September 22, 2013 Updated: September 22, 2013 at 10:25 am
When the Regional Tourism Act grant was awarded to Pueblo, I thought, "good for them." Then I thought, "why didn't Colorado Springs have the vision to apply?" When I heard we, indeed, applied this year with the "City for Champions" proposal, I thought, "Good for us! Another great opportunity didn't pass us by." Why do I support the proposal with its four unique attractions?
- More out-of-area visitors will come visit us, spend money, and enjoy these unique attractions, while generating significant new, needed sales tax dollars. We need these dollars to fund stormwater, transportation and infrastructure needs, while still recovering from the losses of the recession, fires and floods.
- Our application is for a tourism grant that can only be used for projects that attract new, out-of-area tourists to the state. It's state money coming back to us, instead of going elsewhere.
- $200 million in new state sales tax revenues generated from $7 billion in net, new tourist retail sales over the next 30 years. Plus, an additional $300 million in new sales tax revenue from tourist spending that otherwise wouldn't be here.
- More than 300 construction, 700 permanent, and thousands of ancillary jobs from new shops, restaurants and business sprouting from the attractions.
- No one involved has said this proposal will increase local taxes to our citizens and residents, yet those who don't like change are using that as a scare tactic. There are wheels already in motion securing funding from various sources to build these attractions that do not rely on any tax increases. Besides, any local tax increase would first be approved and voted on by our citizens, which I support.
- If awarded the tourism grant, we have five years to work together to make sure this is done well and involves community input on how these venues can best serve both residents and visitors. Proposals like this never have every single detail worked out in advance. This is where interested citizens step up, get involved and offer suggestions and ideas.
- I have faith in our ability to work together. I have faith we have the "can do" spirit that can make this happen.
Thank you to those with the vision and tenacity to put this application forth. Through the community input process, let's bring the wonderful diversity of our citizens together, and challenge ourselves, not by asking "why" but by asking "how" can we make this happen in the best way possible. We banded together beautifully in disaster; we can do the same to build something positive and lasting that will benefit Pikes Peak region citizens and their families, as well as future generations.
Do we wish to attract young professionals to Colorado Springs? This is how to do it. This project brings some of the jobs, retail business, and the downtown/urban residential environment that young professionals are seeking. I know - I am one, which is why I support it and ask you to support it as well.
Sandy Wenger is director of Operations for Conspire; founder of Rising Professionals, a young professionals group started through the Chamber of Commerce.