Maximizing assets, finding the right regional brand, creating a strong southern Colorado voice at the capitol, leveraging our incredible educational institutions and highlighting our national treasures. These were just a few of the opportunities that were identified during a summit convening business voices from around the region July 1 at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
This unique meeting included more than 75 business leaders from as far north as Castle Rock, as far south as Pueblo, as far east as Calhan and as far west as Teller County. They all came together to talk about what was needed to enhance the economic vitality of the southern Colorado region.
The meeting was sponsored by the Southern Colorado Business Partnership, an organization that includes chambers of commerce, economic development corporations and convention and visitors bureaus representing more than 4,000 businesses and 140,000 employees in a four-county region (Douglas, Teller, El Paso and Pueblo).
Attendees at the summit heard from Michael Langley of Langley Group, an economic development consulting practice, on why regionalism matters. If our region is to effectively compete in the global economy, we must collaborate on common strategy, focus and goals.
The ingredients necessary to move forward include a deeper understanding and application of regional marketing and promotion, public policy research and analyses and public advocacy at the federal, state and local levels. Langley highlighted for the group his “Regional Cycle of Success” theory, which illustrates that when other regions around the United States bring together the public and private sectors — the industrial non-profits — and lace their efforts with a heavy dose of grassroots involvement — the citizens — astounding success happens in that region.
Attendees also heard from Taryn Edwards, who is the executive director of the governor’s Jobs Cabinet. Edwards talked about her commitment to helping Colorado businesses overcome the challenges to the economic recovery and the importance of business to fostering economic growth in Colorado. She also introduced Rico Munn, the director of the Department of Higher Education who talked about his desire to see a greater partnership between education and business as the business community is impacted by the type of work force the education system produces.
Attendees then engaged in a “SWOT” analysis for the region, identifying regional strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and a media panel joined in with its analysis of the region.
The SWOT exercise identified some key strategic imperatives for the region which will be published by early fall and a detailed implementation/action plan, which will be published by late fall. By the end of this year the organization will begin the implementation phase.
As one attendee so insightfully stated, this was a magical moment in the history of our region. A moment informed by a collective appetite to advance the greater good of our region and, ultimately, the state.
It was inspiring and encouraging to see business coming together from many places in southern Colorado, dedicated to collaborating on identifying solutions to economic challenges, finding ways to create more jobs, addressing problems that impact the whole region, and proactively searching for opportunities to move the region forward.
It truly was exciting to see every one so engaged and more importantly wanting to stay engaged as the process continues. There will be much more to come as the months unfold. Our citizens will be the beneficiaries of this effort and we look forward to sharing more outcomes with you in the future.
Randy Scott is the executive director of the Southern Colorado Business Partnership, which can be found at www.southerncoloradobusinesspartnership.org