Hickenlooper talks about creating jobs

Competing businesses should come together and try to boost sales for all, says candidate John Hickenlooper.

Instead of the governor’s office telling the rest of the state how to create jobs, the rest of the state should tell the governor.

At least, that’s how Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper would do it if he were governor, the Democrat running for that office said Monday during a two-day stop in the Grand Valley.

As part of Hickenlooper’s “job-creation road map,” the mayor said some of the same strategies he used as a restaurateur in Denver in the late 1980s would work statewide, including getting competing businesses in the same room to work on boosting sales for all, he said.

“Instead of having, like everybody else does, a statewide economic development plan that then is pushed down through society, we want to go out and just provide a template to have all 64 counties to do their own economic development plan,” Hickenlooper said. “Get the Rotary Club and the real estate agents and the insurance agents all involved and make sure they know the facts, that they know that we are pro-business. We could easily rebrand ourselves, but it will happen better if we do it from the bottom all the way up.”

At a campaign stop at Mountain Racing Products, 580 N. Westgate Drive, Hickenlooper presented that idea to business people who are in somewhat competing industries: a top executive for a major oil and gas company, and small business owners whose enterprises center on the state’s outdoors.

All said that Hickenlooper’s idea of bringing people to the same table will help, if for no other reason, for each to know what the others need to maintain a good business climate in the state.

“I like the fact that he’s trying to take a stance of enhancing the ability for companies that are innovative to succeed in Colorado,” said Seth Anderson, owner of Loki Gear, 2249 Broadway, who said he was an unaffiliated voter. “We have every reason to be positive about the future. We just have to do everything the right way.”

Al Harrison, vice president of exploration and production for Williams’ Denver region and the Piceance Basin, said his oil and gas company is happy to sit down with anyone to talk about enhancing business, particularly if it also deals with reducing unneeded government regulations.

But Harrison said he isn’t the typical oil and gas executive operating in the state. Unlike others, he said it would be a bad idea to start all over again rewriting the state’s stricter new drilling regulations.

Instead, Harrison said he agrees with Hickenlooper that while some may need to be tweaked, the rest aren’t as onerous as some people think or the industry initially feared.

Harrison, who said his company hasn’t endorsed anyone in the governor’s race, said the new regulations came at a time when the worst recession hit the nation. Plummeting natural gas prices nationwide and a lack of transmission lines to ship Colorado gas to markets elsewhere in the nation had far more to do with a slowdown in drilling than the new rules, he said.

Those rules were a concern initially because the industry wasn’t sure how they would impact production, and it turned out they didn’t, Harrison said.

“With the lower commodity prices, we need to keep our business running very efficiently,” he said. “The new rules, we didn’t know how that was going to manifest itself, but we’ve seen some good progress. Now, things are pretty consistent. It was a learning process. It was a combination of a lot of things.”

Harrison said his industry wants what all businesses want, some assurance that the cost of doing business in Colorado will be consistent over time, something Hickenlooper said his road map is designed to do.


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