Duening all about creating value for community

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Thomas Duening thinks local governments should get “out of entrepreneurs’ way.”

Thomas Duening thinks local governments should get “out of entrepreneurs’ way.”

After growing up playing streetball and fighting neighborhood grass fires with brooms, being accepted to graduate school changed Thomas Duening’s life.

Although he could out-jump his college teammates and dunk two-handed, these days he uses his highly analytical mind to study the theories of economics.

Duening is fascinated by economic conditions and how wealth is created. Experience has shown him that local governments throughout the nation ought to be “encouraging value creation by getting out of entrepreneurs’ way,” which means offering appropriate tax structures, policy environments and the dynamics of resources, people, intelligence and knowledge.

Duening took time recently to tell CSBJ about himself and his organization.

Organization: University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Position: El Pomar Chair of Business & Entrepreneurship and director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, College of Business

Hometown: Sheboygan, Wis.

How long have you lived in Colorado Springs: Two months

Education: Master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota

A few words about your organization: UCCS is growing, changing and inventing new ways of meeting the educational, research and service needs of the region.

Recent accomplishments: Just finished my new book, “Technology Entrepreneurship: Creating, Capturing and Protecting Value.” The project took 18 months and was delivered on deadline.

Biggest career break: After a chance meeting with an engineer 20 years older than me, I started my first business and we ran it for seven-plus years. He was my first mentor in business. My next big break came immediately after that when I was hired by another great mentor to be the assistant dean of the business school at the University of Houston. This time, I was mentored into the life of an academic, including how to write.

The toughest part of your job: Staying focused on creating new value every day.

Someone you admire: In general, I do not have idols or individuals whom I admire. I admire all people who create real value and who get things done.

About your family: I’ve been married 29 years and have two daughters, both of whom graduated from Arizona State University. They are now living and working in Phoenix.

Something else you’d like to accomplish: I want to write a book that becomes a best-seller. I have written 12 books and have had some modest success. I want to find a message that will attract and help people, and that will get them talking and thinking about what I’ve put into words.

How your business will change during the next decade: Higher education is changing all the time, although it might not look that way from the outside. Our industry is feeling pressure from online competitors, from parents and students who think our prices are getting too high, and from lawmakers who are struggling with managing state budgets.

Higher education must find new opportunities to leverage its core assets — its faculty and facilities. We have a great brand, a highly knowledgeable faculty, and fantastic facilities. We will find ways to bring new value to the community.

What books are you currently reading? “The Housing Boom and Bust” by Thomas Sowell and “The Road to Serfdom” by F.A. Hayek.

What is the one thing you would change about Colorado Springs? Based on my early analysis of the resources and organizations in the region, it seems that it suffers a bit from a lack of capital.

There is no reason that most of the capital in Colorado must reside in Boulder/Denver. It would seem that there is opportunity here for some capital development, but it must be appropriate to the region and its unique characteristics for venture development and deal flow.