Friday, December 29, 2006

Unbelievable Workplace Events

The usually staid, just-the-facts-mam approach to delivering business news and surveys at Challenger, Gray & Christmas erodes a bit in December with its compilation of the year's 10 Most Unbelievable Workplace Events. Naked file cabinet jumping in Newcastle, England (,,1795903,00.html), one man's daily commute of 370 miles ( and employee spanking in California ( are among the eyecatchers for 2006. Our favorite? The decision by Northwest Airlines to issue a 165-page booklet in the face of layoffs, giving employees 101 suggestions about how to save money ( Challenger has the full list of Events from 2005 on its Web site at


Downtown Colorado Springs' Holly Sugar Building (above, left) became the FirstBank Building with the flick of a switch this week. Installation of "1STBANK" signs at the top of each side of the 14-story building was completed Wednesday, and, at 5 p.m. the signs (seen as they were being installed, above right) were illuminated. FirstBank of Colorado Springs announced Dec. 12 it has acquired the naming and signage rights to the downtown landmark, which was known for decades by the name of the Holly Sugar Co. that was headquartered there from 1967 through 1997. The building, at 2 N. Cascade Ave., is part of the Palmer Center complex, which includes the Wells Fargo bank tower and the Antlers Hilton hotel. FirstBank of Colorado Springs is owned by FirstBank Holding Co. of Colorado, based in suburban Denver. Signs in the building's lobby and in an underground parking garage are still being changed.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Talk about your incentives

Mike Kazmierski, president of the Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. for a little more than a year, has said several times the Springs needs to boost its business incentive packages if it hopes to compete with offers being made by cities and states around the country. Here's the headline over a Dec. 21 news item that caught Kazmierski's eye, and which he forwarded to The Gazette:

"N.Y. approves $650M in aid for AMD microchip plant"

The story, from the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, goes on to detail that a New York state panel approved a $650 million funding package to aid construction of an Advanced Micro Devices Inc. computer microchip plant in a business park in upstate New York. AMD tentatively agreed last summer to build the $3.2 billion plant, but a deal isn't yet final and company officials were counting on the state's aid package, according to the story.

Colorado and Colorado Springs rarely ante up that kind of money, although the state and Denver did offer $237 million in 1991 to try and land a United Airlines maintenance facility that ultimately went to Indianapolis.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

They Said It .... quotes from the business community

“I thought it might make a good Irish bar ... My name ‘Sammy Michael Patrick’ would even work for that until you get to the Guadagnoli part. That kind of gives it away.”
--Club owner and entrepreneur Sam Guadagnoli, who purchased the old Color Me Mine property at 28 N. Tejon St. for use as a model site for downtown loft sales, on what other use he might have had for the building.

"I go into the newspaper's obituary pages every day and too often I find there is a customer, an old friend."
--Mike Nemeth, former co-owner of Nemeth's El Tejon Restaurant, on the loss of core clientele which contributed to the restaurant's closure October 28.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Foreclosures still plentiful

Latest figures from a California online research firm confirm what the El Paso County Public Trustee's Office already has reported: Local foreclosures are on the rise. RealtyTrac Inc. released figures last week that show El Paso County foreclosures totaled 371 in November, up 29.3 percent from 287 during the same month last year. Teller County foreclosures totaled 25 in November; RealtyTrac didn't have comparable figures for 2005. RealtyTrac's figures reflect homes that are in some stage of foreclosure, not just new filings. Meanwhile, the El Paso County Public Trustee's Office reported 269 new foreclosures in November, up 71.3 percent over the same month a year ago. So far in 2006, El Paso County foreclosures total 2,390, exceeding the 2005 total of 2,289 and making this year the highest annual total of foreclosures since 2,937 in 1989, according to the Trustee's Office.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Employees camp out at Intel

Blizzard of ’06 No. 2 left about 30 employees of Intel sleeping in cots overnight Wednesday and Thursday at the local computer chip plant, which operates 24/7.

Employees received food, drink and personal hygiene items. They also were kept updated on the storm’s progress.

As the weather worsened and roads closed, other employees were asked not to come in to work. Some worked on laptop computers at home, spokeswoman Judy Cara said.

“We never entirely shut down, but we had to stop some procedures because we didn’t have enough people to run the factory,” Cara said. “The lost production time was clearly not good but we have a great team of folks who will make up the time.”

Snow gets some in the spirit

Matt Chmielarczyk didn’t mind making the commute to work as sales manager at Mountain Chalet on Wednesday.

“We’re a mountaineering shop. We should be open when it snows,” he said.

And he got a nice holiday bonus. Every employee who went to work at the downtown shop during the blizzard got paid double time, said owner Dan Foster.

“Even though sales were down, we stepped up to thank the ones that made the effort to come in,” Foster said.

The shop closed early, 5 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. on Wednesday. Sales were stagnant, and Foster believes retail activity was simply lost to the forces that be.

“Compared to a typical week before Christmas it’s terribly slow, and I don’t think those sales will be made up. It hurts, but what are you going to do?”

Foster is counting on fellow shopping procrastinators to be out in full force post-blizzard.

Blizzard creates sales opportunity

The holiday blizzard gave some Faricy Boys Chrysler Jeep associates a new twist for their sales pitches.

After the dealership in the Powers Auto Park closed at 1 p.m. Wednesday, some associates headed home in their Jeeps and along the way pulled out vehicles stuck in the snow, said Ben Faricy, one of the dealership owners.

“They were mainly two-wheel drive vehicles,” he said.

Sales associates handed their business cards to the drivers, telling them to visit the dealership.

"Usually our business picks up significantly after a storm like this becaues everyone realizes two-wheel-drive vehicles aren’t cut out for this weather,” Faricy said.

By Thursday afternoon, employees were still plowing the 11-acre lot and using snow brooms to brush off some 400 vehicles.

“We’ve got three plow trucks out there,” Faricy said, “and it’ll probably take us the majority of Friday to get everything cleared.”

Snow brings headaches for holiday travelers

Have any of you experienced the same frustration Susan Richards had when she tried for hours to reacher her airline to rebook her flight? She called and called for hours only to get the same busy single and have her call dropped.

"It makes me feel like (the airline) doesn't care about any of customers because they don’t want to help correct any problem. And the airports know that the numbers are disconnected but they tell you to call anyway. It just seems very unprofessional," she said.

I started calling Frontier Airlines startingWednesday afternoon and finally gave up Thursday evening. I probably going to drive up to Denver International Airport on Saturday and stand in line at the ticket counter just because I think it's the only way I'm going to be able to reschedule my flight. What have you been through these past few days while trying to travel home for the holidays? We'd like to hear your story.

Chamber event rescheduled

Due to the inclement weather conditions, the Community Business After Hours and Speed Networking events have been rescheduled to Thursday Dec. 28 at Sodo, 527 S. Tejon St.

For more information, visit

Thursday, December 21, 2006

ATTENTION United Denver travelers, policy change for travel on Dec. 20 and 21

United Airlines is allowing passengers who are flying through Denver on Dec. 20 or 21 to change travel plans at no additional cost because of the winter snow storm.

Customers are encouraged to check flight status before going to the airport by visiting or calling (800) 864-8331 for automated, up-to-the minute flight arrival and departure information.
Customers can receive automatic updates via mobile phone, e-mail or pager, by registering for United EasyUpdate complimentary service at

For customers traveling to, from, or through Denver who would like to make one change to their return trip, rules and restrictions regarding standard change fees, advance purchases, day or time applications, blackouts and minimum or maximum stay requirements have been waived.

Customers who have not begun travel to, from, or through Denver may make one change to their travel plans without change fees or advance purchase requirements for the same itinerary. For a new itinerary, they can make one change without change fees. Rescheduled travel may be subject to higher fares if it does not meet original rule and booking-code restrictions or is a new itinerary.

This ticket wavier is available for customers traveling to, from, and through Denver who purchased ticket on Dec. 19 or earlier, for travel between Dec. 20 and Dec. 21, to/from/through Denver on any United®, United Express®, TedSM or United code-share flight. Origin and destination cities must remain the same.

Customers with already canceled flights are eligible to apply for a full refund.

SmartBox hauled to the Front Range

Richmond, Va.-based SmartBox, a provider of portable storage for commercial and residential use, is making its first venture outside the South by bringing a franchise to the Front Range in February. “Our new Denver franchise will be able to service nearly 4 million people from Fort Collins to Boulder and Denver to Colorado Springs,” said Dusty Rhodes, director of business development. SmartBox containers are 8 feet long, 7 feet tall and 5 feet wide. They can hold the contents of up to one and a half rooms and are delivered directly to customers’ doors. When the storage boxes are fully loaded, the customer calls the company to arrange transport to one of its warehouses or another location. SmartBox ( has franchises in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Business notebook

Colorado Springs-based education company Learning RX has 46 outlets nationwide with the Oct. 30 opening of a franchise in San Antonio, Texas. ...

With the encouragement of area contractors, Don and Susan Cotterman have expanded their family-owned The Door Co. into the Pueblo market after 12 years of operation in Colorado Springs at 615 Conrad St. The Door Co. sells residential and commercial lines of doors, hardware, as well as bath, office and office suite cabinetry. ...

Steve and Ginny Warren have acquired Colorado Cabinet Coatings (, a Colorado Springs company which performs cabinet refacing or replacement work. Steve has 19 years experience in the industry and Ginny has a bachelor's degree in interior design.

RealTime Shredding partners with UPS stores

Real Time Shredding Inc. of Colorado Springs is expanding its business along the Front Range by putting its machines in UPS Stores in Monument and the Denver Tech Center. The company's Self-Service Shredder cross-cut shreds paper, cardboard, credit cards, paper clips, staples, CDs, DVDs and floppy disks. The industrial-strength shredder can shred up to 200 sheets of paper a minute. Customers can bring in any material they want to shred for $1 per two-minute session at either location.The service is a natural extension of the document services, packing, shipping and mailbox and postal services UPS Stores already offer, according to Mike Fye, owner of The UPS Store in Monument. Whether it's someone who is ready to clean out the basement and destroy 15 years of old phone bills, or a business that needs to shred years worth of old documents, "it's easy, inexpensive and makes good sense," says Fye.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Traveling around on alternative fuels has a great map of alternative fueling stations around the nation so you can travel across the country and know the next place where you can fill up. (Click on Going Green under Category.)

It shows Colorado has:
  • 17 biodiesel fueling stations, including 2 public stations in Colorado Springs and 1 at Peterson AFB
  • 23 compressed natural gas fueling stations, including 2 in Colorado Springs, 1 at the Air Force Academy and 1 for Colorado Springs Utilities
  • 12 ethanol 85 fueling stations, including 1 public station in Colorado Springs, 1 at Fort Carson and 1 at Peterson AFB
  • 2 electric fueling stations, 0 in Colorado Springs
  • 0 hydrogen fueling stations
  • 0 liquified natural gas

Web site users also can add stations they know of.

Nominations for Chamber's Diversity Awards

The Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce is seeking nominations for its annual Diversity Awards Luncheon on Jan. 24. Nominations are due Jan. 5.
  • Awards Categories include:
  • Small Business: 1-50 people
  • Mid-Size Business: 51-300 people
  • Large Business: 301+ people
  • Non-Profit 501 (c) 3

The awards are designed to recognize leading companies in the region for their commitment to diversity and inclusion. A panel of representatives from the Pikes Peak Coalition of Chambers will judge nominees based on the following criteria:

  • Work force diversity
  • Leadership
  • Education/Training
  • Community Inclusion

To be considered or to nominate a local company, print off the form and return by Jan. 5 to or mail to the address on the form. For more information go online.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Trade mission to Northern Ireland

A delegation of Colorado Springs high tech company officials will be traveling to Belfast, Northern Ireland for a trade mission Jan. 28-Feb. 3. The participating businesses will have four days of one-on-one appointments with carefully selected potential partners to facilitate entry into the rich European Union market. The Northern Ireland Technology and Development Center of Denver, which is organizing the mission, is seeking participation from local companies in the biotechnology, life sciences, information technology, precision engineering, medical device, aerospace manufacturing, nanotechnology and renewable energy fields. For further information contact Peggy McMahon, director of the NITDC, at or at 1-303-572-5200

Arizona fitness chain has eye on Colorado Springs

Mountainside Fitness of Phoenix is considering Colorado Springs for one of the six locations it plans to open in Colorado in the next two years. The company will make its first venture outside Arizona when it opens a fitness center in the Denver suburb of Westminster in January, and it is scouting locations in downtown Denver, Thornton, Golden, Littleton, Aurora, Parker and Lone Tree, in addition to the Springs. Mountainside Fitness clubs offer exercise classes and weight training, with amenities ranging from sauna and steam room to a climbing wall. The clubs range in size from 13,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Checks Unlimited spared significant layoffs

Colorado Springs-based Checks Unlimited was spared significant job cuts when parent company Deluxe Corp. of Minneapolis laid off 250 of its 8,500 employees nationwide last month. Terry Peterson, vice president of investor relations for Deluxe, estimated that the cuts in Colorado Springs amounted to "fewer than five employees, mostly in the support and administrative areas." Checks Unlimited, the 23rd largest private employer in the region with 670 workers, designs, manufactures and sells specialty checks and accessories to consumers through direct mail and on the Internet.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The survey says: Don't blame the media for soft home sales

Many people shoot the messenger when the news is bad, or, at least, not to their liking. Now that the Pikes Peak region's housing market has followed the rest of the nation into a funk, some local real estate industry members have pointed a finger at the local and national news media as bearing some of the blame. Their theory is that when prospective home buyers hear or read the market has slowed, they'll hold off on their purchases. News stories become a self-fulfilling prophecy, critics say. But a recent National Association of Home Builders' survey says traditional pocketbook issues, not news stories, largely drive home-buying decisions. When asked to rate the importance of several factors that might affect their purchase, the No. 1 reason, which was cited by 80 percent of survey respondents, was price. Other reasons, in order of importance, included: home appreciation, cited by 71 percent of respondents; the ability to sell their current home at a fair price, 70 percent; mortgage rates, 69 percent; and personal issues, such as a new job or a growing family, 60 percent.

On a list of eight factors, news stories about the real estate market ranked second to last, with 28 percent of respondents saying such stories were an important factor behind their decision to buy.

"The media provides an important service by giving consumers the big picture of what is occurring in the housing marketplace, even the big picture in their local markets," said NAHB President David Pressly, a North Carolina builder. "But despite that, local reporting can't convey the information that consumers consider the most when they are looking for a new home." The NAHB surveyed 2,000 households during the last week of October.

Personal assistant service for seniors

Nearly everyone could use a hand around the house, and one local business specializes in giving seniors a little extra help.

Peter and Marsha Thorson recently relocated their company of 12 years, GoodLife Senior Care Inc., from Scottsdale, Ariz. to Colorado Springs. The business provides non-medical, in-home personal services to seniors.

Caregivers assist with housekeeping, meal preparation, laundry, shopping, running errands and transportation.

Personal assistants enable seniors to stay in their homes as they age, Peter Thorson said.

Services are typically arranged on an hourly basis, however, overnight and 24-hour care also are available.

For more information, call 266-4799 or see

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Conway's Red Top closes its newest store

Conway's Red Top restaurant has shut down its worst-performing store at 5865 Palmer Park Blvd. due to a sharp loss in business and concern over the minimum wage increase. Operations manager Ralph Brown said the Palmer Park store -- the newest in the chain -- was bringing in one-third the revenue it was shortly after it opened three years ago. With added competition from restaurants in the area and an anticipated increase in wages of $100 a store, per day, due to the change in the minimum wage law, the Conway family decided it made little sense to continue. The chain's other five stores, four in Colorado Springs and one in Pueblo, will remain open, and Brown said the company may look at a location to replace the Palmer Park store "once we have had a chance to assess the impact of the minimum wage law."

Of mountains and molehills

You knew this would happen. In a Gazette story Dec. 3 that discussed why views are important to area residents and businesses, Mike Kazmierski, the Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. president, was asked if mountains and views matter to prospective employers when they're considering the Springs as a place to do business. Nope, Kazmierski, replied; a quality work force is most important. Views, he said, are "a single component in a very complex mix of different elements in the community. What we educate a prospect on is the quality of our work force. If we don't get past that hurdle, they don't care about anything else." Then, Kazmierski added that not every area with great mountains is a hotbed for business expansion. "There are mountains in Alaska," he said, "and nobody really cares about them." His comment didn't set well with one e-mailer to The Gazette. "He really stuck his foot in his mouth," the e-mailer said. "Has he ever been to Alaska? There are plenty of people who care about them, to include myself. One could make the same statement about the hill called 'Pikes Peak.' It's not just the mountains in Alaska that draw people there. It's the majestic beauty of the entire state; the friendly people, the free spirit and the simple lifestyle. Alaska is a far better place to raise kids than in Colorado. It's Mr. Kazmierski's thinking along with many other things about Colorado that solidify it was a mistake moving here." Kazmierski said he wasn't ripping Alaska, just using it as an example to explain that businesses care more about quality workers than quality views.

Monday, December 11, 2006

HBA seeking MAME entries

The Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs has set a 4 p.m., Dec. 15 deadline for entries for its 24th annual MAME Awards, which will take place in April. The MAME Awards are the housing's industry's Oscars -- honors given out each year for best new home, best sales person, best architectural design, best signage and even best sales office or showroom, among several other categories. Awards go to builders, developers, architects, designers and others in the industry, and the annual dinner and MAME ceremony -- typically a stylish affair -- serves as a showcase for the Pikes Peak region's home building industry. Only builders, developers and their associates who were HBA members in good standing during 2006 are allowed to enter. For entry information, categories and the like, visit the HBA's Web site at and click on the MAME Awards link. The event takes place April 14 in the Rocky Mountain Ballroom of The Broadmoor hotel's International Center.

Friday, December 8, 2006

The EDC acknowledges PRC

The Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. has acknowledged -- albeit in a subtle way -- that a Florida company is bringing a 550-job call center to the city. A Dec. 7 EDC news release, which recapped the organization's 2006 successes in bringing new jobs to the area, included a mention that PRC of suburban Fort Lauderdale would open a call center in the Springs. But PRC wasn't part of an EDC ceremony a day earlier, which recognized new and expanding companies, and David White, the EDC's marketing vice president, wouldn't acknowledge PRC's expansion in the Springs. However, EDC Vice President Julie Boswell said the organization decided to include PRC in its new release that recapped new and expanding businesses after a Dec. 6 story in The Gazette outlined PRC's plans and quoted a company spokeswoman.

PRC, which operates call centers in several states and on behalf of Fortune 500 clients, announced in a Dec. 7 news release on its Web site that it would open a 400-job call center in southern Oklahoma. There's no news release yet regarding the Springs, but a PRC spokeswoman has acknowledged the company will open its Springs call center in early 2007 and lease space in the Tiffany Square office and retail building, southwest of Interstate 25 and Woodmen Road. PRC has set up an e-mail address for job inquiries: The company's Web site is

Having good credit can help you start your own business

A Small Business Administration report last month that found the introduction of credit scoring by banks for small business loans may help increase small business owners' or entrepreneurs' access to credit.

The SBA report showed that "the use of credit scoring can lead to risk-based pricing of loans which democratizes lending, meaning that riskier loans can now be made to start-ups or small business owners with little credit history," said Dr. Chad Moutray, chief economist for the Office of Advocacy with the SBA.

Still, you need to have a good credit history. Most banks in the Colorado Springs area look at a person's credit history when he/she comes to the bank for a small business loan, according to Matt Barrett, director of the Small Business Development Center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Each bank is a little different, but someone with a credit rating of 700 and above will most likely have an easy time getting a business loan, Barrett said. Getting a loan with ratings from 700 to 680 is possible, and any person with rating below 680 would have a difficult time obtaining a small business loan.

If a business is doing well and the owner wants to take out a loan to expand, the bank will look at the books of the business and at the business owner's credit history for the past three years, according to Barrett.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Advice on Year-End Tax Planning for Small Business Owners

The U.S. Small Business Administration is hosting a live Web chat on year-end tax planning for
small business owners11 a.m.-noon Dec. 14 through its Web site,

Thomas Ochsenschlager, vice president of taxation for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, will host the Web chat. Chat participants will receive information about the importance of year-end planning and steps small business owners can take to reduce their 2006 tax bills, and Ochsenschlager answers questions on year-end tax savings.

Participants can join the live Web chat by going to, and clicking “Online Business Chat.” Web chat participants should post questions for Ochsenschlager before the Dec. 14 chat by visiting

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The health of our state

The health of Colorado residents improved one notch this year, according to a national annual checkup by United Health Foundation. Colorado now ranks 16th in the nation, up from last year's 17th placement, for health.

Colorado Strengths:

Low prevalence of obesity, at 17.8 percent of the population.
Low rate of cancer deaths, at 180.6 deaths per 100,000 population.
Low rate of deaths from cardiovascular disease, at 274 deaths per 100,000

Limited access to adequate prenatal care, with 68.6 percent of pregnant
women receiving adequate prenatal care.
High rate of uninsured population, at 17 percent .
Low per capita public health spending, at $92 per person.

Significant changes:
In the past year, immunization coverage increased from 77.1 percent to 83.4 percent of children ages 19 to 35 months receiving complete immunizations.
In the last year, the percentage of children in poverty increased from 11.7 percent to 14.7 percent of persons under age 18.
Since 1990, the prevalence of smoking decreased from 28.6 percent to 19.8 percent of the population.
Since 1990, the rate of uninsured population increased from 12.8 percent to 17 percent.

Business trivia for $200, please Alex....

Scrabble's big break came in the early 1950s, when the president of Macy's discovered it while on vacation and ordered it for his store. Within a year, clerks couldn't keep the game in stock. Macy's has two Colorado Springs stores, formerly Foley's.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Downtown shopping event to benefit CASA

Circle of Impact and a group of 18 downtown shop owners are staging a fundraising event for CASA of the Pikes Peak Region at 1-5 p.m. Dec. 10. All proceeds from a $20 shopping pass will go directly to CASA, which provides a volunteer's voice in court for children who are victims of abuse, neglect or domestic conflict. The shopping passes assure a 20 percent discount on purchases made at participating stores; restaurant discounts may vary. For more information call 365-1600.
Participating stores and restaurants:

  • Putogether
  • Kirk and Hill
  • Idoru
  • Guinea Pigg
  • William Kurtz
  • Phantom Canyon Brewery
  • SoleMates
  • Out of the Box
  • The Olive Branch
  • What's In Store
  • Novis Frame and Art
  • The Catbird Seat
  • Saboz
  • Seabel's
  • Jose Muldoons
  • Textures Gallery
  • My Jewelry Designer
  • The Ritz

Monday, December 4, 2006

Gourmet pizza chain eyes Springs' market

zpizza, a Southern California-based gourmet pizza chain (, is searching for a franchisee to develop multiple stores in the Colorado Springs territory, says company spokeswoman Katie Magers. The typical franchise agreement is between three and five units and usually the franchisee opens one store per year. The company, which is looking to open stores all over the state, has a particular interest in Colorado Springs, which was recently ranked number six in Men's Fitness magazine's annual Fittest Cities ranking. "We feel like zpizza is a perfect match for Colorado and its residents," said Chris Bright, zpizza president. "Locals in the state live healthy lifestyles and enjoy great food." zpizza currently has one franchised store open in Denver and another 60 locations open nationwide. The chain is looking to have more than 100 stores open by the end of 2007.

Workshops to help businesses grow

A Dec. 7-8 workshop on International Business Fundamentals at the Chamber of Commerce, 2 N. Cascade Ave., suite 110, is designed for the novice as well as the experienced exporter wanting to learn more about what is involved with making international shipments. Laura Pederson of First National Bank will lead discussions on documentation, export requirements, how to prepare a Proforma Invoice, foreign currency requirements and other related issues. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day with a cost of $150 for World Trade Center members and $170 for non-members. For further information contact the WTC at

... SCORE and Quest Communications are offering a free workshop 9-11 a.m. on Dec. 7 at 721 19th St., suite 246, to help business operators indentify their common telecom needs and "avoid common costly mistakes.

... Brian Maready, president of Leanbuilt and Richard Mather, vice president of operations at Current USA, will be the featured at the Jan. 23 meeting of the Colorado Springs Manufacturing Task Force, discussing the Lean Systems installation at Current. For location and details contact Dave Anderson at

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Learning about consumer rights the hard way

Gary Wood of Palmer Lake's Villa Pasta (see Springs & Co. in the Monday's Business Edge section in The Gazette) was not the only person to contact Melisa and Jim Rittenberg after they butted heads with a Best Buy store in St. Louis last week. Their experience in getting a box with pasta sauce, a phone cord and a plastic electrical outlet cover inside instead of the $1,600 Sony camcorder they had paid for, brought them calls from consumers all over the country who had suffered similar shopping mishaps and poor store response.

"This whole thing got blown out of proportion because of the way the store handled it," Melisa Rittenberg said. "The corporate headquarters was never contacted and the local store manager just said there was nothing they could do."

Sony did come through, shipping a camcorder to the Rittenbergs on Nov. 29, but the whole process was an eye-opener for the Perryville, Mo. couple. "Consumers often don't know what to do when these things happen. The most important things we learned are to open the box in the store and that there are steps you can take -- filing a police report, disputing the charges with your credit card company and contacting the state district attorney. You do have recourse."

Friday, December 1, 2006

Ent honored by trade group

The Credit Union National Association Mutual Group and CUNA Lending Council have selected Ent Federal Credit Union for one of five annual Credit Union Excellence in Lending awards.
Ent, southern Colorado's largest financial institution with $2 billion in assets, received the Mortgage Lending Excellence Award for credit unions with more than $250 million in assets during the CUNA Lending Council conference earlier this month in Indian Wells, Calif.
"This part year Ent has made strides in reaching out to interested home buyers in creative ways," said Jon Paukovich, real estate lending director for Ent.

Fountain Valley Chamber of Commerce New Board Members

The Fountain Valley Chamber of Commerce announced its new board of director members in its December newsletter.

They are:

  • Darlene Cruz of Colorado Mountain Bank
  • Diane Danner of Ent Federal Credit Union
  • Juan Flores of Pre-Paid Legal Services and a retired veteran
  • Shawn Heard, who was on the Fountain Valley Chamber of Commerce board for three years
  • Angela Hoyle of Security Service Federal Credit Union
  • Linda McGee of American Family Insurance
  • Linda Puckett of Maile's Gourmet Baskets
  • Linda Thompson of Sixties Chrome, and
  • Scott Turner of UMB Bank

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ent looks for cards with more Élan

Ent Federal Credit Union began a new partnership this month with Élan Financial Services, a division of U.S. Bank, to issue and manage credit card accounts for its nearly 160,000 members.
The Colorado Springs-based financial institution has been in a similar partnership since 2001 with MBNA Corp., which was acquired Jan. 1 by Bank of America. MBNA started the partnership with Ent after buying its $36 million credit card portfolio in July 2001. Ent members with MBNA cards can still continue to use their cards; Élan will issue cards to those who apply for new accounts.

Élan offered Ent a wider variety of cards that will give its members more choice on types of cards such as platinum cards, cards for college students and cards for small businesses as well as giving members more choices in the rewards they earn, said Jim Moore, Ent's senior vice president. For more information, go to

Family Dollar Stores set to expand again

Family Dollar Stores Inc., which already has 10 stores in the Colorado Springs area, is planning to add three more here within the next 18 months according to Steve Heaps, the company's regional real estate manager. No locations have been selected yet.

Cog promotes Christmas train

The Pikes Peak Cog Railway has hired Santa and Mrs. Claus to attract passengers to its Christmas train this December, stopping with visitors for a one-hour visit halfway up the mountain at Four Mile Siding for hot chocolate, cider and cookies. Bring your cameras to take pictures with Santa. (The train will not go to the summit of Pikes Peak.)

Back in Manitou, Mrs. Claus will read Christmas poems and stories to visitors. Children will be given a small gift bag from Santa and the elves back at the train depot.

The train will depart twice a day, 10:30 a.m. and 1:20 p.m. on Dec. 2, 9, 16 and 23. Each trip will be about two hours in duration. Cost is $15 per person, ages 3 and up. Seating is limited and reservations are highly recommended. All bookings for the Christmas train must be made by calling 685-5401.

Investors buy out Ramtron's largest shareholder

Qimonda AG last week sold all 4.43 million shares and 262,663 warrants to buy shares in Colorado Springs-based Ramtron International Corp. to a group of 14 institutional and other investors.
The buyers include companies headed by Mordy Schron of New York; Asia Marketing Ltd. of Israel; Courtney Brown of Golden; C.E. Unterberg, Towbin Brett Moskowitz Investments of New York; companies headed by Sean Molloy of New York; Cortina Asset Management of Milwaukee; Ganot Corp. of Hollywood, Fla; Dennis Gates of El Cerrito, Calif.; Graham Partners of New York; partnerships headed by Yoav Roth of New York; Iroquois Master Fund Ltd.; SF Capital Partners Ltd. of St. Francis, Minn.; partnerships headed by Steven Becker and Wolfson Equities of New York.
Qimonda acquired the stake, which amount to a 19 percent stake in Ramtron, from its former parent company, Infineon Technologies AG when it was spun off from Infineon. The shares were acquired in an investment and licensing deal with Ramtron, which is based in Colorado Springs. As a result of the sale, Klaus Fleishmann and Doris Keitel-Schulz, who represented Qimonda on Ramtron's board, resigned as directors. Ramtron spokesman Lee Brown said the company has no immediate plans to replace them.
Ramtron's largest shareholder is now the National Electrical Benefit Fund of New York, which owns 2.55 million shares, or a 10.1 percent stake in the semiconductor development firm.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Regional Retail Rumblings

The hand-written signs on the door at Dewey's American Grill promising a "grand reopening" was someone's idea of a bad joke says the restaurant's attorney John Wasserman. Dewey's, at 4659 Centennial Blvd., closed for good Nov. 25, due to declining sales, Wasserman said. The other two Dewey's American Grills, in Highlands Ranch and Littleton, remain in business.

... Backyards & Billiards (Southern Colorado’s Home Resort Superstore) will have its second location open by Dec. 8, at 5860 Barnes Road, according to owners Greg and Nancy Bennett.

... Jared The Galleria of Jewelry is hosting a public Le Vian Jewelry Gala at its 1720 E. Woodmen Road store on November 30, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

.... Chipotle Mexican Grill is bringing back its Burri-Toy promotion on Dec. 9-10. Any customer who brings in a new, unwrapped toy for patients at The Children's Hospital on those days will receive a free burrito. For store locations, visit

A better mousetrap from Innerwall

Colorado Springs-based computer security startup Innerwall Inc. has reached an agreement with Califronia-based Leapfrog Software Inc. to incorporate its system recovery software into Innerwall's security software.

Combining the two applications will allow Innerwall's Secure Enclave software not only to keep all devices in a network free of computer viruses, trojans, worms and other threats but also recover a failed computer system as quickly as it can be rebooted, said Innerwall Chief Executive Frank Ricotta. Leapfrog's software records all keystrokes to a computer's hard drive, he said.

"This is a cornerstone capability for our customers," Ricotta said. "It will allow us to covert significant deals and more than double our sales to $7 million next year from nearly $2 million this year."

The system recovery capability is a key feature requested by Innerwall's military customers, including the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy, as well as homeland security agencies that form a major part of the company's customer base, Ricotta said.

Deadline extended for Business for the Arts Award

The deadline for the Colorado Business Committee for the Art's annual award has been extended to Dec. 4 from Nov. 22.

At the 20th Annual Business for the Arts Awards in March 2007, the committee will recognize businesses for their leadership, commitment, and vision in developing partnerships and engagement with the arts.

Awards will be given for:
  • Philanthropy- recognizing corporate citizenship and generosity to arts and culture.
  • Innovation- recognizing a strategic use of arts to propel company success.
  • Workspace- paying tribute to an exceptional work environment that advances business objectives.
  • Workforce- recognizing business programs that engage employees with creativity and the arts.

For details on the awards and evaluation criteria, visit
For more information, visit

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Colorado Springs housing update

Metrostudy, the Houston-based research firm that compiles housing industry information in cities and counties nationwide, will present an overview of the latest quarterly data for Colorado Springs' new home market at 7:30 a.m. Dec. 13 at Security Title, 1277 Kelly Johnson Blvd., Suite 100, on the Springs' north side. The overview will include a look at housing starts, closings, supply and lot availability. The event costs $15 per person, but is limited to 80 people and is open only to members of the Colorado Springs Housing & Building Association. To register: Or, call the HBA's reservation line at 592-1800, ext 18.

Chamber Update Event rescheduled

The Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce Update Event has been rescheduled to Dec. 15 from the original date of Nov. 30. The Chamber Update Event gives business people an opportunity to meet chamber staff and learn more about what is new at the organization.
Networking begins at 7:15 a.m, followed by a presentation from 7:45 to 9 a.m. There is no charge to attend. For reservations or more information, call 575-4381 or visit

Parking up and running at the airport

This time last year, the parking lots at the Colorado Springs Airport were under construction, creating headaches for some holiday travelers.
This year, all lots are open for short-term, long-term and valet parking.
The airport also has an overflow parking lot available for $4 a day. If the overflow lot is needed, signs will direct travelers to that lot, according to Kelly Koons, spokeswoman for the airport.
The airport also has a cell phone lot open. It is located off Milton Proby Expressway in part of a parking lot partially used for commercial vehicles.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Architects to hold annual bash

The American Institute of Architects' southern Colorado chapter will hold its annual networking and awards celebration ("Downtown: Great Skyline, Great Streets, Great Future") from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Dec. 8 at Colorado College's Bemis Hall, 920 N. Cascade Ave., in Colorado Springs. In addition to food and entertainment, three architectural firms will be honored with design awards. The cost is $35 for AIA members and $45 for non-members. To register, go to

Even the empty stores are decorated for holidays

Wanting a unified and appealing holiday look for stores in the city center, the Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs has gotten permission from property owners to deck out three empty stores on Tejon Street with Christmas decorations. Officials of the Downtown Partnership and volunteers are working on the former Golf Break store at 120 N. Tejon St., the space at 115 N. Tejon and sections of the former Design Center at 27 S. Tejon St. "Both our planning committee and the arts and culture committee came up with the idea independently," said Beth Kosley of the Downtown Partnership. "The owners and their brokers were happy to cooperate. It will make these properties much more inviting to potential tenants and it will tie together the whole look of the downtown area."

Friday, November 24, 2006

Businesses on the move

The Westside Bargain Mart, which specializes in food and non-prescription drugs that are past their sell-by date but still good, has moved from the old Pikes Peak Hill Climb Museum property at 135 Manitou Ave. to the Red Rock Shopping Center at 3135 W. Colorado Ave. ... Owners Mike and Ilene Warner have relocated their Rapid Refill Ink store a few blocks north to 308-B South 8th St. ... After 34 years operating Antlers Auto Electric, Ken Kress is retiring. He has sold his business at 830 W. Costilla St. to Hutchinson Battery & Electrical Service, which is moving from Motor City Drive.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Free, one-quart bags at Colorado Springs Airport

Air travelers at Colorado Springs Airport who forget to store liquids in one-quart, zip-top bags will be given a helping hand this holiday season as officials with the Transportation Security Administration pass out those one-quart bags for free.
Local airport staff received a donation of thousands of clear, one-quart, zip-top bags from Pactiv Corp., maker of the Hefty brand, to give to passengers for free. TSA officials will have free bags available through the entire holiday travel season, said Brian Tool, TSA spokesman in Colorado Springs.
Pactiv Corp has donated more than a million Hefty, one-quart bags to airport all over the nation, according to a Pactiv Corp. press release.
The bags are necessary because this Thanksgiving is the first major travel holiday since the security restrictions on liquids were imposed in August, and many people have not traveled since, Tool said. All liquids carried in carry-on luggage must be stored in three-ounce bottles and stored in a single one-quart, clear, zip-top bag. Only one bag is allowed per customer.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The 4-1-1 on 3-1-1

Today through Wednesday, the Transportation Security Administration will hold events in more than 32 cities across the country, including Colorado Springs, to remind holiday travelers of its 3-1-1 Campaign on air travel this season. This Thanksgiving is the first big holiday travel day since the new security requirements came into effect. New requirements limit liquids in carry-on luggage, a response to a thwarted terrorist plot to blow up London flights in August.
The 3-1-1 Campaign reminds travelers that all liquids stored in carry-on luggage must be in three-ounce bottles, stored in a one-quart, clear, zip-top bag, one bag per traveler.
For more information on TSA security requirements, visit

Falcon Wal-Mart set for spring opening

Unlike the Wal-Mart store in Woodland Park, which is running six months behind schedule, the 185,000-square-foot store in Falcon is dealing only with "normal construction issues," according to Wal-Mart real estate manager Roger Thompson. It should be ready to open in April with a grand opening celebration in May. "I can't give you exact dates," Thompson said. "It's always just a guess when you are dealing with weather and the entitlement process."

Monday, November 20, 2006

Take your iPod on United Airlines

United and Apple have teamed up to add iPod connectivity to United's inflight entertainment service for international first- and business-class travelers.
This connectivity will enable customers to plug in and charge their iPods, watch movies and TV shows on their iPods using United’s monitors, as well as listen to their music library on United’s noise-cancellation headsets.

Friday, November 17, 2006

EDC shines a spotlight on job-creating companies

A month after a first-ever reception to honor existing companies for their contributions to the community, the Greater Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. will hold its annual ceremony in December to recognize businesses that are bringing jobs to town either by relocating or expanding. Through mid-November, the EDC has announced 1,372 new jobs, with several announcements pending. The EDC also says it has received 76 new prospect inquiries since Jan. 1 and has hosted 31 visits by companies considering the Springs for expansion or relocation operations. The prospect activity is up significantly when compared with last year, the private, non-profit group says.
The EDC will honor 11 job-creating companies during an 11:30 a.m. luncheon Dec. 5 at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort in southwest Colorado Springs. Reservations may be made at; click on "upcoming events." Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera and El Paso County Commission Chairwoman Sallie Clark will present the awards.

Business notebook

Little Caesars Enterprises Inc. has launched a program in which qualified, honorably discharged veterans can receive $10,000 in benefits toward starting a Little Caesars pizza business -- a $5,000 franchise fee reduction for the first store and a $5,000 credit on the initial equipment order. Service-disabled veterans are eligible for enhanced benefits of up to $68,000. For details contact Donna Halinski or Rachel Simpson in Lansing, Mich., at 1-517-372-4400.

Within the next year Safeway stores in Colorado will install equipment designed to protect the privacy and security of shoppers with visual impairments. The new devices plug into existing point-of-sale payment machines and have tactile keys arranged like a standard telephone keypad. They will allow Safeway shoppers who have difficulty reading information on a touchscreen to privately and independently enter their PIN, telephone number, and other confidential information.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

No drilling for oil, please

Here's your chance to own a piece of big oil in Colorado Springs. Well, sort of. As part of a sale of 51 surplus properties in nine states, a sliver of vacant land on the city's west side (right) and owned by Utah-based Sinclair Oil Corp. will be auctioned at 11 a.m. Dec. 1. The auction will take place at the site of the parcel, 1626 S. Eighth St. The chunk of ground is about 16,000 square feet -- slightly more than one-third of an acre -- and described in a marketing brochure as one of several "prime commercial locations" being sold by Sinclair. Interested buyers should call Higgenbotham Auctioneers International, 1-800-257-4161, or visit its Web site,, for more information and to verify the auction's location.

The EDC and the friendly skies

Local economic development officials are earning their frequent flyer miles. The Greater Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. says marketing vice president Dave White recently led a team of representatives to call on 11 site selection consultants and two companies in Dallas. A visit also was made to the Storage Networking World Conference in Orlando, Fla. For 2007, the private, non-profit EDC is inviting its investors to participate in marketing activities that will include trips to California, Boston, New York, Atlanta, Dallas and Chicago. The Storage Networking World Conference in San Diego, Bio 2007 in Boston, the Medical Device and Manufacturing Show in Anaheim, Calif., and the RSA Security Show in San Francisco also are part of the EDC's schedule next year. For more information or to be part of the marketing efforts, contact White at 475-6426.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Medicare open enrollment underway

The open enrollment period for the 2007 Medicare drug prescription benefit begins Nov. 15 and runs through Dec. 31.

Beneficiaries can switch plans or sign up for the first time. It's worth looking into changing plans, Medicare advisers say, because prices have changed.

The average monthly premium for next year's standard drug benefit will be $24. Some plans offer extra benefits at a higher cost.

Several recent surveys have found that about three-quarters of those enrolled in the drug benefit are satisfied with their coverage.

To sign up or get more information, see, or call 1-800-633-4227, a Medicare assistance line. The local Senior Insurance Assistance office, 635-4891, also can help.

Colorado Springs Airport has Business Park info on Web

The Colorado Springs Airport has a new link on the home page of its Web site ( detailing information about the new Airport Business Park, a 1000-acre industrial park being built being built on either side of Milton Proby Expressway.

On the Airport Business Park link News and Events will be posted along with images of the park and future developments, and documents including the environmental assessment report and the Business' Park's master Plan.

The park will have numerous research and development office spaces, hotel, some retail and a golf course. It is expected to employ about 5,000 people by the end of its build out in about 10 years, according to the Economic Development Corp.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Current USA Inc. completes its consolidation

Current USA Inc. has completed work on the 65,000-square-foot addition to its manufacturing plant at 1025 Woodmen Road and moved all of its more than 100 local employees onto the same campus. The outlet store has already had a grand opening and company officials are mulling some sort of celebration to mark the completion of this long-sought consolidation. There is just a minor cleanup to perform and the old 128,107-square-foot manufacturing plant and outlet store at 3525 N. Stone Ave. -- a central part of the business for more than 30 years -- will be shut down by the end of the year. Current USA is a leading direct marketer of greeting cards, stationary, gifts and home-decorating items. The company, which employs 900, also operates several outlet stores, all in Colorado.

Five named to Colorado Hall of Fame

Ralph Peterson, who as president and CEO of CH2M Hill has overseen such massive projects as the widening of Interstate 25 between Denver and Colorado Springs, was named to the Colorado business Hall of Fame on Nov. 13 along with four others. Joining Peterson in the 2007 induction class, as selected by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and Junior Achievement - Rocky Mountain Inc., were Herb Bacon of United States Bank of Grand Junction, Al Cohen of Cohen Construction Co., John Fuller of Fuller Real Estate and Henry Cordes Brown, who built the Brown Palace Hotel. The induction ceremony will be Feb. 7 at the Denver Marriott City Center.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Pikes Peak Floral Co. lives on .... in Texas ... and Louisiana ... and Tennessee

Pikes Peak Floral Co. was registered to do business in Colorado Springs on Dec. 10, 1904, and is still carrying the Pikes Peak name more than century later ... even though its nearest office is 963.25 miles away from its mountain namesake, in Houston. Pikes Peak Floral Co. was a retail, wholesale and flower growing business initially and stayed that way until brothers Charles and Ora Ben Haley, Jim Kelly and several other investors bought the East Columbia Street company after World War II and rebranded it as Pikes Peak Greenhouses Inc. They split off the retail operation to a former employee to concentrate on growing and wholesale in the early 50s.

The Haley family opened a branch in Houston in 1978, which was incorporated as Pikes Peak of Texas in 1982, adding its own branch offices in New Orleans, Memphis, Dallas and Austin. The last vestiges of the Colorado Springs arm of the original Pikes Peak Floral Co. were removed within the past five years when Charles T. Haley sold his Flower Stop retail location to Wild Birds Unlimited and brother Tim Haley closed the Pikes Peak Greenhouses on Nichols Boulevard. Pikes Peak Floral, the retail shop which was spun off from the company in the early 50s, shut down its store at 17 E. Kiowa St. just over a year ago

Colorado Health Foundation holds information session

Colorado Springs nonprofit officials working in the areas of health or health care are invited to participate in an information session presented by The Colorado Health Foundation.

Nonprofit officials can voice local needs and learn about funding priorities and application deadlines.

The session will begin 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, at the Penrose House, 1661 Mesa Ave. A free lunch will be served.

RSVP to the Community Resource Center, 1-800-516-6284 or at and click on Applicant Information Sessions.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Health snacks on United flights

United Airlines is giving customers another option for healthy snacks with its Smartpack. It's a trans-fat free, vegetarian-friendly snackbox for United customers on U.S. domestic flights three hours or longer.

The Smartpack snackbox includes Pita Break Lavash Multi Grain & Honey Grain Crackers, Glacier Ridge Farms White Cheddar Cheese, Hero Strawberry Preserves, SunGold Creamy Sunbutter, Vermont Village Cannery Organic Peach Applesauce, Bear Naked All-Natural Fruit and Nut Granola, Alacer Emergen-C Tangerine Fizzing Drink Mix and Bali's Best Latte Candy. The contents of the box total 895 calories.

United's other popular snackboxes are the Minimeal and Quickpick. All are available for $5 each on select United flights. Smartpack will replace United's previously offered Jumpstart snackbox.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Shopping centers, malls stage holiday kickoff events

Anybody looking for an inexpensive way to celebrate the start of the holidays with their family has an entire circuit of shopping center and mall events to consider. The Promenade Shops at Briargate kick it off 5-7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10, with its "Light Up The Holidays" program, featuring live music, entertainers, facepainters for the kids, free hot chocolate and treats and free Colorado Blue Spruce tree seedlings to the first 500 people. And Santa will light the tree.

On Saturday, Nov. 11, The Outlets at Castle Rock will take delivery on what they claim is the tallest fresh cut tree in Colorado, a 75 foot white fir, that will be decorated with 10,000 lights in preparation for a lighting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 24.

The Citadel will work with NORAD for its Santa Tracking kickoff promotion at 7 p.m. Nov. 17. The Colorado Springs Children's Chorale and Youth Symphony will perform and each family will receive one free photo with Santa.

On Nov. 18, Chapel Hills Mall will parlay its 9 a.m.-noon Santa arrival event with the Festival of Giving. Visitors who pay $5 -- all of which is donated to charity -- get breakfast with Santa, free facepainting, chair massage, giveaways and complimentary gift wrapping.

Dance Colorado moves to new location

Ballroom studio Dance Colorado has moved to 612 S. Tejon Street after 15 years in Old Colorado City and will have a grand opening celebration Nov. 11 to show off the much larger digs. The main Cyd Charisse Ballroom has 2,400 square feet and with the adjacent Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire ballrooms there is a total of 4,200 square feet, more than double the space Brad and Lori Ackerman had at their former location at 2506 W. Colorado Ave. The grand opening at Dance Colorado ( will be in two parts with the 10 a.m.-4 p.m. session to feature free group lessons, dance demonstrations and a giveaway of group and private lesson packages. At 7:30-10:30 p.m. there will be professional and amateur dance demonstrations along with a semi-formal dance with a live band.

VW keeps the beat

Volkswagen's creation of the mobile amp hasn't electrified Colorado Springs buyers.

Heuberger Motors reports that the automaker's promotion that enables new VW buyers to get a First Act GarageMaster electric guitar that plays through the car's audio system hasn't been met with much fanfare from the 60 locals who have bought new VWs from the dealership since the promotion began Oct. 3.

The deal is being hyped on television commercials, radio commercials and print advertising, featuring Velvet Revolver guitarish Slash (formerly of Guns N' Roses) Grammy-award winning artist John Mayer and actor Christopher Guest of This Is Spinal Tap.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Regional Retail Rumblings

Advance Auto Parts marked the opening of its eighth store in the Colorado Springs area Thursday with a grand opening celebration at 2250 El Morro Road, where it intersects with South Academy Boulevard. The corporate-owned store will be managed by Jim Dickerson. ...

Delays in the buildout for The Original SoupMan restaurant at 10 S. Tejon St. have meant pushing back the opening date to Dec. 15 "at the earliest," says owner Debra Canale. It may not open until early January. The honor of opening the state's first Original SoupMan -- named for Al Yeganeh, aka "the Soup Nazi" -- will now go to the store at FlatIron Crossing Mall in Broomfield, which opens Nov. 10. Canale is planning to open two other franchises in Colorado Springs after the downtown store is established and other franchisees are planning to enter the Boulder and Castle Rock markets ...

Veda Salon & Spa, honored by The Gazette as the best Salon, best Spa and best place to work, has opened its third location in Colorado Springs, moving into Falcon Landing at 7443 North Academy Blvd. with about 60 employees. ...

Red Lobster is looking to go upscale. President Kim Lopdrup told the Orlando Sentinel that the 680-unit chain -- which has two restaurants in Colorado Springs -- will expand its daily fresh fish selection and it is testing more formal tableware, warmer lighting and dark wood paneling in a revised prototype. The report said Red Lobster may even introduce linen napkins.

Bigari launches book online

Colorado Springs entrepreneur Steve Bigari is marketing his first book "The Box You Got: Transforming the World You Live In" ($19.95) , via the Internet ( with an eye toward reaping dual benefits. The book is meant to get people thinking about what more they might be able to contribute to their communities. And whatever profits may come from the book will be donated to America's Family, the organization founded by Bigari when he was the area's biggest McDonald's franchisee, to assure benefits for low-income workers. "What’s in your box is YOU," the Web site says. "It’s your abilities, your passions, your life today. Right where you are."

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Want more discounts with Chamber? Fill out a survey

The Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce is asking members to fill out a survey for the purpose of possibly starting an Association Purchasing Program. The program will provide members with substantially discounted pricing from local, regional and national suppliers on many products and services members need to operate their businesses.
The program is not expected to launch until 2007.
For more information, call 635-1551.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Colorado ranked eight in nation for good business climate

The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council recently released its 11th annual rankings of the states according to their public policy climates for small business and entrepreneurship in "The Small Business Survival Index 2006."

Colorado is ranked eighth best in the nation.

The survival index touches on businesses of all types-from the home-based consultants and venture capitalists to technology companies and manufacturing firms. The index analyzes 29 major government-imposed or government related costs affecting small business and entrepreneurs.

Internet Professionals cancel Nov. 9 awards banquet

The Colorado Association of Internet Professionals has postponed its Nov. 9 Web Awards banquet indefinitely because it lacked the necessary volunteer support to make it happen. "We hope to reorganize and reschedule the event sometime in the spring," said spokesman Dan VanWijk of Tech for Less Inc. The statewide Web Awards are meant to recognize superior Web development skills, with nine judges rating sites for their graphic design, usability, html code compliance, search engine compatibility, privacy and security policy.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Osteopathic Foundation new building design

The Colorado Springs Osteopathic Foundation is building a new office and clinic near the intersection of Fillmore Street and Centennial Boulevard.
The single-story building will feature Colorado-style materials, such as stucco and wood, said architect Rob Seever, whose firm Keystone Associates is working on the project in conjunction with James W. Nakai & Associates Architects, both of Colorado Springs. Officials held ground-breaking ceremonies for the project this week.
"They’ve been saving their money for years to do this, and their enthusiasm comes out tenfold," Seever said.
The interior will be "patient friendly," he said, with warm tones and handicapped accessibility.
H.W. Houston Construction Co. of Pueblo is the general contractor.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

You can still fly the friendly skies

The story about United Airlines in the Nov. 1 Gazette business section has confused some readers, according to Globe Travel, which has received several calls from Colorado Springs residents.

Customers still can buy airline tickets from United and still walk up to the United ticket counter when checking in for their flights. The difference is that the people behind the counter are not be United employees. They work for SkyWest Airlines, which is operating the flights in an arrangement with United.

United decided, effective Oct. 31, to contract out all United business in Colorado Springs to SkyWest Airlines. SkyWest Airlines already operates many United and Delta airline flights in Colorado Springs and throughout the nation.

Architects to meet this weekend in Vail

The Colorado chapter of the American Institute of Architects will conduct its annual, statewide design conference from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday and from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa in Vail. More than 200 architects and other design professionals are scheduled to attend the conference, which will present seminars that focus on the theme of "Redevelopment: Profession, Practice and Community." Several nationally and internationally known architects are scheduled to make presentations. In addition to the conference's educational seminars, the AIA Colorado 2006 Design Awards and special recognition honors for achievements in architecture will be presented during a formal dinner from 6 :30 to 10: 30 p.m. Saturday. More information: Click on the Vail 2006 logo.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Apartments filling up

Fewer Colorado Springs-area apartments were vacant in the third quarter, according to figures from a California research firm that match the findings of local apartment industry experts. RealFacts, based north of San Francisco and which tracks multi-family markets in several western cities, says the Springs' third quarter apartment vacancy rate fell to 8.9 percent from 10.3 percent during the same period in 2005. Third quarter rents averaged $708, down $2 from the same time in 2005, according to RealFacts.

Figures compiled by the Apartment Association of Colorado Springs and the Colorado Division of Housing, along with reports from local real estate broker Doug Carter, have shown the same general trend of falling vacancy rates. Their reports also have suggested that rents are on the way up, reflecting an increase in demand. Local industry experts have said a solid local economy, the presence of thousands of military personnel at area installations and the lack of apartment construction have combined to drive down multi-family vacancy rates, which climbed into double digits after the recession of early 2001 and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

KFC listens to its neighbors

That brick treatment on the exterior of the rebuilt Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet at 3101 W. Colorado Ave. is the result of an appeal from the neighborhood association. The Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) felt that the presence of 19th century homes across the street from the KFC/A&W and other older structures nearby called for something that would fit better into its surroundings. OWN also got Harman Management Corp., owners of the KFC franchise, to use smaller signs than originally planned. The Colorado Avenue KFC/A&W store, which reopened Oct. 15, is the first in Colorado to feature a brick exterior and only the third in the United States

Business notebook

Goodwill Industries of Colorado Springs has closed on the purchase of a property at Janitell Road and Circle Drive which will eventually be developed as a replacement for the downtown store at 324 E. Pikes Peak Ave. The high bidder on the downtown property has already met with Goodwill administrators, but no timetable for the sale has been set. ...

Jeremy Gianzero, an E.R. nurse for Penrose St. Francis Health Services and also a mechanic, will received a jacket, barbecue grill set, a year's supply of bratwurst and a gift certificate for clothes from sponsor Dickies for being one of five finalists in the 15th annual American Worker of the Year contest. He lost out to Mississippi elementary school principal Janet Buras ...

Whole Foods Market will host the annual Taste of Thanksgiving fundraiser at its 7635 N. Academy Blvd. location 6-8 p.m. on Nov. 10. Urban Peak Colorado Springs, a local homeless shelter for teens and children, will be the beneficiary of the fundraiser. ...

Monday, October 30, 2006

Chamber dinner postponed

The Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner, scheduled for Dec. 7, has been postponed. A new date will be announced soon, the chamber said. Check the Biz Blog for that announcement.

CIGNA HealthCare of Colorado gets kudos

U.S. News & World Report's rankings of "America's Best Health Plans 2006," released in its Oct. 30 issue, rates CIGNA HealthCare of Colorado the No. 1 health plan in the state for the second year in a row.

The magazine worked with the national Committe for Quality Assurance for its annual ranking of commercial plans based on clinical quality, member satisfaction and other criteria.

In September, the Colorado Business Group on Health's annual survey gave CIGNA the highest marks for overall rating of its health plans and health care.

Friday, October 27, 2006

New builder sets up shop

Denver-based Oakwood Homes, one of the latest home builders to enter the Pikes Peak region, will hold an open house from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at Cumberland Green, its development at 7729 Candlelight Lane in Fountain, south of the Springs. Visitors can inspect 11 model homes and partake of free food; they're also welcome to check out Oakwood's new home center at 1290 N. Newport Road, near Powers Boulevard and Aeroplaza Drive, on Colorado Springs' east side. Oakwood bills itself as Colorado’s largest privately owned home builder.

Regional Retail Rumblings

The building leased by Hollywood Video at 1725 Cheyenne Meadows Road has been placed on the market by Sperry Van Ness for $1.745 million, but the video store isn't going anywhere. The store has a six-year lease. ...

Chipotle is reprising its Halloween promotion “Boo-rito” on Oct. 31. Customers who dress up as their favorite menu item and visit any Chipotle Mexican Grill from 5-10 p.m. will receive a free burrito for the effort. ...

Ent Federal Credit Union, the largest financial institution in the Pikes Peak region, broke ground on its 22nd service center Tuesday (Oct. 24) on a 1.5 acre lot at 16050 Old Forest Point in Monument. ...

Denver-based Camp Bow Wow has sold its 150th franchise -- to a Charlotte, N.C. businessman -- making it the largest dog day and overnight care franchise in North America. There is one Colorado Springs location, at 4295 Northpark Dr. ...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Pikes Peak region added to Angie's List

Angie's List, an online source for ratings and reviews of local service professionals, has expanded into the Pikes Peak region. Consumers can now sign up at for a free one-year subscription and start sharing information on plumbers, landscapers, handymen and other service companies they’ve hired. The Pikes Peak region was added to Angie's List based on consumer demand. Last month, consumers across the United States were asked to vote online to determine the next Angie's List expansion and of more than 5,000 votes cast, consumers made this area a top vote-getter. "The great thing about Angie's List is that it’s your list," said founder Angie Hicks. "Companies can’t put themselves on the list, nor can they pay to be on the list. Only Angie's List members can put a company on the list after they’ve hired them for a job." Angie’s List will serve consumers in Colorado Springs, Pueblo and the surrounding area, including Calhan, Canon City, Monument and Woodland Park.

Banking boom in the Springs

Already the home to 200 bank, savings bank and credit union branches, the Colorado Springs area soon will sprout a few more as financial institutions continue to expand into fast-growing suburban neighborhoods.

U.S. Bank opened its newest branch, the financial giant's 14th in the Springs area, on Oct. 13 inside a Safeway supermarket at 6925 Mesa Ridge Parkway in Fountain. A grand opening celebration is planned at 10 a.m. Friday. The branch operates seven days a week.

Ent Federal Credit Union, the area's largest financial institution, broke ground Tuesday on its 22nd branch at 16050 Forest Point, across the street from a new Wal-Mart supercenter that opened in Monument last month and Kohl's store that opened earlier this month. The 4,000-square-foot branch is scheduled to open in April 2007 and will employ six.

The Bank at Broadmoor will break ground at 10 a.m. Friday on its fourth branch at 3216 W. Colorado Ave., the site of a now-demolished Arby's restaurant on the far west side of Colorado Springs. The branch will be called The Bank at Broadmoor Westside and is scheduled to open in May 2007 to better serve the bank's customers in western Colorado Springs, said Lisa Dowis, the bank's marketing manager.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Flea market seller finds home

Tired of hauling stuff out to flea markets every week, Darlyn Huttemann and her mother Diane Cordova, found a workable lease at 2228 E. Bijou Street and opened the Two Angry Wives Resale Shoppe last Wednesday (Oct. 18). "They aren't all that angry about anything," said Darlyn's husband, Ronald Huttemann, "they just thought it was a pretty cool name for a thrift shop."

Regional Retail Rumblings

Colorado Springs' third Dream Dinners franchise at 5855 Palmer Park Blvd. will have its grand opening 5:30-7:30 p.m. Oct. 26. Dream Dinners is a meal preparation concept aimed at time-challenged two-paycheck families. Customers go online to and select from a menu featuring 14 dinner items, then register to attend a meal assembly session at the store. A typical two-hour session will send the customer home with 12 ready-to-cook meals.
The first 100 families at the grand opening will receive a free herb-crusted flank steak.

Massage Envy has opened its eighth massage therapy clinic along Colorado’s Front Range at 5966 Stetson Hills Blvd. It features 12 therapy rooms and 15 massage therapists with 4,400 possible appointments per month.

General Growth Properties has begun construction of a 154,000-square-foot expansion of its Park Meadows mall in south Denver. The project will blend the existing indoor retail mix of 160 stores with an outdoor park and street common area with new stores and four new, full-service restaurants.

List of laptop batteries recalled

Find out if your laptop battery has been recalled. Here's a list.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Grand Junction next site for 2007 Governor's Tourism Conference

The Colorado Tourism Office this month selected Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction as the host of the 2007 Governor’s Tourism Conference.

The Two Rivers Convention Center was one of three locations considered to host the 2007 conference. Grand Junction previously hosted the 2002 Governor’s Conference. Submissions were evaluated on a number of criteria, including geographical location and the ability of the host community to provide local support and logistical assistance for the conference.

The 2007 conference will be held Oct. 10 - 12, 2007. Details about the event, including registration information, will be available on the CTO’s official Web site at in the coming months.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Enron office furniture in Colorado showroom

Scandal sells. Office Liquidators of Lakewood took delivery of three giant truckloads of used executive furniture from the former Enron headquarters in Houston last week and more than a quarter of it was gone by Monday.

"Our Saturday was the busiest we've had in six months," said Bob Tynecki, Chief Financial Officer of Office Liquidator. "We had a story in the Denver Post and live TV coverage along with the postcards we mailed to customers ... and the response was just overwhelming."

The $178 executive chairs were the biggest sellers, but there are still some of those remaining along with desks, wall units, book cases and credenza sets, some with asset tax tags still attached. Office Liquidator president Dennis Meyer, a 20 year veteran of the business, did two walking tours of the Houston headquarters and "cherry picked the ones in best condition," Tynecki said. Just don't expect to find anything from Ken Lay's executive suite. "As I understand it," Tynecki said, "that's going to be auctioned off later this year on eBay."

More on saving for college

If you're a parent, the article in the Sunday Oct. 22 Business section of The Gazette on 529 college savings plans is a must read. Here's a few points that didn't make it in the story:

  • The 529 does not hurt a child’s chance at financial aid. A report by Fidelity Investments said parental assets are given the lowest weight on an aid application. Most of what is considered is the child’s income and assets. The 529 in the parent’s name isn’t the child’s asset.
  • Grandparents can open a 529 for a grandchild (or any child for that matter). This makes the 529 a great gift that grandparents can give year after year through contributions. The kids won't be as excited to get it now, but they will thank you later. And it lasts longer than toys.
  • If you open a Colorado 529, you can link it with the Upromise service that automatically adds a percentage of certain purchases to your 529. For example, buy a box of Kleenex and get 1% of the cost credited to your 529. Here are the eligible products. You can also get a Upromise credit card and have 1% of your purchases credited to your 529. Be aware, however, that you may be able to save more money by not buying these name-brand products, even with the credit. Buy if they are products you prefer or happen to be the best buy. Upromise will monitor your credit card for credits due. You can also link it to your Safeway or King Soopers card to get automatic credits.

If you have any other questions on the 529, leave a comment here.

Prescription assistance for low income

Since a new low-income prescription program started in May, local doctors have helped about 150 low-income patients get more than $200,000 worth of prescriptions through manufacturers' assistance programs.

The Prescription Assistance Solution Service is offered through the Community Health Partnership, a collaboration of more than 17 local health care organizations, and PracticeNet Solutions, which is affilated with the El Paso County Medical Society.

The service is free to physician offices.

For more information, call Diana Atcheson, 329-7103.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Free hospital art show

Penrose-St. Francis Health Services received more than 1,200 entries in its call for artwork for its new hospital under construction, St. Francis Medical Center.

A committee narrowed the entries to 150 pieces that will be displayed in the 350,000-square-foot hospital, at the corner of Woodmen Road and Powers Boulevard. It will open in the summer of 2008.

A free art show featuring the pieces will be 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 21) at the Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Regional Retail Rumblings

The Promenade Shops at Briargate is leasing space on the east side of the complex to four stores under the Calendar Club LLC banner for the holiday season. Apart from the flagship Calendar Club store, the Austin, Texas-based retail company will have Puzzled? (a puzzle store), Go! The Toy Store and Go! The Game Store opening up no later than Nov. 1 and operating probably until mid-Feb., according to Promenade Shops general manager Jennifer Halloway.

Geoff Hebert's Mountain Man Nut & Fruit Co., one of the stores that lost its prime location at Chapel Hills mall when Dick's Sporting Goods signed a lease there this summer, has reopened at 4707 N. Academy Blvd. (266-4673)

Visitor's Bureau is doing its homework

Experience Colorado Springs at Pikes Peak, the local convention and visitor's bureau, is sending out a survey to those who requested a Colorado Springs Official Visitor Guide.

The bureau is looking for visitors' thoughts and opinions on the guide and the area to learn what best represents the Colorado experience for future publications and communications.

Survey participants will be entered into the $500 cash drawing, if they include their e-mail address at the end of the survey for automatic entry.

For more information, visit or call 635-7506, or 1-800-888-4748.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New owners of Big City Burgers make small changes

Elliot and Renee Sousa, the new owners of Burger City restaurant in the First & Main Town Center, have made small decor changes and have tinkered with the menu a bit -- adding salads and some new burger offerings -- but have otherwise left things alone.

"One of the reasons we purchased Burger City is that we were drawn to the reputation it had for serving great food," Renee Sousa said. "It also has a fantastic location, close to the IMAX-Cinemark 16 theater and in the rapidly growing Powers area."

Elliot Sousa has an extensive background in restaurant management. He managed Bob’s Big Boy restaurant’s in Southern California for 25 years, becoming an Executive General Manager. Burger City is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Sunday. Its hours on Friday and Saturday are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. A grand opening party is planned for early in 2007.

Jabs revives idea of "Super Center" in Springs

Even as he prepares for the opening of his 530,000-square-foot American Furniture Warehouse "Super Center" near Longmont Nov. 6, owner Jake Jabs is talking expansion in Colorado Springs. Jabs' plan for a similar "Super Center" at the intersection of Powers Boulevard and Woodmen Road, put on hold earlier this year, is "kicking back into gear," Jabs told Furniture Today reporter Clint Engel. Jabs is again evaluating sites and expects to bring another store here in about a year. American Furniture Warehouse is projecting sales of about $368 million this year, an increase of 8 percent over 2005.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Eve of Destruction?

The Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs is one of those organizations that seeks to -- what else? -- hammer home its message on political issues. Through its political action committee, the HBA recently sent out its recommendations on candidates and ballot issues for the Nov. 7 election. When it comes to Issues 200 and 201, the latest tax-and-spending limitation proposals authored by El Paso County Commissioner Douglas Bruce and which take aim at city government finances, the HBA said the following: "We are again at war and the stakes are high. Issue 200 and Issue 201 will bring our community to its knees. Issue 200 and Issue 201 will destroy Colorado Springs as we know it." Whew. That cataclysmic prediction was signed by Ralph Braden, a vice president with Nor'wood Development Group; Scott Smith, chief operating officer of La Plata Investments; and Doug Stimple, chief executive officer of Classic Cos. All three real estate companies are based in the Springs.

Famous Dave's franchisee moving fast

Billl Ferguson is the Colorado franchise holder for Famous Dave's barbecue restaurants and is a true believer. The Colorado Springs restaurant he is launching Monday (Oct. 23) at 8330 Razorback Drive, near Chapel Hills Mall, is the second Ferguson has opened in the state this year, to be followed shortly by another in Thornton and two more in 2007. Next? Ferguson is talking with Famous Dave's about acquiring the New Mexico franchise rights.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Simtek adds a LeftHand man

John Hillyard, chief financial officer of Boulder-based software developer LeftHandNetworks Inc., has been named a director of Colorado Springs-based semiconductor developer Simtek Corp.

Hillyard replaced Tom Surrette, who became a board observer. Hillyard has spent more than 25 years as a senior finance and operations executive in the technology industry. Before joining LeftHand, Hillyard was executive vice president and chief financial officer for FrontRange Solutions.

Hillyard also was vice president and chief financial officer for daly.commerce Inc.; vice president and chief financial officer for InteliData Technologies Corp.; and senior vice president and chief financial officer for eFunds Corp.
"Having been an executive with other high-growth, successful entrepreneurial companies in the Colorado Front Range, it has been exciting to see Simtek begin to flourish like it has. I'm excited to be part of the team and look forward to the bright future at Simtek."

Tourism awards given at Governor's conference

Five awards recognizing contributions to the state's tourism efforts were presented at the Governor's 2006 Colorado Tourism Conference at the Keystone Resort and Conference Center last week.

The Colorado Tourism Office Board Chairman's Award was presented to Colorado Gov. Bill Owens for supporting several funding packages, including the recent $19 million funding given to the Colorado Tourism Office in 2006.

Outstanding Individual Contribution to Colorado Tourism was givent to Tim Edgar, executive director of the Logan County Chamber of Commerce.

Outstanding Community Tourism Initiative was presented to the 2006 Mesa Verde Centennial Celebration, recognized for collaboration among southwest Colorado organizations, governments, schools, businesses and hundreds of volunteers to produce a three-day, 100th-year national park anniversary celebration that brought thousands of people to Mesa Verde National Park.

Outstanding Tourism Volunteer was awarded to Irene Kohler and Irene McLain of the Fruita Welcome Center.
Advancing Colorado Award, new this year, was presented to the Delta County Tourism Cabinet for its program promoting the area's agricultural, historical and artisan-related industries driving tourism in the area.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Let's talk Colorado

The new state tourism marketing and advertising campaign was unveiled at the 2006 Governor's Tourism Conference in Keystone on Thursday. The campaign still awaits approval from the Colorado Tourism Board, which is expected next week.

MMG Worldwide developed the campaign, titled "Let's Talk Colorado," to have a more focused marketing strategy to target specific demographics to visit the state, said Clayton Ried, MMG president and managing partner. The campaign will not target specific cities, but rather focus on activities such as wine tasting, hiking or skiing, which may feature Colorado Springs area attractions. Ried said he was very interested in pursuing heritage tourism, which focuses on visitors interested in seeing historic or cultural attractions and locations.

The advertising company, with an office in Fort Collins, hopes the campaign will bring 30 million visitors to the state over time.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Better your business in 2007

The Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado is hosting an informational meeting for businesses interested in turning in applications for the 2007 Excellence in Customer Service award from 7:45 to 10 a.m., Oct. 20 at the Leon Young Service Center, 1521 Hancock Expressway.

The meeting is free and refreshments will be provided. The program's pursose is to motivate people to go through the application process to help their business analyze and improve its service, and intigrate a philosophy of continuous improvement.

The application process is an invalueable service to a business by providing free, constructive feedback on how to improve a business- a service that would normally cost thousands- according to many winners of the 2006 Excellence in Customer Service program.

RSVP by Oct. 13 by contacting Debbie Montoya at 636-5076, ext. 129, toll-free at 866-206-1094 ext. 129 or by e-mail at

For more detailed information on this event, please contact Rebecca Herrera at 636-5076 ext. 116, or toll-free at 1-866-206-1094 ext. 116.

Military marching onward

Wednesday's 10th annual Southern Colorado Economic Forum, a large-scale event that tallies the economy and quality of life in the region in the past year, yielded updates about the expanding Fort Carson Army post.

Brig. Gen. Anne Macdonald, deputy commanding general at Fort Carson, said the post is preparing for an increase of 10,000 soldiers, not including family members, in the next two years. The total number of troops stationed at the Army base will balloon to 25,000. Sixty percent are married and have family members, and one-third will live on post.

The local economic impact of Fort Carson currently is nearly $1 billion annually, she said, including $662.1 million in military payroll, $147.4 million in civilian payroll,$60 million in operations, $13 million in utilities, $167.1 million in military procurement, $40 million for TriCare health insurance and $1.5 million for tuition assistance.

Fort Carson is responsible for 10 percent of all economic activity in Colorado Springs, Macdonald said.