Sometimes, in this business of covering the local business community, it’s not smart to write everything we know.
We sit down with various people in different situations, the conversations unfold — and suddenly you realize there’s only one way to hear all the specifics you need.
So, by mutual agreement, the discussion goes off the record … and that unleashes a stream of details, plans and possibilities, none of it ready for public consumption, at least not yet.
This scenario has repeated itself a handful of times this summer. In each situation, my commitment has been to wait for the right moment. Also, I promised not to share enough information that anybody might connect the dots.
With all that said, there has been one common message through those conversations that’s worth sharing here, without going too far.
To the typical Colorado Springs resident, involved with the business community or not, it should be apparent the city government is sharpening its focus on a single priority. That, of course, is the proposed 0.62-cent sales tax increase, placed on the November ballot by Mayor John Suthers and City Council, projected to raise $50 million annually for five years to begin making headway with our crumbling roads and streets.
The importance of that ballot issue winning voter approval cannot be overstated. If it passes, that creates momentum and public confidence that Colorado Springs is heading in a better direction. If it fails, well, let’s not go there.
So between now and November, you won’t hear political and business leaders talk much about other proposals or issues. Even the Olympic Museum effort, which has been gaining steam as well as more financial support, has moved to the background for the moment. Another public briefing on the Olympic Museum and City for Champions might happen in mid-September, but don’t expect any headlines or bluster.
Trust me, this is encouraging. What’s happening now, during what amounts to a news vacuum outside the election, is a slow, deliberate, but positive process.
In the past month, I’ve heard about many meetings taking place, turning concepts and research into solid opportunities.
Some of it you’ve probably heard or read about in the Business Journal, such as progress with the airport’s Commercial Aeronautical Zone in appealing to more companies and workforce development programs, and the first fruitful discussions toward cultivating Colorado Springs’ cyber presence around the emerging Center of Excellence in cyber security.
In those areas, we’re not talking about one or two crusaders trying desperately to create miracles. We’re talking about leaders of business, government, manufacturing, higher education and more, already finding common ground.
More is taking shape behind the scenes, as groups and key people meet and talk about bold visions, partnerships and plans. We’ve heard some bits and pieces, such as the rising likelihood of a brilliant, magnetic new Summit House and complex atop Pikes Peak.
At some point — probably soon after the election — we’ll know much more in multiple areas. Just not yet.
This is about leaders in various sectors, laying the foundation for what truly could be a regional renaissance.
What’s causing all this movement? For starters, there’s the positive energy surrounding Suthers’ new administration, and the wide-ranging public support that led to his election victory with 68 percent of the vote. There’s the fresh, cooperative spirit between the city and county, the continuing upward spiral of UCCS and Pikes Peak Community College, the renewed vigor emanating from the Regional Business Alliance, the strengthening local economy and the constantly improving status of local young professionals.
You need to know something else: This isn’t just about waiting for the next handout or planning the next tax increase.
This is about ideas taking shape, and major investments being discussed or in the works, with the legitimate potential of transforming Colorado Springs. This is about ambitious ideas for capitalizing on opportunities. This is about leaders in various sectors, laying the foundation for what truly could be a regional renaissance.
We can’t write the whole story yet, because much of it still depends on the people of Colorado Springs — and, at some point, El Paso County — buying into the possibilities.
The vote on more money to start fixing our most pressing problem has to be the first step. In a real sense, it’s shaping up to be the public’s version of a down payment toward a remarkable future.
If you knew everything I’ve heard in the past month, you’d feel hopeful as well. Probably even exuberant, because the ideas are out there. They’re real, and they could coalesce quickly.
Perhaps sooner than you realize, we could have ignition and liftoff.