Friday, March 23, 2007

Camping World SuperCenter opens

Camping World SuperCenter & RV Sales recently opened in Fountain. The store, at 6830 Bandley Drive, is the first to combine Camping World’s traditional retail supplies and accessories line with RV sales. The Fountain store brings the number of Camping World stores to 66, with plans to grow the business to 100 by 2008.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

International team busy in Washington

About 70 local business and community leaders are in the nation’s capital for the annual Washington Legislative Action Mission, organized by the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. Wednesday was the last full day of activities. The mission is divided into five teams: business, defense, homeland security, international affairs and education/health care. George Boutin, executive director of the Colorado Springs Office of International Affairs, e-mailed this report on the activities this week of the international affairs team:

Our group visited the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where we were greeted by Tarik Al Lagany, the embassy's information officer. We were surprised to hear him speaking perfect English with a very New York — almost Brooklyn — accent. Tarik was born in Saudi Arabia and is still a Saudi citizen, but he grew up on Manhattan's Lower East Side. We questioned him about everything from energy policy to role of women in Saudi society. Saudi Arabia has plenty of oil, but very little water, so the country has been forced to develop water conservation techniques, some of which might be useful in Colorado. And even though it won't run out of oil any time soon, it is investing heavily in alternative energy technology, especially solar energy.

The team also met with trade officials at the Embassy of India who were particularly interested in programs available in Colorado Springs for educating students in the sciences and engineering. Tuesday evening the ambassador of India, Ronan Sen, and Mrs. Sen hosted a dinner for the entire Legislative Mission at their residence. In his welcoming remarks, the ambassador noted that the relationship between the U.S. and India has improved in recent years and bilateral trade is growing rapidly. We invited the ambassador to visit Colorado Springs and to speak to the Colorado Springs World Affairs Council.

During the conference, the international team also had the opportunity to hold meetings at the Department of Commerce, specifically the International Trade Administration, where we met with officials of the Trade Information Center. We discussed opportunities for trade with Canada, which is the largest foreign trade partner for the United States and for Colorado, not to mention our largest foreign source of energy. The Commerce officials also discussed the North American Free Trade Agreement and its effects on trade with both Canada and Mexico.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Thoughts about Intel in Colorado Springs and chip-making in Colorado

Russ Arensman, The Gazette's former high-tech reporter and a freelance writer living in Glenwood Springs, weighs in on developments involving Intel Corp. in Colorado Springs, the company's plan to build a chip-making plant in China and Colorado's future as a semiconductor hub. Arensman's thoughts on Intel and other subjects are posted as part of his recently-launched Colorado Tech Times, which can be found at Arensman was a technology writer at the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph -- now The Gazette -- from 1987 to 1990. He currently specializes in writing about business and technology. His articles have appeared in Electronic Business, MIT's Technology Review, Corporate Board Member, The Daily Deal, Global Finance, Institutional Investor and other magazines and newspapers. Contact him at

Defense team at work in Washington

About 70 local business and community leaders are in the nation’s capital this week for the annual Washington Legislative Action Mission, organized by the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. The mission is divided into five teams: business, defense, homeland security, international affairs and education/health care. Here is a report e-mailed from Brian Binn, president of the chamber’s military affairs division, on the defense team’s activities Tuesday:

The defense team traveled to the Pentagon for informative briefings on the America Supports You program, the “Why We Serve” Department of Defense speakers program, and the Army’s top priority program for the future combat force - Future Combat Systems Brigade Combat Team.

The America Supports You program is a Department of Defense program recognizing citizens’ support for our military and communicating that support to members of our Armed Forces and their families, at home and abroad. It’s a one-stop location for our military and their families to find hundreds of support organizations eager to help our heroes when they need it most. There are over 300 home front groups, representing communities from coast to coast, which have provided over $4.5M in direct financial support, over 9,000 free airline tickets to hospitalized service members and their families, and many other types of support services.

The DoD speakers program, “Why We Serve,” helps tell the story of why our men and women in uniform have chosen to serve. These volunteers from all our services spend about six months traveling to a wide demographic of audiences.

The Future Combat Systems Brigade Combat Team now being developed and tested under the auspices of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command will revolutionize the Army’s combat systems and force capabilities for the future. Multiple mission vehicle systems, designed around a common chassis, with hemispherical automatic defensive capabilities, a centralized network information center, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) systems of varying size and capability, stand-alone sensors and other components are the basics of the FCS BCT.

In the afternoon, representatives from the Colorado Springs SCORE office, Small Business Development Center and the Chamber of Commerce Business and Military Affairs Divisions visited the Defense Logistics Agency at Fort Belvoir to discuss the start-up of a Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) in El Paso County. Such a center, funded through a DLA grant and community matching funds, would provide a valuable resource to small and large businesses requiring assistance understanding the complexities and requirements to compete and do business with federal, state or local governments. In many cases this would relate to the growing and diverse number of companies that rely on defense contracts within our region. Our goal is to apply to establish a regional PTAC in the spring of 2008. This year’s efforts will be to prepare the proposal and seek matching funding for the grant.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Greetings from Washington

About 70 local business and community leaders are in Washington, D.C., this week for the annual Washington Legislative Action Mission, organized by the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. Here are two reports e-mailed from participants on Monday’s happenings:

From Steve Recca, director of the Center for Homeland Security at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs:

The chamber has arranged a terrific opportunity to meet and engage with the Colorado congressional delegation and relevant agencies in the Washington area. So far, so good – just keep the coffee comin’!

One of the afternoon presenters was Dave Sprenger from CU’s Office of Government Affairs. Dave briefed our group on CU’s federal budget agenda and legislative priorities. His office has been on the front lines of several successful efforts to fund important education and research initiatives at CU (and UCCS, in particular) that truly have had – and continue to have – national impact. In the past four years, roughly $15 million dollars of directed funding has gone to UCCS for long-term programs in homeland defense and K-12 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

From Brian Binn, president of the chamber’s military affairs division:

Colorado Sen. Wayne Allard addressed the chamber’s contingent of community leaders, reaffirming his support for legislation proposing a National Veteran’s Cemetery in the Pikes Peak region. Although there are several hurdles that still need to be overcome at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, the support of our Colorado legislators is most welcome. Sen. Allard also stated his continued support for the growth and funding of the missile defense mission and its importance to our region.

Initial group of home builders named for Banning Lewis Ranch

Nobody will ever accuse owners of the sprawling Banning Lewis Ranch of making hasty decisions. The owners recently named a trio of builders to construct homes on the property that covers more than 21,000 acres and makes up most of Colorado Springs' east side; the announcement comes 5 1/2 years after the property was purchased. Classic Cos., John Laing Homes and Capital Pacific Holdings will tackle the property's initial residential construction, according to the announcement. Classic is headquartered in Colorado Springs and one of the area's largest home builders and real estate development companies. John Laing, based in California, entered the Springs' market several years ago and now is one of the area's more prolific builders. Capital Pacific Holdings, based in southern California, paid $55 million to buy the ranch in September 2001; the ownership later was restructured and an entity called Banning Lewis Ranch Management Co. is now listed as the property's developer. About 330 acres on the ranch's far northwest corner, to be called Northtree, will be the initial area to be developed. Builders are expected to start model home construction this spring, with an opening scheduled later in 2007; Northree will have slightly more than 1,000 homes and prices will start in the low $200,000s. Colorado Springs city officials annexed the Banning Lewis Ranch in 1988 and original plans envisioned 75,000 homes over 30 to 50 years. The area is bounded roughly by Woodmen Road on the north, Fontaine Boulevard on the south, Meridian Road on the east and Marksheffel Road on the west.

Sweepstakes to see The Apprentice

To celebrate its appearance on NBC's The Apprentice: Los Angeles, KB Home is holding a contest for a chance to win a trip to Los Angeles to attend the live finale of the show.

The sweepstakes is open to anyone who visits any participating KB Home community from now through March 25, including 13 communities in the Colorado Springs and Denver areas.

Official entry forms must be filled out to enter. The winner receives a $4,000 travel voucher for the trip to Los Angeles, two VIP tickets to the show and $500 spending money.

The Sunday, March 18 episode of The Apprentice features KB Home model homes in North Los Angeles at Plum Canyon. The episode shows contestants competing to create the best Web presentation promoting Dial Corp.'s Soft Scrub Deep Clean Foaming Cleanser. The kitchen, bathrooms and countertops in the model homes were used to show how the product cleans.

For more information, see

TSA urges smart flying during Spring Break

In anticipation of Spring Break crowds at airports, the Transportation Security Administration is urging travelers to pack smart and remember the rule for carry-on liquids and gels.

Airline passengers are allowed to carry through the security checkpoint small amounts of liquids, gels and aerosols in containers of 3 ounces or less that fit in 1-quart-size clear pastic zip top baggies.

Each passenger may bring one plastic zip top baggie, which will be X-rayed. Larger-size liquid and gel items, including beverages, may be brought on board if they are purchased beyond the checkpoint in the boarding area.

Remember not to pack prohibited items, including large scissors, tools, lighters, knives and other weapons.

Travelers also should be prepared to remove their shoes and take laptops out of their cases.

Lastly, be sure to arrive at the airport in plenty of time.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Restaurant items being auctioned

Fifty-six tables with tile-inlay tops, 30 padded booths, six bar stools and a large gumball machine are among items being sold in a public tax auction Tuesday (March 20) at the closed 3 Margaritas Mexican restaurant at 6385 N. Academy Blvd. The auction is by order of the Colorado Department of Revenue to satisfy a lien by the department. The auction begins at 10 a.m. with a preview and registration at 9 a.m. For more information, go to