Hickenlooper’s remarks at CACI sing the right tune for business

The Colorado Statesman

Governor John Hickenlooper, with little more than a week of governingthe state under his belt, told about 400 business leaders at the Colorado Association of Commerce & Industry’s luncheon Thursday that the state needs to become “more pro-business” and that no one has the appetite to raise taxes.

Jake Jabs, founder and president of American Furniture Warehouse, served as the platinum sponsor of the luncheon.
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Jake Jabs and board member and former chairman of CACI Tom Flanagan, the president and CEO of Citywide Banks.
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Gov. John Hickenlooper, Ann Brown, co-president of New Vista Image and CACI Chair-elect, Rob LeVine, general manager of Antlers at Vail and CACI Chairman, and CACI President Chuck Berry.
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Gov. John Hickenlooper tells business leaders at CACI’s luncheon that, “There’s no appetite for anybody in terms of raising taxes.” Colorado’s new governor is well received when he adds, “We have to become more pro-business.”
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PR guru and Statesman columnist Pete Webb and Ginny Williams, also of Webb PR.
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CACI President Chuck Berry, a former speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, and Frank McNulty, the current House Speaker.
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Maria Garcia Berry, president of CRL Associ- ates, and John Tayer of Roche Colorado Corp.
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Gov. John Hickenlooper, center, poses with Carl Lombardo, left, and Todd Beutel, right, both with Discovery Outsourcing, LLC.
Photo by Jody Hope Strogoff/The Colorado Statesman

Hickenlooper was applauded when he called for cutting the time it takes for oil and gas companies to secure permits and navigate other red tape. But Colorado’s new governor added a caveat: oil and gas companies must ensure that Colorado’s air and water quality not suffer.

The state must protect land, water and public safety at the same time it seeks to lighten the regulatory burden on businesses so they can create jobs and flourish, Hickenlooper said.

“We’ll be efficient, but we’re going to hold (businesses) to the highest standards,” he pledged.

In doing so, Hickenlooper predicted more tax revenue will be generated for the state as the economy recovers and Colorado’s workforce increases.

Hickenlooper noted that he recently hired Dwayne Romero as the new executive director of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade, an appointment which he heralded.

Romero is now president of Related Snowmass in Snowmass Village, an operating division of Related Cos., the international real estate development and investment firm headquartered in New York. He has nearly two decades of experience in real estate development and investment.

The governor also said he has hired a former executive with The Coors Brewing Company to study state government and develop recommendations to make budget cuts and increase efficiency. Tom Wolf worked as the CFO for the local brewery at the time it merged with Molson Brewing Company and then became part of the joint venture with SABMiller, now called MillerCoors.

Hickenlooper also talked about his recent four-day tour of the state which enabled him to hear about economic development ideas from local officials around Colorado. In an executive order signed on his first day of office, Hickenlooper set the tone for his plans to strengthen the state’s economy.

“In order to grow Colorado’s economy, it is vital to engage Coloradans across the state in developing a comprehensive and collaborative approach to economic development,” the executive order stated. “This new approach is designed to identify the needs, priorities, vision, strengths, and weaknesses of each of the state’s counties, and incorporate them into 64 economic development plans, tailored to each county. These plans will roll up into fourteen regional plans that will comprise a comprehensive, statewide economic development plan.”

Hickenlooper’s luncheon remarks were part of CACI’s annual Business Day at the Capitol. Legislators participated in panel discussions later that afternoon which addressed concerns of the statewide business organization.

Jake Jabs, founder and president of American Furniture Warehouse, served as the platinum sponsor of the luncheon, which was attended by about 18 members of the General Assembly besides business leaders from across the state. The well known entrepreneur oversees a retail furniture empire known to have the largest selection under one roof in the United States.

Jabs is also a well known Republican contributor who in 2008 was the main force behind the proposed right-to-work amendment in the state that ultimately went down to defeat.

An alum of Montana State University, Jabs recently gave more than $3 million to MSU’s College of Business. The gift has been earmarked for the newly renamed Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship for the New West. A portion of the gift will be used immediately to provide entrepreneurship-related services and learning opportunities for students, such as one-on-one mentoring and coaching and hosting entrepreneurs in residence.

Jabs told CACI members at the luncheon that his most profitable year ever was 2010, and that he has become somewhat of an expert on surviving recessions.