Mayor Steve Bach says increasing the number of jobs in the Colorado Springs area by 6,000 a year is a “stretch goal.”
“It’s 2 percent,” he said during the monthly Mayor Counsel meeting. “I hardly think that’s laughable.”
Bach went on the defensive about his jobs goal at the Wednesday morning meeting, explaining that the data supplied by Summit Economics was that the city needed 6,000 jobs a year for three years to overcome the area’s high unemployment rate of 9.8 percent.
“I’m not attached to that number,” he said. “If anyone has another number, put it on the table. I just think we need a goal, and we need to think big.”
The goal isn’t without historical precedence, the mayor said. The area created on average 6,000 jobs a year from 2003 to 2007, before the recession hit. And, he says, it can happen again.
“We need to get the Chamber and EDC on board,” he said. “But we can reach this goal.”
The City Council members were quick to assure the mayor that his jobs goal wasn’t out of line.
“I like to think big,” said Councilor Merv Bennett. “I’m tired of thinking small. We need an ambitious plan.”
And, if Ultra strikes oil or natural gas in the former Banning Lewis Ranch, the goal will be reached easily, said Angela Dougan.
“I asked in Denver last week, someone who should know, how many jobs we could expect if Ultra finds oil,” she said. “And he said, flat out, 5,000.”
But even as he defended his measurable goal, Bach left room for failure.
“And if we don’t reach that goal in a year,” he said. “So what? We’ll get there in three years, or five years or 10. Let people criticize.”