What a long strange trip it’s been.
Thirty years ago, Colorado Springs was a different city. It was smaller, for one thing. For another, it was reeling from a dual economic punch: the national savings and loan scandal and the local collapse of Frank Aries’ plans for Banning-Lewis Ranch.
The year 1989 was also when the first edition of the Colorado Springs Business Journal was published. At the time, it was a bimonthly newspaper created by two Realtors trying to find ways to make money during the recession.
In the past 30 years, CSBJ has grown from a black-and-white newspaper with only two employees to a full-color, award-winning paper with a dedicated staff producing news daily online and weekly in print. We’ve grown from just a handful of events (Women of Influence and the Book of Lists are the oldest) to nine major events and monthly meet-the-CEO events. Our influence goes beyond downtown and established businesses. We now write about small businesses, young professionals, diversity in business and a host of other topics not tackled in previous editions.
And with the increased focus came increased awards. In 2013, the paper won best-in-class from the Colorado Press Association for its editorial quality. In 2015, we won the same award for design and photography.
From the start, the newspaper’s philosophy was business news for business readers, a focus on economic development, “how-to” articles and success stories. Then, as now, the paper’s founders believed the city’s story wasn’t fully told — and that the future was bright for Colorado Springs.
The difference? Thirty years later, other organizations see the city’s potential as clearly as the CSBJ’s founders did. Unlike then, when the news was grim and developers were facing bankruptcy, Colorado Springs is a city that’s come into its own. Thanks to big ideas stemming from even bigger dreams, the city’s now a mecca for small business growth, for tourists, for new residents. We’re poised to maintain growth even as another downturn looms, because we’ve diversified our economic base and grown new industry sectors that weren’t even conceived back in April 1989: cybersecurity, medical tourism, tech startups.
As they say: the more things change, the more they stay the same. In 1989, just days after the CSBJ’s first edition, voters had the chance to weigh in on a downtown sports arena. Despite business support (and the CSBJ’s), voters turned it down by a huge margin. Fast forward to 2019, and it looks like that sports arena will become a reality.
Colorado Springs today is much more willing to embrace tourism, economic development, a vibrant downtown. It’s gone from a small city to a large one — with the potential to be the largest city in Colorado in the next few decades.
It’s become less of a military town — although we still embrace the five military installations in the Pikes Peak region — and more of a town of small business and entrepreneurs. It’s become more inclusive, less divisive and more welcoming.
And as the city has grown, so has the CSBJ. Our history is the history of the city’s businesses — of their triumphs, of their defeats. As the 2008 Great Recession closed businesses, created foreclosures and tested the strength of the economy, the CSBJ recorded the ups and downs. As the recovery got into full swing, we were there for that as well.
We plan to be here for the next 30 years, to watch Colorado Springs become a major player on the national stage for its cybersecurity efforts, for its entrepreneurial efforts. We will bring you the latest development news, introduce you to the top CEOs in the region and provide a host of celebratory and networking events.
We’ll provide expert opinions from local business leaders about how to grow and maintain companies, how to protect networks and how each business sector is performing. We’ll provide the trends and analysis, talk about workforce development needs and how the city’s managing the population growth.
If you want an analysis of how much the city — and the newspaper — has changed in the past 30 years, read John Hazlehurst’s (who acts as the CSBJ’s personal historian) analysis on page 1. It’s a glimpse of where we were in 1989, and a great opportunity to see how far we’ve all come.
This is also our opportunity to thank all the people who have supported the paper for the past 30 years: our advertisers, our readers, our advocates in Colorado Springs. It’s been a great 30 years; here’s to the next 30!