Will the real leader please stand up?

Filed under: Opinion | Tags:, , ,

Why does the business community shoulder so much of the heavy lifting in this community?

I was in the business community meeting about bringing AngelouEconomics to town to do the Operation 60thirtyfive study. The idea was to get a blueprint of what we want to be when we grow up and identify specific industry types to recruit to Colorado Springs.

I remember saying, “Shouldn’t we get better elected leadership or try to change our form of government before bringing a consultant to town?” I was overruled and it was decided to move ahead with the Angelou study.

Then I was at another business meeting when Angelos Angelou of AngelouEconomics stood up and asked the group of business leaders, “Who is your visionary in this city?” You could have heard a pin drop in that room.

It is unfortunate that the community and elected leadership is caught up in the U.S. Olympic Committee headquarters-LandCo debacle right at a critical time when we need our elected leadership to be on the forefront of 1A Jobs Now.

Luckily, some 50 percent of mail-in ballots had already been returned prior to news of the the USOC deal troubles being broken by our newsroom.

During the St. Patrick’s Day parade, I had an, er, discussion with the anti-jobs people. I asked them some simple questions such as, “Do you know how many jobs we lost last year?” and “Do you know what cities we compete against for jobs?”

All I got was blank looks with no answers. Then I asked, “Do you know what the return on investment was when we gave Western Forge $200,000 to stay here?”

Again, I might have well been talking to someone who has been living in the Cave of the Winds for the last several years. By the way, in case you missed my column on this, the answer is $5 million for the first year and $59 million over a five-year cumulative period.

I also asked, “How can you be peddling vote ‘no’ on 1A when I cannot even have a logical discussion with you on the issues facing our community?”

They just started bloviating about corporate welfare that they couldn’t back up with any logical discussion.

I have always said life is about timing, and the timing is not very good right now with the lack of perceived elected leadership.

Regarding the USOC mess, it is unfortunate that City Councilman Jerry Heimlicher commented on John Hazlehurst’s blog. “John, it is a shame we are learning of this in the press, but I am glad we have been alerted so we can determine what needs to be done to save this deal for our community.” Shouldn’t City Council have been closer to a deal that, if it went south, could mean losing an icon and economic driver for our community?

Now, more than ever is the time to vote “yes” on one 1A.

Sean Paige, former Gazette editorial page editor and now executive director of Local Liberty Action, an anti-everything group, took a shot at me in a blog burst, insinuating I was in favor of more economic development money: “Journal publisher Lon Matejczyk supports the measure, and in a recent blog post — http://csbj.com/publisher/2009/03/11/vote-yes-on-jobs-now/ — he called those who think differently ‘cheapskates.’ Maybe Matejczyk harbors hopes that the taxpayers will help fund one of his pet economic development projects: a downtown rugby stadium. You heard right: a rugby stadium.”

A multi-use sports facility, space museum, children’s museum and a possible USOC hall of fame would help resuscitate the southwestern area of downtown, but that is a discussion for another time.

If we were to lose the USOC how many jobs either directly attached or secondary to the USOC would be in jeopardy?

Now, more than ever, is the time to vote “yes” on 1A Jobs Now.

Lon Matejczyk is publisher of the Colorado Springs Business Journal. He can be reached at Lon.Matejczyk@csbj.com or 329-5202.