All I want for Christmas is a full-time D.C. lobbyist

Filed under: Opinion | Tags:, , ,

As hard economic times continue, and economic development becomes more important, it is time for the Springs to consider hiring a professional Washington, D.C., lobbyist.

Community leaders have been making trips to Washington, D.C., for some time, but, where’s the financial gain for the city?

Howard Marlowe, principal of D.C.-based Marlowe and Co., a lobbying company that specializes in economic development by capturing pork-barrel spending, said Colorado Springs could hire his company for between $50,000 and $70,000 a year. His company has 19 employees, and they represent scores of municipalities across the United States.

Spending that amount makes more sense to me than spending on some consultant’s report.

And, an investment in a lobbyist might provide that measurable gain I was talking about.

Marlowe’s Web site says the company recently helped persuade the federal government to build a $53.8 million federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, Fla.

Colorado Springs could certainly use a federal courthouse, right?

A $50,000 annual investment for a $53.8 million federal court house is a pretty good return. I don’t even have to fire up my 10-key adding machine to know that makes sense.

Consider what we might already have lost out on by not having a lobbyist — or what we might lose in the future.

The Springs is home to a lot of military bases that other cities would love to have. If we were to lose one, there could be some serious hardship on our economy. Huntsville Ala., has had a paid lobbyist for over ten years and currently pays them $68,000 annually. They could be working on stealing one of the regions military assets as you read this.

Base realignment and closing meetings are just around the corner, and the Springs needs some heavy hitters in that city on the Potomac or more economic pain may be coming the Springs’ way.

BRAC is usually on a five-year cycle. The process has not been started for 2010, so 2012 could be the year it gets ramped up for 2015.

The Springs needs someone in D.C. working for the city and region that knows how to deal with appropriations and who knows where that one influential staffer has morning coffee or an evening martini.

Relationships with D.C. decision-makers need to be strengthened. Sure, there are well-meaning people with political ties here in the Springs, but it is not like being inside the beltway every day walking the halls and knocking on doors.

Economic development is a competitive business, and Marlowe says hard economic times are increasing the competition. Colorado Springs needs to control some pork-barrel money.

It’s time for Colorado Springs to step up.

I guess you know now what’s on my Christmas list. I wonder if Santa will come through.

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