What will loss of Pinon Canyon money mean?

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Local economic officials are worried about what affect the Army’s decision to drop Pinon Canyon expansion plans could have on the region.

Pentagon officials said opposition to the plan prompted the decision to instead use the money to buy 100,000 acres near Fort Polk, La.

“It is a concern,” said Mike Kazmierski, CEO of the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp. “The military has no reason to be in Colorado if they cannot train in Colorado. If they need more training space, they will go elsewhere to do it, and the troops will go with them.”

And that, he said, would hurt the local economy.

“The fort is set to expand, and if it doesn’t continue to expand, then those dollars will come to a halt,” Kazmierski said. “We’ll lose some opportunity for increased economic activity.”

Fred Crowley, chief economist at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, believes the region needs to study the possible consequences.

“We don’t know what the effect will be,” he said. “We’ve never studied what money people will spend while they’re in those areas, how long they will stay, what they’ll do when they’re back at Fort Carson. That’s information we need.”

Crowley said the news was troubling, because it could affect relationships between Colorado and the U.S. Army. He said the military is responsible for about one-third of economic activity in the area.

“The change represents a significant lost opportunity for the economy,” he said. “The Army is best positioned to know what it needs – but it’s hard to know if this signifies a change down the road. We are significantly dependent on the military’s presence here.”

At least one person, Brian Binn, vice president of military affairs for the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, is optimistic that the expansion efforts are not dead – merely on hold.

“The Army had to make a decision, and there was still work to be done at Pinon Canyon,” he said. “The secretary of the Army said they were still interested in expanding training – but they have to environmental impact studies, that kind of thing.”

The decision, he said, was simply to move money slated to buy or lease land in Colorado for a single year to Louisiana.

“It’s just this year’s budget money,” he said. “It’s not every year. The Army is still committed to Colorado.”

Still, the decision removed $17 million from Colorado means that money won’t enter the local economy.

“That money is going to be spent in Louisiana,” he said. “The jobs for improving and expanding the area will be in Louisiana.”

5 Responses to What will loss of Pinon Canyon money mean?

  1. Tough Beans! You want the economic development? Then go ahead and take land in El Pisso County. Leave us alone.

    Contrarian
    May 14, 2009 at 1:03 pm

  2. Uhh …duh Mike! You are the master of the obvious! Hey Binn… get a grip on reality!

    RJF
    May 14, 2009 at 2:07 pm

  3. I’ll tell you what the effect will be. It sends a loud and clear signal to the Army that Colorado is NOT willing to even provide the training area it needs out of marginal, remote, ranch land to justify its stationing troops here.

    So just prepare for the eventual shut down of Fort Carson and the billions in payroll, military and civilian it represents.

    I have followed this issue from the beginning. I charge that neither Colorado Springs or El Paso County or State eleced officicials worked hard enough to get the Army what it needed.

    Now they aqre going to pay the price.

    dave hughes
    May 14, 2009 at 3:25 pm

  4. I agree with RJF – duh…..when you push back as hard as S. Colorado did on this land deal, of course the government will take it’s MILLIONS and seek elsewhere. And no, this is not just a one year budgetary issue. This is money left over from the Bush administration who encourages growth in our military. Our new administration is the opposite – shrink our military. Thus I doubt we’ll see this money come back to Colorado Springs.

    And study what Fred? Every time I open a column or news piece, there is the economic suggestion to ‘study it.’ Like the $160k we gave an Austin based consultant who in turn CONFIRMED what we already know and knew – COS get off the dead seat, make improvements to attract companies to our great city. No, we study for months or years and then make a decision AFTER the market has moved past us….

    Of course the Army is committed to this area….they’re only spending millions to move thousands of soldiers and support personnel to Ft. Carson. Ironically, the EDC, Chamber and other figure heads of our city are (and have) all lined up to take credit for this great move…(to many of their credits they did impact the Army in their decision). HOWEVER, that being said, the Armed Forces make decisions on the POM and PPP years well in advance of ‘talking to the locals.’ With the transformation of the Army, Ft. Carson and it’s location continue to be ideal for expanding and moving soldiers and assets here. The Pinon deal is a strike against our state for it’s short sidedness to not work aggressively with the landowners to find a middle ground.

    Ken G.
    May 14, 2009 at 3:33 pm

  5. Our wonderful city managers thought it was ok to steal citizens private property on North Academy a few years ago under the claim of emminent domain… that the city could rezone it and make more tax money off of it as commercial property. Our founding fathers are probably still spinning in their graves over that one. Respecting the property of private citizens has been the one differentiating feature of our Constitution and country. Now that cities and our Supreme Court view foreign law practices more important than the Consititution, we are just sliding further down the slope of globalism. No where in the UN laws are private citizens rights to the ownership to property upheld.
    As to Pinon Canyon, I can’t think of a better example of claiming emminent domain. When the federal government needs land to better improve the perfromance of the military that protects us, what better reason could there be?
    In the future, don’t be surprised when Ft Carson starts downsizing and moving units to Ft. Polk. Another screwed up deal like USOC and the semiconductor industry presented to us by the City Council. Some of you may remember that Colorado Springs was going to be the ‘Silicon Mountain’ of the semiconductor industry. We even had a few international symposiums based on local semiconductor and electronics companies products and plans. At those symposiums, we had editors from all of the major domestic and international publications in attendance. But, EDC could not get the state of Colorado and Colorado Springs to offer equitable incentive packages,

    jocko
    May 14, 2009 at 5:32 pm