I am betting this isn’t a headline you will see in your CSBJ any time soon. It was in the Des Moines Business Record.
GCommerce received $2 million in incentives from the state of Iowa and the city of Des Moines to relocate from New York, the story reported.
The company has pledged to fill 157 professional and technical positions by August 2008, with the average salary exceeding $56,000.
GCommerce was the first out-of-state company to move to Iowa as a result of funding that was created by the Legislature in 2003. The Values Fund provides grants and forgivable loans to companies that pledge to create or retain high paying jobs within the state, the story says.
It makes me wonder why some people in our community complained about $100,000 in incentives provided to Western Forge to keep the company here. Come on folks, if we aren’t growing, we are stagnant. Stagnant means we are dying. Gladly, this is not the case.
The Beacon Hill Institute in Massachusetts released a state economic competitiveness report at the end of 2005. Colorado ranked fourth and Iowa ranked 17th. Guess who took first place? Massachusetts.
The institute defines competitiveness as “the policies and conditions that ensure and sustain a higher level of per capita income and its continued growth.” Do we have policies and conditions that will do this? Perhaps at the state level, but I sure don’t see it at the local level.
Colorado ranked second in business incubation, but, unfortunately, 39th in government and fiscal policy. Something doesn’t seem right here. Shouldn’t these two rankings be a little closer together?
We also ranked fourth in technology, but 20th in human resources.
The folks in Louisiana can’t catch a break. They came in last in the overall rankings, and pretty much received low marks in all the categories.
But anyway, back to incentives.
There is a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm called Acuity that has helped Des Moines land four out-of-state technology companies within the past three years, and plans to assist with two more in 2006.
The four companies, two from the East Coast and two from the left coast (California), received incentive packages from the Iowa Department of Economic Development. In fact, Acuity is considering opening a venture capital fund made up of exclusively Iowa start-up companies.
Perhaps there is a venture capital firm that is focusing on Colorado Springs start-up companies, but I just haven’t heard about it. If there are some venture capital folks thinking this way, give me a call.
Iowa ranked 28th in technology, and we are fourth. How come the venture capital folks are looking at high-tech companies in Iowa and not here? Could it be the incentives? I think so.
The CSBJ will be sponsoring a national survey of venture capitalists to find out some of the answers to these questions in 2006. Expect to hear more from me about these issues.
It really would be nice to have the above headline on a news story. Maybe someday, but we have to change how we think about things.

On a sad note

As some of you know, I spent time sailing prior to my newspaper career. I learned The Compleat Angler hotel on the island of North Bimini burned down last week. In my sea captain days, the Angler was where all the captains and crew met to share stories and rum drinks.
It is rumored that the Angler is where Ernest Hemingway wrote many of his books. The hotel is thought to be the main setting for “Islands in the Stream,” which was published after Hemingway’s death.
The 12-room hotel was built from planks of rum-runner boats that were abandoned at the end of Prohibition. The walls were covered with Hemingway memorabilia, now all gone.
I have fond memories of the large porch and courtyard, the dark wood floors (well worn from years of sailors’ Docksiders and islanders’ bare feet), the warm pub where I mastered the ring-toss game and holed up in when bad weather came through, and sitting on the stone wall in the courtyard watching the lively Junkanoo bands as they marched down Kings Highway (a one-lane road).
North Bimini is only seven miles long, and is the closest Bahamian island to south Florida.
I was there the week after former Sen. Gary Hart was on the island with Donna Rice. I docked my boat, Spindrift, just down the dock from the yacht, Monkey Business.
Bahamians have a great sense of humor, and The Compleat Angler had a life size cutout of Rice sitting on Hart’s lap on its porch.
The Compleat Angler was not just a hotel. It represented a way of life, a rare building where the very wealthy would rub shoulders with common sailors, smugglers and pirates. It was one of the places I wanted to take my kids when they got older. Even if The Compleat Angler is re-built, the original will be sorely missed.
As Michael Chekley, co-director of the Bimini museum, was quoted saying in a south Florida Sun-Sentinel article, “It’s like Rome without the Vatican now.”
Lon Matejczyk is publisher of the Colorado Springs Business Journal. He can be reached at lon.matejczyk@csbj.com or 329-5202.