Keep Denver Competitive

Categories: Uncategorized

August 31, 2011 

On November 1, Denver voters will be asked to decide if businesses in the city should be mandated to provide a specified level of sick and safe time benefits for their employees – be they part-time, full-time or temporary.

Initiative 300 may sound innocuous – as many of you already provide sick time or have a paid time off plan in place, and state statute provides safe time for those impacted by domestic violence – but this measure is troubling and worthy of your serious review.

Here are some key points to take into consideration:

A government-mandated sick leave policy removes the ability of a business to be innovative in meeting the needs of both the company and its employees. If passed, this measure will put in place a one-size-fits-all approach that will be harmful particularly to small businesses, the backbone of our economy, by removing flexibility and adding to their labor costs. In fact, 98 percent of Colorado businesses have fewer than 100 employees.

The devil is always in the details, and this proposal is no different. Companies that provide benefit packages that meet or exceed the proposed 72 hours for businesses with 10 or more employees, or 40 hours for 10 employees or less, would still be required to meet additional record-keeping guidelines and be prepared to produce documents, if the city authority charged with monitoring the program wishes to check compliance. In addition, companies that have multiple business locations throughout the metro area would now have differing rules for their workers in Denver.

It doesn’t stop there. If, by chance, you have a business that is outside of Denver, but you have employees who are in the city for a mere40 hours per year, you are required to comply with the law.  Imagine the headache – and legal consequences – of implementing more generous leave policies for your employees who do some work in Denver versus those employees working anywhere else in the region, state or country.

We all know that no city is an island, but policies like Initiative 300 – which put one municipality (Denver in this instance) at a disadvantage with its neighbors by creating an unfriendly business climate – are measures the Chamber will not support.We have worked hard to create a regional economic development strategy. Ballot proposals from out-of-state groups, such as this one, hurt those efforts.

To add fuel to the fire, the City of Denver must administer and enforce this program. This requirement may very well be one of the reasons Mayor Hancock opposes this initiative: He’s working right now to create a balanced budget for Denver, and this type of initiative only exacerbates his ability to deliver those critical city services during these difficult economic times.

For these reasons, the Denver Metro Chamber has taken a position to oppose Initiative 300 and is working to ensure its defeat. Keep Denver Competitive is the campaign entity established for this important effort. We urge you to go to the website to learn more, request a speaker to come talk to your organization, or contribute to the campaign. We need your help to ensure Denver voters understand the true impact of this proposal. 

If you do business in Denver, or are a Denver resident, Keep Denver Competitive would like you to consider taking a brief survey regarding your knowledge on Initiative 300.

We will continue to provide you campaign updates in the days to come. Join us to ensure we Keep Denver Competitive.


A good kind of traffic

Categories: Uncategorized

August 24, 2011 

This week, Colorado’s roadways will see traffic of an entirely different kind.

Touted as the most demanding bicycle race that will ever be held on American soil, the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge is making its way across the state this week, covering 518 miles of Colorado on two wheels.

It began Monday in Colorado Springs, travels to Salida, Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte, Gunnison, Aspen, Vail, Avon, Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge and Golden, with the finish in Denver. This race brings 128 of the world’s best professional cyclists from teams such as RadioShack, HTC, Liquigas and Garmin to Colorado to tackle the two highest passes in international cycling tours.

Really, in terms of the rigor of the course it’s already on-par with the Tour de France – or one could argue, even more physically demanding – because two 12,000-foot peaks will be included in the same stage of racing, a feat never before attempted in professional cycling. Events like this one are huge wins for Colorado, because the whole world turns its eyes toward us.

Not only do people travel from near and far to watch the athletes compete in person but it is estimated that 100 million people around the world will tune in to NBC and Versus will to watch the 25 hours of race coverage over the duration of the Challenge.

The visitors will be impacted by the beauty of our state, the wonderful accommodations, the great restaurants and the incredible people. And, we’re guessing they will come back or influence others to experience our state in the future. Put simply, this race is good for business.

The Chamber made a financial investment toward the Challenge when it was just getting started. “As Colorado’s strongest business advocate, we felt this investment was the right decision,” Chamber Chief Operating Officer Robert Blankenship said. “Events like these create commerce and bring our state together for the benefit of Coloradans.”

Television commercials for each of the host communities will be aired during the coverage in hopes of spurring economic activity in Colorado.

Shawn Hunter, CEO and co-chair of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge attended a reception hosted by Chamber affiliate the Colorado Competitive Council (C3) in May and to the Chamber’s board of directors in July, thanking the business community for its support and encouraging people to come and line the raceway to cheer on the riders.

I know when I participated in the Ride the Rockies race in June, those supporters made the tough moments on the bike much more bearable and often gave me the motivation to keep going.

So, hopefully each of you will find the time to enjoy this race, visit part of Colorado, and cheer on these incredible athletes.


Education is important to business

Categories: Uncategorized

August 17, 2011

Education is a critical issue for the business community.

As you know, the Chamber counts education as one of the three pillars – along with transportation and health care – that supports a healthy and thriving economy in Colorado.

In order for the future to be bright for our entire economy, we must improve the educational outcomes we are seeing statewide.

Colorado companies rely on a well-educated workforce to succeed in a 21st century global economy. Colorado ranks as one of the most highly educated populations in the country. Residents have the most four-year degrees per capita of 47 other states; however, many of our educated workers come from other states- we call it the Colorado paradox. We know that we can’t maintain this competitive advantage because we are now NOT graduating more kids from high school than those we attract with their degrees already in hand.

That is why the Chamber remains undaunted in our focus on ensuring a return on investment for every dollar taxpayers spend on education. We believe that we can help improve the current return on our investment and are devoting our time and expertise to help do that.

Coloradans deserve a system with greater accountability and goal attainment, and last year’s SB-191, the teacher and principal effectiveness bill, provided an important first step toward achieving better outcomes for Colorado’s students.

Last fall, the Chamber hosted Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children’s Zone to learn how his schools have transformed a neighborhood that the community thought couldn’t produce great outcomes into one that graduates 100 percent of its students. On Sept. 13, in just three short weeks, the Chamber will host Michelle Rhee, former chancellor for the Washington, D.C., school system and reform advocate, to talk about how Colorado can take its public schools to the next level.

There is a lot of concern in Colorado about the way we fund our K-12 education system-and we keenly understand that concern. We in the business community have carefully reviewed work before us and strongly believe our first order of business is improve the K-12 system by focusing on efforts that have proven to improve outcomes such as providing more class time for students and programs that create better results with current resources.

We know that fundamental shifts must be made, if we are going to be successful. We are also examining how we distribute funds for our educational system-the current approach is that a school district gets paid based on a single count day each year. We believe we can create a system that better reflects the students served over an entire year as well as link the distribution of funds to the achievement of goals and objectives. Our goal is pretty simple: Ensure that Colorado has a system that will help produce better results and then examine funding of that educational system.

Our focus does not lie solely with K-12 education. Our state’s higher education institutions are funded at one of the lowest levels in the country-with only two states providing less funding to their post-secondary institutions. At the same time, enrollment rates continue to increase, as does tuition, to compensate for the lack of funding. The upside of this challenge is that Colorado’s system of higher education has become one of the most efficient in the country-producing more degrees with less money. We also recognize that Colorado is close to that point where funding levels can challenge the quality of that education.

Last year, I served on the Sustainability Subcommittee of the Higher Education Strategic Planning Steering Committee with education and business leaders in an effort to develop some potential solutions to the state’s higher education funding problems, which included tuition flexibility. Our work continues as we partner with our institutions of higher education across Colorado, to better understand and share the incredible economic value these institutions provide us, and how we can best help them thrive. Our entire economy depends on a successful educational system.

In the United States, we have built our country on a principle that says, if you study and work hard, there will be opportunity for success. For the first time in the history of this country, we face the reality that our children will not surpass their parents’ successes no matter how hard they work. That can’t be an acceptable situation for any of us. If you are not involved in education yet, get involved. If you are involved, but want to do more, we can help connect you to organizations working throughout this state to drive change.

We, as Coloradans, have the power and the responsibility to create the future we want-let’s not wait any longer.