The Regional Business Alliance's move to expand its board is another positive step in building our community's economic future.
Staff writer Rich Laden reported in Saturday's Gazette that the alliance, also known as the RBA, is adding 10 board members so it can expand upon the expertise needed to target and grow sectors of the economy. It now will have 25 of our best business minds leading the alliance in 2014.
The additions include respected members of our community such as Pam Shockley-Zalabak, chancellor of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs; Pikes Peak Community College President Lance Bolton; and Mike Scialdone, CEO of Memorial Health System. The targeted sectors include aerospace and defense, health care, higher education, sports and professional services.
Joe Raso, RBA's president and CEO, is correct when saying the alliance needs more leaders with expertise to help grow the economy. An expanded board is needed to help lead the "growth potential" of the community, as Raso said.
The alliance is not without its challenges and critics, as the story also stated. These seem typical in tough economic times when there's high unemployment. However, the alliance seems poised to meet those challenges and answer the critics as it has more than 40 business leaders signed on to support a future long-term strategy and investment campaign.
One of those challenges is our City Council's support for the alliance. The Gazette recently editorialized that the council should step up and approve the $240,000 for the alliance from the special Colorado Springs Utilities fund.
The organization has for more than a decade received $200,000 or more a year from Utilities, which we stated also needs the Springs to attract employers. We continue to maintain that now is not the time to withdraw the important and needed funds.
The growth of the alliance's board and the strategic plan are only two of the many reasons to support RBA now more than ever. Its emphasis on diversifying our economy and support of young professionals, small businesses and City for Champions are among the others. We need business growth, and the alliance and its expanded board are the ones to lead it.
It's time the council, organizations that provide finances, and the business community come together to support and rally behind the alliance and its economic development mission. We're confident the support will pay off in the future for our community.