A long-awaited economic roundtable between the governor of Colorado and Western Slope business interests afforded for two hours an amenable home on the range for the more than 50 people gathered there. Seldom was heard a discouraging word. As it turned out, the skies over Glenwood Springs were not cloudy all day.
The question now, of course, is whether as much will be done as was said at the meeting in finding ways to improve the lagging economy on the West Slope. But most of those who attended were optimistic in considering the meeting a promising first step toward that goal.
Gov. John Hickenlooper was receptive to most of the dozens of requests, suggestions and ideas presented during the session at Colorado Mountain College. Hickenlooper consented outright to some of the requests while agreeing to at least consider other proposals. In discussing some of the most divisive issues, including an uncertain regulatory environment for the energy industry, the governor at least acknowledged the concerns raised by companies in the coal, natural gas and oil extraction businesses and said he was sympathetic.
As governor of a state with one of the most vibrant overall economies in the country, it would be all too easy for Hickenlooper to tout all the good things that have happened in some parts of Colorado and conveniently forget about the bad things that continue to dog other parts of Colorado, the Grand Valley among them. To his credit, though, Hickenlooper continues to perform well both in his role as the avid cheerleader promoting the state and the responsible government executive whose realizes his responsibilities extend beyond the Front Range.
Congratulations are in order to local state lawmakers and Club 20 for calling for and conducting the economic roundtable and to the governor for attending and making possible an important and forthright exchange.
Now it behooves all of those who attended the roundtable to act upon the suggestions and ideas raised there. That certainly includes the lawmakers and governor, who have the power to enact laws and issue executive orders. But it also includes others who can continue to advocate for Western Colorado and lobby for change.
If nothing else, lawmakers, the governor and local officials should commit to continue meeting and continue talking about ways to improve the economy in Western Colorado. While it might be overly idealistic to believe a small group of thoughtful and committed citizens can change the world, it’s the only thing that ever has.