2019 Great Year for Chamber and Region
Another year come and gone. In its roles as a catalyst, convener, and champion, the Chamber had a positive and proactive impact on the prosperity and livability of the Northern Colorado region. Following are a few highlights.
Champion for stronger communities
North I-25 is getting widened. In recent years, I-25 has been a perennial on our end-of-the-year list. In the recent past, it has mostly been about the funding secured for North I-25. And that is impressive: over the past 5 years, $928 million has been committed to capacity improvements on I-25 north of Longmont through Fort Collins. But now you’re seeing on-the-ground results:
- (2017) climbing lane has been built on south-bound Berthoud hill
- (2017-18) Crossroads bridges and intersection rebuilt
- (2019) Highway 402 interchange completely redesigned and rebuilt
- (Current) work is underway to add a 3rd lane both directions Harmony Road in Fort Collins and Highway 402
- (Current) Prospect Road interchange is being rebuilt
- (Current) work started this fall on the section of I-25 south of Highway 402
A lot of work by a lot of people and organizations has led to this progress. A couple of noteworthy things in 2019:
- Leaders from Northern Colorado, with the financial backing of investors in Northern Colorado Prospers (NorthernColoradoProspers.com), helped secure $300M in state General Fund expenditures for transportation.
- The Fix North I-25 Business Alliance, the I-25 Coalition, and other area leaders successfully lobbied the Colorado Transportation Commission to convert work on Segments 7 and 8 (Highway 14 in Fort Collins to Highway 402 Loveland) from an interim to permanent alignment and provide an additional $310M to do so. This preserves the median for future transit options and the construction standards are higher meaning future maintenance issues will be delayed.
Talent recruitment took off. Since it was launched in April, over 8,000 jobs have been posted to WorkInNorthernColorado.com. Employers posting jobs on Indeed.com automatically see their postings on WorkInNorthernColorado.com. A marketing campaign is now underway for the site.
Supported appropriately resourced and led local government. After extensive study, the Chamber backed the renewal of an expiring City sales tax. And the Chamber led the successful campaign to defeat a ballot measure that would have converted the City Council from citizen volunteer legislators to full-time, full-pay politicians.
Advocated for the importance of business to community success. The Chamber conducted a media and social media campaign to help residents make the connection between business and community prosperity. Called Bringing Business Home (www.BringingBusinessHome.org), the campaign made millions of impressions.
Championed affordable, reliable electricity. The Chamber convened an alliance of business organizations called the Northern Front Range Electricity Task Force to defend and promote public policy that preserves the area’s advantage of electricity that is highly reliable, relatively affordable, and generated in way that is increasingly clean.
Catalyst for business growth
The Chamber supports business growth in two broad ways: by providing information, connections and services to help our members grow; and by tackling issues that positively impact the business climate (like the initiatives cited above). A few of our 2019 activities included:
- Stuck up for business with a full-time lobbyist in Denver and by representing business locally at City Hall and the County
- With other partners, personally met with dozens of area primary employers to discuss their needs and expansion plans. In February the partnership published its first Northern Colorado Business Retention and Expansion Annual Report.
- Celebrated small business with the 2019 Chamber Small Business of the Year Awards:
- Technical Framework – small category (1-10 employees)
- All Star Cleaning Services – medium category (11-50 employees)
- Charco Broiler Restaurant – large category (51-200 employees)
- Snack Attack Specialty Sandwiches & Brews – New Kid on the Block category (business in operation for less than three years)
- Hosted 5 Signature Events for a regional audience
- Held dozens of networking and education events: Business After Hours, 12@12 Luncheons, Leads Groups, Red Carpet, Envision
- Hosted National Best-Selling Author, Dan Health as 2019 Thought Leader Speaker
Indicators that the Chamber is providing value and recognized as a leader:
- The 2019 Moving Fort Collins Forward! Campaign raised $585,000 and more than 122 members joined
- With 1,285 members, the Chamber is one of the largest chambers of commerce in the state and remains the only 5-Star Accredited Chamber in Colorado.
- Colorado Chamber of Commerce Executives (CCCE) 2019 award for Best Communications Campaign for Bringing Business Home
- “Award of Excellence” winner in the Communications Excellence awards program presented by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) for Bringing Business Home Campaign
- 2019 dotCOMM Platinum award for WorkInNorthernColorado.com
- Development and Retention Coordinator Jessica Verderame presented with ACCE 2019 40 Under 40 award and was a 2019 BizWest 40 Under Forty Award Recipient
Convener of leaders and influencers
Central in activities noted above – widen I-25, talent recruitment and development, government affairs advocacy – is a convener role by the Chamber. Important things get done because of alliances and partnerships of willing participants. In addition to the big initiatives cited above, the Chamber:
- Hosted first NoCo Housing NOW Housing Conversation that provided insight into issues that are impacting the attainability of housing
- Partnered with the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office Partner for Inaugural Cyber Security Summit
- Graduated the 37th class of Leadership Fort Collins and partnered with the Loveland and Greeley Chambers to graduate the 10th class of Leadership Northern Colorado
- Worked with the Child Care Task Force to release recommendations addressing affordable child care in Larimer County
Fort Collins-Loveland Area Fared Well
And the area continued to do well. In 2019, the Fort Collins/Loveland MSA ranked:
- among top 10 real estate markets in country (#6)
- had the lowest June 2019 unemployment rate — 2.6 percent — of all Colorado metros
- among the most educated in the country, according to a study from GoBankingRates