Manufacturing in State of the State Addresses: Colorado

Colorado’s new governor, John Hickenlooper, did not use the terms “manufacturing” or “industry” in his first State of the State address on Thursday, Jan. 13, but he started the speech by recalling how he and other investors overcame difficulties to create a successful Colorado Springs brewery. In other words, Gov. Hickenlooper began his speech by talking about using his experience in business and manufacturing to make larger points about Colorado, its economy, and the state’s challenges.

Almost 20 years ago to the day, a person who knew that I loved old buildings coaxed me down 70 miles south of here to look at the only registered historical landmark in downtown Colorado Springs. It was scheduled for demolition. I bought that building from the bank, but despite previous successes in Denver and Fort Collins, I could not attract investors to save the old Cheyenne Hotel.

After almost two years of work, when the bank was on the verge of repossessing the building, our general contractor, the man – the legend – Chuck Murphy, saw another approach. He called a meeting of all the subcontractors who had bid on the project – the electrician, the plumber, the sprinkler guy, all of the others – to come listen to the same pitch I’d been giving to wealthy investors.

Despite my skepticism that small businesspeople would accept such risk, they put their money down. We raised the last $150,000 from the subcontractors. They become my partners. From that point on, everything was different. I’ll never forget when the electrician came and was concerned about lighting in the bar. He suggested that we replace the deluxe fan system in our plans with an equally durable fan that also featured lights. I asked what the extra cost was going to be, and he said I’m your partner, “Why would I add an extra cost?”

That’s how we built the Phantom Canyon Brewing Co.

Two other simple statements merit appreciative note:

  • Our top priority must be jobs.
  • Sustainable jobs are created by the private sector.

And the Democratic governor tied these principles into a call for regulatory reform, or at least regulatory reporting:

In the days ahead, I would like to see if we could look at adding a regulatory impact statement or something like a regulatory impact statement to new legislation. Just as we require a fiscal note for every new bill that estimates the costs to state government, we could also include an estimation of the cost to businesses of additional regulations.

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