Updated: December 14, 2010 at 12:00 am
After years of watching other communities spend time and money to influence lawmakers in Washington, D.C., Colorado Springs is getting into the act.
A group of private businesses, professional business organizations and local governments — calling itself the Coalition for Strategic Federal Action — has agreed to hire the D.C. firm of Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti Inc. for $100,000 a year to serve as the area’s lobbyist.
The firm’s bipartisan experience with congressional members, as well as its familiarity with the military and other Pikes Peak region issues, were some of the reasons it was hired, said Stephannie Finley, president of governmental affairs and public policy for the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, a coalition member.
The coalition has a one-year contract with the firm, which runs to next December, she said. At that time, the group will determine if it wants to extend the deal.
Plans to hire a lobbyist were disclosed by the group in September, when it had six members. Three more have been added, and all have agreed to ante up $10,000 each, Finley said. Three groups are interested in filling a 10th spot on the coalition, and an 11th member might be added whose $10,000 payment would help cover lobbying expenses, she said.
In addition to the chamber, coalition members include the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corp.; the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors; Ent Federal Credit Union; Colorado Springs Utilities; El Paso County; the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments; local developer Gary Erickson; and the Associated General Contractors of Colorado and the Colorado Association of Mechanical and Plumbing Contractors, which have a joint membership.
Coalition members have a list of 25 or so issues — such as transportation, health care and the military — they’re concerned about; that list will be whittled to five to 10, Finley said.
“They have one goal in mind — to do what we need to do for this economy and to create jobs,” Finley said.
To learn more about the firm hired by the coalition, go to Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti's website, here.
Contact the writer at 636-0228