BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER On Feb. 14, the economic development and health and wellness groups of th...
SUBMITTED BY GAYLORD ROCKIES RESORT Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc., a lodging real estate investment trust...
Keener Pledges to Take Chamber and its Members to “New Level of Service” The South Metro Denver Chamber (SMDC)...
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER On Jan. 23 representatives of Arapahoe County held a public workshop at t...
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER Nearly 500 people attended South Metro Denver Chamber’s annual economic f...
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER The state budget has tripled in the past two decades. It was $9.265 billi...
Aspen Academy Alumni Support Mission-Driven Nonprofits Locally and Worldwide When you walk in the front door o...
Tina Lee and Ben Nguyen have opened the doors of their new Luxx luxury nails bar on Arapahoe at Parker 6616 S....
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER On Dec.5, U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, current chair of the United States Sena...
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER The Denver South Economic Development Partnership (DSEDP) held its holida...
BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
On Feb. 14, the economic development and health and wellness groups of the South Metro Denver Chamber presented an important program on the economics of health care in Colorado. In addition to representatives of two of the state’s large hospital systems, the program included Simon Lomax, policy adviser to the Partnership for Affordability and Transparency in Healthcare (PATH). Lomax is also a former congressional fellow of the American Political Science Association and Bloomberg News reporter.
Lomax reported that 93 percent of Coloradans have health care coverage, slightly higher than the country overall, according to the United States Census Bureau. Most believe that the large percentage of Americans with coverage is attributable to the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. It has not come without a cost. Nationally, over the past ten years, health insurance premiums have increased 54 percent while deductibles have gone up 162 percent.
In Colorado, within the 93 percent who are insured, two-thirds have private insurance, 90 percent of which is employer provided. The other one-third of Colorado residents who have health care are covered by Medicare or Medicaid. That also comes with a cost because the combined number of people on Medicare and Medicaid has grown in the past ten years from 20 percent of all those covered to 33 percent, and Medicare and Medicaid only pay hospitals 69 percent of what it actually costs them to provide health care services. If this trend continues, hospitals will lose more money caring for those patients. Those losses can only be recouped by increasing the rates charged to private insurers.
Still, the overall condition of Colorado’s health care industry can only be described as strong. Colorado has the 9th lowest-cost for premiums for employer-provided health insurance for single people and the 13th lowest for family coverage. In 2018, the employee’s share of the cost of health insurance as a percentage of median income went down five percent in Colorado while it went up five percent nationally.
Better still, as costs have been contained, the quality of health care services remains high. Colorado ranks in the top ten states in almost all levels of health care, especially the hospital sector. Three Colorado hospitals were just announced as having been included in Healthgrades’ list of America’s Top 50 Best Hospitals for 2020. According to Healthgrades, Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge, Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette, and Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins “are in the top 1 %
of hospitals in the nation for consistently providing overall clinical excellence across a broad spectrum of conditions and procedures year over year.” Lutheran also won the award in 2018 and 2019. Good Samaritan also won it in 2019.
Erica Rossitto, chief nursing officer, HealthONE, explained to South Metro Chamber members that HealthONE sees 1500 to 1600 patients in its six acute care hospitals, Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, and Spalding Rehabilitation Hospital each day. In the interest of being “responsible stewards in terms of not duplicating services,” HealthONE has developed specialty areas in its facilities. Swedish Medical Center in Englewood contains a specially-equipped comprehensive stroke center, Medical Center of Aurora has well-developed service lines in cardiac surgery and a 120-bed inpatient behavioral health unit, and Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children receives young patients from areas in and outside of Colorado because of its level 4 newborn intensive care unit.
Leanne Naso, chief operating officer, Parker Adventist Hospital, said that Centura Health, which includes 17 hospitals across Colorado and western Kansas, is the largest health care provider in Colorado. It is a faith-based not-for-profit organization.
Both hospital systems report that they face challenges in workforce development. In response to the nursing shortage, HealthONE is collaborating with Regis University in a new program to train health care workers in a stairstep approach to allow students to spend more time in a hospital setting during their training. Centura providers speakers at local schools to encourage students to choose a profession in health care.
Looking toward the future, Lomax pointed to the well-known demographic trend in Colorado: we are an aging population who will need more health care in the next decade. According to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, our state’s population that is over age 65 was 555,000 in 2010. It will balloon to 1,243,000 in 2030, a 125 percent increase.
SUBMITTED BY GAYLORD ROCKIES RESORT
Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc., a lodging real estate investment trust specializing in group-oriented, destination hotel assets in urban and resort markets, and RIDA Development Corp., announced plans for an $80 million, 317-room expansion of Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center in Aurora, Colorado.
Opened in December 2018, Gaylord Rockies was the first Marriott property to begin operations with more than 1 million net room nights on the books for all future years. Since that time, the 85-acre resort has experienced strong demand and closed the third quarter of 2019 with nearly 1.2 million net group room nights on the books for all future years, a 7.4 percent increase compared to the third quarter of 2018.
Colin Reed, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Company, said, “The initial performance at Gaylord Rockies has exceeded our expectations for a property in its first year of operations, and feedback from both group and leisure customers has been tremendous. These early results, combined with the demand we are experiencing as large group supply remains constrained nationwide, reinforce our belief that this is the right time to increase the capacity of this hotel.”
Construction is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2020, and the expansion is expected to open in early 2022. Once complete, the expansion will bring the total room count at Colorado’s largest combined resort and convention center to 1,818. Ira Mitzner, President and Chief Executive Officer of RIDA Development Corp., said, “We take great pride in Gaylord Rockies creating a best-in-class large meeting destination for the state of Colorado. To date, nearly 80 percent of the groups at Gaylord Rockies had never met in Colorado before. We are truly growing the pie for this state.”
Reed added, “We value the strong partnership with RIDA Development Corp. and the city of Aurora, and we are pleased to see our shared vision for Gaylord Rockies continue to take shape. Similar to recent projects at Gaylord Texan and Gaylord Palms, this expansion will allow us to accommodate the additional demand for this property in a way that seamlessly integrates into the existing hotel infrastructure.”
“Since the very beginning of this project we have said that the Gaylord Rockies would be an incredible economic development catalyst for the City of Aurora, Adams County and the State of Colorado,” said Wendy Mitchell, President and CEO of the Aurora Economic Development Council. “The quick timing of an expansion further proves that this has come to fruition and means even more positive impact for the region as we see significant development being catalyzed in the surrounding area. We appreciate the continued leadership and forward-thinking approach of all the stakeholders involved and look forward to the Gaylord Rockies delivering even more value to our community.”
Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman added, “The Gaylord Rockies is one of Aurora’s most significant accomplishments to date and a major driver in our growing economy. The project has put Aurora on the map and I’m proud to see so many new visitors coming here to experience all that our community has to offer. When we look at the economic development success story here, it’s clear that it is a win-win for everyone involved especially for our residents who now have the opportunity of more than 1,500 quality jobs and counting that were created through this deal. RIDA Development Corp., the Company, the City of Aurora, Adams County, and the Aurora Economic Development Council, and all others involved came together to make the Gaylord Rockies a reality and this partnership exemplifies how we like to do business here in Aurora.”
The planned expansion will be financed by the joint venture that owns Gaylord Rockies with additional borrowings from its term loan, which is set to mature in July 2023. The Company owns 62.1 percent of the joint venture.
The South Metro Denver Chamber (SMDC) has named Jeff Keener its new Chief Executive Officer. Keener, a SMDC Board Member and the owner of a marketing firm, replaces Robert Golden who resigned from the SMDC in late 2019.
“As we approach the Chamber’s 100-year anniversary, we’re excited to gain someone as passionate about the business community as Jeff Keener. It’s an exciting time for the SMDC and we look forward to Keener’s leadership, especially as he helps evolve our best practices to reflect the growing business dynamics in the south metro Denver region,” said, Christie Lee, SMDC Board Chair and Director of Government Relations with Lockheed Martin Space.
Keener said the Chamber is poised to grow even more in 2020 and the years ahead thanks to a strong board and strong economy, especially in the south metro Denver area.
“People join the Chamber to be fully part of the community,” Keener said. “I’m committed to making sure that we meet our members’ needs so that their desire to be involved in their community is satisfied. I appreciate our Chamber’s important role: we are a critical nucleus for our various communities in the thriving south metro area.”
Originally chartered in 1921, the SMDC is about to celebrate its Centennial year and is one of the most influential forces in local government and regional economic development. What began as a small-town Chamber of Commerce has transformed to a key player in the South Denver region: influential in 4 counties and 18 cities with over 650 business investors.
Keener owns JMB Marketing, a consultancy that provides businesses support in the sales and marketing arenas. Keener was the winner of the SMDC Leadership in Motion Award in 2012. He is a former councilman for the Town of Breckenridge and a former member of the Board of Directors for Colorado Ski Country USA. Keener has always been an active member of his community, including stints volunteering with the Littleton Hockey and Soccer Associations and with the Arapahoe High School Lacrosse team.
About the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce
Through a variety of educational and networking events and subsequent collaboration, SMDC members have the opportunity to meet and get to know other business leaders who listen, bounce ideas back and forth, resolve issues, and find solutions to their mutual business challenges. More information is available at bestchamber.com.
On Jan. 23 representatives of Arapahoe County held a public workshop at the department of motor vehicles building at 6954 S. Lima Street in Centennial to share information and get input from residents about what topics and issues should be addressed in the county’s oil and gas regulations, planned for adoption in late spring or early summer.
Colorado Senate Bill 181, signed into law on April 16, 2019, provides that local governments may now regulate oil and gas development and operations “in a manner that protects public health, safety, welfare, the environment and wildlife resources.” As a result, Arapahoe County will amend its land development code to include new regulations for oil and gas operations in the unincorporated (not within the boundaries of a city, like Aurora or Centennial) parts of the county for the stated purpose of protecting health, safety, and welfare as noted above.
Currently, there are 71 wells producing, six wells drilling or completing, 142 wells permitted, and 83 pending permit applications, along with three pipelines under construction in unincorporated Arapahoe County.
County officials are asking the public to rate issues related to oil and gas operations as to priority. Some of those issues are light and noise produced by operations, visual appearance, odors, effect on wildlife, and traffic impacts of operators’ vehicles coming and going. The county has already conducted small-group meetings with some stakeholders, including emergency services providers, industry representatives, state agencies, cities, utility companies, and home builders.
Draft regulations for comment are planned for public presentation in March. Public hearings on the proposed regulations will be conducted by the county’s planning commission and the Board of County Commissioners in April and May, after which they will be adopted.
Jason Reynolds, current planning program manager in the public works and development department, told The Villager that the county’s goal is to “allow for a robust energy industry while protecting health and safety.” Both Reynolds and Bryan Weimer, public works and development director, emphasized the county’s strong focus on a highly balanced approach, while stressing the goal of minimizing the impact of oil and gas operations on nearby properties and local infrastructure.
Nearly 500 people attended South Metro Denver Chamber’s annual economic forecast breakfast on Jan. 24 at CU South Denver in Lone Tree. Pete Casillas, Vice-President Local Markets for American City Business Journal, parent company of the Denver Business Journal, served as moderator.
Michael Greco, regional managing partner of the law firm of Fisher Phillips, presenting sponsor, opened the program by sharing that Forbes magazine had recognized Colorado as the leader in labor and employment law reform since 2019.
Henry Sobanet, CFO of Colorado State University, said he would address “how systems that support our economy and lifestyle impact our economic future.” Overall, according to Sobanet, “the economic recovery has been ongoing and there’s enough momentum to keep it going.” Focusing on Colorado, he said that while our state’s total population is expected to increase 14 percent in the next ten years, the largest increases will be in the 65-84 age group, which will grow by 35 percent and the 85 + age group, which is expected to increase 50 percent. Those statistics translate into a need for more housing and transportation resources and options. He went on to explain that while the state’s general fund revenues have doubled in the past two decades from $6.5 billion to $13 billion, health and human services and K-12 education comprise two-thirds of the entire general fund budget, with Medicaid accounting for most of the increase in health care costs.
The state share of K-12 funding is now 61 percent of the total cost of $7.6 billion (not counting local mill levy overrides) owing largely to the application of the Gallagher Amendment of 1982 and the TABOR Amendment of 1992. That leaves very little for other needs. Higher education now gets a paltry 8 percent of the general fund budget, while U.S. Bureau of Labor data shows that higher education still translates to higher income, thus higher taxes for the state.
Transportation receives only 2 percent of the general fund budget. Its main source of revenue is state and federal fuel taxes. From 2003 to 2019, vehicle registrations in Colorado rose 35 percent, while all fuel taxes only increase 19 percent. Due to our robust economy, our population increased 27 percent in that period and jobs grew by 29 percent. However, Sobanet observed, “Part of being competitive is your physical infrastructure.” Inadequate funding of transportation, including roads and transit, is a long-term problem for attracting and retaining business.
Asked by an audience member how he thinks the state will come up with the $9 billion needed to fund the most crucial transportation projects on the Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) much-discussed priority list, Sobanet said, referring to the legislature, “You have to do more work (in Colorado) to create momentum to get people to say yes. When you’re sick enough of your commute, you’ will create a ballot issue that voters will approve.”
J.J. Ament, CEO of Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, told the leaders in business and government gathered that the advantage of being here is that, “We really do work as a region and as a state to achieve economic benefit together.” He pointed out that his organization represents the entire metropolitan area without respect to any city boundary lines. It has Denver in its named, he explained, because people outside Colorado describe the metropolitan area with that term.
Our major competitors for attracting businesses are Utah, Texas, Georgia, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and California. Utah is number one on that list. They often point to their higher spending on roads, Ament said. Although Colorado employment growth ranked 7th in 2018 (up from 13th in 2016), growing 2.4 percent and adding 64,000 jobs, Utah grew faster, ranking 3rd with 3.4 percent growth. Ament said that both California and Washington rank higher than Colorado in the growth of per capita personal income and state GDP per employee.
Colorado’s state tax structure is considered the 18th best for overall business taxes and 16th for corporate income taxes due to its low, flat-rate system. Texas, Washington, Oregon, and California all rank in the bottom 20 states.
When it comes to education, Colorado ranks as the second most highly educated state in the nation, with 42 percent of its residents holding a college degree. We are surpassed only by Massachusetts. Only one of our major competitors is ranked in the top ten.
According to Ament, “The risks to Colorado’s economy in 2020 are public policy and politics.” On the subject of paid family leave, currently under discussion in the legislature, he said, “The business community believes it can deliver services like this better than the government can. With competition for talent, businesses are organically offering better wages and benefits. Paid family leave is an important benefit.”
Closing on a high note, Ament pointed to Forbes’ magazine’s conclusion that, “Denver is the number one city in the United States to do business.”
The state budget has tripled in the past two decades. It was $9.265 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2001 (July 1, 2000 to June 30, 2001) and is $30.67 billion in fiscal year 2020 (July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020). Twenty years ago, the state’s population was 4.3 million. It has grown steadily since then, reaching 5.8 million in 2019, an increase of 35 percent.
At the Dec. 11 meeting of the Common Sense Policy Roundtable (CSPR) , a “non-profit free-enterprise think tank dedicated to the protection and promotion of Colorado’s economy, whose mission is to research and promote common sense solutions for the most pressing public policy issues facing Colorado,” Chris Brown, CSPR’s director of policy and research, pointed to the changes in priorities over the period as evidenced by spending of all revenue, derived from income taxes, sales and use taxes, fees, cash funds, and federal funds. Federal funds are federal tax revenue allocated to Colorado. It provided 29 percent of the state’s budget in FY 2020. Cash funds consist of special taxes collected as a result of constitutional amendments, which are not specifically allocated and not subject to the limitations of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, e.g., excise taxes on marijuana not for designated purposes.
In FY 2001, K-12 education absorbed 25 percent of state general fund dollars. Health care policy and financing followed at 21 percent, and higher education commanded 19 percent of state revenues. Transportation’s share was 4 percent of the total.
By FY 2020, health care policy and financing had ballooned to 35 percent of general fund expenditures, K-12 education had fallen to 20 percent, higher education was down six points to 13 percent, and transportation had fallen to a paltry 2 percent of the total.
With population having grown 35 percent between 2001 and 2019, it is no wonder that there have been multiple attempts to get taxpayer approval to increase taxes to fund transportation and education over the past few years, such as this year’s Proposition CC to add money to the budget for all three categories of spending. Last year’s two separate ballot measures each sough voter approval to provide new money for roads and transportation. Voters rejected all three.
CSPR invited news reporters Shaun Boyd of CBS 4 Denver, Ed Sealover of the Denver Business Journal, and Joey Bunch of Colorado Politics to weigh in on the politics of the state’s budget challenges.
Bunch noted that elections in off-years, such as 2019, draw older voters, while presidential election years like 2020 see more young people turn out. Though that will influence the voting patterns, Bunch doesn’t expect Democrats to lose control of either the state house or the state senate in 2020.
Sealover believes the message from our Democratic state legislators is that we don’t have enough money to fix K-12 or higher education or transportation, while Republicans in the legislature hear the voters responding that they believe we do have enough money if we allocate it differently.
Boyd thinks that when they rejected all three efforts to increase funding in 2018 and 2019, the voters were saying, “Spend more on transportation and education from the resources you have and maybe we’ll give you more.”
Looking toward the upcoming legislative session, Sealover believes paid family leave, just approved for federal employees as part of the National Defense Appropriation Act, is the most significant piece of unfinished business from 2019 that will be back in 2020. He believes even Governor Pois is uncomfortable with the size of the program that some Democrats have proposed. Sealover thinks the governor would like to see it handled in a similar manner to workers’ compensation insurance. He sees the question looming over the upcoming 2020 legislative session as, “How much will Democrats demand of private employers?”
Boyd shares that concern. She concluded, “This isn’t going to be a great session for business owners.”
Kristin Strohm, CSPR president and CEO, posed the question, “Does the governor have different priorities than the Speaker of the House (KC Becker)?
Sealover responded, “The governor’s priority is education. He wants to add money for pre-K.” He observed, “We aren’t talking about transportation. There’s not a single bill for transportation. They say we can’t pass anything statewide on transportation so let’s let local government try to see what they can do.”
Bunch observed wryly, “Colorado voters like Republican ideas. They just don’t like Republicans.” Looking to 2020, he predicted that there will be lots of ballot issues because it’s a presidential election year and “people run ballot issues to get people out to vote!”
When you walk in the front door of Aspen Academy, located in Greenwood Village, the first thing you see are words on the wall: Be Kind. Do Good. Work Hard. Make the World Better. Four Aspen Academy recent alumni have been highlighted for their work and contributions that bring the words “make the world better” off the wall and into our community and beyond.
Tucker Shearn (Class of 2019) was recognized with the inaugural Friends of the Johnson Depression Center Award by the University of Colorado’s Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center. During his 8th Grade year at Aspen, Tucker and his classmates were charged with creating businesses that incorporate a social responsibility element. Tucker opted to create a non-profit, Team Up Athletes, which raises funds for depression awareness and suicide prevention and benefits the Johnson Depression Center at CU. The Center estimates the funds he’s raised to date will provide 15+ trainings for students in the community.
In the Awards Ceremony for the Center, they shared, “We are giving him this award because Tucker’s actions epitomize why we are dedicated to providing free community education programs. We believe that through community engagement we can change how people view mental health, and by changing how people view it, we can change how we as a society decide to prioritize mental wellness and work to prevent tragedies like what Tucker and the volleyball community went through when his friend died by suicide. Tucker is our friend because of his personal mission to improve the physical and mental health of our community.”
In addition, three Aspen Academy Class of 2018 alumni were recently profiled in Preserving the Good Life magazine. Andrew Simon, Ryan Goodspeed, and Connor Schultz (all current sophomores at Regis Jesuit), are featured in this month’s edition for their work promoting a nonprofit that provides clothing and shoes around the world to countries in need.
According to the organization, “Since Soles4Souls began in 2006, we’ve distributed over 35 million pairs of shoes in 127 countries.” Soles4Souls accepts shoes in good shape for all sizes and genders.
“We were founded with one rule: Be Kind. What these students showcase is taking that one rule to the highest level by supporting our community and world through important social responsibility. We couldn’t be more thrilled to see them taking on these important causes and making an impact on the world.” said Kristina Scala, Founder & Head of School at Aspen Academy.
Tina Lee and Ben Nguyen have opened the doors of their new Luxx luxury nails bar on Arapahoe at Parker 6616 S. Parker Road. The dazzling setting features the latest in technology, equipment and service.
The Nguyens have transformed their Nails Bar into a sleek, modern, facility with wide expanse and the latest in technology and modern chairs and facilities.
Hailing from South Carolina the couple are on duty and have over 20 years of experience the business. The new facility offers all nail services including manicure and pedicure and waxing services. They pride themselves on high sanitation standards and high-quality products.
Special prices prevail during the grand opening weeks. Gift certificates are available for the holidays and walk in our welcome.
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