Friday, June 2, 2006

Rita's Fajitas goes out of business

Rita's Fajitas, the big Tex-Mex joint over on South Eighth Street, has gone out of business, citing lack of profits.

Nominations for small business awards

The Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce is looking for nominees for the 2006 Small Business Person of the Year. This is your opportunity to give recognition to a business person who is successful, active in the community and deserving of this honor.

The criteria is any individual who owns and operates or bears principal responsibility for operating a small business (50 employees or less). The company must have been in business for at least 3 years under current ownership and must be headquartered in the region.

The Colorado Springs Business Journal's Young Entrepreneur of the Year will be awarded. Any individual who serves as a majority owner and operates or bears principal responsibility for operating a small business with a three-year track record, and who will not have reached the age of 35 by July 1, 2006, may be nominated.

The final award to be presented is the Family-Owned Small Business of the Year. The criteria is a family owned and operated business that has been passed on from one generation to another. Nominees must also serve as a majority owner and operator or bear principal responsibility for operating a small business with at least a 15-year track record.

Nominations are due June 12 and do encourage self-nomination. Nomination forms may be obtained by contacting Jenifer Furda, 575-4313 or The awards will be presented at the Chamber’s annual Small Business Day Luncheon on June 29 at the Antlers Hilton. For information, visit

Colorado SBDC workshop

The Colorado Small Business Development Center is offering a workshop from 1 to 3 p.m. June 6 at UCCS for companies looking for money to start or grow their business. "Funding Your Business," instructed by a local banker, will cover topics on various types of loans - micro, business and SBA - how to prepare and negotiate loans and an inside glimpse of what lenders look for. Cost is $15. To register call 262-3844.

Springs Business Expo sets record

The Springs Business Expo drew record numbers in both attendees and vendors this year.
Local business owners manned 230 booths and displayed their wares to more than 2,000 visitors at the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce annual event May 25 at the Phil Long Expo Center.

It is the largest business exposition in southern Colorado that introduces businesses to the community and each other while offering advertising and networking opportunities.

Automakers improve efficiency

Detroit's Big Three automakers have improved factory efficiency, according to the Harbour Report North America 2006.

The study found that 7.33 labor hours per vehicle separated the best performing Japanese automaker in North America from the worst performing U.S. automaker, down from 9.08 hours in 2004 and less than half the 16.56-hour gap that existed in 1998.

Nissan was the most efficient automaker in North America last year, with 28.46 hours of labor in each vehicle.

Even with improved productivity, U.S. automakers continue to lose sales and market share to Japan's Big Three.

No smoke = more customers?

When the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act was passed banning smoking indoors everywhere in Colorado except casinos, some restaurants became worried their smoking customers would go away. But a survey released today says that non-smokers may well may replace those lost customers - and more. A survey by Market Perception, a Denver research firm, found Colorado consumers say they will increase their visits to restaurants and bars once these establishments become smoke-free.

However, only 13 percent of restuarant and bar owners believe their business will increase when the law goes into effect July 1.

A Zagat Survey for New York restaurants showed that nearly a quarter of respondents dined out more often after the state’s smoke-free lawwent into effect in June 2003. In California, restaurant and bar receipts have increased every year since its smoke-free law was enacted in 1997.

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Think it's bad when an airline looses your luggage?

When Colorado Springs resident Mike Rios put his 14-year-old son Lucas Rios on an United Airlines flight to South Bend., Ind., little did he think the 14-year-old would be misplaced like a piece of luggage - especially when he paid about $60 to $75 for an escort service.

The mix-up happened Monday when Lucas was napping during his lay-over in Chicago and a 10-year-old boy, who did not speak English, was escorted onto Lucas' flight, according to the South Bend Tribune, who first reported the story. The 10-year old was originally bound for Taipei, Taiwan via Tokyo.

The flight that departed without Lucas was turned around mid-flight and redirected to Chicago. The 10-year old was escorted back to the gate, Lucas reclaimed his rightful seat and the flight was departed.

As part of the child escort service on connecting flight, employees take children from the planes to the lounge whereupon another employee finds the child's ticket and calls out the child's name. The child stands up and is escorted onto the departing flight. According to Lucas, children do not carry their own ticket, nor are they required to show identification.

United may fly to Kuwait

United Airlines announced recently it plans to offer three new weekly flights between Washington, D.C., and Kuwait City.
Pending foreign government approval, United plans to begin service in late October, and will be the only U.S. airline to offer nonstop service between the United States and Kuwait.

Colorado Wine Festival

The Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce and Visitor's Bureau hosts the 2006 Colorado Wine Festival from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 3, at Soda Springs Park.
Eighteen Colorado wineries will be pouring samples of the wines they produce. There will be live entertainment throughout the afternoon, specialty food and fine art & craft booths .
The $20 per person tickets, which include a wine glass and tastings from all of the wineries, will go on sale between noon and 5 p.m.
For more information, call 685-5089.

United launches new flights including one in Denver

United launches six new daily flights nationwide to start Sept. 6. Including the only nonstop service between Denver and Grand Rapids, Mich. according to the airline. Tickets are on sale now.
The other new daily flights include: San Francisco-Toronto, Los Angeles-Oklahoma City, Washington Dulles-Albuquerque, N.M. and Washington Dulles-Birmingham, Ala. There will also be a twice daily service between Los Angeles and Vancouver.

Big City Burrito getting close to its big day

A couple of months later than expected, Big City Burrito is set to open its downtown location at Bijou Street and Nevada Avenue by the end of June. With 2,842 square feet it will be roughly twice the size of the typical Big City Burrito and franchise holders John and Kathleen Harper will enliven the space by having regular photo and art exhibits in an art deco setting. There will be live music in the evenings with booking help from their son, Aaron Waters. Big City Burrito will have a separate door for take-out orders that are phoned in or faxed from downtown businesses. "We are even thinking about delivery as long as we can do it in a way that does not compromise the quality of the food," said John Harper. The company has already hired 10, including a couple of cooks who worked for the Big City Burrito store in Monument.

Three's the charm for Lucky Gift Store

Paul Yu, who operates two Lucky Gift Stores in Colorado Springs selling dollar items and an ecletic assortment of gifts, has opened a third location at The Shoppes of Pueblo, 745 Desert Flower Blvd. Yu's Springs outlets are at 2833 E. Fountain Blvd. and at a local flea market.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Mergers bring Denver credit union to the Springs

Westerra Credit Union became Colorado's third-largest credit union last week by completing a merger with Gateway Credit Union after 92 percent of Gateway's members approved the state's largest merger among credit unions.

Westerra now has $890 million in assets, 76,400 members and 10 branches, including one near The Citadel mall in Colorado Springs. The local branch has nearly $13 million in assets, which would make it one of the five largest credit unions in El Paso County if it operated as a separate institution.

Westerra was formed last year with the merger of DPS Credit Union and Safeway Rocky Mountain Credit Union. Westerra officials said the credit union will spend the next year combining Gateway's operations with its own operations.

Maggie Moo's: This is one ambitious bovine

A timid grazer in Colorado territory until now, the MaggieMoo’s ice cream store chain has a most ambitious plan for expansion in the state, planning more than 20 franchises in the Denver metro area within the next five years. That’s a huge jump from the current four in the state -- Aspen, Centennial and two in Colorado Springs -- but right in step with the rapid migration plan for Moo’s. They have more than 185 stores currently in 38 states (and Thailand), on their way to meeting a goal of 1,000 locations by 2009 to better compete with Cold Stone Creamery and Marble Slab. Sharon Adams is the master developer for the chain in Colorado and is also looking at adding as many as three more Moo’s in El Paso County within the next five years, although no locations have been selected.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Ent ranks near top in new type of mortgage

Ent Federal Credit Union ranks among the top credit unions in the nation in offering a new type of mortgage for low-income buyers called "Home Loan Payment Relief" loans, says the industry trade group Credit Union National Association.

Ent has made 16 of the loans for $2.21 million in the first six months of the program, ranking it fourth in the number of loans made and 10th in the total amount loaned as of April 30. Three other Colorado credit unions, all based in the Denver area, also are participating in the program.
The loans are deisgned to help low-income borrowers buy their first homes. The mortgages are restricted to borrowers earning less than the median household income in an area, which is $63,550 in El Paso County.

Auction It Today chain looking at Colorado Springs

According to a report in the Denver Business Journal the Auction It Today chain of eBay consignment stores has entered the Colorado market with locations in Evergreen and Idaho Springs. Colorado Springs is one of seven other cities in the state under consideration for stores and drop-off kiosks for goods to be auctioned on eBay.

Auction It Today is one of several eBay drop-off chains -- also including ISold It on eBay, AuctionDrop and QuikDrop -- that sell items on the online auction site for customers for a fee. A QuikDrop franchise just opened on North Academy Boulevard this spring.

Business section looks at housing appreciation

The Gazette's "Neighborhoods" special Real Estate section that hit the stands on Sunday is a must read if you are buying a home, selling one or just like to keep up on home prices in the Springs.

Business reporter Rich Laden and Gazette researcher Annie Mullin spents months analyzing data from the El Paso County Assessor's online site to come up with how residential real estate values have appreciated over the past 10 years. The special report includes every area in El Paso County.

You can find out which neighborhoods are hot, and which ones are not; what causes homes in some neighborhoods to rise faster than others; what experts think will happen with home prices in the coming months and years; and lots more information.
If you missed the section, some copies are available at The Gazette, 30 S. Prospect St., for the price of the Sunday paper.

Have you done the math?

Every story on gas prices results in a few callers or e-mailers to The Gazette commenting that if you do the math, the cost savings netted in buying an alternative vehicle doesn't compute.

Taking into account inflation and the actual monthly budget increase to consumers when gas prices increase, the cost of fuel in the U.S. is still a bargain, they reason.

Buyers of alternative vehicles, such as hybrids or the economical micro compacts on the market, say it's not just about any money that might be saved. "It's the environment, stupid."