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September 2014 Issue

Cover Story

Real estate: Seven-year checkup

By Margaret Jackson

Seven years after the former Fitzsimons Army post was redeveloped as a hub for health care, education and research, the campus is doing exactly what it was created to do: breeding companies based on research developed at the hospitals and school on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Located on one square mile at Colfax Avenue and Peoria Street in Aurora, the campus is a critical engine to Colorado’s economy with an economic impact of $2.6 billion annually. Nearly 50 companies are located on the campus’ north end in the Colorado Science + Technology Park

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Articles

New school aims to prepare students for STEM careers

By Mike Taylor

Serial entrepreneur Vic Ahmed believes massive debt incurred by college students hinders their career development and future education options, ultimately depriving the country the full use of some of its brightest minds. He’s one of the driving forces behind the STEM Learning Center at Innovation Pavilion, set to debut in Centennial this fall with the aim of preparing students for the work force or to start their own companies right out of high school.  “Just imagine a country in which a significant portion of the ‘best of the best’ are walking out of college with (the equivalent of) a mortgage hanging over their heads that will never go away,” says Ahmed, an angel investor and the co-founder and chairman of Innovation Pavilion, billed as an ecosystem for startups and high-growth companies.  “What risks are they going to take?. . .

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Urban village to fill void

Redevelopment of former hospital site in the works

By Margaret Jackson

It’s been seven years since the University of Colorado Hospital moved to the Anschutz Medical Campus, leaving its location at East Ninth Avenue and Colorado Boulevard as a prime spot for redevelopment. Time and again, developers have tried to buy the property and launch a project, but market conditions and neighborhood opposition have thwarted those efforts. Now, however, an all-star team led by Continuum Partners has the 41-acre site under contract for $30 million in a deal that’s expected to close by the end of the year. Since the University of Colorado Board of Regents selected the team in February, it’s completed its due diligence and has been refining plans for the property. “We didn’t uncover anything that scared us away,” Frank Cannon, Continuum’s development director, said at a neighborhood meeting in July. The team,. . .

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Top Companies 2014: Working with purpose

Plus the nonprofit winner

By Gigi Sukin

Make no mistake, the basis for business is to make money. That hasn’t changed since the dawn of capitalism. But increasingly, companies that rise to the top have been driven by something more: a greater purpose — whether it’s providing jobs, improving lives, protecting the environment, fostering stronger human connections or some alternative higher aim — and the money has followed. That much was evident from the nominations submitted for ColoradoBiz magazine’s 27th annual Top Company Awards, arguably Colorado’s most competitive and rigorously judged program of its kind. (See the complete list of winners and finalists.) “The thing that really jumped out at me is, [the Top Company winners] are more givers than takers,” said Sean Nohavec, senior vice president of business development at UMB Bank in Colorado and one of this year’s. . .

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Mountain resorts pay up for health coverage

Seasonal jobs, active lifestyles among the factors cited for disparities

By Allen Best

Colorado’s mountain resorts made the news last winter for reasons unrelated to snowfall; instead, Kaiser Health News reported that a four-county region – from Breckenridge to Vail, and from Aspen to Glenwood Springs – had the highest health-insurance costs in the country. It wasn’t a shock. Aspen and Vail have some of the highest real estate prices in the world. Why would insurance be different? Yet the story that emerges is a microcosm of our difficulty with health care. The Affordable Health Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) didn’t cause the problem, nor does it solve what is essentially the struggle of middle-income workers. The heartburn story about high-priced insurance emerged because of a redrawing of. . .

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Specialty foods: Going to market

Local markets often first step for turning passion into business

By Suzie Romig

Specialty food company owner Clay Meers had a hankering for hot sauce his whole life.  “I’ve been eating green chilies as long as I can remember,” said Meers, who grew up in New Mexico and now calls Northern Colorado home. When Meers and his wife, Tamara, were dating, she carried a bottle of hot sauce in her purse just in case. Now they’re saucy business partners at Yampa Valley Sauce Co., based out of Steamboat Springs. The Meers’ path is a scenario often duplicated, said Dawn Thilmany, professor of agricultural economics at Colorado State University. A personal passion-turned-specialty- product is a pattern that new food producers in Colorado follow more than 80 percent of the time. Meers started cooking. . .

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A startup state of mind

From Fort Collins to Durango, support for new business abounds

By Gigi Sukin

With the right dose of technology, experience and ambition, entrepreneurs can set up shop just about anywhere nowadays. Still, one thing hasn’t changed.  “Creating companies from nothing is hard – period,” said Brad Feld, co-founder and managing director of Boulder-based Foundry Group LLC, a venture capital firm that invests in early-stage information technology. But from corner to corner of Colorado, the collective startup swagger is evident. Businesses are materializing with support from meet-ups, pitch competitions, incubators, accelerators, co-working spaces and other startup forums.   “Data shows that startups are major contributors of new jobs in the economy,” said Jason Schrock, chief. . .

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Top Company 2014: Software

By Nora Caley

Software winner: Four Winds Interactive fourwindsinteractive.com Four Winds Interactive is known for its digital signs that help meeting-goers make their way around hotels, but CEO David Levin says the company does much more. “For our digital signage product there are thousands of different uses,” he says. In fact, hospitality is only one third of FWi’s business. The company also provides digital signs and software in 700 colleges for student communication networks, 20 hospitals for patients and visitors, and flight information for American Airlines in 10 major airports. When the company launched nine years ago, it had to train people to touch the screens to get information; today consumers presume every screen has touch capabilities. Meanwhile buildings and facilities professionals expect signage to be aesthetically interesting and interactive and want. . .

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Top Company 2014: Consulting & Professional Services

By Mike Dano

Consulting & Professional Services winner: Ecosphere Environmental Services Ecosphere-services.com Founded in 1982, Durango-based Ecosphere Environmental Services specializes in environmental compliance and permitting, natural resources consulting, public outreach and participation, and environmental planning and monitoring. Ecosphere provides professional environmental consulting solutions and expert regulatory guidance to a variety of clients across the Four Corners region, and in the last five years has extended its client base across the western U.S. Balancing economic development with environmental protections requires not only expertise in the environmental sciences, but also a deep understanding of the federal, state, and local regulatory landscape. Ecosphere possesses both, having successfully provided integrated environmental consulting services for more than three. . .

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Rundles wrap up: The ever-higher cost of higher education

By Jeff Rundles

Recently I read an obscure newspaper article about how the U.S. Selective Service System this summer sent military draft registration orders to 14,000 Pennsylvania men born between 1893 and 1897. Obviously, the military isn’t looking for guys in the 117-to-121-year-old range; the computers just mixed up the “18” and “19” as computers are wont to do. But it struck me that 100 years from now, computers from the Federal Student Loan program might be sending default notices to people born between 1993 and 1997, and they wouldn’t be computer errors: The recipients in the 22nd century, at ages 117 to 121, will most likely still have balances on their college debt. Such is the state of higher education today. There is something like $1.2 trillion – yes, with a “T” – in outstanding student loan debt in this country, and the. . .

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GenXYZ 2014: 25 Most Influential Young Professionals

Impatience is a virtue for these GenXYZ achievers

By Lisa Ryckman

Just try reading about this year’s 25 Most Influential Young Professionals without a little envy and a lot of astonishment. Really, how did they come so far so fast? Take Rachel Scott: She’s marketing director for Quick Left, but she’s also a musician and elite athlete who founded the Colorado Women’s Cycling Project, the largest women’s cycling team in the nation and possibly the world. “She’s started and run two successful companies, rebranded 100-year-old nonprofits, orchestrated deliveries of thousands of books by bike to underprivileged children and runs the CWCP team,” says her business partner and friend, Vera Divenyi. “I met her at 25 and she’s continued to blow me away with her accomplishments, personally and professionally.” Paths to success haven’t always been paved or leisurely for these young. . .

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Top Company 2014: Health care

Winner: Eating Recovery Center

By Mike Dano

Health Care winner: Eating Recovery Center eatingrecoverycenter.com “The beauty of Eating Recovery Center is that it’s a consummate example of doing good and doing well,” said Dr. Kenneth Weiner, co-founder and CEO of the Denver-based medical operation. By year’s end the company will operate 12 centers in four states, including five in Colorado. The company, founded in 2007, now employs around 600 workers, half in Colorado. “So we get to take care of people with serious eating disorders, save lives – and if we do it better than anyone else in the country, it’s a very successful business,” Weiner said. His approach – providing the highest quality care possible –  appears to have paid off. Since opening its doors to patients in 2008, the company’s revenues have soared more than fivefold, and Weiner projects a. . .

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Rough road for the children of Central America

By Pat Wiesner

In 1998, Hurricane Mitch clobbered Honduras. With more than 15 hours of winds in excess of 155 knots, Mitch ripped through the middle of the country, destroying almost 80 percent of the bridges and roads. Hundreds of thousands of homes were destroyed. The death toll was estimated somewhere around 11,000, but the real number will never be known. The damage figured out to $5 billion, and Honduras was already the second-poorest nation in this hemisphere. The time to rebuild was estimated at 20 years. I first went to Honduras in 1999 with a couple pilot friends. We received 10,000 pounds of medical supplies from Project Cure, loaded an old DC3 and went to Tegucigalpa. It was mostly for the adventure.   There I met a guy named Tony Stone, an American who grew up in La Ceiba, Honduras. He had quit his engineering job in the U.S. and gone back to start a micro-credit organization in. . .

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Executive edge: Eric Wallace

Left Hand Brewing president was an early believer in craft movement

By Lynn Bronikowski

Eric Wallace’s love of craft beer began while living in Germany, where his father was in the Air Force. After graduating from the Air Force Academy himself and being stationed in Northern Italy and Turkey, Wallace settled in Colorado, where in 1993 he co-founded Left Hand Brewing Co. Starting as a home brewery in a condo in Niwot, it has become the 38th largest craft brewery by volume in the nation. Wallace, 52, recently won an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and his Longmont-based beer has earned more than 21 Great American Beer Festival medals, nine World Beer Cup Awards and six European Beer Star Awards. How did you get into brewing? After the Air Force I moved back to the States and saw all these little breweries. . .

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Tech startup: Cloud Elements

By Eric Peterson

Initial Lightbulb: As CEO of Channelinsight, a Denver provider of channel data management software, Mark Geene says the company spent hundreds of hours integrating cloud-based services. “We had to connect data from clients’ CRM and accounting system,” he explains. “We started building stuff ourselves. It was hard to do. We saw an opportunity for a business there.” Geene subsequently left Channelinsight to co-found Cloud Elements, and serves as CEO. In a Nutshell: Cloud Elements cuts the time required to integrate cloud-based apps with a suite of “elements” ranging from Salesforce and Sendgrid, to Dropbox and Zendesk. “We connect apps to the cloud, both mobile and SaaS, at a fraction of the cost and. . .

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Top Company 2014: Real Estate/Construction/Contracting

By Nora Caley

Real Estate/Construction/Contracting winner: Boulder Creek Neighborhoods livebouldercreek.com Boulder Creek Neighborhoods kept its focus this year, and that helped the homebuilder double revenues and add staff. That focus was on building what it calls “lock and leave” homes, for the demographic of active adult empty-nesters. That’s a growing audience for the Louisville-based company, as the baby boomer retiree segment continues to grow, with an estimated 10,000 people in the U.S. reaching age 65 each day, according to the Pew Research Center. Baby boomers, famously, do not want what their parents did. While “silent generation” homeowners wanted to live their final years in their large, memory-filled houses, the 60-somethings of today are ready to exit their houses, not to mention their lawns. “Baby boomers are getting to a stage in. . .

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The Economist: Employment statistics

What do they tell us about the economy?

By Tucker Hart Adams

As I told a businessman who said he only had time to pay attention to one statistic, the single most important piece of economic data is the employment figure. The United States economy added 288,000 jobs in June, the fifth consecutive month of gains exceeding 200,000. The unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent, continuing a decline that began in November 2009.  Clearly the economy is improving on the job front. But, is there more to the story? Each month the federal government’s Current Employment Statistics (CES) program surveys approximately 144,000 businesses and government agencies, representing approximately 554,000 individual worksites, to provide detailed industry data on employment on non-farm payrolls. The data exclude proprietors, the unincorporated self-employed, unpaid volunteers or family employees, farm employees and domestic employees. Government. . .

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Tech and travel

New apps abound, but don’t write off guidebooks just yet

By Eric Peterson

The trusty travel guide – the paper variety – is at a crossroads. Take the case of Google buying Frommer’s Travel Guides in 2012. The search giant immediately quashed the model of regularly updated paper books, but within a year sold off the longstanding brand back to its namesake founder, Arthur Frommer, who started writing travel guides in the 1950s. The paper guide was back – but the Frommer’s catalog was sliced from about 300 titles to 20 when it resumed publication in 2013. Where dead-tree guidebooks are waning, mobile travel apps are proliferating, offering users an endless stream of hotel reviews, itineraries and other travel content. The question is whether they can improve on the printed page. “There have been dozens of travel-inspiration apps that have been funded and launched,” says Tom Filippini, CEO of Denver-based. . .

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Made in Colorado: Enjoy Biscotti, Roost stand, Valentich bags, custom guitars

By Eric Peterson

1. Enjoy Biscotti Mary Sherman started making biscotti for her friends and family in the late 1990s, and turned pro in 2008. “They’re not necessarily your traditional biscotti,” she says. “I use a different liqueur in each variety. They’re artisan.” This makes for varieties like the best-selling Frangelico Chocolate Toffee Chunk and Raspy Blues (with Chambord and blueberries). “The flavors just blend very well together,” she says. “People say, ‘I don’t like biscotti, but I love yours.’” $15/dozen retail Made by Enjoy Biscotti Co. Wheat Ridge enjoybiscotti.com 2.. . .

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Sports biz: Boulder’s not-so-secret agent man thrives on authenticity

By Stewart Schley

Let’s get this out of the way now: Your name is not Johnny Alamo and my name is not Johnny Alamo and that is simply the unfairness we must accept. On the flipside, there is a real Johnny Alamo, who once made a living as a professional freestyle-skier, worked side-by-side with legendary filmmaker Warren Miller, and now spends his time as a Boulder-based sports marketing specialist with a client list that exhibits a detectable lean toward the young, spirited and supremely talented – Olympic-athlete kind-of-talented. All of this, I believe, justifies a strong a priori distaste for Johnny Alamo, or at least the lathering up of a festering resentment toward him before meeting him. (Note: Newswriting convention dictates that we refer to subjects by last name on second and subsequent reference, but c’mon: The guy’s name is Johnny Alamo and writers only live. . .

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