Bringing Colorado’s renewable energy expertise to Bolivia – Campaign Launched

By: Michelle Zimmerman

I am proud that Colorado has become a leader in renewable energy. Both public and private entities have invested in wind, hydropower and solar to provide sustainable benefits for Colorado. In a state that values our pristine environment and reaps economic benefits from the ample tourists that visit, it makes sense that we strive to be a leader in the renewable energy movement. 

Coloradoans have poured over $2.5 billion into solar investment and more than 200,000 homes are currently powered by solar. This has created over 1,000 megawatts of capacity in solar energy in the state, producing enough energy to eliminate over 6,500 railcars of coal.

From home installations of solar panels to community solar farms and large-scale solar generators, I have worked in various segments of the solar industry over the last decade. I met our co-founders, Nick Killen and Lou Fabian through the MBA program at the University of Denver. The three of us have been working in renewable energy in Colorado for the last 12 years.

Recently, we decided we wanted to bring our expertise to less developed areas.

Across the globe, there are 1.2 billion people that don’t have access to electricity. People are using fossil fuels to generate electricity, or simply do not have access to consistent power - neither are sustainable. Additionally, many remote communities don’t have Internet, which limits their access to information, educational tools, healthcare, and more.

We believe that power and access to information are two essential tools that children should have available to empower them and their future. Thus, we created Pidola.

Pidola, which means leapfrog in Spanish, is committed to bringing solar electricity and satellite internet to South and Central American schools. After two years of initial site visits, we installed pilot projects in Pampa Jasi and Torotoro, two remote villages in Bolivia, thanks to our original connections with existing nonprofits that were working locally to build schools, community gardens, and teach citizens about clean water and basic healthcare. With a school and gathering area to build upon, adding electricity and internet provided numerous benefits including improved studying, cooking, refrigeration, and water filtration.

It is amazing to see people communicate across the greater region with the use of internet and leapfrog into new opportunities. The ability to leverage that original schoolhouse and amplify the learning is exponential. Previously, some of these Bolivians had to walk 1 to 2 days to access power and communications and many were leaving their villages for work and school - resulting in a diminishing economy for these already underproducing communities. 

Electricity and internet give life to the learning process. Imagine our schools without light or electricity; imagine our students without internet. Pidola is changing the course of education for children in rural villages who are very eager to learn. We are providing these Bolivian kids the “miracles” of electricity and internet that most students in America take for granted.

Thanks to the donations from our initial supporters, in 2017 we made solar electricity and satellite internet a new reality for 84 rural Bolivian schoolchildren! Success was quickly acknowledged by local officials, and now the Ministry of Education, Bolivian Space Agency, and local nonprofits are working with us to identify recipients for dozens more projects and contribute to our success as much as possible.

In the spirit on Colorado Gives Day last week, we launched a campaign to raise funds to bring electricity and internet to carefully selected villages.

We have a short-term goal of three village installations by June 2019, consisting of building a solar electricity system (panels, batteries, charge controller, inverter) for the school that will power the satellite internet antenna and components as well as covering the monthly internet costs. Looking to the future, we would like to demonstrate the value of these projects to local officials and donors in order to duplicate the impact at a larger scale. 

Our current and primary focus is on providing improved and exciting opportunities for children to learn and communities to thrive!

BIO: Michelle Zimmerman

With a passion for providing clean, reliable energy to customers throughout the West, and in rural developing areas of Latin America, Michelle expanded from a career in nonprofit management to focus on responsible solar development in 2008. Beginning in residential and off-grid projects, she became vice president of Innovative Energy, a solar installer in Summit County, CO and helped grow the company to include design-build-service for commercial solar projects. In 2014, Michelle worked with Clean Energy Collective to expand community solar across Colorado and has been developing large-scale solar facilities with Cypress Creek Renewables since February of 2017.With over 300 megawatts (MW) of solar development and two small solar+storage+satellite internet systems in rural Bolivia, Michelle has a proven record to navigate new terrain and successfully deliver projects. Michelle completed an MBA from Daniels College of Business (University of Denver) and serves as Vice Chair of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission.  For more information on Pidola please visit


On behalf of Colorado’s business community, I am writing to encourage you to take a leadership role on the health insurance tax issue. As you are probably aware, the HIT tax directly raises the cost of health insurance. It’s so damaging, Congress suspended it for 2019, which is helping local businesses afford a quality health plan for their employees. Unfortunately, the tax is scheduled to automatically return in 2020.

Congress can protect companies and working families again from this Obamacare tax, but it must happen fast. Without a bill passing by the end of this session, the HIT tax will be “locked in” for 2020.

A new analysis from Oliver Wyman highlights what the HIT tax would mean for Colorado: a total of $205 million in added healthcare premiums in our state. Small employers and their employees would see premiums go up an average of $422 per family covered, and large employers and their workers about $434. Self-employed people and others who purchase their own health insurance will also see a price hike.

Members of the Colorado Business Roundtable concerned about these potential cost increases, which can easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars for a single company’s workforce. It’s important to note that the HIT-specific price increases will fall on top of any other market-driven cost increases that could arrive in 2020.

Local businesses are struggling with unpredictable healthcare costs, and the HIT tax—which is gone one year and back the next—is adding another layer of uncertainty. What’s more, a 2020 HIT tax comeback could be especially painful. Some economists are predicting economic slowdown over the next 18 months, and businesses are taking a more conservative view on costs, expansion, and hiring. We shouldn’t put more downward pressure on the economy starting next year.

The HIT tax isn’t just about employers, either. Working families will be affected by more healthcare cost-sharing in the form of bigger paycheck deductions and higher deductibles and co-pays. Many companies will be forced to offer less generous health plans or cut back on other benefits, bonuses, or wage increases. These aren’t the results Colorado’s middle class wants or needs.

It is a shame the Obamacare HIT tax remains on the books, but the issue will not be resolved in time to help businesses for 2020. That’s why it’s important that Congress pass a HIT moratorium for 2020 before the end of the current session.  We need a leader to push a solution forward. I hope you will consider taking up that mantle on behalf of Colorado’s businesses and working families and make a 2020 HIT tax suspension a top priority for your next few weeks in Washington.


Jeff Wasden

Denver's Purina factory committed to veterans and their pets, too!

By: Michael Downs

As we approach Veteran’s Day on November 11, I’m reminded of how proud I am to work at Purina – a company that has a long history of supporting the U.S. military and veterans, like me.

In fact, Purina’s origin is strongly rooted in military history. The company’s founder and WWI volunteer, William H. Danforth, named the first Purina dog food “Dog Chow” in 1926 as a nod to the “chow lines” that sustained American service members during the war. During the 1940’s, Dog Chow was a major supporter of the Dogs for Defense program, which encouraged dog owners to enlist their dogs in the military to be trained to assist the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines.

Here at our factory in Denver, we have proudly manufactured Purina Dog Chow since 1957, and the company continues to regularly demonstrate our commitment to veterans by partnering with organizations that help unite veterans with pets. All of us at Purina are pet lovers and many of us have pets at home. This summer, Purina Dog Chow launched the Service Dog Salute campaign, partnering with Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) to donate up to $500,000 to ARF’s veterans program, which matches veterans with rescue dogs who are then trained to become their own skilled service companions.

Dog Chow also partnered with BuzzFeed to share stories of veterans and rescue dogs who have been brought together through ARF. These stories touch close to home for me and many of my co-workers at the Denver factory.

I know many veterans who have been supported by a pet during a time of need. From personal experience, I can attest to the comfort and calming presence a pet’s unconditional love can provide. I have three dogs and two cats; and, not that I play favorites, but my rescue dog Charlie is like my lap dog. If I ever need to get something off my chest, he is there to listen.  He is my adventure buddy too – we’ll head west up the I-70 corridor and go hiking in the gorgeous mountains, which is one of the reasons we love living in Colorado.

I was originally drawn to working at Purina not just because my passion for pets lines up perfectly with the company’s values, but they value my service and the traits gained during my military service. After spending 12 years in the Army, Purina was one of the few places that recognized that the leadership skills and training I gained in the military made me a great fit, not only for their organization, but in a role with a high level of responsibility. They appreciated my skill set and strong sense of mission as some of the many characteristics that apply to civilian life.

My veteran coworkers at the Purina factory in Denver echo the sentiment of appreciating how our company extends career opportunities to those who have served in the U.S. Military as part of a larger career acceleration initiative, #ProjectOpportunity. My coworker at the Denver factory, who served in the National Guard, tells me how he always felt supported during deployment; he says Purina routinely checked in on him and even sent him care packages. He had the option to keep all his benefits with Purina while deployed. The benefits are amazing.

For over 90 years, Purina has a track record of supporting the U.S. military, veterans, and their furry friends. To find out how you can help support our veterans, visit, or, if you are a veteran, consider joining Purina’s military talent network to experience the benefits first hand. Happy Veteran’s Day!


Michael Downs is a Maintenance Technician at Purina in Denver. The Purina factory has had a longstanding presence in Denver since 1930, creating high-quality and popular Purina pet food brands, supporting the local community and employing 280 people.

New health and wellness services can offer Colorado small businesses a competitive advantage

By Grant Snyder, Vice President of Small Business, UnitedHealthcare of Colorado

Small-business owners often tell me that some of the biggest barriers to success are costs, time, and the inability to attract and retain talented employees.  

A recent Small Business Optimism Index showed that 21 percent of small-business owners cited “the difficulty of finding qualified workers” as their single most important business challenge.

One way small businesses may improve their workplace and make it more appealing to employees is to support employee health and wellness. Doing so may not only lead to a healthier, productive and more engaged workforce, but also may help attract and retain talented employees.

Small-business owners can now obtain comprehensive wellness programs that not long ago were available only to large employers.

For example, some offerings include wellness coaching, biometric screenings, smoking-cessation programs, and even complimentary fitness trackers. Also, programs may include incentives that enable employees and spouses to earn reductions to their premium contributions, or receive merchant gift cards or gym reimbursements. And these programs are often administered by the health plan, so there is no additional time taken away from a small-business owner’s busy day.

Other health and wellness services may also be available. For example, Real Appeal, is an online weight-loss program offered by UnitedHealthcare in Colorado and across the United States.

Real Appeal uses personal coaches and online tracking tools to help motivate people to adopt healthier behaviors, which may help reduce obesity-related conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 

Participants are matched with a transformation coach who helps them create a step-by-step personalized program that is designed to work with their lifestyle and includes:

·       online group classes designed to help build camaraderie and accountability;

·       weekly health tips from celebrities, athletes and health experts;

·       a personalized dashboard to keep track of calories, fitness and goals; and

·       resources such as workout DVDs, quick and simple recipes, and a nutrition guide.

Real Appeal enables small businesses, even those strapped for time and resources, to offer employees weight loss services at no additional cost to the employees who participate. Typically, four out of five participants have lost weight with Real Appeal, with 10 pounds lost on average per participant.

Attracting and retaining the top talent in the market is ever more challenging for small businesses in today’s diversified and demanding workforce. These types of programs and services may help them do that and help their employees live healthier lives.

For more information about small business plans in your state, visit

How Employers Can Help Curb Health Care Costs During Open Enrollment

By Marc Neely, CEO, UnitedHealthcare of Colorado

Technology continues to reshape how employers select and offer health care benefits to employees, putting access to information at our fingertips and creating a more seamless and interactive health care experience. At the same time, these advances may help employees become savvier users of health care, helping simplify and personalize their journey toward health and, in the process, help curb costs for employers.

The revolution can be important to remember during open-enrollment, which occurs during the fall, when millions of Americans select or switch their health benefits for 2019. With that in mind, here are five tips employers in Colorado should be aware of during open enrollment and year-round:

Make Sense of Big Data: Big data is a buzz word, but the applications are only meaningful if employers can make sense of that information. To help with that, employers are gaining access to online resources to help enable them to more easily analyze and make sense of health data, taking into account aggregate medical and prescription claims, demographics, and clinical and well-being information. This can provide an analytics-driven roadmap to help employers implement tailored clinical management and employee-engagement programs, which may help improve health outcomes, mitigate expenses, and help employees take charge of their health.   

Help People Understand Their Options: More than three-quarters (77) percent of Americans say they are prepared for open enrollment, yet most people struggle to understand basic health care terms, according to a recent UnitedHealthcare survey. In fact, only 6 percent of survey respondents could successfully define all four basic health insurance concepts: plan premium, deductible, co-insurance and out-of-pocket maximum. To support employees during open enrollment, employers can adopt online platforms designed to personalize and simplify the experience to help people select a health plan based on their personal health and financial needs, while encouraging them to select a primary care physician and enroll in programs such as smoking cessation or weight loss. Employers can also promote to employees resources such as, which provides definitions for thousands of health care terms.    

Encourage Your People to Move More: An estimated 35 percent of employers now integrate wearable devices into their well-being programs, helping employees more accurately understand their daily activity levels. As these programs become more common, there may be opportunities for cost-savings for companies and their workforces. For instance, some wearable device wellness programs may enable people to earn more than $1,000 per year by meeting certain daily walking goals, while employers can achieve premium renewal discounts based on the aggregate walking results of their employees.  

Incent and Help Employees Comparison Shop for Care: More than one-third (36 percent) of Americans say they have used the internet or mobile apps during the last year to comparison shop for health care, up from 14 percent in 2012, according to the UnitedHealthcare survey. To encourage employees to participate in this trend, some employers are offering financial incentives – such as $25 or $50 gift cards – to employees for using health care transparency resources. Health care quality and cost varies widely within a city or neighborhood, so encouraging the use of online and mobile transparency resources may yield savings for employers and employees.

Integrate Medical and Ancillary Benefits: Open enrollment is also the time for people to select important ancillary benefits, such as vision, dental and disability coverage. While some people may overlook these plans, offering this coverage as part of an employee's menu of benefits options may maximize the effectiveness of a company's health care dollars, provide families with added peace of mind and help build a culture of health. Combining medical and ancillary benefits under a single health plan may enable for the integrated analysis of a wide range of data that can facilitate proactive outreach and clinical support for employees, including for people with chronic conditions such as diabetes or to help prevent the development of such conditions.


NAFTA Statement by Colorado Business Roundtable

Colorado Business Roundtable (COBRT) strongly urges the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to continue negotiations toward an improved and enhanced North American trading agreement.

Canada and Mexico are Colorado’s largest trading partners, and an updated, fair agreement would continue to drive sustainable growth and greater economic prosperity that benefits business owners, workers, and all Coloradans.

“Maintaining a strong and beneficial trilateral partnership with Canada and Mexico is critical to many Colorado businesses that have built relationships and strong business ties with our North American neighbors,” states Colorado Business Roundtable President, Jeff Wasden. “Our current NAFTA agreement creates jobs, drives economic development & job growth, and benefits consumers. A strong, trilateral partnership among the U.S., Mexico, and Canada is a key driver for expanding trade and economic opportunities, and we implore all three governments to continue to negotiate in good faith until an agreement is reached.”

Ongoing negotiations have led to strengthened intellectual property protections and increased promotion of e-commerce and digital trade in goods and services. We remain concerned about reported provisions that would weaken investment protections, limit access to dispute settlement procedures, and would require a sunset clause.

Business Roundtable believes forfeiting this three-nation partnership would destabilize North American supply chains, jeopardize U.S. jobs and undermine economic growth.

How social media marketing helps small businesses

By: Iffat Tafseer

Social media marketing helps build your brand and drive revenue. Brands that neglect social media can crumble!

Social media marketing is a tool to elevate your business by approaching directly to your potential customers. It is a conductive way to drive significant traffic towards your website.  It extends the road to link building, engage traffic, improves your brand awareness, promotes your brand to a considerable extent and builds an honest relationship with the customers. 

Today, about 82 percent of small business owners are using social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram to leverage their businesses. According to a survey conducted by Hubspot, the statistics show that 92% of marketers think that social media marketing is imperative for their business and bring about an increased 80% traffic to their websites.  Social media has now become a standard way of communicating for individuals as well as businesses. According to eMarketer, the Customers spend 20% to 40% more on products to those companies who engage with them on social media.

Let’s dive more into it and get to know how social media marketing is helping small businesses to earn massive revenues.

· Boosts brand recognition

To make your business Standout in the competent digital market is the most laborious task these days. Social media helps you in bringing your distinct identity on the internet. It is a powerful networking tool that aid in building brand awareness. According to a study conducted by Social media today, it was found that about 83% of customers connect to the brand on Facebook while 53% on Twitter. Social media networks help broadcast your brand’s voice and content to your target audience thus elevating your brand's identity.

· Improve brand loyalty

Apart from offering discount coupons to your customers in developing your brand’s reliability, social media marketing is the next milestone to achieve. Make loyal customers by reaching them via social networking platforms. A report published by Texas Tech University revealed that brands that are active on social media channels could engage more customers and enjoy greater loyalty from them. When you engage the public on social media, you will build connection and rapport by providing useful information, entertainment, and help your followers without asking for anything in return. In this way, you will gain the trust of your customer, and they start considering you as an entity that cares about them which can make a huge difference in a competitive market.

· Build connections with like-minded business professionals

Building better relations is very important in this social media world. Whether you are LinkedIn building your professional network or responding to your tweets, it’s imperative to manage some time to connect with like-minded professionals. But, how will you do that? I have got an idea. Create the content you want and set it up for the whole week. Pop onto social media 15 minutes in the morning and at night to respond to comments and reach out to like-minded business professionals. It will allow you to make reliable connections.

· Amplify sales and generate leads

Sales are incredibly vital to the growth of any business. The sales process begins with getting to know your buyers and building strong relationships with them. Social media is an ideal platform to create new, trusting relationships with your potential customers. If you execute them well, your social media page will elevate your sales and give you a better shot at gaining your customer's attention. Moreover, social media can help you collect more leads and improve your e-mail list. Publishing and posting relevant content to both your brand and audience is a way to generate new leads and illustrate what your business has to offer.

Social media marketing has now become the basic necessity to run a successful business. If you are not active on social media platforms, then you will hardly survive in this competent digital world.

Stay updated!

Author’s bio:

Iffat Tafseer is a computer system engineer. She works as a content writer at Perks logic for a site PennySaviour. She has many of her blogs published on divergent topics including Tech, lifestyle and traveling.

Colorado’s Wildfire Season Places Spotlight on Mobile Connectivity

This summer’s wildfire season in Colorado continues to place a spotlight on the state’s communications infrastructure and the need for consistent, capable and reliable networks.  As residents and first responders have found time and again, dependable connectivity via mobile device is the key to more reliable emergency response. Whether it’s calling for help or sending evacuation alerts, all-clear signals and traffic advisories, mobile networks have proven essential to sharing critical safety information efficiently. 

Over the past decade, mobile connectivity has become paramount to public safety, specifically disaster mitigation and response. Today, 80 percent of 911 calls to police, firefighters, and other first responders are initiated on mobile phones. Further, “mobile alerts” have become the default method for first responders to notify the public of critical real-time safety information – these alerts are now utilized for everything from active shooter to weather to missing child emergencies.

The most obvious example of connectivity being at the heart of emergency service is the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system, which enables government officials to target emergency alerts to specific geographic areas – Denver’s LoDo, for example. Since its launch in 2012, the WEA system has been used more than 33,000 times nationwide to alert Americans of potential dangerous situation via mobile phone.

It’s no secret that the demand for mobile connectivity is growing exponentially in Denver and across the Unites States.  According the Centers for Disease Control, over half of American households are wireless only and the average household has 13 connected devices – and this is just the tip of the iceberg. As smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices become more advanced and new technologies like 5G enable lightning-fast data speeds, the appetite for mobile will only continue to grow. According to Cisco, in North America alone mobile data traffic will reach 6.4 Exabytes per month by 2021 (the equivalent of 1,599 million DVDs each month).

Understanding the reality that we are only going to become increasingly reliant on mobile connectivity for safety, the natural question becomes, what must be done to ensure these systems don’t fail? While there is no silver bullet to make these systems fail-proof, there are common sense upgrades to our communications infrastructure that must take place to minimize the likelihood of a breakdown.

To deal with the increased data traffic, we must modernize our existing infrastructure to handle more capacity by supplementing existing infrastructure with small antenna or nodes known as small cell solutions or just “small cells” for short. Small cells are exactly what they sound like, small low powered antennas located near the end user, usually on a utility pole or streetlight, that add much needed capacity to our existing networks.

While small cell networks will certainly make videos, texts and games download faster which has broad economic implications, the real value of creating a robust and resilient wireless network is in times of crisis. The ability to call for help or to reach a loved one to make sure they are safe during a disaster is unquantifiable.

A recent example of small cells at work during in a disaster can be found in Houston, Texas. Houston upgraded the city’s wireless infrastructure for the February, 2017 Super Bowl, however that network also helped with emergency communications just seven months later when Hurricane Harvey hit the city. Metrics show that the long-term investments in permanent infrastructure improvements made by the wireless industry increased both network resiliency and performance.

The good news is that companies are already deploying small cell infrastructure in Denver. Major wireless carriers and communication infrastructure companies alike are deploying nodes across the city.

Another benefit of small cell infrastructure upgrades is the technology will serve as the backbone for future networks such as 5G, which promise to turn innovations including IoT (the Internet of Things), autonomous vehicles, and citywide data sharing into reality.

Finding better ways to employ mobile technology that ensures Coloradoans remain safe during an emergency needs to be a top priority for our community leaders. But we need the infrastructure to take advantage of that. Our communities deserve access to the best communication tools available when they need it the most.

Dan McVaugh

President, Colorado Wireless Association

Mindfulness May Be the Answer to Help Lower Employee Stress and Improve Productivity

By Sandra Crews, Health Strategist, UnitedHealthcare of Colorado

In the workplace, a modest amount of stress can be normal. But sustained levels of stress can be harmful and may lead to numerous health issues, affect professional and family relationships, and contribute to poor work performance.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “40 percent of workers say that their jobs are very stressful, and more than 26 percent say they are ‘often burned out or stressed’ by their work.”

According to United Health Foundation’s most recent America’s Health Rankings, people living in Colorado experience between 3.5 and 3.6 poor mental health days each month. That’s the number of days in which an adult reports that their overall mental health was not good and during which they may not be able to fully participate in work or other activities.

Balancing work, family life, and financial and health concerns may be taxing for many employees; however, according to a recent UnitedHealthcare survey, almost 90 percent of employees said meditation, or mindfulness, has a positive impact on a person's overall health and well-being, including 41 percent who believe such activities can have a “significant impact.”

Employers that foster a workplace culture that prioritizes well-being, including mindfulness programs, can help their employees cope with challenging times whether at work or at home that may lower stress, reduce health risks, improve health decisions and focus, and sense of well-being. 

ABC’s of Mindfulness

“Mindfulness” is the practice of being fully present in each moment with an open and curious attitude. To some, mindfulness is a hard topic to grasp, but the goal of mindfulness can be very simple. Just imagine a workplace filled with positive energy, where working relationships and communications are optimized, and challenging situations and distractions give way to focus and self-awareness. These are some of the goals of mindfulness programs.

With practice, mindfulness may free employees of habitual patterns of thinking, judging, feeling and acting, and may help them perform better, ignore distractions, and make better decisions throughout the day. 

For example, the following “mindful breaths” exercise may be helpful, especially when noticing that twinge of tightness, anxiety or stress many of us experience during the day:

·       Step 1: Bring awareness to your body and the sense of the natural breath in the body.

·       Step 2: Inhale through the nose, and exhale either through the nostrils or through the mouth as if breathing out through a straw.

·       Step 3: Repeat the inhale, and then the exhale. Notice the air entering the body, the pause after the in-breath, and the air leaving the body on the outbreath. 

·       Step 4: One more time – slowly inhaling, and then slowly exhaling.

Mindfulness can be practiced while sitting in a quiet place, while walking, or even during normal workplace activities, such as attending a meeting or replying to an e-mail. When distractions come into mind, practicing this technique may help people let those distractions go and come back to the present moment.

Employees are not the only ones who may benefit from a mindfulness program. Employers also may benefit by experiencing more productivity, with an enhanced sense of culture and connectedness that can drive more creativity and innovation while reducing absenteeism, burnout and turnover.

Following a solid body of research by universities and institutions, mindfulness programs are now offered by some health plans, including UnitedHealthcare, and medical centers, hospitals, schools and businesses. 

For more information about employee well-being programs, visit


Summer is here, but are you staying "sun safe?"

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Written by Sasha Campbell and Susan Barney

Summer 2018 is well underway, and we can imagine many of our fellow Coloradans are taking advantage of the beautiful weather and longer days by engaging in a variety of outdoor activities and attending myriad local festivals. While everyone is out enjoying the sunshine, however, it is important to ensure your skin is properly protected – especially given our community’s higher altitude and average UV index of 9. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a UV index of 9 poses a “very high risk of harm from unprotected skin exposure.” [i]

That is why we want to provide our neighbors with the following tips to ensure you stay “sun safe” all summer long:

  • Use Sun Protection Daily with SPF 30: Given the higher altitude and UV index, Denver residents should use sun protection of at least SPF 30 every day, making sure to apply at least 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapplying every two hours thereafter. For use in daily creams, products with SPF 15 to SPF 30 are ideal for protecting your skin. For parents, you may want to consider sunscreen spray to protect your child. If possible, try to minimize exposure to the sun between 10:00am and 4:00pm given the high UV index.
  • Speak with Your Pharmacist About Skin Sensitivity: It should be noted that certain medications, like some antibiotics, antidepressants and antihistamines can increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun. Be sure to speak with your pharmacist about additional precautions you may need to take to ensure your skin is properly protected in the sun if you’re taking certain medications.
  • Apply Water-Resistant Sunblock for Outdoor Activities: If you participate in a high-intensity outdoor activity like biking or running where you’ll be sweating excessively, use a sunblock that is water-resistant. In general, look for products that include ingredients such as zinc and titanium in mineral-based sunscreens, and avobenzene, homosalate, and octisalate in chemical-based sunscreens.
  • Treat Sunburn with Aloe and Healthy Hydration: If you do get a sunburn, get out of the sun immediately. Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated, take a cool bath, and blot your skin dry. Then apply an aloe-based gel to help cool and ease the painful burning of the skin. There are also cooling sprays available to help moisturize your skin. If your skin is severely blistered, seek help from a medical professional
  • Avoid Exfoliating Products to Prevent Skin Infections: As a sunburn begins to heal, the skin will begin to peel. During this time, avoid any exfoliating products, gloves, puffs and wash cloths, which can carry bacteria or mold and potentially cause skin infections. To keep your skin moisturized, use gel-based moisturizers and hydrating mists. Ultimately, patience is the name of the game – you need to allow time for your skin heal. During this time, it’s best to avoid re-exposure to the sun over extended periods of time. 

Ultra Violet rays can be very damaging to the skin if proper precautions are not taken. In as little as 10 minutes, UV rays can cause skin to redden, lose moisture and thicken. Prolonged exposure to the sun can lead to permanent changes in skin pigment and even some forms of cancer. Remember to protect your skin with SPF every time you go outside and you’ll be “sun safe” the entire summer.

Sasha Campbell, Walgreens Beauty Consultant in Highlands Ranch

Susan Barney, Walgreens Pharmacist in Highlands Ranch

Walgreens, a trusted provider in communities since 1901, has joined The Skin Cancer Foundation on the road this year in support of its Destination: Healthy Skin mobile education program – a national effort to educate consumers about the importance of effective sun protection for skin cancer prevention, and the importance of early detection. During the nationwide tour, consumers will have the opportunity to enter an innovative, customized RV with private exam rooms where trained dermatologists will provide FREE full-body skin cancer screenings. The RV will be in Denver Tuesday, July 17 and Wednesday, July 18. For more information on Destination: Healthy Skin visit:    

[i] Sun Safety Monthly Average UV Index, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Last accessed: July 10, 2018.


Facebook Brings Community Boost Event To Denver

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Guest column from Facebook

This week we hosted our sixth Facebook Community Boost in Denver at The Cable Center. We brought this program to the region to help equip local businesses, entrepreneurs and job seekers with digital skills training to grow their business and be more competitive.  

It is no surprise that Denver was chosen for this innovative program. The city has a strong talent pool, a vibrant small business community and a quality of life that attracts top tier talent to the region.  

But our work in Denver won’t stop when Community Boost ends. We recently announced that Facebook will train 1 million small businesses and individuals in digital skills by 2020. Through our #BoostTogether effort, we want to help small businesses and people acquire more digital skills, so they can grow their companies and find new jobs. 

According to research conducted over the summer by Morning Consult and co-sponsored by the US Chamber of Commerce and Facebook, small businesses' use of Facebook’s services translates into new jobs and opportunities for communities across the country.  In fact, one in three US small and medium sized businesses on Facebook say they built their business on the platform; and 42% say they've hired more people due to growth since joining Facebook.

In Denver small businesses indicated that when looking to hire, more than 8 in 10 said that digital skills were important. They also see social media as critical to their success. Nearly 79% said that creating a social media presence is important to growing their business but less than 17% said their skills in this area were excellent. It is clear our region wants more training.

Our training goal will focus on a few key areas:

Expanding our in-person programs and creating more local partnerships. Here in Denver that means identifying local organizations who can help us providing training locally.

More online curriculum and a new online e-learning platform. Through Facebook Blueprint, we have nearly 80 online courses allowing people to learn at their own pace.

Later this year we will also launch, Learn with Facebook, a free online resource to provide additional training tools.

We know that we can’t achieve this goal alone. It is why we look forward to working with local Denver organizations, policymakers and others to #BoostTogether.  

Parisa Zagat leads digital skills partnerships at Facebook.

19 - Frac Gel - Now Available at Your Local Grocery Store

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“We’ll perfect our chemistry”, A Common Goal for the Beach Boys and Liberty Oilfield Services

One common misconception of current frac fluids used in shale is that they contain hundreds of chemicals.  While this was maybe true for exotic frac fluids used decades ago on an occasional high-pressure high-temperature job, the economics of the Shale Revolution have dramatically simplified frac fluids. 

As a matter of fact, you can take just four grocery store products from Whole Foods and Walgreens and create your own frac gel.  A basic crosslinked guar system can be made with water and four simple items (see title photo):

·       Red Mill Premium Guar Gum – Thickener

·       Milk of Magnesia – High pH buffer

·       Visine Original Eyedrops – Crosslinker

·       Distilled White Vinegar – “Breaker” or low pH buffer

Warning! All the above frac fluid components are designed for either human indigestion or application into the human eye.  Please read product labels for proper use.

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In the photo above, our Lab Manager Joel Siegel demonstrates an early crosslink of this fluid system.  He has just dissolved some guar gum powder in water.  Guar gum is powder from the grinded endosperm of a guar seed, and consists of ultra-long organic molecules.  These long molecules are ideal as a healthy thickening agent in food like yoghurt or products like toothpaste.  Joel then added some Milk of Magnesia (used to help an “upset tummy”) to get to a slightly alkaline pH level.  He then added a few drops of Visine Eyedrops, which contains Boron as a preservative.  Boron doubles up as a crosslinker, tying together the long guar molecules to thicken the fluid system even more than before.  Joel mixes this in a blender for about 30 seconds, and you can see in the photo how the crosslinked gel is becoming thicker.  You can continue to mix and develop more viscosity by pouring the fluid from one cup into another while the fluid develops the characteristic fluid “lip” showing the proper fluid potential as a carrier system for proppant. 

To “break” the fluid back into a low-viscosity base gel you can now add vinegar to lower the pH to stop the effect of the crosslinker.  More Milk of Magnesia can be added to get the pH into crosslinking territory again, while more vinegar can be added to stop the crosslinking process.  And so on and so forth – we never get enough of playing with gel.

Shale Revolution Economics

Shale Revolution economics have largely driven the current industry change to slickwater fluid systems.  This was accelerated through the 2015-2016 industry downturn.

The last three years have seen an innovative march toward fewer chemicals and lower additive quantities to place a pound of proppant.  As our Engineering Manager Ben Poppel often explains, successful proppant placement used to be done with “viscosity” from frac fluid systems, but is gradually replaced by “velocity” through pump rate.  In the graph below, we see a gradual industry movement toward the fluid systems on the left.

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Slickwater is the go-to fluid for tight shales, but not all shales are the same. Some shales have higher permeabilities, possibly requiring higher proppant concentrations that generate more fracture conductivity. While higher velocities / pump rates can help place these higher proppant concentrations (or larger mesh sizes), proppant placement may still require higher viscosity for placement without screen-out risk. In other cases, water may be expensive, and the economics of the job require the use of higher proppant concentration tales with new high-visc FR systems, ultimately reducing water volumes.

Slickwater initiated the shale gas revolution in the Barnett Shale.  To make shale oil work, the early industry consensus was that higher viscosity fluids were needed to make it work.  Liberty pioneered 100% slickwater jobs in horizontal wells in the Williston Central Basin in 2011.  In the higher-permeability Niobrara in the DJ Basin we believed viscosities higher than provided by slickwater fluid was needed for enhanced proppant placement.  As such, Liberty’s Spirit system (SPE 181457 or paper summary #8 here) provided a cheaper fluid alternative in the DJ Basin than the high-cost Zirconate CMHPG system that was pumped in the basin before we arrived.  For a while during the downturn, our low-concentration Borate guar systems became more prevalent. Now, however, DJ designs have kept moving on from this transitional fluid system to mostly slickwater pumped at even higher rates.  As shown in the graph below, we now use a 10 – 12 ppt Spirit fluid system about 15% of the time we pump in the DJ Basin.

As a company, we are pumping more slickwater than ever. While there are some holdouts in the Eagle Ford and DJ, more than 85% of all the fluid we pump is slickwater – water with FR (friction reducer). In the Eagle Ford, the preference of gel system is most likely related to higher pressures and rate restrictions.

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Frac gel from Whole Foods is still too expensive to pump in bulk. However, we will continue to pump proppant with fewer additives and find greener, cheaper and cleaner additives to further perfect our chemistry.

Thank You…

To Joel Siegel and Ben Poppel for engineering our Spirit System and a 100% grocery-supplied frac gel and to Liz Wright for taking pictures.

Pinnacol Assurance Partners with Colorado Apprenticeship Program to Build Workforce of the Future

By Lori Ella Miller

While enjoying a healthy, robust economy and low unemployment, Colorado faces a challenging paradox. According to the Colorado Talent 2016 Pipeline Report, by 2020 nearly 74 percent of all jobs within the state will require some type of postsecondary education. At the same time, only 23 percent of Colorado’s graduating high schoolers are earning a college degree. This gap in career-readiness is putting local students at a severe disadvantage as they enter the workforce. At the same time, it’s making it difficult for area employers to attract qualified workers, as well as create a pipeline of steady recruits for the thousands of job opportunities in the state.

In an effort to solve the ongoing problem, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper led a contingent of community and business leaders on a trip to Switzerland to learn about that country’s successful youth apprenticeship system. The visit inspired the launch of Colorado’s first modern apprenticeship program: CareerWise Colorado. This program offers high school students real-world work experience and debt-free postsecondary education.

One of the business leaders accompanying the governor to Switzerland was Phil Kalin, president and CEO of Pinnacol Assurance, a workers’ compensation insurer headquartered in Denver that has been ranked as a Top Workplace by The Denver Post for both 2017 and 2018. At the time, Pinnacol Assurance was evaluating its own workforce development objectives. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey, nearly one half of employees in the insurance industry are nearing retirement within the next decade. An analysis of Pinnacol’s own workforce demographics suggests that nearly one-third of its employees will be eligible for retirement by 2019.

Kalin and Pinnacol’s executive team see the CareerWise program as a win-win. By participating in this important public-private partnership, the company supports the community and helps build a strong workforce for its future.

“By hiring apprentices, we can continue to fill our workforce with talented employees who will bring the enthusiasm and innovation required for Pinnacol to thrive,” said Kalin.

Pinnacol Assurance is one of 44 companies partnering with CareerWise Colorado. Statewide, about 100 students have begun apprenticeships and Pinnacol hoststhe largest cohort in the program. Unlike other pilot programs, Pinnacol’s is directed by dedicated staffers who are responsible for communications between internal team stakeholders, apprenticeship recruitment, and advocating for the apprentices—therefore contributing to the success of the larger-scaled program.

One of the staff members is Apprenticeship Program Lead Julie Wilmes. Prior to joining Pinnacol, Wilmes taught public school for 10 years before going on to become an instructional designer.

“I knew this was the perfect fit for me, as I wanted to be a part of workforce development in Colorado,” said Wilmes. “Youth apprenticeships empower young people, their families, and will have a lasting impact on future generations.”

Some 50 Denver-area students threw their proverbial hats into the ring and applied to the Pinnacol Apprenticeship Program, and 20 were selected. According to Wilmes, Pinnacol hired a diverse group of students. Approximately 80 percent of the participants are students of color, which is consistent with the demographics of participating Denver schools. She added that the group is also equally split between genders. Pinnacol has already committed to onboarding up to 10 additional apprentices in 2019.

One of the best parts of the apprenticeship model is that it is accessible to all students on track to graduate from high school, regardless of socio-economic status.

“CareerWise’s modern youth apprenticeship program benefits students from any background. Regardless of demographics, students learn better when they have a real world environment in which they can apply their classroom lessons,” said CareerWise Colorado Director of Human Resources Strategy & Implementation Kathleen Brenk. “Through this business-led, student-centered model, any high school student can benefit from debt-free college credit and be career-ready when they decide to work full time in their field—whether that’s immediately after the apprenticeship or after further education.”

Over the next few years, the apprentices will rotate through Pinnacol’s departments, engage with guest speakers, shadow employees, perform productive hands-on work, and hone skills needed for a career in the insurance industry — ideally at Pinnacol.

In addition, the students earn an apprentice wage, receive retirement benefits and time-off, participate in the company’s bonus program, and are eligible for performance-based raises. Pinnacol also covers tuition costs for some postsecondary education and an insurance industry certification.

The CareerWise Colorado model is mutually beneficial for both the apprentices, as well as the businesses. Companies realize a positive return on their investment not only from the value of the apprentices’ work, but also from the impact it has on employees. That is certainly the case for Pinnacol.

According to Wilmes, “The program is a having a positive effect on morale. Our team members are growing as leaders and mentors. They feel needed, and love sharing their expertise and knowledge.”

The Pinnacol staffers, who serve as subject matter experts, train and coach the apprentices who acquire new proficiencies in team work, operations, business practices and accountability. It’s real hands-on work. The apprentices are involved in facilitating projects, developing high-level communications, planning events, and assisting operations in the Underwriting and Claims departments.

“They are taking on roles and responsibilities that free up full-time, salaried staff to focus on the more technical aspects of their jobs,” remarked Pinnacol Apprenticeship Program Manager Mark Tapy. 

High school junior and CareerWise Colorado apprentice Byonce Reyna is currently working in Pinnacol’s Communications department. Reyna pens a monthly blog for Pinnacol’s intranet that has become one of the most read articles by company employees.

Eric Miller, a high school junior on the Continuous Improvement and Lean team is gaining the skills to facilitate team meetings and help team members reach their goals. He is actively working on a project to enhance the efficiency of communications between CareerWise, schools, and businesses. His work on the evaluation of the communication process will have an impact on Pinnacol, as well as other participating companies.

Wilmes believes the CareerWise model could have a profound impact on all industries in Colorado and nationwide. “Businesses must get involved in workforce development – it’s crucial,” she said. “Companies can get apprentices in the door and train them for what your company needs now and in the future.”

At the completion of their apprenticeships, these students will finish high school with transferable college credits, at least one postsecondary credential, three years of work experience, and in many cases, an associate degree.

“I would recommend this program to my fellow students because working in a professional environment helps you to see and understand the complexity and struggles in not only the business world, but how business integrates itself into our everyday lives,” said Isabelle Benton, a 17-year-old apprentice in Pinnacol’s Special Investigations Unit. “It teaches you a sense of responsibility that you don’t really get to understand until you have the freedom to do so. In an apprenticeship, you start doing things on your own and away from the classroom environment…you are doing a job with adults and you have to think and understand things like they do. This program has changed my life.”

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Get Informed: Interactive Business Guide for education & the gubernatorial race

Colorado Business Roundtable has joined forces with 19 statewide groups and the Denver Business Journal to ask: What if Colorado students obtained the levels of education needed to compete in today’s economy?

In May, our coalition launched a new resource for Colorado employers, voters, and the gubernatorial candidates to make our state’s schools the best in the nation: A Business Guide for Colorado’s Next Governor. We are excited to present to you this interactive online tool for the convenience of making an informed decision on June 26th, our state primaries. This guide includes:

1.       New economic data showing the impact to Colorado’s economy if our state had the best schools in the country

2.       The impact of Colorado’s skills gap on employers

3.       The improvement strategies supported by Colorado voters and employers

4.       A gubernatorial candidate survey on key education issues

The findings are astounding. If Colorado students earned the levels education and training needed for Colorado jobs, after 10 years if would generate over $12 billion in increased GDP growth.

We encourage you to explore this resource before the June 26th primaries and ask that you share it with your network. Below are suggested social media posts to can use to spread the word:


This Business Guide for Colorado’s Next Governor shows the economic impact to CO if our schools were #1 nationally, as well as the improvement strategies voters & employers support: #BestSchoolsCO #COpolitics #edcolo


Get Informed: A new interactive guide for the gubernatorial race shows the impact to Colorado’s economy if our state had the best schools in the nation, as well as the improvement strategies supported by CO voters and employers. Know where your gubernatorial candidates, employers, and your fellow Coloradans stand on education in the state by the June 26th primaries. Check it out #BestSchoolsCO #COpolitics #edcolo

For Astronaut Safety NASA Should Look To Colorado

Author: Jeff Wasden

Colorado doesn’t always come to mind when people think of America’s space legacy. After all, no one ever said, “Denver, we have a problem.” Meanwhile, our researchers and aerospace manufacturers are quietly shaping the state’s economy, America’s space future, and astronaut safety. 

Employees from eight of the country’s top aerospace manufacturers are hard at work right here in Colorado preparing NASA for 21st century spaceflight. One of those companies, Denver-based United Launch Alliance, has nearly 130 successful launches – a remarkable accomplishment in contrast to some recent flame-outs on the launch pads. Independently, Boeing is working to build the Space Launch System for NASA, to begin the journey to Mars.

Amidst this friendly competition, it is easy to forget about the safety of the astronauts who put their lives in the hands of Colorado’s engineers amongst others.

It is shocking to many to learn that SpaceX plans to fuel their rocket with the astronauts already onboard. This ‘load and go’ method needlessly risks astronaut lives in an effort to cut corners and eke out power from an undersized platform. SpaceX’s own Falcon 9 exploded on the launch pad in 2016 using this exact same fueling technique and a NASA safety panel has urged this risky proposal be reconsidered.

It’s not the first safety question mark to be raised about SpaceX’s hurry up approach to development.  The company lost a Falcon 9 rocket and (thankfully unmanned) Dragon capsule in 2015 and one of its Merlin rockets exploded during testing late last year.

Elon Musk recently stated in “The Verge” that, “We certainly could load propellants and then have the astronauts board Dragon.”  If SpaceX can do this, why don’t they eliminate the high-risk operation?  In this case it appears the SpaceX ideology of risk taking is prioritized over safety.  

NASA’s requirements demand that the odds of dying can be no greater than 1 in 270 flights. Counting the 2016 explosion and another in 2015 with the Falcon 9, SpaceX does not meet that criteria if they intend to carry our most precious cargo, America’s astronauts. Space travel will never be completely safe, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

And given Colorado’s central role in America’s leadership in space, this is a discussion our state need to be leading. After all, Colorado boasts the country’s 2nd largest aerospace economy, with nearly 190,000 space related jobs which puts us number one in the nation per capita.

And our universities in Colorado are a key driver for cutting-edge space research. In fact, there are twenty former NASA astronauts affiliated with the University of Colorado and two are currently on staff. This commitment to space education explains why CU receives more NASA research funding than any other public university. And just down the road at the U.S. Air Force Academy you will find the nation’s 2nd ranked aerospace program. 

Thankfully, Colorado companies, like Boeing, and ULA, our researchers, and our students understand this, and are committed to putting men and women in space and bringing them safely home. When NASA calibrated the chance of a fatal incident on the historic Shuttle flights, it came in at 1 in 12. While some cargo like Facebook’s communications satellite can be insured, human life is far too valuable to leave up to chance.


Get Used To Low Unemployment Rates - Thanks To The Federal Tax Cuts

Author: Jeff Wasden

Friday’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the national unemployment rate is 3.8 percent, the lowest rate this century. Colorado’s is even better at 2.9 percent. Even the best forecasters couldn’t have predicted such a strong labor market six years ago when the unemployment rate was twice this level. Currently there are 6.6 million unfilled jobs across the nation, suggesting the unemployment rate could fall even further.

This strong labor market is largely a result of the current economic expansion. Economic growth in recent quarters has finally been near the 3 percent level this country is used to, following many years in the 2 percent range. Again, Colorado’s economic growth is even better —  at 3.6 percent last year. But solid economic growth alone can’t account for this historically low unemployment rate. For that, we should thank the recent Republican tax cuts, which have added fuel to the economic fire.

The tax cuts included a new 20 percent small-business tax deduction — the biggest small-business tax cut in the nation’s history. Like me, you probably know of several small businesses just barely hanging on in today’s competitive economy. This tax relief will allow them to protect one-fifth of their earnings from taxes. These saving can then be directed to the expansion, capital expenditures, and hiring they need to become more competitive and stay in business.

This deduction should also help address the historically low small-business startup rate. In contrast to nearly all other economic indicators, the startup rate has not recovered from the Great Recession. The new small-business tax cut will give potential entrepreneurs extra incentive to follow their dreams. Because these small firms account for two-thirds of all new jobs created, such a small business expansion will help the labor market even more.

No wonder small businesses support the tax cuts by a 10-to-1 margin, according to a recent survey conducted by the Job Creators Network.

The tax cuts also brought the nation’s corporate tax rate in line with international standards. This allows American businesses to better compete with their foreign counterparts, which ironically have often been in a better position to invest in the U.S. because their home governments tax away less of their earnings.

Instead of American companies “investing” abroad to try to better compete in today’s global marketplace, companies are now returning to — and expanding in — the U.S. because the tax climate is finally fair again. These include major employers such as Bayer, Amazon, Ford, and Broadcom.

In these conditions, it’s easy to see how the unemployment rate has fallen to a historic low. But it’s not only jobs that these businesses are providing with their tax cuts. They’re also delivering higher wages. Over 500 businesses, including some of the nation’s biggest employers such as Walmart (1.5 million U.S. employees) AT&T (200,000 employees) and Starbucks (250,000 employees), have directed part of their tax cut savings to increased employee compensation. As a result, median wages are growing at their fastest pace in a decade after many years of stagnating.

Congressional Democrats — led by Colorado Rep. Jared Polis — have promised to repeal these tax cuts if they retake power on Election Day this fall. They complain these are merely tax cuts for the rich. That is not true. The share of taxes paid by the rich actually increases under this law. Not only are ordinary Americans benefiting from reductions in their individual income tax, but they are also benefiting from the greater prosperity, more job opportunities, and higher wages spurred by tax cuts.

An unemployment rate below four percent may be an anomaly. But as long as the tax cuts remain in place, stimulating the economy, expect to see this far more frequently in the future.