Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Springs, Pueblo work to attract California companies

RICH LADEN Updated: March 29, 2013 at 12:00 am

Economic development officials in Colorado Springs and Pueblo are California dreamin’.

The Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance and the Pueblo Economic Development Corp. (PEDCO) are teaming up to launch an email advertising campaign that targets thousands of California employers and their top executives.

The goal: Get the Springs and Pueblo on the radar screens of businesses who are weary of the Golden State’s high taxes and burdensome regulations and who might consider southern Colorado if they decide to relocate, said David White, the Business Alliance’s chief business development officer.

“A lot of times, when you send an ad out, that company’s CEO is not ready to make the move right then,” White said. “But what happens is, they remember us. They kind of file it away. And when their (building) lease is expiring and they are ready to make a move, Colorado Springs comes into play — or southern Colorado, in this case.”

The Business Alliance has conducted similar California campaigns in the past, but this might be the first time it’s joined forces with Pueblo on such an effort, White said.

Despite competition between the cities to add jobs, both organizations say all of southern Colorado would benefit from a regional effort when it comes to wooing California employers.

Typically, employers who relocate will look at an area on a regional basis, and a difference of 30 to 45 miles between two communities will be insignificant to them, said Rich Werner, vice president of the Pueblo Economic Development Corp.

“We share a lot of the same a assets in terms of things like workforce,” Werner said. “On a daily basis, people are commuting back and forth between Colorado Springs and Pueblo to live and to work.”

Some of the Springs’ more high-profile economic development successes of late have resulted from decisions by California-based companies, White said; manufacturer Bal Seal Engineering, which makes spring-loaded connectors that carry electric current for pacemakers and other medical devices, is currently building a plant on the city’s north side.

California is being targeted after a new round of tax hikes in that state were approved by voters in November, White said.

“There’s a lot of bad things happening to business in California,” he said.

The campaign’s first ad is scheduled to be emailed next week to 13,000 California employers and so-called “c-level” executives at those companies — including CEOs, chief operating officers and chief financial officers, White said. The first ad highlights aerospace and defense companies in advance of the 29th annual National Space Symposium, which takes place April 8-11 at The Broadmoor hotel in the Springs, White said.

The alliance already had lists of companies and executives it purchased from direct mail companies for previous campaigns; PEDCO also bought a list of health and clean technology companies to augment those on file with the alliance, White said.

The monthly ads will be aimed at industries that already have a presence in the Springs and Pueblo and that are part of the organizations’ targeted economic sectors, White said.

“It’s a campaign very much focused on industries where we have an advantage,” he said. “These are businesses that are clustered here.”

The ads will include links that allow viewers to obtain more information or watch videos; the ads also will carry the Business Alliance and PEDCO names, phone numbers and website addresses.

The ads will be sent to companies with 50 to 200 employees, White said. Those companies would have more flexibility to relocate and would be candidates to move since they lack the size and financial deep pockets to weather higher taxes and onerous regulations, White said.

The Business Alliance’s portion of the campaign is about $7,000 — the cost to hire firms to design the ads, distribute them and glean analytical data, such as who opened the email, which web links they clicked on and the like, he said. The ads are being produced by Infront Webworks and MHC United, a pair of Colorado Springs companies.

The email campaign, White added, is far cheaper than print or broadcast ads.

PEDCO chipped in another $2,000 to buy its additional employer list, Werner said.

Contact Rich Laden: 636-0228 Twitter @richladen
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