A while back it was asked, “What would you do with a million dollars?” The question came up again recently … what would I do? So I thought I’d challenge myself and come up with some ideas.

1. $500,000 to promote Colorado Springs to Denver and Boulder.

Why? To end the extremely short-sighted nature of our community as well as that of the state. Goal of the ads: Educate the state on the real Colorado Springs. By showing our reality vs. perception we can attract activity-based tourism (hiking, biking, etc.); a Young Professional workforce; small businesses; Denver restaurants creating new locations here; startup companies and second offices for Denver-based businesses.

More than 3 million people live an hour away and we pretend all too often they don’t even exist. And we wonder why we aren’t growing. That’s low-hanging fruit. As Denver’s costs of living go up (downtown Denver is quickly becoming unaffordable), traffic worsens and access to the outdoors is difficult, we win. Boulder will be increasingly cut off as U.S. 36 goes to a toll road. Boulder has no mountain biking; people have to drive an hour to OK trails. We have the best in the country in our city limits or a short pedal to the edge of town.

Impact will be 10x investment, a minimum benchmark for any dollars spent in such a manner.

2. $100,000 for cycling-specific marketing.

We are above and beyond the nation’s No. 1 city for cycling. We’re home to numerous businesses, current and former pro athletes, the USA Cycling national governing body, 15 bicycle shops, one of five velodromes in the country, world-class road riding, world-class mountain bike trails (which is why RockShox is still here) and an amazing trail system in town. We’ve had numerous world and national championships and the USA Pro Challenge, a race up Pikes Peak, and on goes the list. We need to champion and own the fastest-growing sports segment, but we need backing to execute it. I also know a 20-plus-year industry veteran in town who’d be perfect to head it up. She’s amazing and loves the town, too.

3. $100,000 matching challenge for a Tesla Museum.

Nikola Tesla’s work is finally catching pop-culture awareness thanks to Tesla Motors. His best work was done in Colorado Springs. Conservative estimates from talking to a museum admin expert: We could do quite a bit with $250k. Let’s get the tech community involved; $100k match to get us to $200k, the last $50k will come easily. It’s not unrealistic. Tesla is like a god to key people at Google, Apple and others. We’d get great, positive national attention.

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4. $150,000 makers challenge.

Let’s get people making stuff here, even if just small shops. This money split into $10k grants for made-in-COS businesses can be worthy of the Made in Colorado badge and sold throughout Colorado and beyond. We have plenty of space for makers. Plenty of history and potential local support. We can likely get state support with other resources. Borealis Fat Bikes has been a shining example of how a small brand can start here and put us on the map in a positive way.

5. $50,000 Paint Fund.

May sound silly but sometimes a coat of paint makes all the difference in the world. The fund would pay businesses in visible areas (downtown, South Nevada, west and North Nevada leaving downtown, Old Colorado City, Eighth Street) to update paint jobs. Certain qualifiers would be in place, but just look at 503w-Dutch Mill? Next, let’s find the most rundown building downtown and repaint it to prove the point.

6. Last $100,000: Hold on to it.

We’d see which of the above projects shows the most success or demonstrates a need for a little more funding because we did not budget properly and it’s going better than expected. Could be that $50,000 pays a single salary to oversee everyone properly and keep them on track so they don’t go the route of so many other failed high-profile efforts. They don’t put someone in charge — so they fall apart.

Jon Severson is founder/president of Colorado Young Professionals and an avid cyclist.


  1. 7. Remodel Highway 24 West and turn it into the premier entry/exit into the Rocky Mountains. Cement Colorado Springs’ reputation as the gateway to the Rockies. Line the access with tourist related sights and business instead if junkyards, trailer parks and condemned buildings.

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