More and more, I am thinking about re-opening the Pueblo Business Journal and moving to Pueblo. They understand economic development.
Pueblo has decided that they have enough call centers, and that they won’t accept any more of this type of business, according to one business leader from Pueblo. On Wednesday, Pueblo County Commissioners approved submission of a “unique, private, exclusive RFP to Helios Energy Partners LLC out of Denver,” said Greg Severance, director of Public Works for Pueblo County.
Yeah, probably nothing really, maybe another River Walk or conference center.
How about a 2,200 acre, 200-megawatt solar array?
The idea here is that Helios will build the facility and then sell the energy to utilities, industrial customers and/or government installations. The project is slated as a land re-use plan for the Pueblo Depot, the old Army base that was closed as part of the base realignment and closure process.
The proposed project’s initial cost is estimated at $900 million. How many jobs and how much economic impact will it have on Pueblo County? Twenty-two hundred acres on the tax roll, sharing a portion of the power purchase agreement, tourism to see the largest solar project in the world, not to mention the construction and primary jobs associated with a project of this size.
Sadly, the jobs and the economic impact of the Pueblo Depot energy facility is not the point of this column.
Pueblo is, in a lot of ways, a competitor with the Springs for jobs. Besides a handful of Southern Delivery System dissenters in Pueblo, we are friends with our neighbors to the south. More and more, I am becoming envious of their ability to get things accomplished and their vision to grow their quality of life.
Pueblo has dedicated resources for economic development. We talk about it, and Pueblo actually gets it done.
1A nixed, now what?
1A did not pass. If it had, it would have provided an estimated measly annual $3.2 million to help us compete in a difficult economic development environment.
Why do I call it measly?
The City of Pueblo’s funded projects for 2009 from its voter-approved, half-cent sales tax for 19 projects is $17.8 million, yeah that’s in millions, and in one year.
The largest funded project is $11.8 million for the Vesta’s Towers America project – a company we should have been more competitive in trying to bring to our city.
What is Colorado Springs’ economic development budget? It’s $800,000, and that is just for city staff and some program support.
Why is it that the folks in Pueblo get this economic development thing and we are just voting down items that would benefit us now and our children for years to come?
Some say a lack of vision from the government sector, and I can’t disagree.
We can just accept that we will never have the big-picture vision for our community, enjoy our views and idle away the days, weeks, months and years until we become a community of military bases, retired military and some nonprofits. Or we can keep striving to make a difference, to grow our economic base, recruit some national for-profit headquarters and become a thriving, bustling economic center.
I, for one, will keep striving.