Letter: Come back to Earth from Power Plant pipe dream
The Power Plant presentation April 6 wouldn’t hold up in “Shark Tank.”
First let me say I think the Power Plant has targeted the right demographic. We have great programs for our kids up to age 18, and then we throw them out of paradise. Multigenerational we are not.
Despite David Cook’s assertion that transparency is paramount, it appears the Power Plant has no business plan or at least not one that it wishes to share with the public. Its primary for-profit partner, Aspen Brewing Co., appears to have a low profit potential — a conclusion from Duncan Clauss’ remarks at the presentation that Aspen Brewing Co.’s profit margin is low. If the company cannot generate 80 to 100 percent of the first year’s expenses, including the costs for the incubator space, then it is not the right partner for the job. The city would wind up propping up an established, low-profit business as well as the unspecified starter businesses in their proposal. To put it more simply, why have a “for profit” partner if it is not covering the expenses?
When pressed by Angie Callen, the presenters changed their assertion that the Power Plant was a “nonprofit” (charity) to a “not for profit” (hobby). What if it doesn’t get its liquor license? What if it is unable to fill the startup desks? If the reverse happens, where does the “extra” revenue go? How much revenue does it have to generate to sustain the concept, and where will this come from? Right now, the sustainability — according to the Power Plant — depends on what the city would charge for rent. If it hasn’t provided numbers to the city of what it takes to achieve sustainability, then it hasn’t run the numbers. In a hobby, you don’t have to run the numbers in a business — you do; you run the numbers again and again until you find a working model and work toward that goal.
Add to this that the Power Plant is no longer offering to foot the bill for $700,000 of renovation — remind me, what are the advantages again?
Finally, when David Houggy asked about benchmarks, it was revealed that there has been no discussion of oversight — either from the city or within the consortium.
This should have been an easy presentation with answers at the ready for predictable questions. Instead, what we got was a fluffy cloud of “what we need in Aspen,” a cursory nod to a “vocal minority” and a reaffirmation how much everybody loves living here. Yep, I love living here, too, and I also have pretty solid experience of what it takes to stay here. I haven’t heard anything from the Power Plant that leads me to believe it can sustain itself, much less offer sustainability to other startups.
Get your heads out of the clouds, boys. Do better next time.