Our community was recently characterized as a “backwater,” which is defined as “a place regarded as cut off from the mainstream of activity and consequently regarded as quiet or unimportant.”
Whether the comment was uttered out of frustration, with no malice or forethought, or if it only referred to our involvement in the world of renewables or “green” energy, I would like to respond:
My first thought, naturally is, “How dare you?”
We have made a choice to live here, to raise our families here, to work here, to grow our business here, or to even grow old here in retirement, and, yes, that means to die here. There is nothing keeping us here but the fact that, despite our ability to live anywhere else in the world, we chose to live here.
The reasons for that choice are many. Experts who compare communities in an unbiased manner consider us one of the best places in the country to live.
Our rankings, in fact, are impressive. In just the last 18 months we have been recognized near the top in almost 30 national publications.
That includes sixth place on Forbes.com’s “Most Wired City;” a third-place ranking on the Midsize Magnet city list by Next CitiesTM; and ninth in MSNBC’s ranking of America’s Best Midsize Metropolitan Areas. We even ranked sixth in the Top Ten Alternative Fueled City Fleets list. To see 17 pages of rankings over the past decade go to www.coloradosprings.org
I am part of an organization, the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp., which has the responsibility to promote or sell our region.
In our efforts to attract and retain quality jobs for our community, we promote the strengths of our region to hundreds of companies considering a place to relocate or to expand their businesses.
We also work with national site-selection consultants that have a requirement to compare communities as they evaluate and recommend to their clients the best place for a business to grow.
We have been told that there is more interest in our community than most and we have found that once a prospect visits our community, they fall in love with it — just like we did. Our closure rate exceeds 70 percent. In fact, last year, 100 percent of those companies that were looking for a place to relocate or to expand, that visited us, decided we were the best place for their business.
We have many positive characteristics that matter to these companies just as they matter to us.
We have the benefit of an active community working hard to identify where improvements and changes need to occur, while attempting to maintain the many reasons why we love living here.
While we are not perfect, we are a city to be envied in many ways.
Given our workforce talent, unique assets, abundant resources, quality of life, culture and passion for our community, I don’t believe that “backwater” belongs anywhere in our description.
While others may disagree, what matters most is that we love it here, on most fronts our future is bright and while critical of ourselves, we have plenty to be proud of.
Kazmierski is the president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp., a jobs-creation organization.