heath Visits Chamber Board|
|At the meeting of the Chamber’s Board of Directors yesterday, State Senate Majority Leader Rollie Heath stopped in for a visit. Senator Heath is a Democrat from Boulder and has been a champion for education reform, including Amendment 66, which failed at the polls two weeks ago.|
Senator Heath is doing a listening tour around the state.
The conversation about education reform was a good one. We all agreed that strong public education is important to the future of Colorado. After that, opinions diverged in terms of how to make that happen. The senator asked board members why they thought Amendment 66 failed. That opened the flood gates – too big ($1 billion per year), too long (as in ‘forever’), it would have locked an even higher level of funding for education into the constitution, they didn’t earn broad based business support, they didn’t address the issue of the Gallagher Amendment that has unfairly shifted the property tax burden onto business, the two-tiered income tax in Amendment 66 unfairly targeted small companies, it was a huge amount of money for no promised results relative to education attainment by students, etc.
It was a very positive but direct conversation. Senator Heath was gracious and took it all in stride. He seemed genuinely interested in knowing why people didn’t support Amendment 66.
I was left wishing that the legislative majority and the education community that backed this measure had done a better job of listening BEFORE putting such a huge tax increase on the ballot. But, they had the votes in the legislature to push this issue forward along a straight party vote and had enough deep-pocket supporters to throw $12 million to get try to convince voters to pass the tax measure. Righteousness and a big war chest apparently looked like a winner.
Senator Heath seemed convinced that they just need to sharpen their message. But when 65 percent of voters give a resounding NO, it’s not really about the message. The education reform package and tax increase to pay for it were the problem. Tweaking the message won’t help.
Maybe education reformers will come back someday with another proposal. If they try, here’s hoping they get outside the political echo chamber that is Denver and genuinely listen to the needs of Coloradoans, not just the education lobby.
Senator Heath’s visit was a good indication in that regard.
|Tuesday, November 5, 2013|
|King / Queen for a Day: What Public Projects Would You Want Done?|
|Are there public capital projects you want to see built here in Fort Collins? The kind of things I’m talking about would be new streets or widening of existing streets, new community recreation centers, bike lanes or trails, fire stations, police equipment, park improvements, and the timing of traffic lights to name a few.|
The reason I’m asking is because conversations are underway in City Hall about the next capital improvement tax package to bring to voters. The Building on Basics ¼ cent sales tax is set to expire at the end of 2015. Passed in 2005, the measure known as BOB is projected to raise $57.6 million for expansion of the Senior Center, the construction of the Discovery Science Center, widening of Timberline between Drake and Prospect, etc. Most of the key projects have now been completed.
So what’s next? Let the existing tax expire? Ask voters to continue to tax to fund a specific set of projects?
The Chamber will be weighing in on this issue in a couple of ways. First, we will provide input on what projects we believe will have the biggest positive impact on the community. Second, we will take a position to support or oppose the final ballot measure based on its merits (size of the tax, duration, projects in the package).
Discussions are internal at this point at the City, but it’s possible a measure would be on the ballot in November 2014. If not then, it would be spring or fall of 2015.
But the time is now if you have recommendations on specific projects to be considered. If you have suggestions, let me know at email@example.com.
|Tuesday, October 29, 2013|
|Public Supports More Water Storage|
Water is always a sensitive topic in the West. Other places drink it, we fight over it! Even as I look out the window as I write this at the gray sky and damp street and think about the scenes of devastation from the floods only six weeks ago, our water problems in Northern Colorado are usually about not having enough of the stuff rather than having too much.
The residents of Larimer and Weld counties understand the need for water development based on a poll recently conducted by pollster Ciruli Associates on behalf of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District.
Some of the findings include:
If interested in learning more about the poll, go here and see the press release here.
- 72% of Larimer County, 79% of Weld County and 60% of Morgan County residents support the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP), which includes building the Glade Reservoir north of Horsetooth Reservoir.
- Fort Collins residents support NISP 60% vs. 19%.
- Only 8% of Greeley residents oppose it.
- Almost 90% believe Colorado should store water that is legally available to it before it flows out of state.
|Tuesday, October 22, 2013|
|Strong Economy, Sticking Up for Biz, Widening I-25|
|As a member of the Chamber, you are probably aware of the Moving Fort Collins Forward! campaign now underway. It’s a volunteer-led effort to secure the resources for the Chamber to operate next year and accomplish key things for the community and business community.|
Three strategic initiatives being promoted during the campaign involve promoting the local economy, sticking up for business and supporting infrastructure projects. Here’s a little bit of information about each:
Job Creation Initiative. It’s great to be Fort Collins in terms of quality of life and the overall economy. Even so, we have a few challenges, especially when in comes to keeping up with job creation. We rank 7th in the nation in under-employment. That means many of our residents are working far below their education and skill level. This initiative lays out the business community’s economic vision for the community and specific programs to foster job creation. Read more here.
Stand Up for Business Initiative. In a relatively small place like Fort Collins it is important for the local government and business community to work well together. Mostly, that is the case. However, city government does not understand business. Its actions have a profound, and sometimes negative, impact on business and the business climate. This initiative is about directly, aggressively, persistently sticking up for business. Read more here.
Improved Infrastructure Initiative. How is it getting around town these days? How about the drive to Denver on I-25? In light of recent droughts and wildfires, are you concerned about the region’s water supply? Basic community infrastructure impacts our quality of life, our safety and the local economy. This initiative is about telling that story and lobbying for resources to improve key infrastructure in our region. Read more here.
If you see yourself or your company as a ‘community builder,’ consider supporting one or more of these initiatives. We need the financial support to move the dial on these important issues.
|Monday, October 14, 2013|
|Who is Moving to Colorado?|
Census data released last month gives some interesting insights about where Americans are moving. Last year, states welcomed 8.9 million new residents. 7.1 million Americans moved from one state to another and the other 1.8 million were people moving from abroad.
Governing magazine compiled data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. You can find an article about their findings here along with a great tool to look at moving data for each state.
The findings are fascinating. First, only 2.3 percent of Americans moved across state lines though 9 percent relocated within the same county and another 3.2 percent moved to another county in the same state.
The 10 fastest-growing states in terms of registering the most new residents, both from other states and abroad, as a share of the current total population:
Of course, in actual numbers, California, Florida, and Texas had the most residents.
- North Dakota: 6.0%
- Wyoming: 5.8%
- Hawaii: 5.5%
- Alaska: 5.3%
- Nevada: 5.1%
- Colorado: 4.7%
- New Hampshire: 4.3%
- Vermont: 4.3%
- Delaware: 4.2%
- Arizona: 4.2%
Here are mover demographic stats for Colorado:
- Ranking: total movers share of population 6 of 50
- Total movers share of population 4.7%
- Total out-of-state movers 240,666
- Total moved from a different state 205,060
- Total moved from abroad 35,606
- At least some college or associate degree 76.2%
- Median age of movers from different state 27.70
- % of movers under 18 19.8%
- % of movers age 65+ 4.3%
|Tuesday, October 8, 2013|
|Amendment 66 is a Costly Disappointment|
Ballots will be in the mail soon for the November elections. In the near future you’ll receive a special election electronic newsletter from the Chamber with our positions with background information.
In the meantime, I want to get a head start by briefing you on Amendment 66 and letting you know that the Chamber opposes it.
As its name indicates, this is an amendment. In this case, it’s an amendment to the state constitution. Amendment 66:
- raises the state individual income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 5.0 percent on the first $75,000 of taxable income, and to 5.9 percent on any taxable income over $75,000 (a 27.4 percent increase);
- deposits the additional tax revenue from the tax rate change into the newly created State Educational Achievement fund;
- implements legislation passed by the state legislature creating a new formula for allocating state and local funding to school districts;
- repeals the constitutional requirement that base per pupil funding for public education increase by at least the rate of inflation annually;
- and requires that at least 43 percent of state income, sales, and excise tax revenue, collected at existing tax rates, be set aside annually to pay for public education.
Overall, state funding for public education in Colorado would increase by 20 percent.
The Chamber strongly supports effective, accountable and properly funded public education. Unfortunately, Amendment 66 doesn’t accomplish the first two things – effective and accountable – and over-compensates on the funding. In fact, this measure will generate $1 billion annually forever for public education, but proponents don’t commit to better educational achievement by students.
The nexus between educational achievement and individual, community, state and national prosperity is undeniable. Anecdotally we see this cause and effect linkage and actual research backs it up. In short, as a society, if we want to thrive economically, we must have strong public education systems.
Businesspeople understand this; the business community wants and needs strong and effective schools. Those students are our children, and someday they will be our colleagues at work. So in addition to understanding how important education is for a prosperous society and our businesses, it’s important for the success of our children. We also know that the values we hold dear regarding individual opportunity, innovation, free enterprise, personal responsibility, and community are best preserved by an informed and educated populace.
This need and expectation of the business community for effective education heightens our disappointment with Amendment 66. After careful review and thoughtful consideration, the Fort Collins Area Chamber cannot support it.
Our opposition arises from issues concerning the size and perpetuity of the tax increase, our belief that more money will not necessarily result in increased educational attainment by Colorado students, how this tax increase would block resources to meet other state priorities, constitutional inflexibility, the inequity of a two-tiered tax increase and the subsequent drag on the economy. Watch for the special election enewsletter. It will contain more information on each of these items.
Supporters of this tax increase have a lot of money to spend, millions in fact, which they will do over the next month. They will tell us how small the tax is and hint at how great it will be for kids. In the end, it comes down to this: If you genuinely believe this huge tax increase will translate into better educated students support this; if not, don’t.
After studying the issue, we remain pro-education but were not convinced this will help, so we say “NO on Amendment 66.”
|Tuesday, September 24, 2013|
|Government and People at Their Best|
The floods of 2013 were historic and devastating. It will take years and a lot of treasure to put right what Mother Nature rearranged.
Rescue operations are winding down and relief and recovery are now underway. I participated in a couple of sessions last week focused on getting the highway infrastructure rebuilt. State officials including the Governor’s office and the Department of transportation along with key federal agencies like FEMA, the SBA, Federal Transportation Administration were still assessing the damage and the needs and planning to get federal emergency dollars flowing as quickly as possible. Our Congressional delegation came together in a bi-partisan letter to ask the feds to lift the $100 million cap on emergency funding.
Several people including Loveland City Manager Bill Cahill strongly made the point that getting Highway 34 between Loveland and Estes Park is an economic imperative for Northern Colorado. This applies to Fort Collins, too. While the Fort Collins community was extremely fortunate relative to flood damage, we are most definitely not in the clear economically. Over 3 million people a year visit Rocky Mountain National Park. Of those coming from outside the region, many will put Fort Collins on their list of things to do while in the area. Why not drop in to Fort Collins to visit downtown and the breweries? However, with the main attraction now hard to access, we’ll feel the effects until the highway is rebuilt.
I can’t do justice to the personal side of what happened but hundreds of people did amazing things to protect lives and property and take care of displaced people. City officials in Loveland helped Larimer County do building inspections so people could safely get back into their damaged homes and businesses.School district employees rushed to save LaPorte Elementary school using their own tools and equipment and Jax Farm and Ranch opened in the middle of the night to help them. The United Way, the Red Cross, the Community Foundation, the Bohemian Foundation and others stepped up to provide direct help or funding. Larimer County Search and Rescue put people on the ground in remote parts of the county to find and help residents cutoff by the floods. And the men and women of the National Guard were genuine heroes, the first sign of hope for many people living through the worst time of their lives. Innumerable businesses and individuals donated time, money and resources to people who needed it. And so on and so on. Larimer County did itself proud.
Thanks to one and all.
If your business needs help or you know of someone’s business that does, you can find information here and http://www.fema.gov/disaster/4145
|Tuesday, September 17, 2013|
|Putting Northern Colorado Back on Its Feet|
The rugged, wild nature of Colorado is why most of us love living here, but it’s not without its risks as the wild fires of 2012 and the flooding now underway make abundantly clear.
Relief operations are underway concurrently with recovery efforts in places where it is safe and the water has receded. We’ve already been contacted by the Federal Emergency Management Administration and a representative from the Small Business Administration just left my office a few minutes ago. The United Way, Red Cross, Community Foundation and many other organizations and individuals have mobilized resources.
One of the big challenges immediately in front of us is repairing and rebuilding the transportation infrastructure. It will take years and tens of millions of dollars to put it all back together again. The chambers of commerce in our area are coordinating to make the case with area legislators and the Joint Budget Committee to release funds from the state’s General Fund Reserve and other sources to help our communities recover from this disaster.
Here are some sources of information that might be useful to you:
Help your neighbors as you can and let us know if you need help. My number is 970 482-3751 x 102.
|Tuesday, September 3, 2013|
|Money and the Mission|
|“As president your job is to give your professional opinion to the Board regarding what needs to get done and what it will cost.” That advice was given to me many years ago by a chamber of commerce colleague who was nearing the end of a very successful career. I had just hired him onto my staff at a chamber in the southeast. In the twilight of his career, he forgot more by breakfast than I even knew as a young executive. He had led large organizations and had helped communities become economically successful. He was the real deal, and I hired him to run our economic development program but got a sage and seasoned mentor in the bargain.|
As was his way, and in keeping with the nature of our relationship, he offered up unsolicited but helpful advice. At that time I was trying to influence an issue that required a substantial amount of money. It was important for the community, but we didn’t have the money, so he followed up his first offering with this homily: “Don’t shoehorn your dreams into your budget.”
Basically, he was saying that if it was important enough to do, the money would follow…if you made your case. In short, provide a plan, put a price tag on it and lead. At that point it would be up to the business community whether it was important enough to them to fund.
Over the next few months you’ll hear about the Chamber’s Moving Fort Collins Forward! campaign. It’s a fund raising campaign, but its’ more than that. It is Chamber leaders saying ‘This is what needs to get done and this is how much it costs. Can you help us?’
During the summer the Chamber Board and staff pondered questions like ‘What do members value? What big issues would improve the area’s quality of life and economic prosperity? How can we make these things happen?’
The product of these musing is included in the Moving Fort Collins Forward! campaign. Included are 20 events and services and three key strategic initiatives. The initiatives are bigger projects that impact community quality of life and the economy. The Jobs Initiative, the Stand Up for Business Initiative and the Improved Infrastructure Initiative focus on economic development, lobbying and improved public infrastructure, respectively.
In other words, money isn’t being raised just for the sake of raising money. Moving Fort Collins Forward! is about putting resources towards things that improve the livability of Fort Collins and the local economy.
Twenty of the community’s most prominent companies are fielding teams or underwriting the costs of the campaign. Altogether, over 60 volunteers will be raising $400,000 in 10 weeks.
They can use your help. To find out more how you can help, give me a call or click here.
|Tuesday, August 27, 2013|
|Income Tax Increase on Fall Ballot|
In November, Colorado voters will be asked to change the state constitution to increase the state income tax. The money would be dedicated to pre-k – 12 public education. The measure is called Initiative 22. If passed, it will provide an additional $1 billion annually for public education. The tax is not sunset meaning that it would last into perpetuity.
The current state income tax rate is 4.63%. The proposed tax hike has two tiers: income under $75,000 would be taxed at 5% and income over $75,000 would be taxed at 5.9%. Proponents of the tax increases are saying that this is only a 1.3% increase. Well, no, that’s not correct. Going from 4.63% to 5.9% rate is a 27% increase. One immediate concern for me is that many people earning above $75,000 are small business owners whose business income is taxed at the personal income tax rate. If the measure passes, many small companies will see a 27% increase in their state income taxes.
I sat in a session recently in which proponents of Initiative 22 made their case for the tax increases. We all want to support the education of children, right? And we understand that good schools are important to Colorado’s economic competitiveness. Yet, as I listened that day and have thought about the issue since then, I have many unanswered questions. Hopefully they will be addressed over the next couple of months. Among them are these:
- Colorado currently ranks 26th in the nation in expenditures per student, so why is this additional money needed? Specifically, what problems exist with public education in our state that require $1 billion more of expenditures per year?
- For $1 billion more per year what improvements can we expect in student performance? Asked another way, a decade from now after spending $10 billion more for public education than we are today, what improvements will taxpayers see in student graduation rates, test scores and graduates’ labor market competitiveness? At a glance, Initiative 22 looks like a lot more money for the same education results. If that’s not the case, supporters need to explain that.
- Or, is this tax increase largely about backfilling the state public employee retirement system, PERA?
- Why is Initiative 22 being built into the state constitution?
- Why the two-tiered income tax? Doesn’t the higher tier unfairly impact small businesses whose incomes are taxed at a personal rate? Why should they be expected to shoulder a disproportionately higher share of the cost of public education?
- Why has higher education has been left out of this tax measure? Doesn’t a large tax increase like this actually hurt the future funding prospects of higher education?
- How will this measure impact Poudre School District?
Sometime over the next month the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance – the joint state legislative committee of the Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland chambers of commerce and the economic development corporations for Larimer and Weld counties – will recommend a position to the boards of directors of its 5 partner entities. NCLA will be seeking answers to these and other questions.
If you have answers, questions or opinions on Initiative 22, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 970 482-3751 x 102.
|Tuesday, August 13, 2013|
|Fort Collins: Aspirational City?|
|According to Forbes magazine, the Fort Collins area is one of the best places in America for business and careers.|
The Forbes Best Places for Business and Careers list published in early August ranks the Fort Collins / Loveland metropolitan statistical area, as 7th best in the nation. Factors contributing to the score include ‘Cost of Business,’ ‘Job Growth,’ and ‘Education.’ We rank 78, 19 and 9, respectively, out of 200 cities. Other Colorado cities making the list include Denver (#6), Boulder (#26), Colorado Springs (#44) and Greeley (#51).
Then there is the story on TheDailyBeast.com by Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox titled Hot U.S. Cities That Offer Both Jobs and Culture Are Mostly Southern and Modest Sized. The Fort Collins area did not make this particular list, which includes, in this order, Austin, New Orleans, Houston, Oklahoma City, Raleigh, Nashville, Richmond VA, Washington DC, San Antonio, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Dallas, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Charlotte NC and Columbus OH.
Kotkin and Cox used 3 broad factors to determine their cities with an emphasis on economics. They include economy (50 percent), quality of life (25 percent) and demographics (25 percent). They write “…we believe aspirational cities reflect a kind of urban arbitrage, where people look for those places that provide not just economic and cultural opportunity but a cost structure that allows them to enjoy their success to the fullest extent.”
What to make of these two lists? Well, let’s begin with what I call the ‘analytical subjectivity’ used to compile most of these kinds of lists. Said another way, the data used and interpreted by the compilers depends on the judgment of the compilers and what they decide to include and how they weight the factors.
We’ll make great use of the Forbes Best Places for Business and Careers ranking to market the community.
However, we won’t dismiss the Hot U.S. Cities list outright because it does place a strong emphasis on economic factors and affordability. Both the economy and affordability have been key messages that the Chamber has shared with city government officials in recent years. Making a great community by spending a lot of money on quality of life amenities is a good investment only if it adds to the community’s economic competitiveness. In part that means remaining affordable to the bright young talent that will drive the success of our primary employers in the years ahead.
|Tuesday, July 30, 2013|
|Chamber Leading Dialogue on Jobs|
Here are some numbers for you to ponder:
- The Fort Collins area is 7th in the nation in under-employment.
- Research has shown that 10 – 15 percent of jobs in a community disappear annually due to the creative destruction process inherent in the free enterprise system.
- 3 billion people around the world want a good-paying job but only 1.2 billion such jobs exist.
- On a list of 18 community issues, the top three most important things to Fort Collins residents according to a recent poll are creating more quality jobs in Fort Collins, improving the quality of public education and attraction of major employers to Fort Collins.
As one of the community’s biggest cheerleaders, I love bragging about the Fort Collins area. Things are certainly going our way on many fronts. That doesn’t mean that we can afford to be complacent, which is the point of the top three numbers listed above. The short version is that we aren’t creating enough good-paying jobs, we have to run fast just to keep up and the competition for our jobs is fierce.
Clearly the residents of Fort Collins understand all that based on their strong support for economic development.
The Chamber is holding a ‘Future of Jobs’ summit tomorrow morning at Hilton Fort Collins to discuss the latest on the economy and efforts to create more jobs. The Coloradoan editorial board wrote about it on Sunday as you can see here and below. We have a lot of work to do on the job creation front, and the Coloradoan is right when they say we can’t rest on our laurels.
I hope to see you there tomorrow.
|Tuesday, July 23, 2013|
|Maps that Define America|
In keeping with the varying and sometimes eclectic nature of things I write in this space, here is a series of interesting maps from Business Insider.
NFL loyalties? According to one map, the Denver Broncos have the largest geographic area.
Mean center of population of the U.S.? It has migrated from Maryland in 1790 to south central Missouri.
One map shows countries that are of similar size to states. Colorado is comparable to New Zealand and New Mexico and Poland are of comparable size.
Colorado's most recognizable brand is Coors, whereas Florida's is, well....Hooters.
|Tuesday, July 16, 2013|
|9 Things Local Business Leaders are Thinking About|
Recently, I completed a round of small group and individual discussions with business leaders in Fort Collins to determine what was on their minds relative to the community. Here’s a list of some of the more frequently mentioned issues:
- Are we competitive as a community? Successful businesspeople are successful because they take a clear-eyed look at facts and act on them. When applying that to the community, it’s not always clear how we’re doing. City officials tell us that time in the development review process and business costs are competitive, even cheap. Anecdotally, we hear another story. That’s just one example. The point being raised is that it would be advisable if we moved past rhetoric and took a hard look at how Fort Collins really stacks up. In short, do a competitive analysis.
- What will happen when the Boomers bail out of the workforce? 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day in America When they retire, they take decades of experience with them. Companies are looking ahead trying to understand what that means to their ability to service their clients and customers. One idea was for the Chamber to partner with other groups to study the issue in more detail.
- What is happening to the area’s high tech sector? We have just reached an inflection point where mobile computing is now more prominent than desktop computing. How does that impact the high tech sector of our economy? Are we well-positioned? Not well-positioned? There was interest expressed in understanding this better.
- The City Council is a concern because of rhetoric and policies that are anti-business. The big question is ‘What is going to happen two years from now during the next election?’ This was a universal concern. Business leaders cited examples of how long it takes to get things done with city government and foresee how that could get dramatically worse. There was a sense of relief that the community was able to retain Woodward in spite of a challenging business environment.
- Expand I-25 to Longmont. One person said, “I-25 is a dangerous mess. We all go south, we all use I-25.” Travel times to points south including Denver InternationalAirport were cited many times as a growing issue.
- Water development and storage is becoming a critical issue. One businessperson said it well: “Boy, if the recent droughts and fires aren’t a wakeup call about how vulnerable our water supply is then I don’t know what is. We have a problem.”
- Fix the airport. While not as commonly mentioned as some of the other issues, when the airport came up it was mentioned with some vigor. The Fort Collins-Loveland Airport is an important part of the transportation system of Northern Colorado. Loss of the airport’s only commercial carrier makes it harder to maintain and improve the airport.
- Fund the street system. Unlike some communities, Fort Collins has done a good job of getting voter support to improve and maintain its street system. What happens when existing taxes dedicated to transportation expire?
- Tell the business story and hold elected officials accountable. The Chamber launched a program earlier this year called Fort Collins Works (www.FortCollinsWorks.com). It has served as a tool to advance the business community’s economic vision for the community and provide basic tools for explaining economic development and the importance of primary employers. Fort Collins Works received strong praise during my interviews. Expanding it was encouraged, especially the idea of enhancing the City Council Scorecard to make people aware of how elected officials are doing on job creation.
Many more things were discussed but the above were some of the more prominently mentioned issues. As the Chamber is preparing to launch its 2013 Moving Fort Collins Forward! campaign, some of the above-mentioned items will be included.
|Tuesday, July 9, 2013|
|What’s On Horizon for Local Economy?|
Would you rather be living and working in Fort Collins or Detroit? While the once mighty ‘Motor City’ continues to implode, the gods continue to smile down on the ‘Choice City’ of Fort Collins. Clearly different choices by the communities are leading to different results.
So, what is going on in the greater Fort Collins economy and how do we keep our positive momentum? Are there any dark clouds on the horizon? These and similar topics will be covered at the second annual Future of Jobs summit coming up on the morning of July 31 at Hilton Fort Collins.
It’s a ‘don’t miss’ event for anyone interested in the economic future of the area. To learn more and register for the event go to the Chamber’s home page, www.FortCollinsChamber.com or click here.
|Tuesday, July 2, 2013|
|Happy Independence Day|
|We live in arguably the greatest nation in the history of the world. That may sound like over-the-top patriotic boosterism during this Independence Day week, but the facts are on my side. Statistically, Americans are the most innovative and productive people on earth and among the most free.|
My hopes for you over Independence Day are that you’ll unplug from the negative news, thank a veteran or current member of the armed services for their service, hug and enjoy your loved ones and be safe.
And maybe reflect upon what it means to be an American. The values and institutions that make us the ‘beacon on the hill’ are worth celebrating and preserving.
|Tuesday, June 25, 2013|
How much control do we have as a community to create a vibrant local economy? As I noted before, there is a long list of issues and trends that can impact us that are beyond our control.
Fortunately, through the deliberate process of economic development, we can do a great deal to influence private sector investment in our area. We outline many of those actions at www.FortCollinsWorks.com.
One of the things we can do in our smart university town is ‘grow our own,’ meaning foster start-up companies. All cities can do this, of course, but we have a strong set of attributes and assets that makes it more likely in a place like Fort Collins.
One of those assets is the Rocky Mountain Innosphere, which is located on Vine Drive. The Innosphere is a business incubator. Its mission is to “accelerate the success of high-impact scientific and technology startup companies and promote the development of a regional entrepreneurial ecosystem in Northern Colorado.” Fancy words for ‘grow our own.’
While challenging to do, the simple concept is to identify promising start-up companies and provide the support they need through their early days. Not all of them make it and not all of the companies that do survive will become the next Apple. However, the support through the Innosphere improves their chances.
At this time, there are 34 companies in the Innosphere.
The Chamber’s Red Carpet Committee just held an event at the Innosphere this morning to honor them as Business of the Month. It was a reminder to me about what a great asset the Innosphere is for Northern Colorado. The Innosphere doesn’t guarantee that we’ll have a vibrant economy in the years ahead but it does let us focus on our own assets and the things we can control.
To learn more about the Rocky Mountain Innosphere go to www.rmi2.org.
|Tuesday, June 11, 2013|
|A New Chamber Service to Help You Find Talent|
The Chamber has launched a great new service to help you find talent for your company. Some of our employers have expressed an interest in hiring interns to help them on a temporary basis or to identify potential future employees. To help meet that need the Chamber is offering a matching service that allows both students seeking internships and companies seeking interns to find each other. Don’t know how to use interns? No problem. Resources are available to explain how to run effective internship programs. You can find the link on the Chamber’s front page at www.FortCollinsChamber.com or you can go here .
|Tuesday, June 4, 2013|
|Coping with Street Construction|
Good news, bad news. The good news is that Fort Collins has a lot of money to put towards street maintenance and construction projects. The bad news is that it can be hard to get around town and your business can be harmed if access is cut off.
Here are a few things you can do.
|Tuesday, May 28, 2013|
|A Summer Reading List (Or, Dude, You Need to Lighten Up)|
Summer! Finally! Friends, travel, backyard cookouts, hikes, warm weather and…summer reading.
As a voracious reader, I’m often asked what I’m reading. The short answer is ‘lots of stuff.’ I have wide-ranging interests, but my current list runs in the direction of economics, personal and professional development and history. For many people a list like that would be a summer bummer, but I’m pretty jazzed. So, since you asked, here are a dozen books I’m reading.
|Tuesday, May 21, 2013|
|In Appreciation of Business|
This morning I attended the City of Fort Collins’ Inaugural Business Appreciation Breakfast at the Marriott. There were about 200 people in the room. Businesses that had been operating for 75 years or more in Fort Collins were recognized. The underlying theme of the event was city government saying ‘thank you’ to business.
How refreshing! It was wonderful to see city government officially acknowledging the contribution businesses make to the success of the community. Mayor Karen Weitkunat read a City proclamation declaring today “Business Appreciation Day,” and City Manager Darin Atteberry said “We want you to stay here and expand here.”
In most places this would be…what? Routine? In recent decades in City Hall, however, the importance of business to a vibrant and livable community has been downplayed. This is largely due to the worldview of some of the past council members.
Anyway, it was a great occasion and signaled a healthier relationship between city government and its business community.
The event also gave the City a chance to report on all the great work it has been doing relative to economic development. You can find their 2-page overview report here.
Well done City of Fort Collins!
|Monday, May 13, 2013|
|Random Thoughts on Recent Happenings|
Here are a few observations on the passing Fort Collins scene.
Even the horror of an 8-hour city council meeting can produce good results. Incredible. On its surface, the idea of sitting in a meeting for 8 hours is absurd. Yet, that is exactly what the Fort Collins City Council did last Tuesday night (and into Wednesday morning). The big topic of the night was the proposal to redevelop Foothills Mall. The potential for inaction was high. The Council appeared to be divided 3 to 3 because Mayor Karen Weitkunat recused herself from deliberations since she owns property near the mall.
Credit Darin Atteberry and his staff and particularly Council Member Gino Campana and Mayor Pro Tem Gerry Horak for not letting the patient die on the operating table. Atteberry’s team had done their homework and had brought forward a solid proposal. But as the objections mounted, Campana and Horak took on each in turn and worked through every one of them to resolve them all. The final result was a 6-0 vote in support.
There was a story in the Wall Street Journal the next morning about the project. Written before the issue had been resolved, reporter Kris Hudson wrote, “Two investors are taking a gamble on a rare feat in the modern retail-property market: an ambitious redevelopment of a struggling mall in a small city. Developer Alberta Development Partners LLC and private-equity firm Walton Street Capital LLC were scheduled to go before the City Council of Fort Collins, Colo., late Tuesday seeking approval for $53 million in tax abatements and other subsidies for the project…Such a large project is rare in anything other than a large or midsize market…”
A strong developer willing to make a big investment to build a great project to replace a failing property in a medium sized market and some people tried to spike the deal, but in the end, it moves forward.
# # #
Last Thursday evening the 2012-13 Class of Leadership Fort Collins gathered at the Rio for fun and to officially graduate. Their keynote speaker was Tom Gendron, Chairman of the Board of Woodward. It was my pleasure to introduce Tom to share some insights about leadership. After sharing his background and a little bit about Woodward I said “As you know, the Woodward board announced that it will expand its corporate headquarters in Fort Collins on a site just east of downtown.” At that the room exploded in spontaneous applause. It was a nice display of support, one that reflects the feelings of the entire community.
# # #
Mercifully, the state legislature adjourned its 2013 session last Wednesday. We’ll report more fully on the results in the near future but suffice it to say that with controversial issues like marijuana, school reform, civil unions, elections and gun control dominating the calendar, combined with many new (read “idealistic and inexperienced”) legislators meant that tempers were high and civility low. The Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance held its wrap-up luncheon on Friday, and here’s the state chamber’s take on things.
# # #
The Chamber’s 2nd Annual Health Care in Your Future event on May 1, in the middle of a blizzard. Even so, 397 people registered and most showed up. The blizzard somehow seemed apropos while talking about health care reform! Over 3 years after the Affordable Care Act (aka ‘Obamacare’) was passed, the storm of controversy and confusion continues. The speakers that day did a great job of helping attendees understand the changes taking place and what is driving them. Keynote speaker David Rubenstein, Major General, US Army, Retired, who held the positions of Commanding General of the Army Medical Department Center & School and, concurrently, Chief of the Army Medical Service Corps repeatedly made the point that it is now the law of the land. In true military fashion, he made stressed that you have to deal with the reality on the ground, like it or not. You can find the event website here. A couple of book recommendations for you are “Beating Obamacare: Your Handbook for Surviving the New Health Care Law” by Betsy McCaughey, Ph.D. and “Obamacare Survival Guide: The Affordable Care Act and What it Means for You and Your Healthcare” by Nick Tate. Consider the ‘Obamacare’ a marketing device not a pejorative. Both books give a pretty good overview of the law and offer tips on what to do.
|Monday, May 6, 2013|
|Observations on the New City Council|
The 7-person City Council has 3 new members. That much change in the group that runs city government is always a matter of interest, if not concern. One of the first indications of where city government is headed and how the Council will work together comes at the City Council Retreat, which usually takes place about a month after the elections.
The Council met in a retreat this past weekend and representatives of the Chamber attended as observers. Other than Coloradoan reporter Kevin Duggan and senior members of the city staff, representatives of the Chamber were the only other people in attendance. The Council met Friday evening and most of Saturday for a total of 12 hours.
The topics could be lumped into two broad categories: how the city government and City Council function and strategic priorities of the city government and the council members. Specifically, sessions included:
– The Fort Collins Brand
– Council Dynamics, Roles and Expectations
– Procedural Review. Included here were zoning appeals and Urban Renewal Authority items, Work Session procedures, the Council Planning Calendar, Council Procedural Rules and Robert’s Rules and how Ordinances and Resolutions are initiated.
– The Fort Collins Strategic Plan. Included here were discussions of Economic Health, Transportation, Safe Community, Community and Neighborhood Livability, Culture and Recreation, Environmental Health and High Performing Government
It’s too early to tell how the new group will work together and how they will tackle issues. But here are a few observations:
– There was a nice spirit of goodwill. Gone were the over-politicization, posturing and grandstanding of recent City Councils. A general sense of comity prevailed.
– The focus was on doing what’s good for the community. Absent was flagrant agenda pushing.
– Differences of philosophy are still evident. Some clearly were on the side of job creation and a strong economy whereas a couple of other council members were advocates of a ‘stable economy’ and a ‘self-sustaining community.’ These are code phrases for stopping population growth, but at least the flagrant anti-business rhetoric was gone.
– City staff seemed more relaxed. While curious about the new Council, you sensed that they weren’t bracing for the next harangue from a council member.
– There was a lot of conversation about shared vision to continue to create a great community. One council member said “We can see farther because we are standing on the shoulders of giants.” He was making the point that the community has a long tradition of city councils doing the right thing and that the current council and community benefits from that and needs to pay it forward.
– City Manager Darin Atteberry reminded them that the Council plays a role in adding to or depleting the City’s brand by their actions and words every Tuesday night.
– Senior city staffers got a chance to discuss how Council behavior impacts them. One of them said “When we are attacked we muster a lot of energy to respond and defend. We’re back on our heels” instead of charging forward.
– To general acclaim by all of the Council members, one of the new ones said “I want to believe that we don’t have factions but we can work together and respect each other…I think we can be a great City Council.”
That final sentiment will be sorely tested this week as the City Council considers the incentive package to redevelop the Foothills Mall. Here’s hoping they mean it.
|Tuesday, April 23, 2013|
|Mall Redevelopment Proposal is Big|
City Manager Darin Atteberry has put a big, bold proposal on the table to support the redevelopment of the Foothills Mall. The price tag: $53 million.
In serious decline for nearly a decade, the Foothills Mall was purchased last year by Denver-based developer Alberta Development. Since then preliminary site planning has been underway along with tenant negotiations and recruitment. A serious obstacle to the envisioned plan was Sears, which owns its building and land at the mall. That matter has now been resolved with Sears agreeing to sell its existing site and having a self-standing building constructed near the perimeter of the developed mall site. While supportive of the mall redevelopment, the Chamber had opposed the use of eminent domain (government forcing the sale of private property) to secure the Sears site. We’re pleased to see the private parties resolve their issues without coercive government action.
A story in today’s Fort Collins Coloradoan by Pat Ferrier and Kevin Duggan provides an overview of the City’s proposal. The developer will invest $312 million - $230 million for the mall and $82 million for nearby residential.
The City’s financing package uses a combination of tools including a metro district, public improvement fee and tax increment financing. Using these mechanisms, the City’s ‘incentives’ are largely paid for from revenue made possible by the redevelopment project itself. In addition to getting a revitalized retail district in the center of town, the City is also asking the developer to build a youth activity center for $4.8 million and a pedestrian underpass under College Avenue to the Mason Corridor.
The City estimates that the revitalized mall will generate $117 million in new sales tax revenue over the next 25 years.
There are a lot of elements to this proposal and number of issues to consider. What happens to the Midtown Corridor (Prospect to south of Harmony) if the mall does not redevelop? Is this a proper use of the public-sanctioned financing tools like tax increment financing? What is the impact of these financing tools on other taxing districts? Is this fair to other retail areas in town that won’t benefit from these kinds of tools? Etc, etc.
A few quick thoughts:
• Some will argue that this is going to happen anyway so the City shouldn’t have to give up anything in terms of incentives. Maybe, but I don’t think so. The costs and obstacles for the developer are too high without significant financial relief. For decades the city government has demanded ‘high standards’ of developers in terms of high fees and very demanding design and construction standards. Now, for some projects to move forward, the City finds itself in a position of having to use various financing tools and / or waiving taxes and fees to mitigate some of its self-constructed obstacles.
• The Chamber has been supportive of ‘incentives’ for primary employers to attract or retain their payrolls in the community because of the huge economic benefit. Our approach on retail recruitment as been more hands off. In essence, our view has been that if there is disposable income in the community, retail will follow.
• The ‘however’ in this instance is that Fort Collins is the retail trade center of northeastern Colorado, southern Wyoming and the panhandle of Nebraska. Nearly 20 percent of retail sales in Fort Collins are made to people who do not live here. While not as important as the payrolls of primary employers, retail is still a significant source of outside income for the community. Furthermore, retail is an important amenity and generates the revenue necessary for important local government services. A declining or shuttered mall is an economic liability; a revitalized mall is an economic asset.
• The concern that a publicly-backed retail project is unfair to other retail areas is worthy of consideration. Is the city government picking winners and losers? Another angle on this is that a revitalized mall keeps shoppers in town and attracts nonresidents. People coming to the mall also shop in other parts of the city while they are here. But the key is they first have to be here. An attractive regional mall will keep and bring shoppers to Fort Collins.
The Chamber does not have a policy on this proposal yet. The Chamber’s Local Legislative Affairs Committee will take the issue up later this week. If you have thoughts on the City’s mall redevelopment proposal, call me at 970 482-3751 x 102 or send an email to email@example.com.
The City Council will be hear the proposal at its meeting tonight at 6:00. You can attend in person at City Hall, 300 LaPorte Ave. or watch it on Channel 14.
|Tuesday, April 16, 2013|
|Chamber of Compassion|
Promoting job creation, free enterprise, business connections and community prosperity are what the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce is known for. But did you know we help build our community in other ways? Here are some of the recent or current activities of Chamber volunteers and staff:
Be assured that your chamber is focused on our primary job of fostering a strong local economy and business climate. In the process of doing that, however, the Chamber is a place where people who care about their community congregate and find diverse and important ways to build the community by helping others.
- United Way donations. The Chamber staff understands how important nonprofits are to the community. One hundred percent of the staff voluntarily donates to United Way.
- Helping the homeless. The 2012-13 Leadership Fort Collins class has taken on 6 different projects. Two of them are directed at helping the homeless including a “Fight the Freeze Homeless Gear Drive” (Team ‘Maniac Monkeys’) and “Homelessness Connect Volunteer” (Team ‘Eye of the Tiger’). The latter group is raising money for the Sister Mary Alice Murphy Center’s crisis relief fund to help people who need short-term financial assistance. Find out more here. (Note of explanation: The 2012-13 Leadership Fort Collins class divided up into six teams and selected creative names to distinguish themselves from each other.)
- Self-sufficiency. Another Leadership Fort Collins class project this year was “Bike Bank with Matthews House” (Team ‘Serendipity Dogs’) to provide bikes for clients of Matthews House. Also, last year the Chamber’s Red Carpet Committee helped build a home for Habitat for Humanity.
- Wildland restoration. A Leadership Fort Collins team (Team ‘High Horses’) raised money for wildland restoration in support of bringing back some of the areas burned by the 2012 wildfires. They have a Water Restoration Work Day scheduled for April 20.
- Helping cancer victims. The Leadership Fort Collins team called ‘Community Crusaders’ has an event May 2 to raise money for RamStrength, which supports local cancer survivors by providing financial assistance for basic needs, scholarships, programs and services.
- Food for people with disabilities. Another Leadership Fort Collins team (Team ‘All for One’) is raising money to grow fresh vegetables for disabled residents living in poverty. You can find out how to help by going here.
- Food Bank. The Chamber’s Red Carpet Committee and Envision Young Professionals have volunteered at the Food Bank.
- Education. The Chamber Board has teamed up with the Rotary Clubs of Fort Collins and the Innosphere to raise money for 10 area elementary schools to support STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math). Fund raising is still underway. To sponsor a school, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Tuesday, April 9, 2013|
|The Community Money Machine|
Primary employers are a big net benefit to the community. That should be self-evident, but apparently that is not the case based on some of the comments made recently during the City Council deliberations about the so-called ‘incentive package’ to retain Woodward in Fort Collins
To begin, primary employers are companies that produce a product or service in excess of what can be consumed locally. Half or more of that product / service is sold outside the area with the revenue flowing back into and circulating around the community. In short, primary employers are the key to community prosperity.
In the case of Woodward, 85 percent of the $23.5 million ‘incentive package’ is actually paid for by the Woodward expansion itself. Literally, for pennies on the dollar, city government is able to help retain the community’s most prominent private sector employer. And even those pennies spent upfront comeback many times over as the company prospers and grows in the future.
To help people grasp all this, the Chamber has launched Fort Collins Works. To see a short video and read a 1 ½ page brief on the importance of primary (also called ‘base’) employers, go here.
|Tuesday, April 2, 2013|
|Elections Today, Woodward Stays|
I have two topics for you this week.
First, today is Election Day. Hopefully, if you are a resident and registered voter in Fort Collins, you have already sent your mail-in ballot. If not, hand-carry them to one of the three ballot drop-off locations by this evening. Ballots must be in the hands of the City Clerk by 7:00 PM. The locations are:
– Fort Collins City Hall, 300 LaPorte Avenue (open until 7:00 PM)
– Fort Collins Police Services building, 2221 S. Timberline Road (open until 7:00 PM)
– Larimer County Courthouse Offices Building, 200 W. Oak (open until 5:00 PM)
The Chamber has endorsed candidates that it thinks are ethical and will have the best interests of the entire community at heart while supporting policies that foster the creation of good-paying jobs. The Chamber has endorsed:
– Mayor: Karen Weitkunat
– District 1: Butch Stockover
– District 3: Gino Campana
– District 5: Ross Cunniff
# # #
The other topic is Woodward. As you know from the news media and communications from the Chamber, the company was in the process of making a decision about where to site its new $220 million corporate headquarters. Though company leaders looked at numerous locations, Woodward’s first choice was the Link-N-Greens property at the northwest corner of Mulberry and Lemay. Last Tuesday night the City Council voted 6 to 1 to approve a package of tax rebates and fee waivers. Members of the City Council supporting the ordinance were Karen Weitkunat, Gerry Horak, Aislinn Kottwitz, Ben Manvel, Lisa Poppaw and Wade Troxell.
There was strong support from the business community.
City Manager Darin Atteberry, several members of the Council and citizens discussed how epic this decision was for the community. It will have strong positive impacts for decades.
There were a few detractors, of course. One speaker that night said that companies need to ‘pay their fair share’ and the community should not give out ‘corporate welfare.’ I don’t want to dignify that with too much attention other than to say that it reflects a tired and misguided philosophy common with a vocal minority of citizens.
My response is that Woodward has been ‘paying their fair share’ for 57 years. The company’s economic contribution to the community has far, far, far outweighed the ‘cost’ of having them here. And as far as the ‘corporate welfare’ slur, the headline in the paper the next day should have been “Woodward Makes $220 Million Investment in Fort Collins; Might Get $23 Million Back.” The animus of some people toward business is a thing of wonder! Fortunately, a huge majority of Fort Collins residents don’t share this view. (See polling data here on FortCollinsWorks.com)
In the end, after a year-and-a-half, Woodward and the City were able to come to mutually acceptable and beneficial terms. The community will benefit for decades in the future.
|Tuesday, March 26, 2013|
|Decision Time for Woodward|
Fort Collins’s top private sector employer, Woodward, is on the City Council agenda this week. After months of negotiations between Woodward and city government, a proposal is on the table said to be worth $23 million. It will be used to secure the company’s proposed corporate headquarters on the Link-N-Greens property at the northwest corner of Mulberry and Lemay.
This is good news for the community, assuming the City Council adopts the proposal and the company decides to actually move ahead. Council action is scheduled for tonight (Tuesday evening March 26) with Second Reading set for April 2.
Unfortunately, the so-called ‘business assistance plan’ (Shouldn’t it actually be called a ‘community economic investment plan?’) has been characterized in the press as an incentive. I want to take a moment to correct that.
|Tuesday, March 19, 2013|
|The 'Why' Behind the Chamber's City Council Endorsements|
Ballots for the City Council elections have been sent and are due back by April 2. This is the time when people in the business community turn to us for our recommendations about who to support. We announced our endorsements two weeks ago. They are:
- Mayor - Karen Weitkunat
- District 1 (northeast part of town) – Butch Stockover
- District 3 (southeast) – Gino Campana
- District 5 (west central) – Ross Cunniff
Typically we don’t go into a great deal of background information, but I want to share a few insights with you that led Chamber leaders to these endorsements.
Mayor: Karen Weitkunat
- Mayor Weitkunat earned the Chamber’s endorsement due to her long record of public service. She has the knowledge and experience to effectively lead the work of the Council and represent the community.
- Eric Sutherland is articulate but lacks Mayor Weitkunat’s experience and is a single-issue candidate i.e., disgruntled with the Rocky Mountain Innosphere financing.
District 1: Butch Stockover
- Butch Stockover earned the Chamber’s endorsement due to his 16 years of city government-related experience on the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning & Zoning Board. His experience as a one-time small business owner in Fort Collins is a plus. He is quiet and thinks before he speaks. Of the four candidates in this race, he has the most balanced perspective.
- M.L. Johnson has a long record of public service on the school board. That might translate well and generally is a plus. We found him uninformed on city government issues, however, and he is not incisive when discussing community issues.
- Bob Overbeck is behind the two above-mentioned candidates in relevant public experience. He did not seem very interested in business or economic issues, and he declined an economic briefing by the Chamber. It’s not clear that he would be accessible to business or care about the business perspective, if elected.
- Bryan Payne is a newcomer to politics. We found him to be a nice, sincere young man who wants to contribute to the community. He has no civic experience and was generally uninformed about community issues.
District 3: Gino Campana
- Gino Campana earned the Chamber’s endorsement due to his service to the community on the Planning & Zoning Board. We found him to be generally well-informed on most city-related issues. Additionally, his family has been in the community for a long time, which brings an appreciation for and understanding of Fort Collins.
- Lynda Blake is a newcomer to Fort Collins and was generally uninformed about community issues. We were not clear on why she is running or what she believes. On the plus side, she was eager to get an economic briefing and has been accessible. We sense that if elected she would at least be open to hearing various perspectives.
District 5: Ross Cunniff
- Ross Cunniff earned the Chamber’s endorsement because of his service to the community on the school board. We are not convinced, yet, that Mr. Cunniff cares about business in general (‘local’ business, yes, but not business in general) or the economy. If elected, only time will tell if he is willing to seek all perspectives. Even in the face of those concerns, his public experience won the day, as did our expectation that he could grow in office, if elected.
- Patrick Edwards would bring a needed perspective to the Council, a young perspective. That view will be lost as Aislinn Kottwitz leaves the Council. We found Patrick to be engaging and bright. His inexperience was his biggest negative.
Several resources are available that might be useful to you. The candidates all filled out questionnaires, which are posted at FortCollinsWorks.com under the Candidate Positions icon. On the same site, you’ll also find the results of a recent public opinion poll under the Voter Research icon. Finally, you can find video of the City Council Candidates Forum at http://vzaar.com/videos/1194940 and the Mayoral Candidates Forum can be found at http://vzaar.com/videos/1194945.
This is an important election for the community. Please take time to vote!