We have good leaders at the helms of our organizations, but we have a hat-full of acronyms: EDC, COC, CVB, PPARR.
What about combining them? Organizations in other areas have done this quite successfully.
Des Moines created the Greater Des Moines Partnership, rolling up all the area chambers of commerce, the downtown partnership and the economic development corporation under one umbrella.
In total there are 22 organizations under the partnership in Des Moines.
This was some hard work, but Mike Blouin, the CEO of the partnership at the time, was successful and was tapped to be state economic director and is now running for governor. There is $1.6 billion in renovation and construction going on in downtown Des Moines.
The Greater Des Moines Partnership’s mission is clear. “While each affiliate organization sponsors its own events, the collective group promotes the development of a strong affiliate chamber network to form a base on which to build a regional economic perspective. The network, supported by open channels of communication, recognizes the diversity of each affiliate and encourages the expanding sphere of influence each plays in the development of their respective communities.”
Omaha has a similar system (the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership) with the EDC rolling up under the chamber. Its purpose is to be “the funding program for economic development activities and initiatives at the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce. These investments provide the resources and staff to attract new businesses, retain and expand current businesses, create a friendlier environment for entrepreneurship and market Greater Omaha nationally and internationally in order to grow our population through creation of quality employment opportunities.”
Kevin Langin, senior director of marketing for the economic development wing of the chamber, said the campaign’s goal was to raise $20 million for economic development during a five-year period
They have raised $18 million from local businesses and are targeting Department of Defense contractors, he said.
What could our EDC accomplish with $18 million?
What could we accomplish if the chamber, the EDC, The Downtown Partnership and Experience Colorado Springs at Pikes Peak all worked together under one roof? There would be better collaboration on projects, economies of scale and communication.
Add to those organizations, which would roll-up under the Greater Colorado Springs Partnership, the Tri-lakes Chamber, the Black Chamber, The Hispanic Chamber, Leadership Pikes Peak and the Women’s Chamber — maybe even the Housing and Building Association. This could become an organization with some considerable clout and the ability to make change happen.
Who would be in charge? We have good leaders, but sometimes good leadership means making the tough call and stepping aside or reassessing responsibilities and organizational structures.
Another area that would be helped by bringing these organizations together is fundraising. Why do all the builders help fund the HBA and the EDC, but are not helping fund the chamber?
Some of the DoD contractors will sponsor an occasional Military Affairs Council luncheon, but where are they in the community?
How about the commercial real estate brokers? These businesses should step up and help fund the partnership. If it wasn’t for the business organizations in town, these folks would not be in business.
It’s time to start having these discussions at some level.
We are competing against Des Moines, Omaha and every other city for business. We should bring the loose ends together so we are all rowing in the same direction.
The community funding for this organization would be seen by all area businesses as the right thing to do. Stop competing for investors and work together to drive our economy, work on political items that will benefit our region and make Colorado Springs the best city in America to do business and to live.
Lon Matejczyk is publisher of the Colorado Springs Business Journal. He can be reached at Lon.Matejczyk@csbj.com or 329-5202.