Friday, June 23, 2006

BBB of Southern Colorado hits 3,000

The Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado reached a milestone on Friday with the introduction of its 3,000th member. This number includes companies with more than one location in our service area and is an all time high for the Bureau.

According to Carol Odell, chief executive officer for the BBB of SC, membership has been steadily increasing over the past four years. The BBB of SC has achieved a market penetration of about 11 percent, compared with other Bureaus in the U.S. who average a 6 percent penetration. The majority of members in the BBB of SC are companies located in the Pikes Peak region, but an increasing number are joining from other areas of Southern Colorado, the local bureau said.

Ent adds another former Bank One executive

Ent Federal Credit Union added to its roster of former Bank One (now called Chase Bank) employees by hiring Wayne Paton as vice president of small business and corporate services. He had been president of Chase Bank's operations in Colorado Springs and had previously worked for Ent President Charles Emmer when Emmer held the same position in the early 1990s before joining Ent.

Paton plans to integrate Ent's small business services into the credit union's branches and expand Ent's online services to make conducting financial transactions more convenient.
Besides Emmer, Paton joins Bank One alumni Jim Moore, Ent's senior vice president; Tom Young, Ent's manager of corporate banking, and six other mid-level managers at Ent, southern Colorado's largest financial institution with more than $1.9 billion in assets and 20 branches.

Teller County hospital progresses

The Pikes Peak Regional Hospital closed Thursday on an $11,000,000 loan from Matrix Capital Bank.

The signing of the papers clears the way for construction to begin on Teller County's first full-service hospital that will include 24-hour emergency services.

The project began in 1999, and the new hospital is expected to be completed in about a year.

An EDC twin spin

Economic development will be in the spotlight next week. On Tuesday, the Greater Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. will host California-based site selection expert Jim Renzas at a small, invitation-only gathering of EDC officials at The Broadmoor hotel. Renzas is expected to talk about Colorado Springs' pros and cons as a place to do business -- at least, from the viewpoint of a site selection expert who helps companies find suitable locations for their relocations or expansions. On Wednesday, the EDC will throw open its doors to the public for a luncheon at which El Paso County Commission Chairwoman Sallie Clark will speak on "meeting the challenges of a growing regional economy." Wednesday's luncheon will take place at 11:30 a.m. at the Antlers Hilton's Heritage ballroom, 4 S. Cascade Ave., in downtown Colorado Springs. More information: 475-6455.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bring your dog to work ... but safely

Friday is the eighth annual Bring Your Dog to Work Day celebration and Sarah Fricke, training director at Canine Campus (formerly Top Dog), makes the point that if you want there to be a ninth at your workplace you need to observe some sense of doggie decorum.

*Plan ahead and have a place picked out for your dog to be during the work day. Make sure the spot is comfortable, and out of the way. You may want to tether your dog to this spot by attaching a leash to something sturdy like a desk or a door knob. This way you can have your dog with you and have both hands free to get work done.

*Bring something for your dog to do. Most dogs will get antsy sitting around all day. A toy stuffed with peanut butter or cream cheese and then frozen will help to keep them busy during the work day. A favorite bone or chewie can do the trick as well.

*Make sure to exercise your dog thoroughly before heading off to work. This will help them calm down sooner when arriving at work. It will also help ensure that they won't have any embarrassing potty accidents in the workplace.

Chamber takes a gamble

The Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce will present an Amateur and Aces Texas Hold 'Em Tournament coming Aug. 4 at Tre Luna Downtown Event Center. The idea is "outside the box" from the typical chamber guest speaker luncheon, but that is exactly what the chamber wants, said Jenifer Furda, the Chamber's vice president of events.

"We wanted to attract the unusual suspects, younger business people and people that we typically wouldn't get to go to a business lunch," Furda said. "It is still a networking opportunity, because that is number one what the chamber is about, but it is in a fun way that is just a little different."

Facilitated by Deuces Wild, the event allows players to participate in tournaments based on skill levels. Lessons will be available for those who are new to the game or just need to brush up. Players will not win anything at the end of the event, just have a good time and a networking opportunity, the Chamber said.

For more information about the tournament, call Jenifer Furda at 575-4313

A sweet surprise for Patsy's Chocolates

The surprising return of the Stephany's Chocolates brand -- after its equally surprising departure -- may require a bit of fence-mending with its former wholesale customers.

Stephany's closed its Arvada plant and five Colorado stores in April after co-owner Hal Strotman died in April. Enstrom's Candies of Grand Junction bought Stephany's assets for $1.5 million and announced earlier this week that it intended to revive the Stephany's name in a largely wholesale effort.

"But there were some customers who were unhappy with the way the whole thing was handled," said Wes Niswonger, co owner of Patsy's Chocolates & Gift Shop in Manitou Springs. Some shop owners without warning, stopped getting candy deliveries to stock their stores.

Patsy's is one of the companies that is getting orders to fill the void from companies such as Making History Colorado, a retailer in Denver Pavilions.

“It’s hard to say how much impact it’s had," on Patsy's, Niswonger said. "I really don’t want to say how much. We have competitors up there now. And this is not even chocolate season yet."

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A&W wanders west

When the newly rebuilt Kentucky Fried Chicken opens later this summer on the southwest corner of West Colorado Avenue and 31st Street, it'll be accompanied by a partner, an A&W restaurant.

The design will be similar to the duo franchise location on the southwest corner of Austin Bluffs Parkway and North Academy Blvd.

Officials expect an August opening of the new westsider, hopefully in time for customers to find warm weather relief in the form of root beer floats.

Flying out of Springs airport?

Weight restrictions are having an impact on summer air travel out of Colorado Springs on hot days. Has anyone out there been affected by it?

Have you experienced longer than normal delays on a flight departing the Colorado Springs Airport? Have you gotten bumped because the airline had to lighten its load in order to take off?

Have you bought a non-stop ticket on a flight out of Colorado Springs, but your flight made an additional stop in route to refuel? Have you arrived at your final travel destination earlier or later than scheduled because the airlines redirected you through another connecting city?

The reason some aircraft have to lighten up before they take off is that the airport is using its shorter runways while the main, long runway is under repair. The shorter runways make it tougher for some aircraft to take off on hot days unless they get rid of some weight. For more information, read today's business section.

Meanwhile let us know if you have experienced any of these problems this summer. Contact the reporter:

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

In search of...a local automotive blog

A reader wonders if anyone knows of a blog that deals with local auto dealers, referrals, ratings or general discussions.

If so, please share the site with us.

He's particularly interested in talking about vehicles losing value after being driven off the lot, resulting in GAP insurance becoming a mandatory item because loans are often upside down. That means the value becomes significantly lower than what the buyer owes on the vehicle.

Rivera ropes Richardson

Just weeks after Colorado Springs fought off New Mexico's attempt to woo the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association and Hall of Fame to Albuquerque, Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera (left) found himself standing face-to-face with none other than New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (right), who led his state's effort to attract the PRCA.

Rivera was attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors' annual convention in Las Vegas in early June, and Richardson was a speaker who did a grip-and-grin session afterward.

"It felt good to shake his hand and look him in the eye," Rivera said of the encounter. "He said, 'How are you doing mayor? Good to see you'." No, Rivera added, the two didn't discuss the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association. "It was on my mind," Rivera said.

The PRCA said in February it was moving to New Mexico and accepting the state's $17 million in incentives. But after Springs officials and rodeo supporters put their own incentives package on the table, the PRCA walked away from New Mexico in May -- although it stopped short of formally accepting the Springs' offer.

Since then, local officials have been waiting to hear if the PRCA will commit to a long-term stay in the Springs. Rivera said one member of a community task force has been in contact with the PRCA, while the mayor has spoken with a representative of the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy. Both have been in the Springs since 1979.

The PRCA board next meets in August, Rivera said.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Kudos to Forte Events

Tami Forero of Forte Events in Colorado Springs is one of six Colorado-based companies and individuals among the finalists for industry awards, the 2006 Event Solutions Spotlight awards.

The awards recognize achievements in the events industry in the previous year.

The winners are chosen by their peers using an online voting system, which accepts votes through June 23 at

Winners will be announced at the Event Solutions Spotlight Awards Aug. 23 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House and Performing Arts Center in Denver.

The event is part of the Event Solutions Idea Factory, which runs Aug. 20-23 at the Colorado Convention Center.

Waits aren't too heavy at Colorado Springs Airport

USA Today looked at the nation's 100 busiest airports and how quickly travelers pass through security checkpoints. Colorado Springs Airport, which ranked as the 87th busiest, fared well. Based on the newspaper's analysis, Springs air travelers had to wait in security lines for more than 10 minutes only 2.6 percent of the time. In addition, the longest wait in a Springs security line was 30 minutes. USA Today's analysis looked at security wait lines for the 12 months ending April 30, and from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time. By comparison, Denver International Airport travelers had security line waits of more than 10 minutes an average of 6.5 percent of the time and their maximum wait was 38 minutes. DIA ranked as the nation's 9th busiest airport. The longest 10-minute-plus waits: Kona, Hawaii; Las Vegas; Santa Ana, Calif.; Miami; and Atlanta. The airport in Harrisburg, Pa., had a 230-minute wait during the 12-month study period. Ever had a bad experience in Colorado Springs or Denver? A good experience? Leave your comment below.
USA Today article and list of airport wait times.

What's your quality of life tipping scale?

An article on today's Business cover talks about Colorado Springs' quality of life and the sacrifices workers make, namely lower salaries, to live and work here.

We're wondering how you stand on this issue.

Have you thought you could make more money if you moved to a different city, but were reluctant to do so because of the Springs' quality of life?

What quality of life issues are most important to you? Leave a comment below.

A Costo here, a Costco there

Costco Wholesale, the nation's largest members-only wholesale club, is coming to Colorado Springs. It's just a question of when -- and perhaps where.

Company officials have said they plan to build a store as part of the North Nevada Avenue urban renewal project, and the store would co-anchor the proposed University Village retail center northwest of Nevada and Austin Bluffs Parkway.

But company officials also have said in the past they're considering locations for a second site, although they haven't been available for comment on where that search stands.

Chuck Miller, consultant for the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal authority, said it will take time to get the North Nevada redevelopment project off the ground. As a result, Miller said he wouldn't be surprised if Costco winds up opening a store somewhere else in the Springs before it cuts the ribbon on a North Nevada location, which could come in the first quarter of 2008.

Likely locations for a second Costco would be fast-growing retail corridors such as Powers or North Academy boulevards.

But where would Costco customers like to see the retailer locate in the Springs?