Dream City 2020: Imagine a top-notch research university

By: Noel Black
July 11, 2009

Reinventing a metropolitan area isn’t a task that can be performed with insular thinking. As the organizers of Dream City: Vision 2020 plan for a massive community summit on July 18 at Coronado High School, they’re looking for inspirational ideas to move the city forward.
This is the sixth installment of a 10-part series looking at lessons other communities have learned that might have potential implications for Colorado Springs and the wider Pikes Peak region.
These aren’t recommendations by The Gazette or other Dream City organizers. They’re merely points of discussion, things that have been successful elsewhere that we might consider.

6. Expand higher education
The Brookings Institution pointed out at April’s State of the Rockies Symposium at Colorado College that although Colorado Springs has plenty of higher education institutions (Colorado College, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak Community College, the University of the Rockies and the Air Force Academy), we don’t have a top-100 research university.

Expanding the offerings of our local universities is cited by Angelos Angelou, founder of Angelou Economics, a consulting firm, as one of the most important factors for our future.

“I think you have an emerging university,” he said. “I think Colorado Springs should focus quite a bit of its economic development effort in really making this university more of an asset for economic development in the future by growing it and growing it in the areas of Colorado’s economic development attraction goals.

“The University of Texas in Austin many years ago found donors to give money to create endowed chairs. One of the greatest ways a community can help a university is to create endowed chairs. That brings some of the best and brightest people around the world to do specific research and raise the name and credibility and awareness of the university in some of those fields. And when you reach that level of awareness then it becomes more of a relevant asset for economic development.”

Angelou Economics is working with the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corporation on Operation 60 Thirty-Five, an economic strategy project to be published this summer that will outline ways for the city to become solidly competitive among other cities its size.

Tomorrow: Expand and intensify the arts scene
Perhaps Paducah, Ky., can teach us something about becoming an inviting community for artists.

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