Governor wants to hear your ideas to improve economy |

Governor wants to hear your ideas to improve economy

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Gov. John Hickenlooper

ASPEN – Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper brings his Bottom-Up Economic Development Plan tour to Glenwood Springs Thursday. In Pitkin County, residents who want to pitch ideas for the statewide initiative can fill out an online survey that is being conducted county by county through April 15.

The governor launched the Bottom-Up initiative shortly after taking office, intending to mine each of Colorado’s 64 counties for ideas that may ultimately become part of a statewide economic development plan.

He has toured cities around the state in support of the initiative, making appearances in Summit County on Wednesday and hitting Glenwood Thursday for a sold-out business lunch hosted by the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, among other stops. Hickenlooper will be back on the Western Slope Saturday for a meeting of Club 20 in Grand Junction. Club 20 membership includes counties, cities, businesses, individuals and associations in western Colorado.

Locally, Pitkin County is urging residents to fill out the survey, which has been posted at (under County Spotlight). The 11-question survey includes an opportunity for respondents to write in their own, personal ideas in addition to responding to a standardized list of questions.

Pitkin County, like all Colorado counties, has been affected by the economic downturn, noted County Manager Jon Peacock, calling the survey a chance for the local community to get its thoughts about economic development in front of the new administration.

“It’s really important that the unique values of our community be reflected,” he said.

The “bottom-up” approach allows each county to determine the relevance and potential use of the survey information, including looking at regional opportunities.

In addition, the state’s counties will be grouped into 14 regions that form the basis for a statewide approach, according to an executive order issued by the governor in January.

The survey asks respondents to identify their county’s economic strengths from a list of options that include a transportation network, raw materials/natural resources, tourism assets, renewable energy potential and other attributes. Similarly, respondents are asked to identify their county’s weaknesses, its economic threats/limitations and the economic opportunities that hold the most potential. The list of answers for the latter question includes things like tourism attractions, anchor industries, natural and water resources, and a skilled labor force, for example.

The survey also asks respondents what their home county’s top measurable goals or strategies for economic development should be and what resources from the state would be most helpful to the county.

Some of the questions allow the respondent to fill in a blank with an answer that isn’t supplied in the list of options. One question – If there was one action that the State of Colorado could undertake to help advance economic development in your home county, what would it be? – allows the respondent to write in an answer of up to 50 words.

Commissioner Rachel Richards, who chairs the local Board of County Commissioners, said she found herself clicking the “other” box frequently and supplying her own answer to questions.

“I don’t feel that all the choices necessarily encompass all the opportunities or resources for economic development in a way that’s unique to communities in areas such as the Roaring Fork Valley,” she said.

And, Richards noted, what one community considers an enhancement to economic development – more water availability, for example – could be a detriment to another that depends on water resources for recreational tourism.

During Hickenlooper’s travels around the state, attendees at public meetings have pegged everything from tax credits to high-speed Internet in rural areas as ways the state can help stimulate the economy and fuel job creation.

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