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Colorado spells recovery J-O-B-S

Edgar Johansson //October 28, 2010//

Colorado spells recovery J-O-B-S

Edgar Johansson //October 28, 2010//

According to the recent “Toward a More Competitive Colorado” sixth annual report put together by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., Colorado continues to get more anemic in its competition with other states for jobs and attracting new investment. The report unequivocally concludes that “if Colorado hopes to continue its position as a state for innovation, opportunity, and investment, significant changes in public policy and a new vision of prosperity must be embraced within the state.” I wholeheartedly agree.

As part of the aerospace community in Colorado, I’ve had firsthand experience with policies that are are actually discouraging companies to stay in our great state. For example, the “dirty dozen” tax-exemption repeals enacted last session have harmed businesses from Burlington to Grand Junction, and industries spanning software, construction, restaurants and farming.

The repeal of the software tax exemption cost Lockheed Martin alone an estimated increase of approximately $1 million to do business here. Other states see this as a golden opportunity. Unfortunately, the opportunity is to send raiding parties here to recruit our companies and to take jobs from Colorado.

The Metro Denver EDC’s objective analysis bears out my and others subjective observations: We are not adequately supportive of businesses in Colorado, and yet we want to tax them. People who agree with the repeal of business tax exemptions claim that business has to carry its fair share of the weight. But, in truth, business’s fair share of the weight is keeping us all employed. It is not their responsibility to balance the state budget. Rather, business’s commitment and responsibility to Colorado is to keep good jobs flourishing for the citizens of this state, which in turn keeps people spending and supporting the state’s economy.

I am not predicting that we are going to lose our large corporations. The footprints of these companies are sizable and they hopefully will remain here. But I do believe that we are very susceptible to die a death of 10,000 cuts. We are losing 1, 2, 5, or 10 full time employees at a time, little by little. In a short span, that adds up and bit by bit hundreds of jobs are gone.

By no means are we at the end of the road yet. Despite a difficult employment environment, the report points out Colorado’s continuing and healthy population growth rate, and our high marks as a “center of innovation,” particularly in aerospace, energy, and bioscience, and an advancing cleantech industry. But the report firmly warns that while we have strengths, we are “getting weaker year by year.”

We must step up our pro-business policies to reverse this direction. We simply cannot annually provide businesses more incentive to leave our state for greener pastures.

The current Colorado legislative majority does not seem to understand this pivotal position and hasn’t stood up for numerous industries across the board — in aerospace, oil & gas, mining and more. More than ever, we need for a solid, savvy business sense to prevail in the state legislature, before it’s too late.

A legislature that will roll back the extreme regulations placed on oil and gas exploration and mining that have cost countless jobs and reduced state revenues; a legislature that balances practical environmental concerns with responsible development of all sources of energy including wind, solar hydroelectric, oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear power; a legislature that understands that raising taxes on business will bring disastrous results to our economy.

To bring jobs back and increase Colorado’s competitiveness for economic investment, we need a legislature with a business-sensitive attitude that asks basic the question “Is this law good for business?” before laws are enacted. If the answer is NO, then it simply can’t be good for the citizens of Colorado.
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