Broad participation needed for 6035 success

Filed under: Opinion |

By Phil Lane

If you look up the word “renaissance,” you find “rebirth” or “revitalization.” The renaissance, as a period of history, ran from the 14th to 17th centuries, when the arts, culture and science underwent a rebirth and again began to flourish. A central theme to this time period was that communities began a prolonged period of self-examination, change and evolution.

I believe that the Colorado Springs region is on the cusp of a renaissance. Examples of rebirth and revitalization abound in our community. We are examining our form of government and its role in our lives. We are examining critical infrastructure elements, such as Memorial Hospital. We have an administration at the Air Force Academy that is committed to re-engage with this region. We are planning for our future water needs through the Southern Delivery System. Finally, an election in 10 months will likely shape this community for decades to come.

There is significant change at hand, and I believe the opportunity for a rebirth, a revitalization of this great community, is within our grasp.

Operation 6035 was launched in 2009 by a diverse coalition of community, government and business organizations to develop a comprehensive regional economic development strategic plan for Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region. Its initial report identified a lack of community collaboration as a significant roadblock to success.

I disagree with this assertion. Our community needs only broad community initiatives on which to collaborate and a mechanism to get the work done. Operation 6035 provides that platform.

We are an organization with only one agenda: to create an environment, culture and infrastructure that foster this region’s ability to succeed. We will do this by leading or collaborating on significant projects that will impact this community’s future. We have identified 10 to 12 such projects, and you soon will begin to hear about them. We will not tackle them all at once, and some projects, we may later learn, will not be feasible.

This is not about creating jobs today. It is about creating physical assets and supporting programs, nurturing a culture that will make this community more attractive to everyone. It will help us retain the talent we have here, and attract new talent. And it will hone the image of this community and help us communicate what makes Colorado Springs a unique place to live and work.

To succeed we need broad participation from all sectors of our community. Operation 6035 will operate with trust and transparency. An essential requirement for participation will be to set aside personal agendas and work with one goal in mind — to improve this community and this region.

If we take this approach, we will benefit as individuals, as businesses and, most importantly, as a community. The renaissance is at hand. It is up to us to live it.

Lane is leading the development of a community-wide vision for economic development for the Pikes Peak region.