What’s on Your Mind?
By necessity, my focus has narrowed over the past couple of years to a limited number of big issues, including lobbying for money to widen I-25, workforce development and raising the money to pay for these efforts and others. Fortunately we have a government affairs team of staffers and volunteer members staying on top of other community and business issues.
I bring this up because the Chamber Board is having a planning retreat in the near future. Leaders will be talking about the issues noted above, completing our Northern Colorado Prospers 5-year strategic initiative campaign and working on the goals, and launching our annual Moving Fort Collins Forward! campaign. And, we are carving out some time to make sure we keep attention on other topics.
Among those issues are:
- City Plan update. The city government has launched a million dollar, year-long process to update the community’s comprehensive plan known as City Plan. While having a lot of positive promise, it has the potential for being bad for business. It bears close watching.
- Mulberry Corridor. Most people don’t realize that the stretch of Mulberry (Highway 14) from I-25 to around Lemay is not in Fort Collins; it’s in the county. But, eventually it will be annexed into the city. Based on how the South College annexation has gone, a case can be made that we aren’t particularly good at annexation. This gateway is too important not to get right.
- Economic drift. In the last couple of years local government has focused on just about everything except economic development. Sure, lots of development is taking place. What I’m talking about is a policy-level and action-level focus on retaining and attracting primary employers, i.e. the companies that produce services and products that are primarily sold outside the area with the resulting income in part being spread through the rest of the economy.
- In-town mobility. While I-25 is a huge issue, getting around town is, too. What is the long-term plan for grade separated east-west railroad crossings the entire length of Fort Collins and better access to the northeast part of town?
- Housing affordability. While not unique to Fort Collins, the ability to afford housing in our area is a problem. From a business perspective, worker housing is a big and growing issue. I-25, economic development and housing costs are all connected. The government-centric mandates on developers for ‘inclusionary zoning’ are not the answer. Nor is the City’s current path of driving up capital expansion fees. A major community conversation is needed on this issue.
- Transient behavior. ‘Lose your downtown and you lose your town’. In the past that old saying was usually applied to the movement of shopping out of downtowns to suburban shopping malls in communities across the country. In Fort Collins today it can be applied to the growing transient issue. Hundreds of millions of dollars of public and private investments over decades can be diminished by a small group of people.
What else? If you have other issues you want to make sure we’re thinking about, please drop me an email at [email protected].