Create partnerships with Denver.
Collaborate with the county and the rest of the state.
Become Colorado Springs’ business recruiter, head cheerleader and economic developer.
Those are just some of the pieces of advice from Colorado Springs’ top business leaders for the city’s newly elected strong mayor, Steve Bach, who has said that enhancing the city’s business climate is a priority.
Here’s what else local industry leaders had to say:
Executive Director, Convention and Visitor’s Bureau
“The only other strong mayor in the state is in Denver. Reach out to that city. There are opportunities for partnerships that could strengthen Colorado Springs, particularly in the tourism industry.”
CEO, The Space Foundation
“To a great extent I think the space industry wants what everyone wants, a great quality of life for our families, good infrastructure — especially good schools, and a responsive city government that is cost-effective, focused on service to citizens and non-bureaucratic. A strong mayor also needs to be the chief advocate for our city, actively representing our interests with state and federal government.”
President and CEO, Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce
“We need a visionary leader in front. The mayor has to be strong in terms of visible leadership. He sets the tone, tenor and vision for the community. That’s the role the mayor plays. Leadership takes all forms. Every voice needs to be heard. The city needs a high sense of transparency and a respect for dissenting opinions.
“Jobs are the end all, be all right now. And that doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Business can be a resource to the mayor, and come alongside. Politics has to be informed by the business community.
“Be bold. Take measured risk. Leadership can’t hide. Make a decision and stand behind it — despite the critics.”
President and CEO, Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp.
“There are two things that should be on the top of the list. The first should be to restore trust in government and strengthening relationships between the city and the county.
“The second should be support for job creation. We’re fighting in a very, very competitive environment to grow the economy and attract new jobs. The mayor can be a tremendous help in that process.
“We want him to be part of our attraction team. That’s the biggest impact the mayor can have. He can be out there, visiting companies with us, working aggressively to promote and market the region. It’s an incredibly time-consuming job, and we need him to commit his energy to creating jobs in an environment with 30,000 people out of work in the city.”
CEO, Colorado Springs Technology Incubator
“The incubator is in the business of identifying and growing viable business to create jobs in the region. One of the buzzwords now is economic gardening — a fanciful way of taking a business to the next level, from 10 employees up to 100 employees. There’s a lot of research that shows there’s a real payoff there — a lot of jobs and a lot of stickiness.
“But how do you do that? That’s where the mayor can help. We need collaboration between the city, county and state. We’re not coming to the city with our hands out for more money — we want to work together to explore opportunities. It’s something that the mayor should look at proactively.”
President of the Home Builder’s Association, Classic Homes
“While the mayor will have many aspects of his new position to focus on, the real estate and development industry will continue to work with all levels of city staff to continually analyze and improve the current process and procedures. While some may assume the keys to the city are being handed out, the reality is that the city has a very thorough and comprehensive review and approval process for all levels of development which everyone must abide by. Great strides have been made over the years in creating a positive and constructive environment for communicating ideas and concerns regarding the process from both sides of the table. We’d like to see this effort continue and flourish under the new administration.
Some suggestions would be:
1) Continue to understand the current economic conditions and work with staff/industry on existing approval extensions for plans and entitlements and smaller phasing of construction.
2) Continue to work with staff and industry to examine and streamline existing policies and procedures, as well as scrutinizing new proposals from a cost/benefit standpoint.
3) Maintain an open dialogue between city staff and the industry. This is paramount in allowing both sides an understanding of each other’s challenges and opportunities to produce creative new residential, commercial and industrial projects.
CEO, Memorial Health System
“If Colorado Springs could tap the economy’s largest sector, grow jobs five times faster than the population, decrease the operating cost for businesses while increasing productivity, attract new companies and talent, tap adjacent markets over 40 percent larger, all while decreasing tax risks and at no cost to the city, would you do it? That’s the opportunity Colorado Springs has in health care.”
Executive Director, Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region
“The arts improve our quality of life, attract young professionals and a skilled, innovative workforce, and strengthen the overall economic well-being of a community. Mayor Bach should give arts groups a seat at the table — we will help him address community challenges with creative ideas.”
Advice from web readers here.