Governor candidate gets down to business

Denver mayor talks shop with entrepreneurs during GJ stop

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper meets with Loki co-owners Dirk Anderson and Jess Rigg at their headquarters in Grand Junction on Friday.

In a session as much reminiscent of a Tony Robbins seminar as the campaign stop and fact-finding mission it was, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper toured the Grand Junction headquarters of sportswear maker Loki LLC.

Like many Colorado businesses, the credit crunch has barred Loki’s access to capital at a critical time of the company’s development, one of the owners, Dirk Anderson, told Hickenlooper during a stop of more than an hour.

Dirk’s brother, Seth, came up with the idea of convertible, one-piece outerwear and, with several innovations along the way, is on the cusp of expansion beyond the $2 million sales mark.

Loki, however, needs cash.

“What you need ...” Hickenlooper said more than once, is the kind of contacts he has in the Denver business community’s venture capitalists and others who regularly consult with businesses on everything from marketing to creating a distinctive culture within a company.

Loki’s experience fits directly into his hopes to “make Colorado synonymous with innovation,” Hickenlooper said, as he marveled at Loki’s backpack that turns into a jacket, complete with “lumbar pocket” for storage.

“You guys need to trademark that,” he said.

A problem that businesses in the state confront is a lack of synergy among Colorado companies, Hickenlooper said.

“I’m trying to put a group together that would create a venture fund for Colorado-based companies,” he said.

Government, he said, doesn’t create jobs, but in many cases, “Government has to be the catalyst” to attract private capital and expertise, he said.

Hickenlooper is to speak this morning to Mesa County Democrats during their assembly.

His tour around the state has shown him that all kinds of small businesses are feeling the credit crunch, even from the Small Business Administration, Hickenlooper said, “So I have a call in to the director of the SBA.”

Trying on one of Loki’s inventions, Hickenlooper said he could already envision the advertising campaign.

Five years ago, he parachuted from an airplane as part of the campaign for Referendum C, which lifted revenue limits on government.

“I have some experience making funny ads,” he said. “You’re going to have to trust me on this one.”


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