DENVER (CBS4) – It was 6 weeks ago when Gov. Jared Polis started talking with other leaders in the business community and came up with the idea of a task force that could look at Colorado’s future with an emphasis on the economy. It’s now blossomed into eight different committees made up of more than 200 volunteers with different expertise from all over Colorado helping build a prosperous future.
“This is an enormous task, very broad based from all over the state representing almost every walk of life,” said Federico Peña, the chairman of the Governor’s Council on Economic Stabilization and Growth. “I looked at this very methodically and I said, ‘If we’re going to make recommendations to the governor to stabilize the economy and then grow the economy, we have to understand the breadth and the diversity of the economy.’”
Peña, Denver’s former mayor, says the task force work began immediately and presented the governor with several recommendations, 15 days, 30 days, and 60 days from the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. Peña says the governor has adopted nearly all of what the task force has recommended. He added, the group is always looking for more volunteers and helpful ideas.
There are differences in the eight subcommittees, more attention is being paid to energy and tourism.
“That’s very deep and that’s going to take time for them to claw their way out. This state is very dependent on tourism, how do we get back the tourist industry to give confidence not just to Colorado residents but people from throughout the country and the world and show them this is a great place to be,” Peña said.
His list of worries isn’t shrinking with concern growing for minority communities, workers, and nonprofits. But there are also signs the task force’s early recommendations have worked. The state placed an emphasis on educating small businesses about the Paycheck Protection Program, which some estimates say Colorado has received more money per worker than nearly every other state. The governor has also taken action on property taxes and making fees more flexible, ideas that are friendlier to businesses.
“The cooperation between the cities and the counties and the state. We’re working on this together. And we cannot do this unless we have tremendous support. I’ve always felt good about how people are willing to rise to the occasion, volunteer, give their time, their money, their energy, their ideas, and that’s what gives me hope. In terms of emerging from this crisis and this major recession,” he said.
Having seen recoveries from other downturns and crises, Peña believes it will be the people of Colorado that lead to prosperity in the future.
“How do we change that mindset so we come out of this economically strong, but I’d say from a whole different perspective of citizen appreciation, of being a more friendly state? Those are some of the things I hope as we learn and go through this effort.”