Editor’s Note: The Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, formerly the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC, is in Washington, D.C. this week – meeting with the Congressional delegation, the group’s lobbyist and learning more about ways to connect the business community. The CSBJ will provide daily updates of the group’s activities and what they’re learning on the trip.
The fiscal cliff won’t disappear all by itself – and Congress can’t vote it away.
That’s what the Business Alliance learned the first day of its trip to the nation’s capital when members met with Bret Loper, policy adviser to House of Representative Speaker John Boehner.
“Basically, he said that the credit rating agencies aren’t going to let Congress decide to do nothing,” said Alliance President and CEO Joe Raso. “So they will address it. But he said after the election, Congress will be considering issues with the nondiscretionary part of the federal budget – things like Medicare and Medicaid – that take up two-thirds of the budget. To this point, it’s only discussed discretionary spending.”
The Washington insider acknowledged that uncertainty around sequestration is harming business, but said that there would be some resolution before January. He encouraged the group to make a list of issues and concerns – and to make sure that it got to the Colorado Congressional delegation.
“One of the things I challenged the business community with is to pressure the Colorado delegation to work together in a partisan way,” Raso said. “And apparently, they’re starting to do that. It’s good news to hear.”
The group also learned more about the ways George Mason University connected with its business community, said Dr. Venkat Reddy, dean of the College of Business at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Reddy said the group met with people in charge of the university’s leadership institute.
“I think this is something we could do,” he said. “They not only have a leadership program, but they send a coach to follow up later, to make sure that the person is still following the plan and the things they learned.”
George Mason also had something in place that will take years to replicate, Reddy said. The university has a vice president of research and economic development that oversees a combined Small Business Development Center and five incubators.
“It was interesting to see all of that in one place, with all the resources right there,” he said. “And we’ll have to strengthen the programs we already have first, and then see how we can all collaborate. We’ll have to bring the business community together to see ways something like this could work here. It was amazing they have five incubators.”
Monday was the Business Alliance’s first day in Washington, D.C. Tuesday the group splits into five different sectors to meet with people at the Pentagon, in health care and in the business community.