Friday, March 9, 2007

Local housing prices climbed in the 4th quarter

The National Association of Realtors recently confirmed what many local real estate agents already knew: home prices in the Colorado Springs area continued to rise last year, despite a slowdown in sales and an increase in homes on the market. The median price for Springs-area homes that were sold in the fourth quarter of 2006 rose to $219,400, a 4.9 percent gain over $209, 200 in the fourth quarter of the previous year, according to an NAR report on prices in 149 metropolitan areas.

By comparison, Denver-Aurora saw a 0.8 percent decline in the fourth quarter of 2006 over the same period a year earlier, and Boulder had a 3.9 percent increase. Nationwide, 71 metro areas had price gains, including 14 with double-digit increases; 73 areas had price declines; and five were unchanged.

Coast IRB to host job fair

California-headquartered Coast Independent Review Board will host a job fair 9 a..m. to 2 p.m. March 22-23 at The Broadmoor hotel.

The company, whch monitors the safety of drugs and medical devices, is opening an operations center in Colorado Springs in May. Initially, Coast will hire 20 to 25 employees, from clerical and customer service reps to managers in operations, finance, regulatory compliance and customer service.

Coast plans to grow its local employee base to 50 by year's end and to 180 in the next five years.

For more information, see or call 1-949-900-3900.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Biz staff changes

Last week's layoffs at The Gazette resulted in two business writers leaving the staff: Jim Bainbridge and Sarah Colwell. Next week, a new face will join the staff - though he's no stranger to Colorado Springs. Bill Radford has been an award-winning journalist for nearly 30 years, working at newspapers including the Las Vegas Review-Journal, El Paso Herald-Post and Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He has been at The Gazette for 18 years, starting on the copy desk. Before joining the business staff, he wrote for several years for the Life section. You may not recognize him without his Spider-Man mask; he's also the Comics Fan columnist. You can contact him at

Burlington grand openings

Colorado Springs’ two new Burlington Coat Factory stores hold their grand-opening celebrations Friday, but alert shoppers may have noticed they are already open.The Burlington Coat Factory at the Citadel Crossing shopping center has moved to The Citadel mall and opened for business Monday. A Burlington Coat Factory at Chapel Hills Mall opened last Friday. Both stores occupy former Mervyn’s locations.

Panda ethanol refinery opening in Colorado

Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings Inc., an Illinois company that produces, markets and supplies ethanol, has signed a marketing agreement with Panda Ethanol, Inc. to build two new ethanol refineries, including one in Yuma, Colo. It will be fueled by natural gas.

Lurgi Inc. will build the plant, and construction will take 18 months. When finished, the Yuma plant will annually refine about 38 million bushels of feedstock-grade corn into 105 million gallons of denatured ethanol.
That will displace about 2.5 million barrels of imported oil a year.

The other new ethanol refinery will be in Haskell County, Kansas. Aventine will market the ethanol produced at the plants.

Panda Ethanol is headquartered in Dallas and is developing six 100 million-gallon-per-year ethanol projects in Colorado, Kansas, Texas and Nebraska.

Four of the plants, including the one in Haskell County, will generate the steam used in the ethanol manufacturing process by gasifying 1 billion pounds of cattle manure each year.

Panda also is building its first biomass refinery in Hereford, Texas.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

AAA Colorado membership surpasses half a million

As it turns 85 years old this year, AAA Colorado's membership also has reached a milestone by passing the 500,000 mark. Nationwide, AAA has more than 50 million members.

AAA Colorado began in 1922, 20 years after nine auto clubs met in Chicago to form the American Automobile Association. There are 14 district offices in Colorado, including an office in Colorado Springs.

Last year, AAA Colorado responded to 420,988 calls for roadside assistance. The organization also promotes travel and is an advocate for traffic safety and mobility issues.

For more information, see

Colorado College a top value

Colorado College is the 15th best value among private liberal arts colleges across the country, according to the April issue of Kiplinger's magazine. The college's annual total cost for the 2006-07 academic year that includes tuition, fees, room and board and estimated book expenses totals $41,612. Of those receiving financial aid, 86 percent came through grants and scholarships, which is one of the highest in the country, the magazine reported. After receiving need-based aid, students are left with an annual cost of $17,895, and after non-need-based aid $26,468, both the second-lowest among the top 15.

Of those that apply to CC, 38 percent are accepted, and of those 84 percent scored 600 or higher on the verbal and math components of the SAT, or 24 or higher on the ACT. CC's weakness in the ranking was its graduation rate - 77 percent of incoming freshmen graduated in four years and 82 percent in five years, which was the lowest grad rate among the colleges in the top 15.

You might want to skip dinar

The Council of Better Business Bureaus is warning consumers across the United States and Canada to be wary of purchasing foreign currency investments, particularly investment deals for the Iraqi Dinar, that country’s monetary unit. The Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois has seen a recent spike in consumer complaints focused on Dinar investment through that area's United World Exchange. The BBB has received complaints from
from consumers in 33 states and eight countries, with many coming from military personnel claiming fraud over Dinar investment deals. The Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado reports it is aware of one victim in this area. United World Exchange, doing business as "US Dinar," has been selling Iraqi Dinars through their Web site ( on the premise that buying the Dinars could be a great investment if the value of the Iraqi money were to increase. Consumers report that the company is not providing consumers with what they have purchased, nor is it giving the potential investors their money back.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Last chance for tax refund

More than 30,000 Colorado residents have yet to claim their tax refund from the IRS for the 2003 tax year. Many of these refunds are not claimed because the individuals did not file a return thinking they did not need to, when in fact they had taxes taken out of their paychecks that they are entitled to get back. Unclaimed refunds totaling more than $2.2 billion nationally are awaiting about 1.8 million people who failed to file a federal income tax return for 2003, the IRS announced today. However, in order to collect the money, a return for 2003 must be filed with an IRS office no later than Tuesday, April 17, 2007. If those Colorado folks don't claim it, they lose the right to it, which means a loss of more than $36 million coming into the state. Contact the IRS at for help.

Another take on electronic medical records

Several Gazette readers wanted to talk about the electronic medical records articles that published Monday, March 5 in the Business section.

Claudia J. Gordon, president of the Physicians' Choice Transcription Service Inc. in Colorado Springs, said technology is not eliminating the job of medical transcriptionist. Rather, the job is evolving to that of editor.

"To expect physicians to type narratives for clinical notes, history and physicals, procedure notes, and discharge summaries is not only unrealistic it is counter-productive. Many physicians consider even the time spent in dictation of these notes as a 'necessary evil,' and for them to sit at a keyboard and enter the data is a poor use of their time.

"Since this kind of information still needs to be input by someone, we are brought to consider the subject of speaking into a computer and having technology generate documents containing those words (called 'voice recognition').

"The bottom line with this technology is:
1. The technology is still not where it needs to be in order to be accurate and cost-effective for the provider;
2. The technology will never be able to compensate for unclear speech and other extraneous sounds recorded in the dictation process.

"For someone to say that electornic medical records is cost effective because it replaces transcriptionists shows a lack of understanding of how the spoken word accurately becomes part of the patient record."

Speaking of speakers, part 2

Jerry Greenfield will discuss how he and Ben Cohen built Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Holdings Inc. into a successful company that remains true to its socially responsible roots March 28 at Colorado College.
The speech at 7:30 p.m. in Shove Memorial Chapel, 1010 N. Nevada Ave., is free and open to the public and sponsored by the Innovative Minds Lecture Series fund. Greenfield will talk about “Social Responsibility, Radical Business Philosophy and Free Ice Cream.”
The series is designed to bring prominent innovators to the college.
Last week's speech by Steve Baker, author of "Pushing Water Uphill With a Rake, Memoirs of a Successful Failure," was canceled due to last Wednesday's snowstorm. No information is available on whether the address will be rescheduled. Check for updates.

Monday, March 5, 2007

New way to post tourism events

There is a new, streamlined process to allow those in the tourism industry the opportunity to post events on the, which is visited by more than 5.5 million visitors a year, according to the Colorado Tourism Office. No more phone calls, messages or phone tag. Simply go to , enter your contact and event information and click the “submit” button. Within 48 hours, your event will be posted on for visitors to see.

Click here to view the Colorado Tourism Office event listing policy, which outlines the parameters that event listings must meet in order to be included on

Rancho Liborio projects June 1 opening

Rancho Liborio, a grocery store chain that caters to Hispanic customers, has signed a lease and filed all its paperwork with the city to become the anchor tenant at the Spring Creek Shopping Center at the intersection of Circle Drive and Monterey Road. "We are little behind our original timetable," said Anthony Trujillo of MCDS Corp. in Denver, who is representing California-based Rancho Liborio, "but a June 1 opening is fairly realistic. The freezers, coolers and shelving are being shipped out to us now."