An open letter to the Colorado General Assembly

Dear Members of the Colorado State Legislature,

Please, pump the breaks. Take a breath and do what we were all taught in elementary school, and “just say no.” The onslaught of anti-business bills being ran this year, many borne out of election-year politicking, is threatening the Colorado so many know and love. During the reason committee hearing on HB-1275, the tax haven bill, Metro Denver EDC Chair Tom Clark testified that this bill would set us back as a state and put us at a competitive disadvantage. Representative Priola mentioned that this bill would work against the direct efforts of Governor Hickenlooper and Fiona Arnold, Office of Economic Development and International Trade. 

Colorado was just listed as the number three state for business by the Wall Street Journal. While there is a lot to be celebrated, there are certainly warning signs and areas of concern. Number one on the list was Utah (again). Governor Herbert, Utah has made it a personal mission to remove burdensome, outdated regulations off the books (342 in one year), and the Olympics provided important infrastructure enhancements. Of significant note was the announcement on Feb 26th highlighting the creation of the newly formed Utah Chapter of Aerospace States Association. The South Metro Denver Chamber just hosted an economic development meeting on our aerospace industry, and Colorado Business Roundtable recently had Colorado’s Aerospace Champion Major Gen. Jay Lindell and Edgar Johansson from the Colorado Space Business Roundtable on its Connect and Collaborate radio. The aerospace industry in Colorado is vibrant, growing, and drives significant economic impact to the state. Is our state legislature willing to put that at risk knowing that Utah and other states would welcome any of our prime companies with open arms? 

During its Legislative Reception prior to the start of the session, COBRT President Jeff Wasden challenged the business community to stop asking legislators what are their five bills for the year (as each legislator can run five bills with some exceptions each year). Instead, the questions we should be asking are “What priorities do you have for this session?” and “How can you ensure the proper role of government to help Colorado families and businesses this year?” Instead, we get hit with the tax haven bill, equity pay bills, minimum wage bills, paid mandatory sick leave bills, and others. Couple those with proposed ballot initiatives like single-payer healthcare and statewide energy bans and it is no wonder business always feel under attack and playing defense. 

Colorado has evolved since the 80’s. The Metropolitan Revolution by Katz and Bradley highlights significant milestones in the evolution of the metro Denver region and the center-city hub—aggressive annexations, the rise of Denver International Airport, the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, and FasTracks. Today, the Denver metro region is home to corporate headquarters for companies like DaVita, Ball Corp, Arrow Electronics, CH2M, Western Union, Level 3, Newmont Mining, and Dish. Our economy boasts a strong, diversified portfolio from bioscience, renewable energy, aerospace, financial services, health and wellness, creative industries, and engineering. We have an educated workforce, favorable climate, and amazing outdoors in which to recreate. 

The State of California has long been one of our strongest recruiting tools as overreaching policies have driven off company after company. We should all take note, because business is much more mobile, states are actively competing for companies, and policies matter. Let’s focus on what is important for our ongoing economic prosperity and wellbeing—finding conservative ways to fix our broken transportation funding, critical investments in infrastructure, ensuring all students have access to a quality education, and working with business instead of against business. 

Jeff Wasden, President, Colorado Business Roundtable
Robert Golden, President/CEO, South Metro Denver Chamber

Printed at The Colorado Statesman and Denver Business Journal