Kathy Boe has the issues of attracting workforce and keeping the U.S. Space Command in the Springs at top of mind as she begins a one-year term as the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC's chair.
Boe is founder and CEO of Boecore, a Colorado Springs-based software, cybersecurity and specialized space and missile defense contractor with 275 employees; the company also has an office in Huntsville, Ala., and soon another in Albuquerque, N.M. Boe replaces Jacob Pruitt, vice president and general manager of Colorado Springs operations for T. Rowe Price, as Chamber & EDC chair.. Boe also serves on the boards of the military-focused Colorado Thirty Group, the National Cybersecurity Center and the Colorado Springs Health Foundation.
The 24-member board, which represents and supports local businesses and acts as a link to local, state and national political leaders, also includes vice chair Mike Juran, CEO of automotive software provider Altia, who will succeed Boe as chair next year. New members this year include Aileen Berrios, senior vice president of 5Star Bank; Ron Fitch, vice president of operations and military affairs for UCHealth Memorial Hospital; Ryan Heeter, chief operating officer of GE Johnson Construction; Ryan Klein, member of the Sherman & Howard law firm; Colin Mitchell, general manager of space systems for L3Harris Technologies; Laura Neumann, owner of LNBusiness Consulting, and Dustin Sapp, chief operating officer of software firm Formstack. New ex-officio members include Don Addy, chairman of Colorado Thirty Group; Joe Aldaz, president of the Colorado Springs Hispanic Chamber, and Tom Zelibor, CEO of the Space Foundation.
Boe spoke with The Gazette this week about her priorities as chair.
Question: What areas will you focus on this year as chair?
Answer: My two primary areas will be workforce attraction — our unemployment rate is near a record low hovering around 3% and is dangerously low — and making sure we keep the U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs. We need to attract workforce from outside our area at all levels and across all sectors of the economy. We are looking at targeting specific cities (to be determined) for workers in technology, defense, health care, sport, services and manufacturing. Many chamber member struggle with finding workers, especially with the national unemployment rate at a 50-year low and members of the baby boom generation retiring.
Keeping the Space Command in Colorado Springs is a top priority with 40% of our economy related to defense spending. We are working with elected officials at the local, state and national levels in that effort.
Q: What other areas are high priorities?
A: Attracting new businesses and helping businesses that are already here stay and grow remains a focus area. More than 70% of economic growth comes from local businesses expanding. We also need to help entrepreneurs starting new businesses and our small businesses — firms that employ 10 or fewer people make up nearly half of the chamber's membership. I am also excited that the chamber will be part of the opening this year of the new Olympic and Paralympic Museum and the Pikes Peak Summit House. We look forward to all of the growth we are seeing in the InterQuest area and downtown, and are supporting efforts to make sure southeast Colorado Springs shares in the region's growth. Another key focus is supporting a pro-business agenda at the local, state and national levels.
Another key strategic initiative of the chamber is workforce diversity and inclusion. A diverse and inclusive workforce is an important element of doing business today and the chamber will continue to be a leader in that area. We are still working out the details on how to implement that initiative.
Q: What prepared you for this role in the chamber?
A: I was vice chair last year and have served on both the chamber & EDC board and executive committee since 2014. I have been involved in many of these initiatives during that period and have learned from those with whom I have served.
Questions and answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.