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.