Operation 6035 pitches investment to business leaders

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The outcome of the Operation 6035 action plan, major strategies and economic development targets could determine the city’s economic health and development outlook for years to come — or so say its advocates.

Operation 6035 organizers offered an update on their efforts Monday on the UCCS campus. The event drew about 150 supporters — each of whom was asked by the group’s volunteer chairman, Phil Lane, to contribute a minimum of $1,000 to support the group.

While a number of leaders from business, civic and philanthropic communities were on hand, a few were notably absent. Among them were some high-profile representatives from the real estate and construction industry.

The Operation 6035 implementation committee is comprised of Nor’Wood Development Co. Vice President Chris Jenkins, Keller Homes Vice President and past Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. Chairwoman Pam Keller, El Pomar Foundation CEO David Palenchar, UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak, Vladimir Jones President Meredith Vaughan, attorney Doug Quimby and Dirk Draper of CH2M Hill.

Their job is a big one.

They are charged with making sure action teams are formed to reach all seven of the initiative’s economic development goals, as identified by Operation 6035 author Angelou Economics.

Those goals include:

  • Enhancing community collaboration.
  • Expanding resources to foster entrepreneurship.
  • Establishing the region as a talent magnet.
  • Sharpening university economic development resources.
  • Raising the Pikes Peak region’s international presence.
  • Implementing an enhanced target industry marketing plan.
  • Implement sector-specific actions.

The event was hosted by Shockley-Zalabak, who emphasized the importance of moving past discussion and into collaborative, community-wide efforts.

“I believe we are ready for a renaissance,” she said

Palenchar kept his remarks brief, but reinforced the need for city stakeholders to take financial responsibility for Operation 6035 going forward.

“For the past several years the El Pomar Foundation has focused strictly on helping people meet basic needs like food, shelter for the homeless and getting jobs,” he said. “We’re not funding capital requests as in the past because we’re most concerned about the well-being of our residents.”

Lane extended the invitation to “help stand up” the community through financial or volunteer support.

He also gave four reasons why the Pikes Peak region is a candidate for success in reinventing its national profile.

Those reasons included: UCCS’s bright future as a center for innovation and entrepreneurship; the recent move by area civic and economic development groups toward “regionality,” the “energy” already being generated by the technology industry, homeland defense, aerospace, USOC and the business community as a whole; and by the city’s talented young professionals.

But it’s always helpful to enlist the help of someone who can help move the process along — past reaching for “the low-hanging fruit,” as Shockley-Zalabak put it.

That’s where Pike Powers comes in.

He’s a consultant hired by Operation 6035 to guide the community-building process. He topped off the program with a a few observations about Colorado Springs — and where collaborative efforts might lead.

Powers won his city’s 2007 highest service award for similar economic development efforts.

His main point: once opposing or conflicting parties decide that their over-riding goal is to improve quality of life for all city residents, progress can be made.

Prior to the event, Lane and Powers took a few minutes to answer other questions such as “what happens if contrarians — people opposed to this effort —  show up at meetings?”

“As long as they agree to our rules of engagement, they’re invited into the process. They’d have to check their personal agendas at the door and participate, add value and work hard,” Lane said, adding that Operation 6035 is strictly a “voluntary citizen-led effort.”

Powers agreed. “It’s better to include them than to leave them out,” he said.

And all teams will have to “be intentional in their focus.” That means focusing on specific industries the community will actively work to grow.

“We’ve got great companies right here in Colorado Springs, but we face a world of limited resources. We have to be smart about that,” Lane said.

Operation 6035’s success obviously depends on community and to some degree, political will. And it follows a string of hopeful, but not completely successful previous community-based initiatives.

So far it appears that enough people with enough at stake are on board.

Lane said he expects the results of the fundraising campaign to be complete Aug. 1.

He said he’s eager to get the business community involved, including residential and commercial brokers and developers who stand to benefit as the city grows and prospers.

Becky Hurley can be reached at 719-329-5235 or becky.hurley@csbj.com. Friend her on Facebook.