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Posted: June 23, 2011

Hick’s misstep @ OED

The governor seems to have gotten it right the second time

Bart Taylor

Several months into his term as governor, John Hickenlooper has been universally praised, it seems, for his focus on business and economic development. But one business-related issue continued to crop up in conversations I've had with business leaders: Where's his new economic development chief?

Very few people I know had met Dwayne Romero or had any personal interaction the newly appointed director of Colorado's Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT). Including employees in OEDIT.

News of Romero's departure didn't come as a surprise. But Gov. Hickenlooper's comments were. As reported in the Denver Business Journal, the governor credited Romero with "kick-starting our statewide Bottom-up Economic Development Plan and moving Colorado toward the path of economic revival. The Office of Economic Development and International Trade is stronger and more customer-focused because of Dwayne's leadership."

Huh?

Both of Gov. Ritter's OED chiefs, Don Elliman and especially Don Marostica, seemed far more customer-focused than was Romero, regardless of his short tenure, if visibility and interaction among business leaders is a measure. Truth be told, Mr. Hickenlooper has been acting OED director six months or so into his first term.

The governor's choice to replace Romero is Ken Lund, formerly managing partner at Denver law firm Holme Roberts & Owen. Lund moves over from his role as chief legal counsel in the governor's administration.

Lund's choice may again raise eyebrows. One could reasonably expect the leader of Colorado's economic development efforts to share deep, experiential ties to entrepreneurs and business executives, similar to those of the governor or others who've dealt full-time with launching, managing and growing a business in Colorado. Lund's law background simply won't impress everyone despite the governor's strong endorsement of his business credentials.

But Lund should be effective in his new role. He's managed a large business here, in Colorado, and has also been very involved in business and economic development as the governor suggests. He's backed efforts to push into promising emerging markets like new energy. He's been active in helping the state secure high-profile events. And his deep connections to Denver's business elite should translate well into the advocacy role that businesses expect from this important position.

Or at least that's my guess.

After an initial misstep, Gov. Hickenlooper seems to have gotten OEDIT right the second time around.

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Bart Taylor is the publisher of ColoradoBiz magazine. E-mail him at btaylor@cobizmag.com.

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Readers Respond

Totally agree, Bart, and glad to see somebody writing it. Didn't know Romero was so absent, but feared it upon appointment. Lund should be better if only because he has had to be more active as Hick's primary lawyer. Probably could see what needs to be done at OEDIT, and you would expect to see him do it. It takes time, of course, but in time we'll see whether Hick actually believes in what he says about making everyone in his cabinet work hard for the state. By Robert Schwab on 2011 06 23

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