The Colorado Springs Rising Professionals have decided to break away from the Regional Business Alliance and function as their own independent organization.
“It feels like we’ve hit the ceiling with the Business Alliance,” said Rising Professionals Chairman Shawn Gullixson, 33, a branch manager at Vectra Bank. “We were aligned with the Business Alliance on some things, but not on others. Ultimately we see this as an opportunity to grow our organization, have more community impact and expand our programming.”
The group was created in 2006 under the Chamber of Commerce. It functioned according to its own bylaws and was led by an elected board of directors. After the Chamber and Economic Development Corp. merged in late 2011 to become the Regional Business Alliance, he Rising Professionals operated under the Business Alliance. In July, the Rising Professionals board voted to separate.
“We really didn’t have our own voice when it came to issues like pay for City Council and Amendment 64,” said Chairwoman-elect Kim Worth, also 33 and a vice president for BBVA Compass bank. “Our goal now is to take a stand on issues that matter to young professionals.”
Gullixson said the group wants to offer programs tailored to businesses needs, such as on-the-job training that employers say they want.
The Rising Professionals has 300 members, 32 corporate sponsors and operates on an annual budget of $20,000, but that budget could grow exponentially with their new identity.
The group is looking into becoming a 501(c)(3) and partnering with an organization that would offer financial assistance but not infringe on its political or lobbying stance.
Gullixson said that after the vote to become independent, word leaked to their corporate sponsors and other organizations and they quickly began getting partnership offers. Among those organizations offering assistance are UCCS, the Colorado Springs Leadership Institute and Cheyenne Mountain Resort.
“We were really surprised how quickly that happened,” said Worth.
The group has requested information to begin considering other partnership options, and leaders say they’ve received many responses.
Gullixson said he envisions the Rising Professionals doing the legwork to attract some businesses to Colorado Springs.