I-25, Jobs, Talent Development Top Issues

Aug 24, 2015 | Uncategorized

Interstate 25 expansion, staying focused on creating good-paying jobs — and having a city government that understands their importance — and talent development are the top issues facing area business leaders.

At a planning retreat in May, the Chamber’s board of directors looked ahead over the next 18 months and asked where the business community needs to focus its attention.

First on the list is widening Interstate 25 to three lanes each way between Colorado Highway 14 in Fort Collins and Colorado Highway 66 north of Longmont. The Chamber, working through the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance, helped found the Fix North I-25 Business Alliance.

Over the past year-and-a-half, state and local officials have committed $99.5 million to I-25 north of Denver. To get these results the Fix North I-25 Business Alliance has been pleased to partner with local elected officials, Region 4 Colorado Department of Transportation staff and its commissioner, the new CDOT director, area legislators and Colorado’s congressional delegation.

However, much, much more needs to be done. Over the next 18 months the Fix North I-25 group will elevate its lobbying and communication efforts.

Every possible funding option needs to remain on the table, but we will be looking at local government funding proposals, encouraging state officials to take a serious look at renewing the expiring 1999 TRANS bonds program, encouraging the state’s business and political leaders to make 2016 the “year of transportation funding” — both in the Legislature and with a potential November 2016 transportation funding ballot measure — and supporting the effort of Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo. to pass a long-term federal transportation funding billing.

Learn more and join the revolution at www.FixNorthI-25.com.

The second item involves keeping attention on creating good-paying jobs. While the number of jobs continues to grow and unemployment declines in Northern Colorado, we have been slow to regain the economic ground we lost during the last recession relative to primary jobs. Many good-paying primary jobs have been replaced with lower-skilled, lower-paying service jobs.

It’s important for city officials to recognize this fact and to remain committed to fostering jobs. To that end, the Chamber has an initiative called “Stand Up for Business and a Strong Economy.”

It includes economic research, maintaining a lobbyist in Denver, maintaining tools that describe the importance of primary employers and the jobs they create — see FortCollinsWorks.com — and encouraging reasonable people with a balanced perspective to run for public office.

The third area of focus involves the labor force. Change is outpacing the ability of many people to retool their skills. Consequently, in the nation and locally we have the discordant situation of some employers unable to find qualified workers and too many job-seekers unable to find adequate work.

After conferring with area human resources professionals, the Chamber is launching a Talent Recruitment & Development initiative. It will be modest at the outset but focuses on three things: helping create a community workforce plan; developing tools recruiters and HR teams can use to attract talent; and establishing a dual career trailing partners/spouse program.

These tree initiatives are part of the Chamber’s Moving Fort Collins Forward! campaign, which launches Sept 2. Contact me if you are interested in participating.

Column Originally published in The Fort Collins Coloradoan August 20, 2015