|Monday, January 23, 2012|
|Fort Collins: Motor City|
Fort Collins is the new ‘motor city?’ Well, maybe so, at least according to a profile piece January 23 on Fox News about the Colorado State University’s Engine and Energy Conversion Lab. It’s titled “America's New 'Motor City'? Colorado city becoming a growing hub for green auto technology.” Long a leader in engines research and technology, the EECL is now more in vogue than ever as fuel efficiency grows in importance.
The ‘Engines Lab’ is on North College in the old Fort Collins Power Plant on the south bank of the PoudreRiver. The city owns the building but leases it to CSU. Just last week the City Council approved the expansion of the lab on the site.
The lab is a great example of how innovative and entrepreneurial communities can ‘grow their own’ jobs.
|Tuesday, January 10, 2012|
|Should CSU Build an On-Campus Stadium?|
Should Colorado State University build an on-campus football stadium to replace Hughes Stadium? Since new CSU Athletic Director Jack Graham posited the idea right after he was hired in early December, it has created an intense buzz in the community.
Price tags vary but such an undertaking would cost between $70 million and $150 million with some saying it would take $200 million.
Is it a good idea? I don’t know, and the Chamber doesn’t have a position on it, yet. However, considering an on-campus stadium has merit, so it was good to see CSU President Tony Frank put an exploratory group in place and commit to an open process with the CSU and Fort Collins communities.
One thing that has always puzzled me as a relative newcomer to the community (9 years) is how quiet the town seems during home football games. How is it possible to have an event with 20,000+ people and hardly notice? Much of the reason is the location of Hughes Stadium. It’s possible to go to the game and largely bypass the community. Some would say that’s good relative to congestion and neighborhood issues; others would argue that it dissipates the economic benefit of having a Division I football program and the energy that goes with being a college town.
So far there has been great coverage by the Fort Collins Coloradoan. The paper has given the story a lot of play and seems to be committed to a full vetting of the issue.
If you have an opinion about the on-campus stadium idea, feel free to drop me an email, email@example.com.
|Wednesday, January 4, 2012|
|Crisis of Leadership, Not Capitalism|
On this blog and in the local print media, I’ve repeatedly advocated for and defended the merits of capitalism. In that spirit, here’s an opinion piece on Bloomberg.com by Clive Crook in which he argues that we suffer a crisis of leadership, not a crisis of capitalism.
|Tuesday, January 3, 2012|
|Chambers Preview 2012 Legislative Session|
A divided state government (Democrats control the Senate and governorship, Republicans have a one-seat majority in the House), an election year, bitter feelings over the recent legislative redistricting, and a need for more budget cuts are the ingredients for an ‘interesting’ session of the Colorado General Assembly, which kicks off next week.
Among others, some of the topics that will likely be addressed during the Session include these:
- State budget. Cuts will need to be made to balance the budget. The rub comes, of course, in the differing philosophies to do that. Republicans want to keep the $98.6 million ‘homestead exemption’ in place for senior citizens while tightening up Medicaid eligibility requirements. Democrats say increased Medicaid spending is required and the state can’t afford the property tax break for seniors.
- Restricting enterprise zones. The Denver Post did an expose’ about a tax break program for businesses known as enterprise zones. There likely will be discussions in the Legislature about how to modify the program.
- Civil unions. Public sentiment continues to shift toward allowing civil unions for gay couples, so the issue will likely be discussed and may again make its way to the ballot.
- Foreclosures. Consumer advocates will press for tightening of foreclosure requirements.
- Workers compensation. Leaders of Pinnacol Assurance are trying to become independent of state government as a provider for workers compensation coverage for business. Business organizations pay into the fund, so they are concerned about the program and are monitoring it closely.
- ‘Green energy’. There will be some legislation introduced to promote the development of renewable energy.
You can learn more about issues that will impact your business by attending the 2012 Legislative Preview Breakfast this Thursday, January 5th at 7:30 AM, which will feature discussions on issues of highest priority to the business community in Northern Colorado.
CLICK HERE to register online. The cost for the event is $18 and includes continental breakfast. The event will be held at American Eagle Distributing Co./Budweiser at 3800 Clydesdale Parkway in Loveland from 7:30 AM until 9:30 AM. Registration and breakfast begin at 7AM.
|Tuesday, December 27, 2011|
|Chamber Sets Goals for 2012|
As 2011 comes to a close, best wishes for 2012 and thank you for your support of the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce!
The Chamber has a full and active work plan for 2012. Top priorities include a strong focus on jobs and the economy, key new programs for members and working to identify business-oriented people to run for City Council in 2013.
The nine objectives for 2012 are:
- Attract and retain primary jobs in Fort Collins
- Foster a strong business climate that creates jobs
- Help members stay informed on key issues
- Grow community leaders
- Identify people willing to run for public office that support business and a strong local economy
- Recognize and celebrate small business
- Help members connect with prospects and customers and have unique and memorable experiences
- Support development of current and future workforce
- Maintain a well-run chamber
You can read a fuller description here.
Happy New Year!
|Tuesday, December 20, 2011|
|2011 Review: A Good Year|
2011 was a good year for our area. Among the 'good news' stories:
- The community’s business incubator – Rocky Mountain Innosphere – opened a new building
- Hewlett-Packard made a major investment in a 50,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art server efficiency research facility
- Fort Collins rated 15th in nation for economic vibrancy among college towns in The Atlantic
- Vestas received a 56 turbine order for a project in Michigan
- Poudre Valley Health System’s CEO Rulon Stacey was listed among the ‘100 Most Influential People in Healthcare’ by Modern Healthcare Magazine
- OtterBox was ranked 70th on Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing companies
- OtterBox opened a new headquarters building on Meldrum next to Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce
- CSU Engines Lab was listed as one of the nation’s top 25 academic laboratories by Popular Science Magazine
- Tolmar, a Fort Collins-based pharmaceutical company, expanded its research and development facilities by 21,000 sq. ft.
- In-Situ, a Fort Collins-based firm that designs, manufactures, distributes, installs and rents equipment for monitoring the quality and quantity of groundwater and surface water, bought WaterraUK
- Fort Collins-Loveland Metropolitan Statistical Area ranked 3rd in nation on Milken Institute’s Best Performing Cities index, which ranks 200 large and 179 small U.S. metro areas according to the most important economic criteria related to growth and prosperity: jobs, wages, and technology performance
And on and on. For a fuller list, go here.
|Tuesday, December 13, 2011|
|A Jobs Plan to Address Fort Collins Under-Employment|
A consulting report titled “City of Fort Collins: Economic Health Strategic Plan, December 2011” has been submitted to the City by Austin-based consultant TIP Strategies, Inc.
I’m going out on a minor limb, but I think this is probably the first-ever professionally prepared, data-driven economic plan in the city’s history, and it’s a good one.
The guiding principles are that the City’s ‘economic health program seeks to create a vibrant, resilient economy,’ and the ‘collaboration of government, academia, companies, and non-profits is the foundation of this approach.’
The plan outlines four main objectives for the community to consider:
- A comprehensive, collaborative, and effective structure for managing economic development in Fort Collins.
- A robust innovation ecosystem and economy that supports companies at all stages of growth.
- A complete system for talent management that meets the needs of current and future employers.
- High quality community assets and infrastructure necessary to attract and retain employers and talent.
The report is chock-a-block full of information and you can find it here.
|Tuesday, November 29, 2011|
|Colorado Innovation Network Announced|
On November 28 Governor John Hickenlooper announced the creation of a public-private-academic collaboration called the Colorado Innovation Network. It will be headed by Dr. Ajay Menon, dean of Colorado State University’s College of Business. Menon will keep his day job at CSU while volunteering about 20 hours per week to the network.
|Tuesday, November 22, 2011|
In the season of giving thanks, there’s a lot for which to be thankful. So, if the headlines of the day are getting you down, here’s the cure: with paper and pencil in hand find a quiet place for 15 minutes and list things for which you’re thankful. If you’re like me, there’s a lot, big stuff and small.
Some of the things on my list this year:
|Tuesday, November 15, 2011|
|4 Great Small Business Resources|
At the Chamber we field many questions every day from the public, visitors and businesses on a variety of topics.
For small companies in the greater Fort Collins region, the Chamber can be a great resource.
|Thursday, November 3, 2011|
|Voters Not in Taxing Mood|
The elections have come and gone and picking over the results is underway. The short version of what happened is ‘yes’ to ban marijuana and ‘no’ to more taxes.
|Tuesday, November 1, 2011|
|Failure is Good, Right?|
We celebrate our victories, but we learn from our failures. It’s probably an evolutionary adaptation. When our beetle-browed ancestors made a mistake around a pride of cave lions, they became lunch The fast learners survived and the slow learners were expunged from the gene pool. In a way, failure is good because it makes us stronger in the long run.
|Vote ‘Yes’ on Question 300 to Ban Marijuana|
Today is Election Day. If you still need to vote, you’ll need to hand-deliver your ballots by 7:00 PM. The drop-off location in Fort Collinsis on the first floor of the Larimer County building at 200 W. Oak Street. Go here for more voter information.
The Chamber recommends ‘Yes’ on Question 300 to ban marijuana dispensaries in Fort Collins and ‘Yes’ on Referred Issue 1A to fund public safety.
|Tuesday, October 25, 2011|
|America on the Rise|
People over 50 will remember the dire predictions in the mid-1980s that the sun was setting on America, eclipsed by an ascendant Japan. We know how that ended, right? The American economy boomed while the Japanese asset price bubble burst, collapsing Japan’s economy. The period from 1991 to present is known as the Lost Decades in Japan. Oh, and in its spare time, America played the key role is defeating communism as famously illustrated by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the implosion of the Soviet Union.
|Tuesday, October 18, 2011|
|Poudre School District Stacks Up Favorably|
Everybody agrees that education is important. Few people agree, however, on how to measure the effectiveness of public education. ACT and SAT test results are one measure. Standardized state tests like the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) might be another.
|Monday, October 17, 2011|
|10 Essential Charts|
Jobs and the economy are the big topics everywhere you go. Usually mentioned at the same time are topics like the role of the federal government to get out of the way or to attempt to stimulate the economy with larger government expenditures and, of course, the growing federal deficit.
The Pew Charitable Trusts launched a Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative in April 2010 that compiles what they call the “10 Essential Fiscal Charts.”
|Thursday, October 13, 2011|
|A Love Letter to Free Enterprise|
“In a free economy, the pursuit of profits and serving people are one and the same. No one argues that the free enterprise system is perfect, but it’s the closest we’ll come here on Earth.” -- Walter E. Williams, John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics,George Mason University.
Capitalism is a beautiful system of human exchange. Millions, even billions, of strangers spread across the globe, acting in their own self-interest help each other. This daily pursuit of self-interest is natural, constructive and largely overlooked as the underlying genius of capitalism.
The uninformed often point to profit motive as selfish and greedy, even manipulative. Basically, they opine, capitalism is about exploitation. That view ignores all sorts of dynamics including free will, the other party’s self-interests and competition. Customers (clients, patients, etc.) bring their self-interests to the table, too. If a for-profit entity doesn’t have what they want at the price the customer is willing to pay, the customer can walk away. They will do business with the company that does meet their needs (self-interests).
Far from being exploitive, both parties work to find some mutual accommodation within the boundaries of their self-interests.
I bring all of this up because free enterprise is under attack in the public square, most recently during the so-called “Occupy Wall Street” protests and their several offshoots. Apply your own values to those events. I’ll largely spare you from mine other than to declare that I love free enterprise. Dr. Williams’ quote at the beginning of this post captures my sentiments exactly.He made that statement in a speech he delivered a few years ago called “The Entrepreneur as American Hero.” It's a classic.
After a recent dose of inane anti-business rhetoric it was restorative to re-read it. If you need the same kind of tonic, I recommend Dr. Williams’ speech to you. You can find it here.
|Wednesday, October 5, 2011|
|Another Tax Increase for Education, or Not?|
On the November ballot is a state tax increase measure for education called Proposition 103.
The specific language is contained in the Colorado blue book. If you’re a current registered Colorado voter you should have received a copy in the mail. Here’s the online version.
Proposition 103 would:
- increase the state income tax rate from 4.63 to 5.0 percent for five years, starting January 1, 2012
- increase the state sales and use tax rate from 2.9 to 3.0 percent for five years, starting January 1, 2012
- require the state legislature to spend the money on public education by increasing funding above the amount in budget year 2011-12.
The Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce has not taken a position on the issue. At this writing very few business associations or chambers of commerce have endorsed it. To my knowledge, the only chambers that have endorsed it are the Boulder Chamber and the Hispanic Chamber. The list of supporters primarily includes boards of education (including the Poudre School District), labor unions, education foundations and liberal think tanks and foundations.
Following are links to information on both sides
|Tuesday, October 4, 2011|
|Learn from New York Times Best-Selling Author|
“In our fiercely competitive world, those who separate themselves from the pack define the interests of others and work tirelessly to help them advance.” So says Tommy Spaulding, best-selling author of It’s Not Just Who Your Know: Transform Your Life (and Your Organization) by Turning Colleagues and Contacts into Lasting, Genuine Relationships.
The Chamber is bringing Spaulding to Fort Collins to speak on October 18. The event will be at the newly renovated Lincoln Center. Previous best-selling authors in the Chamber’s Thought Leader Speakers Series include Jim Collins (Good to Great), Marcus Buckingham (First Break All the Rules), John Maxwell (The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership), Dan Heath (Made to Stick) and Marshall Goldsmith (What Got You Here Won’t Get You There).
|Wednesday, September 28, 2011|
|Colorado 15th Ranked for State & Local Sales Tax|
The cost of government and who pays for it is always a popular politic topic. A study just published by the Tax Foundation ranks states by their average combined local and state sales taxes. Any guesses on which state has the biggest combined sales tax? New York, maybe? How about California?
|Tuesday, September 27, 2011|
|Engines and Energy Conversion Lab Tremendous Asset|
The Colorado State University Engines and Energy Conversion Lab (EECL) on North College Avenue is one of our community’s great success stories.
|Wednesday, September 21, 2011|
|Long-Needed Patent Reform|
In a rare show of bipartisanship, Congress recently passed a piece of legislation to reform the nation’s patent system, and President Obama signed it into law.
|Tuesday, September 20, 2011|
|Local Area Still Clawing Way Out of Jobs Hole|
In 2008 Larimer County had 190,162 jobs. The nation’s financial crisis and recession cost the county over 4,000 jobs over the next year. Ever so slowly, those jobs are being replaced. Today, the county has 187,740 jobs, still 2,422 fewer than the high in 2008. As the charts below show, we basically got bombed back to pre-2007 job levels.
|Wednesday, September 14, 2011|
|Learning from Others|
Last week I participated on a panel that spoke to a group of 75 visitors from Park City, Utah. Later that evening I had dinner with some of our visitors.
Park City, like many other communities around the nation, has a long history of doing what are known as ‘intercity visits.’ Basically, leaders in their community make structured annual trips to other communities to learn from them. It’s an idea worth considering.
|Jobs Agenda Impact on Small Biz|
Yesterday I gave my perspective on the impact of President Obama’s jobs plan. In passing I mentioned some of the tax implications. Here’s a fuller treatment of the tax issue that may interest you.
|Tuesday, September 13, 2011|
|6-Step National Jobs Agenda|
President Obama delivered an energetic, articulate speech outlining his ‘jobs agenda’ last Thursday evening before a joint session of Congress and a national television audience.
As president of an association advocating for business, I’m asked, of course, what I think about such things. In this instance, will what the President is proposing work?
Unfortunately, the answer is ‘no,’ not if the objective is to restore business confidence and encourage private sector investment and hiring.
|Tuesday, September 6, 2011|
|Labor Day? How About Employers Day?|
Labor Day Weekend has come and gone. Some people had to work, of course, but many people had Monday off, a traditional 3-day weekend for a last end-of-the-summer fling. (Technically, the last day of summer is September 22, but a manmade construct like the school calendar overrides the autumnal equinox!)
In theory, though most of us were hiking, at the pool or shopping, yesterday was about celebrating ‘labor,’ as in organized labor. Growing up in a railroad union family, I know how important the union movement was at one point in our nation’s history. Some of the benefits, work hours and safety regulations common today have their roots in hard fought battles of the past.
But the operative word there is “past.” Membership in private sector unions has plummeted over the years.
A friend quipped that we really should replace ‘labor’ with ‘employer.’
|Friday, September 2, 2011|
|Government, Not Business, Reason for Depth of Recession|
An opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal by Gary Becker titled “The Great Recession and Government Failure” argues that actions by the federal government since 2008 are to blame for the depth and length of the so-called Great Recession. A popular political theme has been that capitalism failed. He makes a compelling case otherwise. Becker is the 1992 Nobel economics laureate, is professor of economics at the University of Chicago and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
|Tuesday, August 30, 2011|
|Skills Shortages and Surpluses|
|Newgeography.com is one of my favorite Web sites. For people interested in cities and the issues impacting them, newgeography.com is a candy store of insights and information.
In a recent article titled “A Detailed Look at Workforce Skill Shortages,’ Brian Points of Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc. analyzed 661 Standard Occupational Codes relative to jobs and earnings between 1999 and 2010 to identify two things: potential skills shortages and potential skill surpluses.
|Tuesday, August 16, 2011|
|Light Under a Bushel No More|
Do you know how sometimes you get so busy getting things done that you don’t do a great job to letting people know about it? Well, you’re in good company. The Chamber has a very strong record of serving our members and the community but often under-communicates our accomplishments.
Most of us tend to admire doers more than braggarts, so, in our defense, we plead guilty of being doers! By way of atonement, however, for under-communicating, here’s a list of accomplishments that illustrate the value of the Chamber.