Quality of Life indicates room for improvement

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The good news: Colorado Springs is affordable, has low teen-pregnancy rates and high-quality water and air.

The bad news: jobs growth is not keeping pace, few young professionals remain in the area and alcohol abuse is above the national average.

Those are the findings from the Pikes Peak United Way’s third annual Quality of Life Indicators report, a 120-page compilation of economic, social, public safety and environmental factors.

Organizers say they hope the report will be used to generate interest in areas where the city is struggling. They also said the report has been used to launch other projects: DreamCity 2020 and Imagine Downtown.

“We used this report last year to launch the 6035 project,” said Mike Kazmierski, CEO of the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Council and chairman of the economy vision council. “We saw some things last year – some declining factors – so we decided to study them further.”

Organizers hope that the study will launch working groups to address issues. United Way chief operating officer Lynne Telford said there were already movements under way to address the issues from the education vision council.

And organizers say while the community has much to “celebrate” there’s also work to be done in nearly every area.

“Certainly we should celebrate the good things,” said Susan Saksa of Leadership Pikes Peak. “But those people on the vision councils also believe that we have to know what needs to be worked on, where improvement can come, if we are going to grow as a community.”

The negatives outweigh the positives in the report: 25 percent of third graders read below grade level and the need for free or reduced lunches is growing. The city doesn’t have enough recycling and is losing its underdeveloped land.

To view the report, visit www.pikespeakqualityoflife.org.