Friday, April 17, 2009

Royal tiff in the Springs

How can the state let that happen?

That was my first reaction to reading the story in The Denver Post this morning about the dust up over a public-private partnership in Colorado Springs that is intended to keep the headquarters of the United States Olympic Committee in Colorado.

Great story, Jason Blevins.

So I fired off an e-mail to Don Elliman, executive director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, to ask my question.

Elliman answered graciously, but first allow me to briefly outline the problem, according to Blevins in The Post.

A three-way deal between the city of Colorado Springs, the USOC and a developer, Land Equity Partners, has gone sour because the developer has been sued by investors, the city has refused to go to a lousy bond market to borrow nearly $21 million it planned to contribute to the project, and the USOC has failed so far to lease a redeveloped downtown building in the Springs that is to serve as the committee's national headquarters.

That would make it seem state government has had no role in the controversy, but Elliman said his office was asked to participate and made a commitment to the project. What's fallen apart has so far been beyond the state's control.

"We agree the USOC is a very important presence in Colorado, and we certainly want to retain it," Elliman anwered. "As you are well aware," he said,"we have limited financial resources at the State level due to a host of constitutional and statutory constraints. If it were in our power to solve this deal, we would do so, but throwing large sums of money at it, beyond what we've already done is not an option."

So the answer to my question: "How can the state let this happen?" is evident. It couldn't prevent it.

Yet the importance of working out a solution would behoove the state to get active behind the scenes. Politics is exercised behind closed doors far more than in front of cameras, and economic development comes down to much more than holding news conferences.

That's why Tom Clark, of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., recently announced he was was going to start a blog that kept the public informed about the Denver Metro Chamber's own economic development efforts.

I've not yet been able to find the blog, but in an era of transparency brought on by the election of Barack Obama, I'm sure I'll find it soon enough.

Information is king and queen in a transgendered age that has been named for it. Of course, it can leave you royally screwed, too, but at least you know when it's happening.

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