Thursday, December 27, 2007

New city manager to address business leaders

Penelope Culbreth-Graft (right), Colorado Springs' new city manager, will discuss her impressions of the city when she speaks before a business breakfast at 7 a.m. Jan. 15 at the Doubletree Hotel Colorado Springs-World Arena, 1775 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., on Colorado Springs' south side and near the Colorado Springs World Arena. Culbreth-Graft, the former city administrator in Huntington Beach, Calif., was hired by the City Council in November to succeed retiring City Manger Lorne Kramer. Culbreth-Graft's talk is being sponsored by the Quality Community Group, which is composed of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, the Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp., the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors. Registration for the breakfast begins at 7 a.m., and the breakfast and program start at 7:30 a.m. Cost is $25 for members and $35 for non-members. To register, go to or call 575-4313.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tech support outsourcing less

Technical support centers are outsourcing less this year than they did a year ago, according to an annual study by HDI, a Colorado Springs-based trade group for information technology service and support professionals.

Just 42 percent of the 1,005 information technology professionals surveyed between June and August outsource or plan to outsource part of their support operation, compared with 57 percent a year earlier.

A majority of those surveyed said they don’t outsource because they want to maintain control and have concerns about service quality and lack of customer acceptance. Hardware support and repair was the most common outsourced area of support, the survey found.

The survey also found that technical support hiring remains strong, with 45 percent planning increased hiring, 13 percent expecting to freeze hiring and 5 percent anticipating layoffs.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Simtek CEO writes open letter

Days after Simtek Corp.’s stock fell to a nearly five-year low, chief executive Harold Blomquist said the company’s performance “is the strongest it has been since (it) went public nearly 17 years ago” in a seven-page open letter to shareholders.

Simtek shares fell to $2 on Dec. 7, the lowest since early 2003 and down 50 percent since the company cut its revenue and profit forecasts Oct. 30 after missing its own and analyst forecasts for the third quarter with a small loss and lower-than-expected revenue.

Blomquist reaffirmed the company’s revised 2007 revenue forecast of $32 million to $33 million, which would be a second consecutive annual record, and said projected revenue from design wins through Sept. 30 exceeds a similar projection for all of 2006.

“Based on new products, design wins from customers, and a strong relationship with a credible partner, Cypress Semiconductor, the outlook for Simtek is very good,” Blomquist concluded in the Dec. 19 letter. Simtek stock has since recovered to $2.41 by midday Thursday.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The safety check before joining a nonprofit board

Many business people are asked to join a nonprofit organization's board of directors. Here are some key issues to consider beforehand, from Marks Paneth & Shron, a New York accounting firm with extensive nonprofit experience.

1) Do you know the nonprofit board's real mission? And are you fully aware of the duty of care, obedience and loyalty you will be subject to?
2) Did you receive and review the nonprofit board's packet that contains bylaws, descriptions of committees and functions and charter information. Review the materials before you make your decision about joining.
3) Does the organization have a whistleblower's policy? There should be a confidential way for organization employees to bring up and discuss matters regarding management indiscretion and other problems.
4) Does the organization carry a directors and officers insurance policy? This is important to protect you and other board members from unforeseen lawsuits and judgments.
5) Are there conflict of interest guidelines? You should know what constitutes a conflict of interest so you can both monitor and have input over other board members' activities and make judgments about your own.
6) What's the tone at the top of the board? Is there too much focus on connections and personal networking to fulfill the mission and make sound decisions?
7) How does paid management carry out its fiduciary responsibilities? If the executive director or other staff members have override over the board, proceed with extreme caution. Beware if management doesn't provide periodic internal audit statements.
8) By expanding the board, is the nonprofit going for quantity over quality? Since board members usually give, there's real incentive to expand a board. Is the quality of members and their insights high?
9) Is the board just a powerless group of donors, rather than a body with serious impact? It's important to decide if one wants to be part of a board if the real power and traditional board responsibility rests solely with the executive committee.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Self-Service Shredder wins UL mark

Colorado Springs-based RealTime Shredding, Inc. has received approval from Underwriters Laboratories Inc. for The Self-Service Shredder. The UL mark indicates compliance with rigorous industry safety standards throughout North America. Underwriters Laboratories granted the mark to RealTime’s self-service shredding kiosk after a 15-month process of testing and evaluation, the company said.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

American Numismatic Association begins search for new director

The American Numismatic Association, headquartered in Colorado Springs, is accepting applications for a new executive director to replace its former executive director who was fired in October.
Resumes are due by Jan. 11 to the board president, Barry Stuppler,

The coin collecting association with 32,000 members is looking for candidates who have knowledge of and interest in coin collecting and at least five years of management experience.
The new executive director will head an organization facing several lawsuits, an operating budget deficit and a membership that in July voted out all incumbent members of its board.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Intel closing will hurt industrial real estate market

A 2008 real estate forecast by Sierra Commercial Real Estate of Colorado Springs suggests the city's industrial market will have a tough go next year. A housing slowdown means building supply companies and heating and cooling businesses, for example, won't need as much space. A loss of manufacturing jobs also will result in less demand for industrial buildings. Intel Corp.'s closing of its 1.4 million-square-foot chipmaking plant on the Springs’ northwest side won't help, either. Finding a buyer will be difficult because it will be costly to remodel the sophisticated plant, said Dave Bacon, a Sierra managing director and industrial specialist. Yet, having the plant available if a major employer comes to town is a positive for the Springs, said Sierra President Dave Delich.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Questions arise over hospital choice and shooting victims

E-mails from Penrose-St. Francis Health Services alerting media to the fact that three victims from the Dec. 9 shootings at New Life Church had been transported to Penrose Hospital near downtown Colorado Springs, included this paragraph:

“A significant amount of public and national media requests have been received asking why victims were transported downtown, bypassing the city's two new hospitals. Penrose Main Hospital on Nevada Avenue is a full-service Level II trauma hospital. The new St. Francis Medical Center on the corner of East Woodmen Road and Powers Boulevard will also be a full-service hospital able to handle trauma patients but is not scheduled to open until August 2008.”

What the paragraph omits: The new Memorial Hospital North, which opened in April and is the closest hospital to New Life Church, is operated by Penrose-St. Francis’ competitor and is not equipped to handle trauma patients.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wildwood Casino plans April opening

Las Vegas-based American Gaming Group LLC is looking to an April 1 opening for its Wildwood Casino in Cripple Creek. It will be the town’s largest single casino. At one point, the company talked of opening the casino by Christmas. Its Web site talks of an opening in “very early 2008.”

Blame the weather for the now springtime opening, said Paul “Sonny" Marshall, president and chief executive officer of American Gaming Group. “We had some delays due to the weather last winter, and now we’re getting hit with it again,” he said. “It’s always a challenge in Cripple Creek to do construction.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tourism comedy

Tourists say the wackiest things. Terry Sullivan, president and chief executive officer of Experience Colorado Springs at Pikes Peak, entertained the audience at Tuesday morning’s “Breakfast With the Chamber” with a few questions passed on from visitors to the Springs:
  • A visitor on the Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway: “What is the distance between mile markers?”
  • A tourist at Garden of the Gods: “How often do you paint the rocks?”
  • A visitor to Helen Hunt Falls: “Why would you name a waterfall after an actress?”

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

SEC sues Maxim in stock-options probe

Some of Maxim Integrated Products Inc. employees may think they have jumped from one stock-options scandal to another.

Maxim in October bought Vitesse Semiconductor Corp.'s Colorado Springs-based Storage Products businesses and retained 55 of the operation's 60 employees. Another 50 people work for another local Maxim division. Vitesse has not reported earnings for two years as a result of a stock-option backdating scandal and investigation that led to the departure of its chief executives and several other top managers.

The Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday sued Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Maxim; John Gifford, its former chief executive, and Carl Jasper, its former chief financial officer, for allegedly falsifying financial information by improperly backdating stock option grants to employees and directors. The company's profits were inflated by more than 10 percent between 2003 and 2005 as a result of the scheme, the agency said.

The SEC agreed to settlements in which the company agreed to cease and desist from future violations and Gifford paid at $150,000 fine and returned $652,681 in bonuses tied to the company's performance. Neither the company nor Gifford admitted or denied the allegations as part of the settlement. Jasper has not settled with the agency and his attorney, Steven Bauer, told the Associated Press that Jasper didn't receive any backdated options and didn't have any authority to issue them.

Stock options give holders the right to buy shares in the future at a preset price. In Maxim's case, the SEC alleged the company routinely granted options at below-market prices, but avoided reporting the cost by backdating paperwork to make it appear that the options had been granted at an earlier date when the stock price was lower.
To view the suit against Maxim and Gifford, go to To view the suit against Jasper, go to

Monday, December 10, 2007

eWomenNetwork hosts holiday lunch

eWomenNetwork will host a holiday networking and shopping lunch Friday, Dec. 14, at the Marriott Hotel, 5580 Tech Center. The cost is $35 for members and $45 for non-members. Doors open and informal networking begins at 10:30 a.m., with the program from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

eWomenNetworking offers "accelerated networking," in which women can meet numerous business contacts in a short period of time, share products and services, learn marketing strategies and make new connections. To register, call Mary at 596-1771.

Friday, December 7, 2007

No more Room at the Inn

Room at the Inn, a Victorian-style bed and breakfast at 618 N. Nevada Ave., has been sold and will no longer operate as a B&B. Owners Dorian and Linda Ciolek, who operated Room at the Inn for nine years, sold the property to a software developer who will relocate his offices there next year. They did not identify the business.

A Gazette story in 2006 said the B&B was for sale at $1.2 million. Dorian Ciolek said it sold for “close to that.” The three-story building, built in 1896, has also served as a single-family residence and an apartment building.

Home builders to look ahead to 2008 and 2009

Metrostudy, a real estate research and analysis firm, will present an overview of the Pikes Peak region's new home market during a members-only breakfast hosted by the Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs. The look at the current market, and what's ahead for 2008 and 2009, will take place from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Dec. 12 at the Marriott hotel, 5580 Tech Center Drive, in northwest Colorado Springs. The cost is $20. More information or to register: 592-1800, ext 18, or Metrostudy, based in Houston, tracks housing data in 10 Front Range counties in Colorado, as well as several other markets around the country.

What would Capone say?

Girl of the Golden West, a women’s western wear store at The Promenade Shops at Briargate, is expecting quite a hefty package Monday. Navis Pack & Ship will deliver an 8-foot-tall, 22-foot-long antique wet bar that, according to legend, was once owned by gangster Al Capone. Phoebe Schmidt, owner of Girl of the Golden West, bought the bar from a New Hampshire couple. It will be the centerpiece of her enlarged store that opens in January. It’ll generally be used as a beauty bar, though it will be used as originally intended for occasional social events.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Keeley retires from Simtek board

Robert Keeley, a professor emeritus of finance at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, has retired after 14 years on the board of directors of Colorado Springs-based semiconductor designer Simtek Corp.
Keeley retired as the El Pomar chair of finance at UCCS in 2004. He had been chairman of Simtek's audit committee and will be replaced by John Hillyard, who joined the board last year and is chief financial officer of Boulder-based LeftHand Networks Inc.
Simtek also said Philip Black, who joined the company's board in August, was named chairman of the board's compensation committee and a member of the audit committee. Black is chief executive of California-based Nexsan Technologies Inc.
"Dr. Keeley has been a real asset to Simtek. We thank him for his long-standing service as a member of the board and wish him well as he more fully enjoys his retirement," Simtek Chairman Harold Blomquist said. The new posts for Black and Hillyard "will enable us to capitalize on the breadth of experience on public boards both bring to Simtek."
Keeley said he has been "gradually stepping away from my professional activities and am excited to pursue more personal interests. In the entire 14 years I've been a director of Simtek, the company has never been in better shape."
For more information, go to

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A growing partnership

The Greater Colorado Springs Partnership is growing — and getting a new name in the process. The Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and the black and Hispanic chambers announced the partnership in June and were quickly joined by Experience Colorado Springs at Pikes Peak Convention and Visitors Bureau. All retained their individual identities, but embraced the alliance as a way to share resources and speak with a single, stronger voice on key issues. The partnership is becoming the Pikes Peak Regional Business Partnership as two new chambers join: the Fountain Valley Chamber and the Eastern Plains Chamber, formerly the Falcon Business League. They’ll officially sign on at the Colorado Springs Chamber’s “Breakfast With the Chamber” on Tuesday morning at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Lennar sells Colorado properties

Lennar Corp., a new home builder with five communities in Colorado Springs, has sold some of its land and homesites to Morgan Stanley Real Estate, as part of a new investment venture between the two firms.

The properties acquired by the venture consist of about 11,000 homesites in 32 communities throughout the country. A spokesman for Lennar would not confirm what communities were included but did say some were in Colorado.

Lennar has a 20 percent ownership interest in the investment venture. The venture acquired the property, with a $1.3 billion net book value as of Sept. 30, for only $525 million.

The sale helps Lennar, which is struggling like many new-home builders, by giving it an infusion of cash, said Stuart Miller, president and CEO.

In the Pikes Peak region, Lennar's communities include Four Mile Ranch in Canon City, Meridian Ranch in Peyton, Mesa Ridge in Fountain, Misty Acres Estates Collection in Monument and Morning View in Colorado Springs. They represent about a third of the company's communities in Colorado.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Al's Formal Wear buys out Mister Neat's

The three Mister Neat’s Formalwear stores in Colorado Springs are becoming Al’s Formal Wear stores. Houston-based Al’s Formal Wear announced Monday that it had acquired all the assets of Mister Neat’s, the largest formal wear company in Colorado with 17 stores across the state. Visitors to are now taken to and signage outside stores will change soon, a spokeswoman said.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Penrose-St. Francis Health Services' electronic medical records system in place

Penrose-St. Francis Health Services is one of several Centura Health facilities in southern Colorado to implement a new electronic information system Dec. 1.

Others are: Langstaff-Brown Urgent Care Center in Woodland Park, St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center in Pueblo and St. Thomas More Hospital in Canon City.

The system will enable hospital employees to record patients' medical information electronically, which improves care and safety, according to Mike Scialdone, chief financial officer for Penrose-St. Francis Health Services.

The health care system has purchased several million dollars worth of new equipment to support the new computer system, including mobile work stations, tablet computers, desktop computers, desktop scanners, bar code scanners, printers and wireless networks.

Xiotech lands $40 million from Seagate

Xiotech Corp. announced earlier this week it has landed $40 million in an investment round led by Seagate Technology LLC Chairman Steve Luczo that it plans to use to bring new technology acquired from Seagate to market.
Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Xiotech bought "certain assets" and a license for the technology of Seagate's Advanced Storage Architecture (ASA) group in early November and hired almost all of the research and development operation's 100 employees in Colorado Springs (see story at Xiotech officials declined to further identify the types of products the operation is developing.
"This is an exciting time to be part of Xiotech, as we're really well positioned to help the storage industry rethink assumptions at a truly fundamental level," Ciotech CEO Casey Powell said. "This investment round and the addition of Steve Luczo to our board are important steps to fully capitalize on the acquired ASA technology."
Xiotech, which is owned by Seagate and Oak Investment Partners, generates about $100 million in annual revenue producing information storage equipment used in data centers. For more information, go to

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Re/Max co-founder makes History Channel

Dave Liniger, co-founder of Denver-based Re/Max International, addressed the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce in early November. Now, he's appearing before a bigger audience. "History's Business," a weekly half-hour series on The History Channel, has completed an episode that discusses the launch and growth of Re/Max. The broadcast will air at 6 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 2. Liniger, chairman of Re/Max, was interviewed in The History Channel's studios by program host Geoff Wawro. Liniger explained Re/Max's start in 1973 as a small office and how it's grown to a global real estate franchise network, with offices in more than 65 countries. In addition to telling the story of Re/Max, Liniger discusses his philanthropy efforts and his adventures as a NASCAR driver, balloonist and pilot. Liniger and his wife, Re/Max co-founder Gail, oversee day-to-day operations of the organization. Additional broadcasts of the Re/Max episode of "History's Business" will be listed on the cable channel's web site,

Friday, November 30, 2007

Big 5 opens at Uintah Gardens

Big 5 Sporting Goods has opened a store at 1810 W. Uintah St. in the Uintah Gardens Shopping Center. It becomes the third Big 5 store in Colorado Springs and is in a former Walgreens. Walgreen vacated the building to build a free-standing store. Big 5 Sporting Goods has 360 locations across 11 Western states.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Economic census coming

This year, the holiday season is also the census season for businesses.
More than 4 millionU.S. businesses, including about 9,700 in the Colorado Springs area, will receive economic census forms in December.
The economic census is taken every five years and provides key source data for the gross domestic product and other indicators of economic performance.
Census forms are sent to all but the smallest businesses in every industry and geographic area of the country. Most businesses with five or more paid employees, and a sample of smaller ones, will receive a census form.
Companies are asked to report information such as employment, payroll and the value of goods and services sold. Questions about franchising, outsourcing and health and pension benefit expenses were added to selected forms this year. The answers, the U.S. Census Bureau assures, are kept confidential. Only aggregate industry data are published.
Forms must be returned to the Census Bureau by Feb. 12. Companies that toss the census form or squirrel it away in a drawer and forget it could be in trouble. The law provides for penalties of up to $5,000 for failure to report and $10,000 for intentionally providing false information.
For more information, go to

Audi of America sponsors ski competitions

Audi of America has been selected as the official automotive sponsor of the U.S. Ski Team, supplying vehicles to the U.S. Ski Team in the United States and Europe for all its teams. Those include alpine, cross country, freestyle, nordic combined and ski jumping.

Audi also will be the title sponsor of the women's World Cup in Aspen, Dec. 7-9, and the automaker will be associate sponsor of the men's World Cup races in Beaver Creek, Nov. 28-Dec. 2.

The U.S. Ski Team said it chose Audi because its vehicles with a permanent all-wheel-drive system are reliable and safe.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A player piano with an Internet twist

Jazz pianist Sue Downs, who played with the Roger Williams and Red Skelton orchestras, will show off the latest in Disklavier technology Thursday at the just-opened Piano Gallery, 7790 N. Academy Blvd. Yamaha introduced the Disklavier, a concert-quality piano that also serves as a modern-age player piano, more than 20 years ago. The latest twist is Disklavier 2.0, new technology that allows Mark IV series pianos to access and play music from Disklavier Internet radio stations. Downs will be available to answer questions about the technology at 4 p.m. and will perform at 7 p.m. RSVPs are requested for the performance; call 447-9999.

Real estate group convenes economic forecast breakfast Jan. 24

Want to know the outlook for the local economy and real estate market in 2008? The Southern Colorado chapter of the Institute of Real Estate Management will hold its 17th annual economic forecast breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Jan. 24 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel (formerly the Sheraton), 2886 S. Circle Drive on Colorado Springs' south side. The breakfast, usually attended by several hundred business people, will include a look at Colorado Springs' economy as well as the commercial, single-family and apartment markets. Speakers include Mike Anderson, assistant Colorado Springs city manager and a longtime local economist; Doug Carter, a commercial broker with Sperry Van Ness and who specializes in the apartment market; Brian Maecker, a real estate agent with the Maecker Team and Re/Max Advantage; and Kent Mau, a commercial broker with Sierra Commercial Real Estate. The cost is $35 before Jan. 16; afterward, the cost is $45. More information: Linda Littlefield at the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors, 633-7718, ext. 110 or

Actress Olivia Hussey at One World 2 U

Actress Olivia Hussey will bring a little star power to this weekend’s One World 2 U warehouse sale. One World 2 U, located at 1120 Elkton Drive, Unit E, sells furniture, artifacts and art from India and is open only on select weekends throughout this year. Hussey will be there from 1 to 5 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday to sell items from her collection of Indian tunics and kaftans. The Golden Globe-winning actress was 15 when she gained fame as Juliet in 1968’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bargain on snowmobile insurance

The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies is expanding coverage and cutting rates up to 40 percent for snowmobile insurance in Colorado and nine other states.

The insurance covers the rider anywhere and features accessory coverage up to $3,000 of aftermarket equipment and accessories, roadside assistance and various discounts.

For more information, see

Monday, November 26, 2007

Banking 'on the go'

FirstBank, Colorado's largest locally owned bank with $8.6 billion in assets, is offering what it calls a new tool to help shoppers and travelers manage their money during the holiday season.

Internet banking customers now can check account balances and transfer funds across accounts using their mobile phones, including while waiting in line at the mall or waiting for a flight at the airport.

The mobile banking feature is available to AT&T Wireless customers, and Verizon customers are expected to gain access in December. FirstBank provides the service at no charge, although connectivity and usage rates may apply.

A six-digit PIN is required to access account information, for security reasons, and the information is not stored in the phone.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The final frontier

Monday is the deadline to register for Experience Colorado Springs at Pikes Peak’s annual dinner and silent auction. The event is 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 2886 S Circle Drive. Guest speaker is Brian Duffy, a 1975 U.S. Air Force Academy graduate who commanded the 100th space shuttle mission. Cost is $60 per person; go to to register online or call 685-7621. Among silent auction items: a tourist trip into space, with bidding beginning at a mere $30 million.

HBA holds annual membership dinner

The annual membership dinner of the Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs will take place at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 28 at the Antlers Hilton hotel, 4 s. Cascade Ave. in downtown Colorado Springs. The event will include installation of HBA officers for 2008, including board president Bobby Ingels of the Ingels Co. Ralph Braden of Nor'wood Development Group will become president-elect for 2009. The event also will include a send-off for George Hess of Vantage Homes, who served as 2007 board president. The cost for the dinner is $50. More information: 592-1800 or

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Innerwall sold to Ohio firm

Frank Ricotta had to either raise more venture capital or negotiate a sale for Innerwall Inc. to get its network security software to a wider market.
Ricotta chose the latter, agreeing to sell Innerwall in May to Dayton, Ohio-based Enterprise Information Management Inc. for an undisclosed price. Enterprise retained all 11 Innerwall employees, who now operate Enterprise’s western regional office in the Springs.
Innerwall was a subcontractor on a $49.1 million, five-year Army contract Enterprise won last year to turn more than 100,000 paper forms into Web-based documents that are digitally “signed” for supply orders, personnel, medical, transportation and other matters.
“We needed a broader platform to launch our technology and since we had worked together on the Army program, we found there were a lot synergies, including a similar customer set and technology vision,” said Ricotta, who was Innerwall’s co-founder and CEO.
Innerwall had cut its staff from 35 to 11 about a year ago, when it restructured its marketing strategy and sales team to focus on a few core clients. A few months later, Enterprise began negotiations to acquire Innerwall, said Enterprise CEO Bruce Lyman.
Innerwall was started in 2002 and was funded by $7.5 million from investors that included XAware Inc. Chairman Bill Miller, Adam Aircraft Inc. Chairman Rick Adam and Vince Cook, former vice chairman of Science Applications International Corp.
“The technology is brilliant, the team is first class and it allows us to bring a complete solution to our customers” by including Innerwall’s network security software as part of Enterprise’s document automation software sold to military and government agencies, said Enterprise CEO Bruce Lyman.
Innerwall’s software allows only “healthy” computers to be connected to corporate networks and makes sure they comply with all of an organization’s computer security policies as well as helping networks recover from breaches by restoring them quickly to their previous state.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Car rentals up for holiday travel

Enterprise Rent-A-Car, the nation’s largest rental car company, said it is experiencing a 20 percent increase over last year in advance reservations for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

The company attributes the increase to concern over high gas prices leading people to leave their family cars at home and rent a more fuel-efficient vehicle for holiday travel.
Enterprise rents hybrids, flexible-fuel vehicles that run on E85, along with vehicles with highway fuel efficiency ratings of 28 miles per gallon or more.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Consumers lack confidence as holiday season approaches

Consumer confidence is taking a nosedive just as the holiday shopping season approaches. In a November survey, Ohio-based BIGresearch found 37.3 percent of nearly 8,000 respondents said they were very confident or confident about economic conditions, the lowest level since June 2006. “Gas price increases may be a contributing factor and 80 percent of consumers also said they expect prices to hit $3.25 by Christmas,” said Gary Drenik, BIGresearch's president and chief executive offer. Consumer concerns over the economy and gas prices are prompting them to take several measures to compensate; 41 percent said they are taking fewer shopping trips and shopping closer to home. About one-third of respondents said they are worse off than a year ago and half said there is “too much month at the end of their paycheck.” Respondents also say they intend to stick to a budget (37.1 percent), do more comparative shopping (26.7 percent) and use more coupons (27.8 percent).

Ent closer to Fort Collins?

The board of directors at Ent Federal Credit Union has sent the results of its Thursday night vote on whether to bid for Norlarco Credit Union in Fort Collins to the National Credit Union Administration. The NCUA board is scheduled to meet Dec. 13, when it is expected to approve a buyer. Although the Ent board's vote was not revealed, an action of sending the decision to the NCUA indicates Ent's interest. Ent's senior vice president Jim Moore confirmed the board's action Friday. The NCUA, which insures credit union deposits, took over Norlarco in May amid mounting losses from construction loans in Florida. The agency told Norlarco’s 43,366 members last month it was seeking buyers for the credit union.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Car dealer wants to go high tech

Although plans are still in the works for a new Liberty Toyota store in Powers Auto Park (see article in the Nov. 13 Business section), general manager Ray Reilly envisions a high-tech heaven for customers.

"I'm looking at getting the newest, most advanced technology to improve customer satisfaction and eliminate the time people spend at the dealership," he said, "because I believe the No. 1 issue people have with car dealers is the amount of time it takes to buy or service a car."

Imagine a chip being implanted in each new Toyota that would have the buyer's information on it, so that when the owner returns for service on the vehicle, employees would automatically greet the owner by name, immediately know the reason for the appointment and be familar with the history of the car.

Imagine a plasma screen behind the service counter, displaying information about your car while you're being waited on, such as when it was last serviced, its maintenance schedule, repairs that have been made and other details, so customers could quickly decide what services they wanted and know the estimated costs.

These, Reilly envisions, in addition to what he knows the new dealership will feature: wireless connection so customers can work while they wait, a free car wash every time a customer has a car serviced or buys a car from the dealership, a quick lube lane, a themed children's corral and indoor space large enough so customers can pick up and drop off their cars inside the building, not outside.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Apartment industry update scheduled Thursday

Fred Crowley, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs economist, and Springs commercial real estate broker Doug Carter of Sperry Van Ness, who specializes in multi-family properties, will present a forecast on the Pikes Peak region's apartment market from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, at the Antlers Hilton Hotel, 4 S. Cascade Ave., in downtown Colorado Springs. The event is sponsored by the Apartment Association of Colorado Springs, and Arlun Floor Coverings and Design Center of Colorado Springs. Crowley and Carter will discuss where the market was a year ago, what's changed in the past year and market trends for 2008. The cost is $40 for Apartment Association members and $60 for non-members. More information: 264-9195.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

VillaSport to open soon

VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa gave a hard-hat tour of its facility today to members of the media. Prospective members can take a virtual tour at The 88,000-square-foot facility will be the city’s largest fitness club. It’s expected to open at the end of this month or in early December; an opening date has not been set.

Two-day workshops planned on international trade

The Rocky Mountain World Trade Center Institute will conduct a pair of day-long workshops on "International Business Fundamentals" in late November at the offices of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. The sessions are designed for novice and experienced exporters who want to learn more about international shipments. The workshops cover everything from contract negotiations and export controls to credit considerations and letters of credit. The cost is $175 for the two-day workshop, with a discount available for members of the World Trade Center. The sessions will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 27 and 28 at the Colorado Springs Office of International Affairs, located at the Colorado Springs Chamber offices at 2 N. Cascade Ave., Suite 110, in downtown Colorado Springs. Advance reservations are required and may be made at More information: (719) 575-4314 or

Monday, November 12, 2007

New resource helps small businesses create inclusion

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation and the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce released on Nov. 1 "Small Business Basics: How Small Businesses Can Create Fair Workplaces for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Employees."

The first-of-its-kind resource helps small businesses provide equal benefits, employment protection and an inclusive work environment for all employees.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Top 10 retailers with an environmental focus

Juice Energy Inc., an electricity supplier with a focus on renewable sources, has named the top 10 environmentally conscious retailers.

Patagonia: Recycles used fleece for use in new products; first California-based company to buy electricity from 100 percent renewable energy sources.

Kohl's: Second largest retail purchaser of green power; also building the largest rooftop solar project in U.S. history with installations at 63 of 80 California locations.

Whole Foods: Purchases green power equal to 100 percent of their electricity usage; promotes green living with in-store programs.

prAna: Purchases green power equal to electricity usage of 250 stores, the company's corporate headquarters and the homes of all their full-time employees; is purchasing wind power for 1,000 retail partners in North America.

REI: Purchases green power equal to 100 percent of its annual electricity consumption; committed to reducing CO2 emissions by one-third from last year by the end of 2009.

UPS: Operates the largest alternative fuel and low-emissions fleet in the industry, with 19,647 vehicles; purchases green power and streamlines delivery routes to eliminate 28.5 million miles of driving to date.

Timberland: Recently introduced Green Index tags on products, which rate products based on environmental factors, such as greenhouse gas emissions, the use of solvents and organic content; plans to become carbon neutral by 2010; uses recycled boxes and soy ink packaging on footwear.

Nike: Goal to be carbon neutral by 2011; purchases green power for its world headquarters; designs footwear to reduce waste, eliminate volatile organic compounds and increase use of environmentally friendly materials.

Wal-Mart: Commitment to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent over the next eight years; set goal to purchase 100 percent of energy from renewable sources; set goal to increase fuel efficiency of its fleet by 25 percent over the next three years; is the largest single purchaser of 100 percent organic cotton socks.

Target: Offers more than 500 certified organic produce products; reduces waste through food-donation programs, giving away nearly 7 million pounds of food last year; uses solar electricity in four stores, with systems in the works at 14 additional stores.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A five-diamond luncheon

The Broadmoor held a luncheon today at its Penrose Room to announce that AAA has given the restaurant a five-diamond rating for 2008 — the first five-diamond restaurant in Colorado. Here’s what was served:

  • Fois Gras Ballotine with Caramelized Apple Butter
  • American Kobe Beef Tartar with Harissa Relish
  • Golden Beets Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios
  • Dungeness Crab Bisque
  • Ahi Tuna Carpaccio and Crispy Sweet Bread “Vitello Tonnato”
  • Halibut Slowly Cooked in Black Olive Oil and Roasted Maine Lobster
  • Baby Root Vegetables with Lovage
  • Venezuelan Chocolate Parfait with Cocoa Nougatine
  • Salted Caramel and Pear William Ice Cream

Brownfields conference set for November

Want to learn more about infill development, sustainable designs and other land-use issues? The fifth annual Colorado Brownfields Conference, co-sponsored by the Colorado Brownfields Foundation, will take place Nov. 15 and 16 at the Doubletree Hotel at Stapleton, 3203 Quebec St., in Denver. The event is a 1 1/2-day educational conference about real estate development and land recycling in today’s market. From meth-lab contaminated properties to corporate carbon footprints, the conference is designed to help professionals learn more about redevelopment and responsible land use. Keynote speakers include James Martin, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment; Don Mares, executive director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment; and Greg Weaver, managing director for Catellus, a Denver-based development and construction company. Some of the sessions include: Stapleton Redevelopment, Five Years of Successes; the Role of Land Use in a Sustainable Economy; Meth Labs in the Market; and Emerging Legal Issues Impacting Development. More information and to register: or (303) 962-0940.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Retired Colorado Springs planner sets up shop as consultant

Paul Tice, Colorado Springs' longtime development review manager, has retired from city government, but isn't giving up his involvement in local land use issues. Tice has launched his own consulting firm: Land Planning & Development Services Inc. Among other services, he’ll help businesses get their land-use applications processed by local governments; coordinate the work of engineers, landscape architects and other experts hired by applicants; assist financial institutions that want to know if borrowers have obtained the proper zoning for their projects; and help project applicants obtain zoning and clear other regulatory hurdles. Tice also hopes to consult with short-staffed local governments that might want to hire him to write a land-use ordinance or review project applications. Tice is based in Cripple Creek, but expects to do most of his work in the Springs area.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Construction industry energy summit scheduled in Denver

The second annual Energy Star Summit will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Dec. 3 and 4 at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center, 7800 East Tufts Ave. in Denver. The event brings together home building industry experts to discuss and educate builders, contractors, architects, manufacturers, code officials, remodeling professionals, utilities officials, students and educators about cutting-edge designs and techniques for the construction of high performance, energy efficient homes. In response to homeowners' demand for energy efficiency, homebuilders, remodeling contractors and real estate agents are discovering the need to expand their skills, and the Energy Start Summit provides an opportunity to learn more. This year's event has been expanded to two days, with an optional, pre-conference trip to a "zero energy" house. More information and to register:

Friday, November 2, 2007

Bombay, Mikasa closing

Comings and goings at the Promenade Shops at Briargate:

The Gloss Denim Bar, a denim jeans store, opens the day after Thanksgiving, occupying half of the former Camille La Vie space. The Ann Taylor Loft, M&H Galleries and Bath & Body Works are all expected to open in the first quarter of 2008. And Girls of The Golden West, currently a temporary store, has signed a permanent lease.

Two stores, Bombay and Mikasa, will close. Bombay Co., with about 400 stores in the U.S. and Canada, filed for bankruptcy in September and plans to close its U.S. locations after the holiday season. And ARC International, parent company of Mikasa, has announced it will close Mikasa’s 86 retail factory outlets in North America by year’s end.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Humana, Republic Bank debut health care credit card

Humana Inc. will offer a health care credit card issued by Republic Bank to employer groups customers beginning this month.

The HumanaAdvance SM Visa Card can be used only at hospitals, doctor and dentist offices, drug stores and other locations that sell and provide health-releated products and services. The credit card is meant for out-of-pocket health care-related expenses and is particularly beneficial for employees who have Health Savings Accounts, Humana said in a press release.

The card has an annual fee and a fixed zero percent annual percentage rate on all purchases, which can automatically be paid back over six months through an automatic payroll deduction option. It is available to any employee of an employer offering a consumer-directed health plan, whether the employee has a Humana HMO or PPO, or doesn't participate in the employer's benefit program at all.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Times covers Disaboom

The New York Times ran a story Tuesday on, the new Web site targeting the 50 million Americans with physical or mental disabilities. The story mentioned co-founder Dr. Glen House, though it doesn’t note that he is from Colorado Springs. The Gazette profiled Disaboom earlier this year.

Marketing to people with disabilities may look great on paper, but it’s not easy, the New York Times story said. “We’re just spread out over all kinds of walks of life — from different races to different religions to different income levels and education,” said Eric Lipp, founder of the Open Doors Organization, a nonprofit group that consults with companies about the disability market.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Re/Max founder to speak at chamber's annual dinner

Dave Liniger, founder of Denver-based real estate giant Re/Max, will be the keynote speaker at the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner at 6 p.m. Nov. 8 at The Broadmoor hotel's International Center. Liniger is recognized as an expert in time management, sales training, recruiting and motivation and has been featured in Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fortune, Inc., Success and other leading publications. He's also appeared on television and radio throughout North America. He is a recipient of The Warren Bennis Award for Leadership Excellence from the Global Institute for Leadership Development and has been inducted into the International Franchise Hall of Fame. A commercial pilot, golfer and Arabian horse breeder, Liniger also has been a NASCAR driver and owned Team Re/Max Racing. He's also co-owner of the Sanctuary Golf Course near Sedalia; co-founder of the Wildlife Experience, a Denver-area conservation center; and sponsors Sentinels Of Freedom, a group that provides four-year “life scholarships” to help veterans become self-sufficient. To RSVP for the dinner or for more information, contact the chamber's Jen Furda at 575-4313 or email her at

FedEx Kinko center to celebrate grand opening

FedEx Kinko on Thursday will celebrate the grand opening of its new office and print center at 5854 Barnes Road. A ribbon cutting will take place at noon. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Simtek sweeps in new vp

Simtek Corp. has hired away AMI Semiconductor Inc. executive Andrew Broom as vice president of engineering.
Broom had been AMI's vice president of product development and held several other executive posts at the Idaho-based company. He has more than 20 years of experience in design and product engineering at LSI Logic Corp., Crosspoint Solutions Inc . and OM Associates Inc. He holds an electrical engineering degree from Texas A&M University and began his career at VLSI Technology Inc.
"Andy's experience as a leader of complex global engineering teams, coupled with a diverse range of engineering and management experience, will enable him to contribute immediately to Simtek's growth plans," Simtek President Harold Blomquist said. "At his former companies, Andy participated in developing hundreds of different integrated circuits, including digital and complex analog design and test engineering disciplines."
For more information, go to

Friday, October 26, 2007

Go east, old bank

Pueblo Bank & Trust has moved its downtown Colorado Springs branch to 415 E. Pikes Peak Ave. from 101 N. Cascade Ave.
The independent, locally-owned bank, founded in 1889, operates 11 branches in Boulder, Canon City, Colorado Springs, Denver, Leadville, Pueblo and Salida with assets totaling $360 million.
Robert Kunkleman, a former California real estate developer, partnered with Drew Fletemeyer, a Springs general contractor, and local architect Mark Pelletier, to develop the 42,000-square-foot, four-story office condominium project southeast of Pikes Peak and Wahsatch avenues.
For more information, go to

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Chamber supports USOC retention

Not surprisingly, one of the Pikes Peak region's principal business groups says it supports retaining the U.S. Olympic Committee headquarters in Colorado Springs -- which is a little like skiers expressing their support for snow. A resolution approved recently by the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce board expresses the group's "deep commitment" to the USOC and its presence in the city. The resolution notes the USOC's contribution to local tourism, its estimated $316 million annual economic impact and its enhancement of the state's reputation. The resolution also "encourages the sustained aggressive support of elected officials, community leaders, the media and other Colorado citizens to rally around the effort and solidify the mission to keep the United States Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs." USOC officials have said they're evaluating proposals to move the organization's headquarters elsewhere; the group has been in the Springs since 1978. City officials have said they're working with the USOC to gauge and meets its desire to upgrade its offices, which are part of a 34-acre site near Boulder Street and Union Boulevard that includes an Olympic Training Center.

Rehabilitation center receives Medicare certification

The Center at Centennial, a doctor-owned rehabilitation center that opened in July near the intersection of Fillmore Street and Centennial Boulevard, has received Medicare certification following a state survey that showed zero deficiencies, said Dr. Alexander Senkoff, medical director.

Featuring 80 private patient rooms, the center provides physical, occupational, speech and respiratory therapy for patients needing more time to recover after leaving the hospital following a heart attack, stroke, pneumonia, joint replacement or other conditions.

In addition to Medicare, the center contracts with Kaiser Permanente and other commercial insurance companies.

Commercial vacancies are up, but so are average rents

Colorado Springs commercial vacancy rates climbed during the third quarter of 2007, but rents inched up, too. What gives? Doesn't an increase in supply -- greater amounts of office, industrial and shopping center space available to lease -- and a reduction in demand result in lower prices? Not this time, according to the latest quarterly analysis of the market by Paul Turner of Turner Commercial Research in Colorado Springs. The paradox might be explained by several new projects, which carry higher rents, being added to the larger mix of buildings for lease, Turner said in his report. As a result, average lease rates have increased. According to Turner's latest report, third-quarter office vacancies rose to 8.2 percent from 7.7 percent during the same period last year; industrial vacancies increased to 7.6 percent from 6.6 percent; and shopping center vacancy rates climbed to 7.1 percent from 6.6 percent. Office lease rates averaged $11.39 per square foot in the third quarter of 2007, up from $10.61 per square foot a year ago at the same time; industrial rents averaged $7.18 per square foot, an increase from $6.98 last year; and shopping center rents averaged $13.82 per square foot, up from $13.35.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rocky Mountain Community Land Trust fundraiser on Thursday

The 11th Anniversary Celebration and Fundraiser for the Rocky Mountain Community Land Trust takes place 4:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, at Colorado College's Bemis Hall, northwest of Cache La Poudre Street and Cascade Avenue in Colorado Springs. Classic Cos.' Jack Howard will give a welcome address and Comcast public relations official Sandra Mann will be mistress of ceremonies. The suggested donation is $25; a buffet and refreshments are provided for attendees. Sponsors include Classic, Comcast and Air Academy Federal Credit Union. More information: 447-9300. The non-profit Rocky Mountain Community Land Trust provides affordable housing opportunities for limited-income families in Colorado Springs and El Paso County through home ownership with families and collaborations with other non-profits.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Local Mercedes-Benz dealer supports women's cancer research

Phil Long Mercedes-Benz pf Colorado Springs is one of many dealerships in the nation participating in the manufacturer's contributions to women's cancer research.

Mercedes-Benz has designed a special edition C350 sedan and after 1,000 are sold will donate $1 million to "Saks 5th Avenue Key to the Cure," which supports The Women's Cancer Research Fund. The fund supports research, education and outreach in early diagnosis, treatment and prevention of women cancers.

The local Mercedes-Benz dealer also will donate, in the name of each buyer, an additional $250 for each special edition C350 it sells.

The new sport sedan features a 268-horsepower V-6 engine with advanced technology, including drive-based navigation, digital surround sound and voice control.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Qwest extends DSL broadband

Qwest Communications International Inc. has extended its DSL broadband service to Calhan and Keenesburg, near Fort Lupton. The Denver-based telecommunications giant said it now offers high-speed Internet access to about 83 percent of the homes in its service area at speeds of up to 7 megabits per second.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

UCCS students in investment competition

The stakes are a little higher this year for D.A. Davidson & Co.’s annual Student Investment Program — the competition includes a shot at a paid internship.
Two University of Colorado at Colorado Springs College of Business students already have been nominated and will compete with 40 other nominees from 20 colleges for the internships, said Mark Sikorski, vice president and manager of the local Davidson office.
Rachel Ellis, a senior majoring in finance at UCCS, is hoping the internship could give a kick start to plans for a career in investments or banking. The other nominee declined to be identified.
The pair are among 40 UCCS students who manage a $50,000 portfolio loaned by the company for the competition, won last year by a team from University of Oregon with a 29.4 percent return. The UCCS team finished sixth last year with a 19 percent return on its portfolio.
A panel of Davidson executives will interview three to five finalists for the internship in mid-January, and the two winners will be revealed Feb. 11. The company will pay both interns a $1,290 weekly salary for the 12-week program plus $2,500 in a Davidson investment account.
The Montana-based investment brokerage firm has sponsored the contest for 22 years, and UCCS is participating for the fourth consecutive year. Profits earned on the portfolio in excess of 5 percent are donated to the school, which netted UCCS about $4,000 for student programs.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Twiggy the squirrel

If you missed Twiggy, the water-skiing squirrel, when he last visited Colorado Springs, you will have another chance to see him on Saturday Oct. 20.
Twiggy and the BMX Pro Stunt team, featuring three-time ESPN X-Games gold medal winner Trevor Meyer, will be featured at the grand opening celebration for Integrity Bank’s third branch at 13475 Voyager Parkway, southeast of Voyager Parkway and North Gate Boulevard.
The squirrel, which drew a crowd of more than 1,000 at another Integrity branch opening in 2005, is scheduled to perform at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and noon, while the BMX team performs at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The branch opened on Monday.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

7-Eleven giving away caffeine

Colorado Springs 7-Eleven stores will give away free 12 oz. cups of its new Exclusive Bold coffee on Wednesday, Oct. 17, from 10 a.m. to midnight. 7-Eleven call it the strongest coffee ever sold in its stores. The chain has about 50 stores in the Colorado Springs area and says it sells 1 million cups of coffee each day in its North American stores.

Progressive to plant trees at Memorial Park

Progressive call center employees in Colorado Springs will team up with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant 70 native trees in Memorial Park, 1605 E. Pikes Peak Ave. , on Wednesday, Oct. 17. The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies is the third largest car insurance group in the country and fifth largest in Colorado.

About 30 Progressive call center employees were selected to help plant the trees as a reward for their work. The Colorado Springs tree planting is part of Progressive’s “70 Years, 70 Trees” events in which the company is celebrating its 70th anniversary in its six call center communities. In the next three months, Progressive volunteers will plant 420 large trees in Cleveland, Tampa, Austin, Colorado Springs, Phoenix and Sacramento.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Springs a hotbed for security-cleared jobs

Colorado Springs ranks as the nation’s 14th best location for those with security clearance to find a job, according to a recent study by
The Des Moines, Iowa-based company cited the large collection of military bases as well as defense and aerospace contractors operating in the Springs area and creating a “positive employment picture, particularly for security-cleared personnel.”
Springs-area defense workers regularly report wages well above the national average for security-cleared candidates, the site said. Those salaries averaged $69,834 in the site’s March survey.
McLean-Arlington, Va., captured the top ranking in the site’s study, joining nine other Virginia cities among the top 20 locations. Aurora> was the only other Colorado city listed, ranking 12th. is owned by New York-based Dice Holdings Inc., which provides online recruiting, job fairs and career development services to professionals in technology, engineering, investment banking, accounting and finance.
For more information, go to

Friday, October 12, 2007

Springs falls in Best Peforming Cities rank

Colorado Springs fell to the middle of the pack in annual rankings by a California think tank of the ability of cities to create and sustain jobs.
The Springs ranked 96th in the rankings released last month, down from 71st in 2005, the last year the rankings had been produced by the Milken Institute, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based nonprofit economic think tank created by financier Michael Milken.
The city has ranked as high as 10th in 2000, but has declined every year but 2005 in rankings of the nation’s 200 largest metropolitan areas. That’s mostly because city’s weak job growth during the past five years, which included declines in 2002 and 2003. “This is not a surprise as the data looks back from one to six years and includes our recession years where our tech sector was hit hard,” said Mike Kazmierski, president of the Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp., which helps attract industry to the city. Three Florida cities — Ocala, Orlando and Naples, ranked among the top six in the institute’s latest ranking, which was sponsored by Greenstreet Real Estate Partners. The rankings this year reflect the year the data is released; in past years they reflected the year the data was collected. Among other Colorado cities, Greeley ranked 29th, up from 31st in 2005; Fort Collins ranked 75th, down from 46th; Boulder ranked 93rd, down from 92nd; Denver ranked 106th, down from 105th. Among 179 smaller metro areas, Grand Junction ranked 18th, up from 37th, and Pueblo ranked 130th, unchanged. For more information, go to

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tourism conference - Thursday update

Lisa Amend, communications manager for Experience Colorado Springs at Pikes Peak, e-mailed this update on developments today at the Governor's 2007 Colorado Tourism Conference in Grand Junction:

"We had a great general session this morning with updates from the CTO (Colorado Tourism Office) and MMG on their plans for leveraging our marketing dollars in 2008. The goals are to increase visitor spending by 9.5%, increase overall visitation by 4%, and attract 30 million visitors by the end of 2008. Strategies to achieve these goals include:

  • Evolution of "Let's Talk Colorado" ad campaign
  • Addition of all-season messaging
  • Progression of segmented approach to focus on retention strategies
  • Increased use of emerging technologies (mapping, social media)
  • Advancement of partnership outreach
  • Continuing to integrate online and offline campaigns with public relations efforts

The T-shirt program implemented by MMG ( advertises free T-shirts for those who stop by Colorado Welcome Centers) has done exceptionally well. Over 15,000 people signed up for the T-shirts online and more than 12,500 have actually been picked up. People who visit the Welcome Centers stay in the region longer and they spend more money. A new Welcome Center will open in Alamosa in the summer of 2008.

International marketing efforts continue to focus on UK, Germany, France and Mexico, but the state is now also targeting Japan, Canada and Benelux.

The campaigns this year have performed very well. web sessions are up 148% and State Visitor Guide requests are up 216%.

Winners of the 2007 Governor's Tourism Industry Awards:

  • Outstanding Tourism Volunteer Award: Les Turner (posthumous), Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau
  • Outstanding Community Initiative Award: City of Manitou Springs Economic Development Council
  • Chairman's Award: Senator Jim Isgar
  • Outstanding Individual Contribution Award: Jeff Potter, CEO of Exclusive Resorts

Tourism conference - Wednesday update

Lisa Amend, communications manager for Experience Colorado Springs at Pikes Peak Convention and Visitors Bureau, is attending this week's Governor's 2007 Colorado Tourism Conference, which started Wednesday. Here's what she had to say via an e-mail about Day One:

"Here we are at the 2007 Governor's Conference in Grand Junction. The Experience Colorado Springs team rose bright and early at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning and were on the road by 5:45. It was a beautiful drive and fall colors are in full splendor out here!

The opening luncheon was well-attended by representatives from all over the state. There is even someone here from the Alligator Farm. He's carrying around a darling little baby tortise who has been a big hit with everyone so far.

Our speaker Wednesday was Dennis Snow, who used to work for the Walt Disney World Co. He was very dynamic and passed on lots of great tips about how to make a customer's experience unforgettable. He had some great methodology, like asking the crowd what they remember about the Disney World theme park. It was interesting to me that nobody who spoke up mentioned any of the rides. Instead, they said things like "The park was so clean!" or "Everyone is so friendly there!" Snow then mentioned that for the Tower of Terror ride alone, Disney spent over $100 million dollars... but it means nothing if the customer does not have a good experience in the park. He advised us all to take the time to experience a visit to our area through the lens of the customer (visitor) and to ensure that we were not doing things for our own convenience, but for theirs. He also condones empowering staff since "The best ideas can come from within. They can cost nothing and change everything!" He was a wonderful speaker.

The ECS team separated for the various breakout sessions Wednesday afternoon. I attended "The Trails of Colorado" since I've been working with Dan Cleveland from the Trails and Open Space Coalition to integrate trail maps into our new website when it launches next year. I'm also part of the Watershed Access Advisory Group (through Springs Utilities) to help drive the public process to form a policy that will accommodate recreational use of trails on the south slope of Pikes Peak while protecting the water supply. So Wednesday's trails session gave me some good background information on what types of visitors other trail systems are attracting and how to incorporate these visitors into our marketing plan."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Lovebyrd flies to Disaboom

Disaboom, the new online community for people with disabilities, announced today it had acquired, an online dating and social networking service for disabled singles. It will rebrand under the Disaboom umbrella and offer it as a free service within The deal involved part cash, part stock in Disaboom; the price was not disclosed. Disaboom was founded by two Colorado Springs men, J.W. Roth and Dr. Glen House.

Veteran commercial brokers switch addresses

Michael Palmer and Peter Scoville, two longtime commercial brokers at NAI Highland Commercial Group LLC in Colorado Springs, have jumped to an expanded local office of Cushman & Wakefield of Colorado Inc. Palmer (top right), who had been with NAI Highland since March 1996, has closed more than $1 billion in real estate transactions including leasing assignments, land sales, office and research and development sales, according to a Cushman & Wakefield statement. He's past president of the Colorado chapter of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors and is a graduate of the University of Arizona. Scoville (bottom right), who had joined NAI Highland in spring 2000, has represented some of the region’s top landlords and tenants and has advised major corporate clients. Scoville currently serves as president of the Board of Realtors Commercial Industrial Society and is a graduate of The Colorado College. Cushman & Wakefield opened its Colorado Springs office in 1997 and focused primarily on property management. The office began offering brokerage services last year and currently has three senior brokerage professionals and plans to increase that number.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Chuck Asay unplugged at the HBA

Former Gazette political cartoonist Chuck Asay will discuss the building industry and politics during a luncheon to benefit the political action committee of the Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs. Asay will speak at noon, Thursday, Nov. 1 at Cheyenne Mountain Resort, 3225 Broadmoor Valley Road, on Colorado Springs' southwest side. Attendees should RSVP to 592-1800, ext., 21. The cost is $50 per person. More information: 592-1800 or

Heart friendly parking

Take a few extra steps, help your heart. The Outlets of Colorado inaugurated “heart friendly parking” today at its three sites, Outlets at Castle Rock, Outlets at Loveland and Outlets at Silverthorne. Fifty-three parking spots at each outlet have been designated as heart friendly spaces. They encourage customers to park farther away and thus walk farther to the stores. Walking just 30 minutes a day has heart-health benefits, the American Heart Association says.

Tourism conference this week

The Governor’s 2007 Colorado Tourism Conference opens Wednesday in Grand Junction. Among those attending: a group of seven from Experience Colorado Springs at Pikes Peak Convention and Visitors Bureau, headed by president and CEO Terry Sullivan. The annual event will showcase a diverse mix of travel industry experts. The Colorado Tourism Office will also unveil its 2008 marketing and advertising strategy. And at the annual Governor's Awards luncheon, recognition will be given to people and groups throughout the state that help grow and strengthen the Colorado brand. The event will close with a presentation on “Survival - The Personality of Leadership,” featuring Aron Ralston, the climber who spent five days pinned beneath a boulder in a Utah canyon before performing a lifesaving self-amputation. For more details, go to

Monday, October 8, 2007

Rich Hand used to being ignored

Rich Hand is used to being ignored — the Colorado Springs resident ran for Congress last year and finished third — with 41 votes, or 0.04 percent of the vote.
Hand, executive director of membership for HDI, a Springs-based trade group for more than 7,000 information technology support professionals, writes about that experience and others in his autobiography, “My Life: Ignored! Life is Too Short to Ignore Yours.”
An anonymous response to his newsletter prompted Hand to write the 200-page book, published by HDI last month, who asked him why he published the 250-subscriber newsletter, put out three CDs with his band and authors a blog when “everyone ignores you.”
He wrote the book because “we have to do the things that are important to us even if they are ignored. The people important to us are still watching,” Hand said. “All of us are celebrities to our own core group of people. I want to motivate others into action in their own lives.”
Hand said “there was some real major ignoring going on in the Congressional race, but I believe I still made a difference with the people I engaged.” He said he plans to run again next year as an unaffiliated candidate and petition onto the ballot.
For more on Hand and his book, go to

Friday, October 5, 2007

EDC celebrates more than technology

If you attend both the Celebrate Technology and the Excellence in Local Industry awards receptions, you will have one fewer event to attend this year.
That’s because both sets of awards will be presented at a single event this year, now set for Nov. 14 at The Broadmoor hotel. Both awards programs were put on by the Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp., which revived the technology awards in 2004.
“We saw lots of synergies between the two events, enough to combine the two,” said Kara Roberts, EDC’s vice president of local industry. “Any time you put on a first-class event like these, there is a considerable amount of work involved. This streamlines those efforts.”
The combined awards will be streamlined, eliminating Celebrate Technology awards for venture capital funds and narrowing the criteria to local entrants.
The technology awards will honor innovation and entrepreneurs, while the local industry awards honor companies who have stayed and become good corporate citizens in the Springs and those who have helped to improve the local business climate.
The combined awards ceremony also will allow all funds raised by sponsorships for Celebrate Technology to go for and expand $1,500 scholarships to students attending the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs College of Engineering and Applied Science, Roberts said.
For more information, go to

Group releases nonprofit compensation survey for Colorado

Young Life's president and chief executive is one of the highest paid nonprofit directors in Colorado, according to a new state survey by

Based on data from 990 tax forms, Young Life's CEO is compensated $258,638.

Other CEOs in the top five: National Endowment for Financial Education, $1.1 million; National Employment Law Institute, $452,114; Allosource, $353,038; and Philanthropy for Active Engagement, $245,975.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Architects to gather for design awards Nov. 30

A design awards gala for the American Institute of Architects' southern Colorado chapter will take place Nov. 30 at Colorado College's Bemis Hall, 920 N. Cascade Ave., in Colorado Springs. The event will include presentation of the AIA Colorado South 2007 design award winners by Patrick Gallagher of Washington D.C.-based Gallagher & Associates. Springs architect Morey Bean, 2007 president of AIA Colorado South, will emcee the evening, which will include dinner and live entertainment. More information: or Robin Hickey at 303.446.2266, ext. 21.

PENRAD Imaging gets new high-tech equipment

A faster CT scanner with two X-ray sources and two detectors has arrived at PENRAD Imaging.

It's the first CT 128 in Colorado, according to PENRAD officials, and it can scan patients in a few seconds, accommodat patients up to 485 pounds, delivers 50 percent less radiation and has twice the speed and resolution of a single-source scanner.

The equipment can be used for scanning the heart for cardiac disease and can be used on nearly any patient, including those with shortness of breath and irregular heart beat. It also requires no pre-medication.

It also is useful for neuro studies, pediatric patients, small bowel fluoroscopy and other applications.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

American Family offers free safety program for teen drivers

American Family Insurance's Teen Safe Driver Program is now available in eight states, including Colorado.

Produced in conjunction with DriveCam Inc., the year-long program helps young drivers learn the ropes and is free to American Family auto insurance customers who have a teen driver. Register at

Results from a pilot program in Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin show the program reduces risky driving behavior by 70 percent or more, said Jack Salzwedel, American Family's president and chief operating officer.

An in-vehicle video and audio camera captures risky driving behavior, such as swerving, hard braking, sudden acceleration and collisions. The unit wirelessly sends the images and sounds to an analysis center, where analysts review the problem, add coaching comments and assign a risk score. Parents and teens receive weekly status reports via e-mail and can view the video clips.

Colorado Housing and Finance Authority offers homebuyer education

Homebuyers, take note. The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) now offers the option of receiving education online at The online homebuyer education program is in addition to an online money management program ( for existing homeowners. In addition to the online program, the authority will continue to offer face-to-face homebuyer education classes throughout Colorado via its non-profit partners. For more than 30 years, CHFA has provided financing to qualified homebuyers statewide. Most CHFA customers are first-time buyers of low- to moderate incomes, and many are inexperienced in the home-buying process. “We believe that homebuyer education helps people make good decisions about buying a home,” said CHFA’s Home Finance Director Karen Harkin. “A well-informed consumer asks good questions and makes good decisions. Understanding the process empowers people to make smart financial decisions about what kind of loan makes sense for them and helps prevent some of the problems that we believe has exacerbated the current foreclosure situation. Sometimes they even make the decision that they are not ready yet for home ownership." The homebuyer education curriculum includes topics such as finding a real estate agent and reputable lender, how to live on a budget and home maintenance. CHFA offers homebuyer education classes in English and Spanish and will make arrangements for classes in other languages. Homebuyer education and money management classes are free of charge and are available even for buyers who don't obtain a CHFA loan. More information:, (303) 297-7376 or (800) 877-CHFA, ext. 376.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Colorado Kite & Ski moves

Colorado Kite & Ski has a new home. It moved recently from 2845 Ore Mill Drive to 2820 W. Colorado Ave. “I had zero walk-by traffic over there,” owner Stan Wolf said of the previous location. Colorado Kite & Ski started downtown; it moved to Ore Mill Drive in 2004.

Scrapbooking inn for sale

The Keepsake Inn, profiled in The Gazette in May, is for sale. But that doesn’t mean the owners have given up on the idea of an inn targeted toward scrapbookers.

“Putting the inn up for sale is a contingency plan for us,” one of the owners, Mary Ruden, said in an e-mail. The house in Manitou Springs was on the market for about a year before they bought it last fall and transformed it into the Keepsake Inn. “And we figure that it would take that long again to sell as a single-family residence and perhaps that long to sell as a business. In the meantime, we hope the things we continue to do to market the inn are hugely successful and that when we get an offer, we are no longer interested.”

Monday, October 1, 2007

Governor's mansion earns kudos for solar power

The Boettcher Mansion, home to Gov. Bill Ritter, in September made the “top 10” list of “most solar power-friendly governor’s mansions in the nation by

Built in 1908, the Boettcher Mansion near downtown Denver had two solar panel systems installed this year by Colorado companies.

Colorado ranked No. 6 on the top 10 list. Governor’s mansions in New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Arizona and Florida topped Colorado’s standing. Rounding out the remainder of the list were New Jersey, California, Hawaii and Nevada.

The new Web site, which offers tips for reducing greenhouse emissions, lowering energy costs and adopting clean energy solutions, also named the top 10 most wind-power friendly governor’s mansions.

Overhaul for BBB

The Better Business Bureau is changing the way it approves businesses by moving from a pass/fail system to a letter-grade system from A-F, the agency announced today. This would help consumers make a more educated decision on who to do business with while making businesses shape up more to earn a higher grade. As usual, input from consumers is a part of this grade so if you have a problem with a business be sure to report it to the BBB ( Also, BBB members will now be called "accredited" instead of members as part of the BBB's effort to look deeper into the operations, ethics and credibility of businesses. The letter grades are expected by the first of the year.

Today's news comes at the start of BBB Week, a proclamation made by Mayor Lionel Rivera.

SoleMates coming to an end

SoleMates, 125 1/2 N. Tejon St., is closing at the end of October. Frank and Ruby Maestas, who bought the downtown business a year ago, are closing for family reasons.

“My daughter has moved away, and she has my only two grandchildren,” Ruby Maestas said. She wants the freedom to travel and visit her grandchildren when she wants — and owning a business does not allow her that freedom, she said.

“We just decided that family comes first.”

Friday, September 28, 2007

Rocky Mountain Health Plan recognized for business excellence

Rocky Mountain Health Plans was named a winner in the 2007 ColoradoBiz Top Company Awards, a competitive statewide business excellence award now in its 20th year.

Winners in 10 industry categories were announced Sept. 12 at an awards lunch at the Denver Center for Performing Arts. A panel of Colorado business leaders judged entrants based on financial performance, community involvement, marketing and product innovation.
The Western Slope-headquartered Rocky Mountain won in the health care category. The nonprofit health plan was founded in 1974 and has 175,000 enrollees.