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Headlines: Reform, Jobs, and Colorado’s Business Landscape

On July 21, President Obama signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the largest piece of financial reform legislation since the Great Depression. The bill reaches into nearly every corner of the financial industry. Supporters say the law will help prevent a repeat of the financial crisis, while critics say it will limit credit and hinder economic growth. It will give a range of regulatory agencies power to write rules related to issues including consumer protection and proprietary trading.

The outlook for the job market has improved, according to a survey of leading economists released on July 19, even as the economic recovery hit a speed bump in the second quarter. In its second–quarter industry survey, the National Association for Business Economics said employers grew payrolls for a second consecutive quarter this year. The percentage of firms increasing staff levels grew to 31% in the quarter, versus only 6% in the same period a year ago. At the same time, the percentage of employers cutting jobs continued to move lower.

Colorado’s business landscape has been shaken up a bit in recent months with the acquisition of Qwest by CenturyTel and the sale of Frontier Airlines to Republic Airways. However, reports indicate that Colorado’s role as a leader in clean energy will continue to expand. Vestas will spend $1 billion to expand annual production capacity in Colorado to 3,000 megawatts. The company also intends to hire 2,000 workers to sell and build turbines. The United States has the largest concentration of wind turbines in production in the world.

CEO Corner

Bruce Alexander Tourism in Colorado

Summer in Colorado — a time when many out–of–state visitors arrive to enjoy the wonderful activities our state has to offer — and a great time to take a look at the impact that tourism is having on our local economy.

Colorado tourism, our second largest industry, was up 4% last year while it was down 5% in the rest of the country. We’re also tracking to have another increase this year. In an industry that generates $8 billion in spending and includes 144,000 jobs, that increase should certainly have a positive economic effect for Colorado.

In my role as Chairman of Visit Denver, Denver’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, I’m particularly excited about the estimated 400,000 visitors that are expected to attend events at the Denver Convention Center through the remainder of the year. This should have a $650 million impact on the economy including additional tax revenue for the state. Events such as the Biennial of the Americas and the King Tut exhibit at the Denver Art Museum will also bring great exposure to Colorado.

We’re seeing improvements in bookings for leisure travel, with our customers in towns like Durango and Aspen reporting an increase in summer reservations over last year.

Recreation is obviously important to Coloradans as well, with many choosing to spend their vacations here to enjoy outdoor activities rather than plan vacations out of the state. As further evidence of this trend, our customers in the outdoor gear industry have seen little negative impact on their sales over the past year.

Tourism is a vital component of our state’s economy and we hope these positive trends continue through the year and in to the winter ski season. With much of the economy still being a mixed bag of good and bad news, we remain optimistic that tourism can continue to be a key driver in our recovery here in Colorado.

Bruce Alexander
President & CEO
Vectra Bank Colorado

Book Review

THE SMARTEST RETIREMENT BOOK YOU’LL EVER READ
BY DANIEL R. SOLIN

Carol SkubicReview by Carol Skubic

If the “Great Recession” has done anything for American society, one can only hope it has inspired more workers to plan their retirement, and plan wisely. For those retiring in the near future, “The Smartest Retirement Book You’ll Ever Read“ is an excellent primer.

No question, the book’s title is enticing. The contents just might live up to the name, at least for a starting point. The book covers the same gamut of retirement advice found in many sources, but Solin also provides solid advice on avoiding scams, finding help during desperate times, and planning to protect your surviving spouse.

Solin emphasizes an important tip many retirement planners miss: If retirees do not figure out how to maximize their money during retirement, all their pre–planning could be for naught. Therefore, the book focuses on what to do — and what not to do — post–retirement, including deciding whether or not to continue to work part–time and evaluating whether to stick with a scheduled investment program that takes investments from more aggressive to more conservative as retirement approaches. (Solin says a tentative “yes” to keeping such a program, if it’s working for you — it will only become more conservative during retirement.)

The “smartest ever” format is one that seems to be working for Solin; he also has written “The Smartest Investment Book You’ll Ever Read“ and “The Smartest 401(k) Book You’ll Ever Read.” Those volumes might help you better understand what to do with your money before you retire; this one will give you a good overview of what to think about as your retirement approaches.

Carol Skubic is Market President for Vectra Bank Colorado in Grand Junction. She can be reached at (970) 243-2315 or Carol.Skubic@vectrabank.com.

Survey Says Colorado’s A Great Place to do Business

Shawn Cole By Shawn Cole

Colorado, and particularly the Denver–metro area, has received much recognition in the past year. Coming out of the economic recession, our state is poised as one of the hottest spots in the United States. Take inspiration from this positive perspective, and get your business ready to take advantage of future opportunities.

Our communities are admired.

Banking Point In 2009, Fast Company magazine named Denver one of its “Fast Cities” whose “exemplary initiatives are improving neighborhoods, transforming lives, and helping build better, faster cities for the future.” In May 2010, the magazine spotlighted Denver Public Schools’ teacher incentive program as one of the best.

Banking Point Money magazine named Louisville the best mid–size city in the nation in which to live in 2009.

Banking Point Colorado is the nation’s fifth-favorite state, found a 2009 Harris poll. In the same poll, Denver and San Francisco tied as America’s second–most popular cities (after New York) to live in. Pew Research put Denver No. 1 as Americans’ most desirable city to live in.

Banking Point Outside magazine ranked Colorado Springs as its No. 1 best city in America in 2009.

Banking Point Adventure magazine in 2009 named Fort Collins “Best place to start a family.”

We’re good for business.

Banking Point On Forbes magazine’s 2010 list of the best places to do business, Fort Collins ranked No. 4, Denver ranked No. 6, Colorado Springs ranked No. 12, Boulder ranked No. 14, and Greeley ranked No. 29. On CNBC’s 2010 Top States for Business list, Colorado ranked as the third–best state for business; No. 2 in quality of life, and No. 4 in business friendless based on the perceived “friendliness” of the state’s legal and regulatory frameworks for business.

Banking Point Bloomberg Businessweek named Boulder in 2010 as the best city for starting a tech business, thanks to a “bottom–up revolution by entrepreneurs.”

Banking Point Denver was rated among Fast Company’s top five cities for cleantech (clean energy companies) in 2009.

Colorado real estate is a good value.

Banking Point In June 2010, a Bloomberg Businessweek report ranked Denver as the most improved U.S. housing market.

Banking Point Earlier this year, CNNMoney.com forecast Pueblo to have the 12th–highest price gains in real estate in the nation.

Banking Point In June 2009, Forbes named Denver the best city in the nation to buy a home. In December, the publication put the Denver–Aurora market at No. 13 on its list of cities recovering from the foreclosure crisis. Colorado Springs ranked 32nd.

Our region is a magnet for economically powerful retirees.

Banking Point In October, U.S. News & World Report named Aurora as one of the country’s most affordable places to retire, Forbes rated Denver No. 16 among major cities for retirees, and Kiplinger’s included Colorado among its “tax–friendly destinations” for seniors.

That’s some serious appeal. Combined with the anticipated improving state, national and global economies during 2010 and beyond, we in Colorado are well positioned for new opportunities.

Shawn Cole is the Community Banking Director for Vectra Bank Colorado. He can be reached at (720) 947-7708 or at Shawn.Cole@vectrabank.com.

1. http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/145/fast-cities-incentivized-teachers-denver.html
2.http://www.coloradogreeneconomy.com/2009/07/28/fast-company-ranks-colorado-cleantech/