Colorado Springs takes a lot of heat: We’re too conservative, too old, too military.

But there are other adjectives that describe the city and the wildly varied people who keep the wheels turning and the economy pumping. Words like successful, innovative, creative and yes, even fun. On a good day, Colorado Springs is sometimes very cool — full of quirky boutiques, great restaurants, exciting venues, great views and wonderful hidden gems.

It’s time we recognize that Colorado Springs really is a great place to live and work and play, stop accepting all those negatives and embracing the positives. We’re a bustling metropolis full of smart, energetic people who are making things happen on a grand scale — college students working together on new businesses, software and engineering firms working on the latest apps, startups so innovative they’re finally attracting the notice of the deep pockets to the north.

It didn’t happen overnight — and it won’t continue without the efforts of the entire city. And if we aren’t very diligent, very creative and very cool, we’ll lose those exciting new startups to the brighter lights of the bigger cities.

The Colorado Springs Business Journal is doing its part to celebrate business, to attract attention to those business owners and entrepreneurs who are doing it right. This week, we highlight the Best in Business, taking an afternoon to toast those successes that make the city hum. You can read about the success stories chosen by our readers in the Focus section of this week’s paper.

Without each of those businesses, large and small, the city would be a much different place. Without the contributions of CEOs who serve on nonprofit boards and employees who volunteer on the weekends, nonprofits would falter. Without the efforts to grow and change from the city’s young professionals, Colorado Springs could become an old, gray city, full of empty, derelict buildings that used to house vibrant businesses. Without growing our own business ecosystem through startups and small business, the creative lights of the city could dim.

So, we have to keep driving economic development, working to build shared resources, combine strength and use the creativity of the engineers, scientists, artists and entrepreneurs who call Colorado Springs home. We need to prepare for the future by developing a workforce ready for new challenges we’ll face in the future. We’ll need to invest in infrastructure and in our people.

This week, we celebrate the innovation and creativity of the local business community, recognizing that there’s so much more to Colorado Springs than the critics believe.

Here’s to you, Colorado Springs!

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