According to the latest jobs figures from the UCCS Economic Forum, Colorado Springs has more than enough jobs to meet the demand of its growing population. Last month, help-wanted ads outstripped people looking for jobs.
In a city that saw double-digit unemployment during the Great Recession, it’s something to be grateful for.
And the good news continues. The area will need those jobs because the population is booming. El Paso County is one of the nation’s fastest-growing regions. The U.S. population has been growing at .7 percent since 2011, but the Pikes Peak region has seen 1.9 percent growth annually since the early 2000s.
All that growth — new jobs, new people, new economic development — all are things to be thankful for.
Developers and construction companies have filed more than 700 permits for multi-family dwellings and more than 200 permits for single-family homes. All that construction brings new jobs — and hopefully, more affordable places to live.
For the past year, we’ve heard that Colorado Springs is on the brink of something big, something the city hasn’t seen before during its boom-and-bust cycles.
It seems we’re closer than ever.
Earlier this year, the city announced the goal of putting the Springs in the top five cities for cybersecurity jobs in the nation. The National Cybersecurity Center hosted its first meeting to train government officials on how to protect and secure networks. The Air Force Academy’s CyberWorx program hosted a meeting to talk with industry about how to train the next generation of cyber warriors. And a host of organizations from Cisco to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Department of Homeland Security seem poised to assist the city in its efforts.
Looking back at Colorado Springs just a few short years ago, there wasn’t much to be excited about. Constant bickering between the mayor’s office and city council made sure that little got done. A backlog of infrastructure needs left the city’s streets pockmarked with potholes and traffic jams at the interchanges at Fillmore and Cimarron streets. All that’s rapidly changing as the city grows into its own — no longer a small tourist hamlet, the Springs is a big city now.
But even as we are thankful for the successes — there’s work to be done.
The National Cybersecurity Center needs business support and funding. The city is facing a legal challenge from the Environmental Protection Agency for its failure to meet its stormwater, flood and drainage requirements. Compliance will cost millions in fines and mitigation. Congestion on Interstate 25 inhibits commerce with the state Capitol in Denver. The state legislature’s refusal to act to remove the hospital provider fee from revenue limits placed by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights — combined with a physician shortage — stands to create a health-care crisis in Colorado Springs, as fewer people have access to health care or the means to pay for it. As it grows colder, we’ll need to respond to the number of homeless people on our streets.
These are serious problems — and they demand a thoughtful, serious approach from business leaders, government officials and the public at large. Instead of allowing special interest groups to dominate the local conversation, every one of us should take part in discussions about infrastructure and transportation needs and health-care requirements and solve the homeless situation with compassion and care.
In 2017, we should all cooperate to create more good news to be thankful for.