2016 Election Issues – Chamber of Commerce Positions

October 17th, 2016 by Robyn Steele

Citizens of Larimer County will have an extremely long ballot to consider on November 8. The Loveland Chamber of Commerce has taken a position on 7 ballot issues that are critical to our current and future workforce, our quality of life and our economic future.

2016 Election Issues – Chamber of Commerce Positions

The Chamber is recommending a NO vote on the following issues:

Amendment 69: Colorado Care Act

Amendment 70: Increase State Minimum Wage

The Chamber is recommending a YES vote on the following issues:

Amendment 71: Raise the Bar

Thompson School District Issue 3D & 3E: District Mill & Bond Proposal

Loveland Downtown Development Authority 5D & 5E: Mill & Bond Proposal

 

Background Information about the Chamber’s Positions – State & Local Issues:
Amendment 69: VOTE NO      
Amendment 69 would raise $25 billion in taxes to create a government-run health insurance system. The Chamber is opposing this experimental initiative because of the staggering cost—it doubles the size of the entire state budget and gives Colorado the highest income tax rate in the country, creating a tax structure that hits our smallest of businesses the hardest. It’s not clear what’s covered or what the cost to working families would be. In the end, there is no evidence that this huge new government entity will improve health care. And, it’s built into the state constitution making it extremely difficult to change.

Amendment 70: VOTE NO
Amendment 70 would maintain Colorado’s minimum wage in the Constitution and increase it to $12 per hour by Jan. 1, 2020, with an annual increase thereafter based on inflation. Just like our economy, wages fluctuate due to a number of market factors. With that in mind, cementing a minimum wage and automatic adjustment into our constitution doesn’t make sense. Minimum wage should be tackled through statutory law, allowing us to respond to changing conditions. This mandatory wage hits small businesses particularly hard.

Amendment 71:  VOTE YES
Amendment 71 changes requirements to amend the state constitution, requiring that voter signatures be collected from across Colorado (giving rural Colorado a voice in what is on our ballot) and requiring a passage rate of 55 percent. (It’s important to remember that Coloradans still can pass a law, a statute, with only 50 percent plus one under this proposed amendment—this only changes how we amend our constitution.) Colorado’s constitution is among the easiest in the country to amend—it’s been amended more than 150 times so far. Once in the constitution, it’s extremely challenging to make changes when circumstances change or unintended consequences surface. Further, Colorado’s current process attracts out-of-state interests who want to use our state as a testing ground. Fighting extreme ideas on our ballot costs us all, so we’re supportive of ensuring that more Colorado voices are required to change our constitution.

Thompson School District Issue 3D & 3E: VOTE YES
An $11 million Mill Levy Override. The proceeds generated would be used to fund salary competitiveness to help narrow the 14% salary gap that exists between TSD and its closest neighbors, replace textbooks and curriculum throughout the district, address school bus fleet needs and provide further educational program support (math, literacy, etc.) with a per-pupil share to the district's two charter schools.

A $288 million Bond.  The proposed $288 million bond would repair $72 million in deferred building maintenance, renovate aging buildings to extend their useful life for the 21st century and reinvent school configurations through reformats and new school construction.

 

Loveland Downtown Development Authority 5D & 5E: VOTE YES
Authorization for the city to increase property taxes in the downtown development authority by not more than 5.00 mills and of a voter approved revenue change as an exception to the limits of article x, section 20 of the Colorado constitution or any other law.

Authorization for the city to incur debt of up to $75,000,000 for the purpose of financing the costs of development projects to be undertaken by or on behalf of the Loveland downtown development authority pursuant to the Loveland downtown development authority plan of development, with such debt payable from and secured by a pledge of the special fund of the city which shall contain tax increment revenues levied and collected within the boundaries of the authority.

 

The Chamber is not recommending a position on the following issues:

  1. Proposition 107: Presidential Primary Elections
  2. Proposition 108: Semi Open Primary Elections
  3. Proposition 106: Medical Aid in Dying
  4. Amendment 72: Increase Taxes on Tobacco Products
  5. Larimer County Ballot Issue 200: Science and Cultural Financing District
  6. Larimer County Issue 1A: Mental Health, Detox/Substance Abuse Facility and Services

Click on these links for more information:

 

From Where I Stand - An Update on Fix North I-25

August 8th, 2016 by Mindy McCloughan

Mindy new headshotSince our last update, some new developments have come to light regarding the community, statewide and federal efforts to expand North I-25. On July 26, Senator Cory Gardner announced that the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) was awarded a $15 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) that will be dedicated to improving the 14–mile stretch of North I-25 between Loveland and Fort Collins. This will be in addition to the $99 million that was secured earlier this year thanks to the efforts of the Fix North I-25 Business Alliance. The Business Alliance has been in support of this short-term plan by CDOT to fast-track the widening of the I-25 Interstate between Loveland and Fort Collins in the next three years.

The TIGER grant award is a testament to the great progress made by the Fix North I-25 Business Alliance as they continue work to reach the goal of securing $1.2 billion for the complete North I-25 expansion. The Business Alliance built a strategy earlier this year for the 2016 Colorado General Assembly legislative session that focuses on identifying funding sources for transportation and putting a financing mechanism in place to accelerate the construction of transportation projects in Colorado, including North 1-25.

A recap of the strategy’s three main elements is as follows:

  1. Commit general fund money to highways in the 2016 – 2017 fiscal year state budget, a first since 2008.
  2. Pass legislation to create a permanent funding source for transportation.
  3. Refer a ballot measure to voters asking them to approve transportation bonding of $3.5 billion to accelerate projects.

Through the continued support of the community, local businesses and the focus on purposeful funding, we are making great strides toward fixing this important business issue. Go to www.FixNorthI25.com today to sign up to learn more about how to make a difference. Together, we can – and are - doing great things!

Blessings,

Mindy McCloughan

From Where I Stand: The Benefits of Shopping Local

August 2nd, 2016 by Mindy McCloughan

Mindy new headshotDid you know that if every family in the U.S. spent an extra $10 a month at a locally-owned, independent business, over $9.3 billion would be directly returned to our economy? Now that is return-on-investment worth talking about. Think about what that could do for Loveland’s businesses.

As a core part of our five pillars, the Loveland Chamber of Commerce is committed to promoting business and community prosperity. We support economic development through programs that enhance quality of life, bring jobs and help Loveland prosper. As a contributing factor to such prosperity, we continue to support our local businesses and encourage everyone to shop locally.

As Loveland continues to develop and be recognized as a sought-after place for business, it becomes increasingly important that the community understands the benefits of supporting local business and shopping local. Many of Loveland’s new job opportunities derive from the growth of primary employers and our small businesses. As the backbone of our community, small businesses have continued to develop and grow year after year, showing a positive picture of our community’s economic potential.

Spending locally also provides great rewards for our community as a whole. When shopping locally, you simultaneously create jobs, fund more city services through sales tax, invest in neighborhood improvement and promote community development. With such a vibrant and diverse consumer market, it is easy for Loveland residents to shop locally without fear of limitations in products or services. Each dollar spent in the Loveland community by Loveland residents is another dollar that will go towards providing a stable and thriving economic landscape for our current community and the next generation.

Remember that together, we can do great things for our local economy and community.

Blessings,

Mindy McCloughan

From Where I Stand

June 10th, 2016 by Mindy McCloughan

Summer is a busy and exciting time for the Loveland Chamber of Commerce and we kick off our summer fun with some exciting events and opportunities in June.

Loveland Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament

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The 2016 event will be held June 17, 2016 from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Mariana Butte Golf Course with a Mexican lunch buffet and the awards ceremony following the tournament. Since this is the beginning of the Father's Day Weekend, all dads will be entered into a special prize drawing for participating. The grand prize will be an authentic Denver Bronco jersey signed by C.J. Anderson, Broncos running back! Get your dad and play on a team. We wouldn’t leave moms out! There will be a special drawing for moms too! Our silent auction will include an authentic Denver Bronco jersey signed by Steve Atwater, Broncos Free Safety. If you are interested in sponsoring or creating a team, please contact us.

Chamber Summer Fundraiser

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This month, the chamber has announced a new fundraising initiative to support upcoming community functions. From now until Oct. 6 participants have the opportunity to enter to win authentic Peyton Manning memorabilia, including a signed jersey and signed helmet! These items were obtained at an ESPN Super Bowl Party in San Francisco before Manning’s final NFL performance in Super Bowl 50, which the Broncos went on to win. For a donation of $25, participants will be entered into one of two drawings. The winner will be announced at the chamber’s Oct. 6th Business After Hours event. Donations can be made at the chamber up until that date. Don’t miss your chance to take home this unique memorabilia!

Additional Chamber Events This Month

We will be holding a Business Before Hours event at Sam’s Club, 1200 Eisenhower Blvd, on Wednesday, June 15 from 7:30-9 a.m. This is a tremendous opportunity to network, share your business and learn about new collaborations to grow your business. In addition, Stir, the chamber’s forum for young professionals, is hosting a social mixer at McCreery House on Thursday, June 16 from 5:30-7 p.m. Come out and learn how Stir is working to equip the next generation of business and community leaders.

To register and learn more about any of these opportunities go to Loveland.org or call the chamber at 970-677-6311 or email at info@loveland.org.

On behalf of the chamber staff and board of directors, we look forward to celebrating business and community this month. Together, we continue to doing great things!

Blessings,

Mindy McCloughan

From Where I Stand

May 4th, 2016 by Mindy McCloughan

Small-LCOC-2014-Mindy-McCloughan-Headshot-300x260With election season heating up, the Loveland Chamber of Commerce has voted to take a stance on an upcoming ballot issue. Our mission is to promote business and community prosperity and it is important for us to keep in mind what is best for our members, local businesses and community as a whole.

The chamber board of directors made a unanimous decision to oppose the proposed Colorado State Constitutional Amendment 69 regarding the potential to introduce a statewide healthcare financing system called ColoradoCare. This program would be a political subdivision of state government that would replace private insurance, Medicaid and the medical component of workers’ compensation.

If approved, ColoradoCare would cost at least $30 billion at outset with an additional 10 percent tax on all earned income generated within Colorado. Additionally, all non-payroll income would be taxed at 10 percent; this includes business income, rental income, farm and ranch income, taxable pensions, taxable Social Security, taxable interest, dividends, taxable refunds and credits, capital gains, taxable IRA distributions and more.

The Loveland Chamber of Commerce opposes Amendment 69 as we believe it to be an inflexible and difficult-to-change measure that would impose a massive tax increase that more than doubles the cost of government in Colorado. With this amendment, there is great uncertainty about how healthcare providers themselves will be paid, which will motivate some members to leave, thus adversely impacting both cost and access of ColoradoCare.

Join the Loveland Chamber, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, former Governor Bill Ritter, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, Governor Hickenlooper, the Colorado Farm Bureau, the Colorado Hospital Association and many more in our opposition of this proposed ballot measure.

We all have a fiduciary responsibility to our communities, our state and our nation.

 

Blessings,

Mindy McCloughan

Focus on Workforce will Drive Business Community

April 15th, 2016 by Mindy McCloughan

With employment rates up and a diverse economic landscape present, Loveland continues to be a sought-after place for business.Small-LCOC-2014-Mindy-McCloughan-Headshot-300x260

Loveland has seen an increase in the total amount of jobs, according to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. The number of Loveland jobs has grown by more than 2,000 (or 3.3 percent) within the past two years alone. This, combined with Loveland’s high access to a labor shed for a high-quality workforce presents a diverse and stable economy that serves as a hub for innovation.

Many of Loveland’s new job opportunities are coming from the growth of our small businesses. As the backbone of our community, small businesses have continued to develop and grow year after year, showing a positive picture of our overall workforce.

While we continue to experience job growth and business expansion, some startling facts support a great need for businesses to invest in workforce development.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, workers from ages 45 to 54 increased by 30 percent. Experts also predict that by 2020, an expected 20 percent of the U.S. population will be age 65 and up, while workers age 18 to 24 are expected to make up 42 percent of the population. This will cause a shift in our workforce as a bulk of our workers enter retirement and we see an increasing number of younger, millennial workers who will need the skills to meet the needs of our businesses.

Loveland as a whole is working diligently to support workforce readiness and empower businesses to work with us to ensure that their needs are met. We are working to increase the practical training and development of our workforce in order to mold a skilled generation of workers for the coming years. In order to do so, we need to define our current labor market and anticipate our labor needs for the foreseeable future. Between current and future labor markets is a gap, and we need to work together to create programs and strategies to narrow that gap.

Within Larimer County, several industries draw the largest amount of workers. These include health care, education, restaurants, hospitality and local government. The chamber is in discussions with our small businesses daily, and we continue to learn about new opportunities and skills that these businesses need from their employees. In everything from technical skills to customer service, there are opportunities to train our younger workforce and our students to have the skills necessary to support the success of our businesses and Loveland’s overall business growth.

If we don’t act now to support our economy and our businesses through workforce readiness, we risk falling behind. I urge Loveland and Northern Colorado businesses to join us and support our workforce readiness efforts for a vibrant economy. I also encourage job seekers to pursue education and training that is needed to make a difference for our businesses today. A well-trained workforce, combined with effective infrastructure for providing training programs, can give our community a distinct competitive advantage.

*Originally published in BizWest, repurposed with permission.

From Where I Stand - An Update on Fix North I-25

April 5th, 2016 by Mindy McCloughan

Small-LCOC-2014-Mindy-McCloughan-Headshot-300x260I-25 has become a huge problem. Thanks to the efforts of the Fix North I-25 Business Alliance, 2016 has been dubbed the Year of Transportation at the state Capitol and throughout government meetings across the state. Great progress has been made as the Business Alliance works to secure $1.2 billion to widen 26 miles of I-25 to three lanes each way between Highway 14 in Fort Collins and Highway 66 north of Longmont by year 2025.

The activity of the Fix North I-25 Business Alliance has been wide-reaching and the highlights of the last several months include:

  • North I-25 has become a top state priority.Two years ago, the primary focus was on I-70 through Denver and I-70 in the mountains. Our efforts have changed that with I-25 often getting first mention by state and CDOT officials as the top transportation priority.
  • $99 million has been secured for North I-25 projects including:
  • Money to fix the Berthoud Hill chokepoint this summer: A three mile stretch of southbound I-25 will be widened this summer with the addition of a ‘climbing lane’ on the hill south of Berthoud. Local communities and counties in Northern Colorado diverted some of their federal transportation funding allocation for this project.
  • Money to rebuild Loveland’s Crossroads intersection over the next two construction seasons: The Business Alliance lobbied for state transportation reserve dollars, which will be used to rebuild the intersection primarily by widening the interstate bridges that pass over the interchange. This work needs to be done in preparation to accommodate two addition lanes of interstate.
  • Congress passed a long-term highway bill. Fix North I-25 Business Alliance supported the work of our Congressional delegation to pass the first ‘long-term’ highway bill in many years. The bill was written in a way that qualifies North I-25 for federal freight corridor grants and for low-interest loans.
  • The Business Alliance created a statewide transportation advocacy coalition of local business organizations called Fix Colorado RoadsI-25 is our priority, but we reached the conclusion that in order to receive funding to widen north I-25, we have to help other parts of the state with their transportation funding problems. By building a network of local business organizations, we have more clout on transportation-related bills.
  • Fix North I-25 Business Alliance has twice done statewide polling. Last year, the Business Alliance did statewide polling to gauge voter support for various transportation funding options. We repeated that polling this month to test public support for the bonding proposal and two tax increase options. Both sets of polls showed support funding for transportation.

The work doesn't stop there. In addition to the above, the Fix North I-25 Business Alliance has built a strategy for the 2016 legislative session of the Colorado General Assembly that focuses on identifying funding sources for transportation and putting a financing mechanism in place to accelerate the construction of transportation projects in Colorado, including North 1-25.

This strategy includes three main elements:

  • Commit general fund money to highways in the 2016 – 2017 fiscal year state budget, a first since 2008.
  • Pass legislation to create a permanent funding source for transportation.
  • Refer a ballot measure to voters asking them to approve transportation bonding of $3.5 billion to accelerate projects.

Concurrent with the legislative agenda, the Business Alliance is supporting a short-term plan by CDOT to secure grants and other funding to fast-track the widening of the I-25 Interstate between Fort Collins and Loveland in the next three years.

Go to www.FixNorthI25.com today to sign up to learn more about how to make a difference on this important business issue. Together, we can – and are - doing great things!

 

Blessings,

Mindy McCloughan

From Where I Stand

March 8th, 2016 by Mindy McCloughan

Small-LCOC-2014-Mindy-McCloughan-Headshot-300x260We are approaching the end of a successful Q1 2016 and as the chamber team continues to bring its members value through events and programming, our board is hard at work on some key issues, which we have outlined as our chamber strategic imperatives. Here is an update on our key areas of focus.

  • Update the chamber story: The Loveland Chamber is doing some great things and has some key goals moving forward. It is important that the chamber is telling its story and showing its value and we are currently evaluating ways to do this. In the coming months, the chamber will be evaluating its internal strategies to better showcase the great work the chamber is doing and will continue to do in order to promote business and community prosperity.
  • I-25 expansion: The Loveland Chamber of Commerce is committed to the I-25 expansion and was heavily involved in the Fix North I-25 Business Alliance initiative in 2015. This year, the chamber will be implementing a funding campaign to assist with marketing, lobbying and statewide polling, among other things. This will keep the alliance moving forward as I-25 is critical to the chamber's mission and critical to our businesses and economic health.
  • Downtown Development: The chamber’s commitment to downtown continues in 2016 as we support the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and Loveland Downtown Partnership. The chamber’s issues committee is currently strategizing and working on tactics to put the funding behind the DDA back on the ballot this November.
  • Partnerships/collaboration: The chamber is an invested partner with community outlets and is excited to begin growing new connections while continuing to support its current partnerships. The chamber will continue to focus on small business development with The Warehouse Business Accelerator and will be partnering with the Colorado Enterprise Fund, working with the Larimer County Workforce and more to continue serving members’ interests. We will be able to better support local workforce needs and position the chamber as a conduit to finding solutions to these business’ needs.
  • Economic development: The chamber will be working on an upcoming series of community meetings called “Eggs and Issues’ focusing on targeted industries that are important to Loveland and northern Colorado. These series will bring in leaders from various industries and have them talk about the issues they are seeing, their workforce needs and how the chamber can better address these issues. Ultimately, this will help drive economic development within the community, benefiting chamber members. We will use this knowledge to work closely with our education partners like local high schools, Front Range Community College, Aims Community College, CSU, UNC and more.

Although it isn’t a direct strategic imperative for us in 2016, the chamber is keenly focused on young professionals and millennials in our community. In the coming months, the chamber's young professionals group, Stir, will be ramping up activities and will be engaging more in community awareness and community partnerships. The chamber is focused on being proactive and growing the next generation of community leaders, which is why this partnership with the young professionals group is of high importance and focus. Later this year, the chamber is looking to bring in a national speaker focused on providing information on generational change and commitment to excellence in the workplace. The chamber, and our businesses, are looking forward to working alongside these young professionals for the greater good of our community, region and state as a whole.

Stay tuned for additional updates, and don’t hesitate to contact the chamber to discuss our work further. Together, we can – and are - doing great things!

 

Blessings,

Mindy McCloughan

Valentine Season in the Sweetheart City

February 1st, 2016 by Mindy McCloughan

Small-LCOC-2014-Mindy-McCloughan-Headshot-300x260Here we are in February – one of the chamber’s favorite months of the year! For the first two weeks our conference room becomes the home of the nation’s largest Valentine Re-Mailing Program that stamps 160,000 valentines from all 50 states and 110 countries. The room fills with laughter, joy and reflection as our stampers (otherwise known as Angels on Earth) lovingly hand stamp each incoming valentine, some accompanied with messages of hope, others with details about where the valentine came from and where it is going. This is its 70th year and we have a lot to celebrate with our amazing volunteers.

Don’t miss out on your chance to purchase Loveland’s official valentine. You can buy it directly through participating retailers, all listed on the website. Don’t forget to visit participating Loveland restaurants, bars and liquor stores to get the official Loveland valentine beer produced by Grimm Brothers Brewhouse. Last year it sold out quickly, so get it FAST! The valentine coffee is a delightful twist on chocolate covered cherries; indulge in it now while you can! Thank you to Brewsworthy Coffee for such a great collaboration.

This is my fourth Valentine season in Loveland, Colorado, the nation’s Sweetheart City, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. A big thank you to our volunteers, our members, our sponsors and our community for embracing the chamber’s role for Valentine’s Day and supporting the program by sending your valentines through the program, purchasing the official Loveland Valentine card and supporting our local businesses by shopping and dining out for the holiday.

Together, we can – and are - doing great things!

Blessings,

Mindy McCloughan

Looking Forward after Downtown Development Authority Vote

November 9th, 2015 by Mindy McCloughan

Small-LCOC-2014-Mindy-McCloughan-Headshot-300x260Following the local elections, I am disheartened by the decision to not approve ballot issues 5b and 5c, which would provide substantial funding for the Downtown Development Authority (DDA). However, I and many other community members, will not be discouraged by this loss as we look toward the future of a prosperous downtown Loveland.

The proposed ballot initiative 5b and 5c would bring funding that supports vital parts of our community as they are created for the purpose of promoting and financing redevelopment in a designated area. If you are not familiar, a DDA is a development agency responsible for many improvements in the downtown area. DDA projects contribute greatly to the growth and development of downtown. A flourishing downtown is essential for a thriving community. Even the most successful downtowns in the United States didn’t become that way overnight. It took time, resources and commitment from involved and interested parties to make it work.

Although ballot initiative 5b and 5c did not pass, there are still many next steps that the chamber will work toward to ensure downtown Loveland continues to thrive for the coming years. We know we have to put this back on the ballot next November and we need to strategize a plan starting in Jan. 2016 for not only education for those in the boundary but partnering with the businesses to strengthen our voice. We will continue to strategize, update our voter list, work with local businesses and inform the public about our role in Loveland moving forward.

We have a strong team that is committed to working together to enhance our downtown. Make sure you stay connected to the DDA and look for more information to follow in the coming moths. Remember that together we can do great things to continue promoting business and community prosperity.

 

Blessings,

Mindy McCloughan