Club 20: Keep state open for business, Hickenlooper says

Photo by Gretel Daugherty—Gov. John Hickenlooper spoke about putting unemployed Coloradans back to work and told a Club 20 audience that the state should aggressively pursue energy development by companies that act responsibly.

Make Colorado more business friendly and push all forms of energy development as long as companies act responsibly, Gov. John Hickenlooper told a packed crowd at Club 20’s fall meeting Saturday.

The governor said his chief goal is to make sure the 25,000 Coloradans who have been out of work for the past two years find jobs.

“There are a lot of challenges that face the state, but I think that our ability to deal with them is going to be distilled back to how quickly we are going to be able to put people back to work,” Hickenlooper said. “We as a state are going to have to work through this.”

The governor reiterated a plan he announced last month to help improve the state’s economic development.

He plans to do that by: cutting government regulation so long as it doesn’t harm Coloradans or the environment; improving businesses access to capital as much as the state can afford; and ensuring businesses get the trained work force they need.

Last week, the governor announced the Department of Human Services is looking at getting rid of nearly 850 rules and revising more than 2,000 other regulations.

Other state agencies soon will follow, he said.

“It’s not just state government,” Hickenlooper said. “A lot of times these problems are with municipal government or county government. There’s no shortage of red tape to go around. What we want is to be known as a place where any young entrepreneur can come and start their business ... and that government is a partner and not getting in the way.”

During a question-and-answer session after the address, Delta City Manager Joe Kerby told Hickenlooper it’s not only businesses that worry about government getting in the way. Sometimes it’s government getting into government’s way, he said.

In his case, the city has been trying to gather money to build its planned truck bypass around the town, and recently it received a $250,000 federal grant to help. But to get that money, Kerby said, the city will have to perform a $1.5 million environmental study.

“My hope is that the example that I provided will at least get somebody’s attention and help us address some of those regulations that really are overreaching,” Kerby said later.

State Sen. Jean White of Hayden said even though she’s a Republican, she still likes many of the things she hears from the Democratic governor, particularly when it comes to energy development and streamlining government.

“He really has a sense for what’s necessary and what we need here on the Western Slope,” she said. “He truly understands our needs.”


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