By Douglas Stimple
CEO of Classic Cos.
Do you believe our community needs to take more decisive steps to create, attract and retain jobs for our residents and families? If you are one of the 79 percent of our residents who indicated such a belief in a recent community poll, an opportunity exists to make that a reality.
Vote “yes” on Issue 1A; entitled JOBS on your ballot.
Economic vitality is the No. 1 strategic objective in our city’s Strategic Plan. Yet it is also one of the only objectives without any meaningful, dedicated funding sources. Having a healthy, growing economy is of vital public interest, especially in a community that is heavily reliant upon sales taxes to provide the services we demand and enjoy, and to assure that those services can be provided for the least burden possible on all of us.
This is an investment by our residents, for our residents.
It is often stated that quality of life begins with a good job. Never have so many of us felt the reality behind that thought. Are you aware that on average over the past two decades we have lost 2,000 jobs each year and that in the last year alone we lost over 6,000 jobs?
Are you aware that just to employ our resident population and our children we need to create approximately 2,500 jobs each year?
The jobs that Colorado Springs has created, attracted and retained over the past decade have been filled by existing residents over 93 percent of the time. Yes, these are demonstrable and unassailable facts which require us to think strategically and thoughtfully as we assess our future.
Please take the time to understand the JOBS proposal; do not be swayed solely by sound bite messaging that focuses on the negatives.
The JOBS measure is a public-private partnership that builds on the successes of the past and enhances our ability to compete in the marketplace of economic vitality. Without raising taxes, JOBS will provide a meaningful funding stream for our community to invest in jobs.
This meaningful funding stream is built from a modest investment by each of us – about $10 per year on a median priced home. This is not a tax increase; rather it is a request by our city to leave in place the mill levy that is already in existence and to dedicate that money to jobs.
We have an educated work force, an exemplary quality of life and educational facilities that are growing in size and reputation. By taking advantage of these assets and the funding stream created by JOBS, we will be able to take our underemployed and make them appropriately employed, and we will take our unemployed and provide them a living wage.
The Colorado Springs City Council, with advice and input from a Citizen’s Advisory Committee, will govern these funds. The process will be transparent and the measure will sunset. These funds will be invested with appropriate criteria and metrics in place, such as number of jobs created or retained, average wage of these jobs, and investment in plant and equipment. In short, the focus will be on return on investment.
Potential uses of these funds include: assisting current employers to expand their facilities for new jobs, partnering with the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs or Pikes Peak Community College to retain our young professionals and train workers for quality jobs, marketing the community to potential employers, supporting local start-up companies, using these funds as matching grants for state and federal funds, paying for a needed piece of community infrastructure to allow for expansion or attraction, and supporting research and development efforts within growing business clusters.
We as a community must continue to focus on all facets of our business climate to ensure that Colorado Springs remains a great place to live and work. Make no mistake that the JOBS measure is only one part of the arsenal that is needed for our community to continue to create job opportunities, but it is a critical component that is currently missing.
As a community, let us determine that the time has come for us to make an investment in our collective future and the future of our children. Please vote “yes” on 1A JOBS.
Douglas Stimple is CEO of Classic Cos.