Got economic development ideas?

Well, the election is over and it’s time to get down to the business of building business and jobs. We should start with small business which historically is the largest single source of new jobs and is the engine that drives Colorado’s economy.

Governor-elect Hickenlooper has announced a transition team to study ideas for the state. Unfortunately, too many state and federal policies that effect small business are made by people who have not been in the private sector nor ever built a business of their own. But small businesses cannot sit back and wait for the statehouse to discuss and debate. Small business owners must be proactive and tell the Statehouse what they need.

Now there is a new grassroots organization that intends to compile ideas for new economic development initiatives and submit them to Hickenlooper.

CIO Colorado has been launched as a small business citizens’ task force to fill the need for an office of innovation within the State of Colorado – Chief Innovation Office. The new member driven organization is the brainchild of DaVinci Quest, who with the DaVinci Institute has been promoting small business growth and held its sixth annual Inventors Showcase November 13th ( In disclosure, I am a Senior Fellow at DaVinci Institute and am on the advisory council of CIO Colorado.

CIO Colorado’s goal is to support economic development reform with the goal of turning around the State of Colorado’s economy leading to the formation of new business and creation of new jobs.
The initial objective of the CIO Colorado initiative is to create an initial “crowd-sourcing” activity to capture the best ideas for Economic Reform from the citizens of Colorado using a web-based idea submission process, identifying the best of breed solutions based on a multi-person review committee, (made up of citizens, advisors, small business councilors, etc), and synthesizing this into a comprehensive report and recommendations in 60 days so that it can be submitted to the new Colorado Legislature when it convenes in January.

The new organization believes it will be necessary for small businesses and entrepreneurs here in Colorado to make major structural changes in how economic development activities are conducted as the existing methods and approaches that emphasize state or federal grants or subsidies is not getting the job done or achieving the kinds of results that can be achieved through the private sector and to make the State of Colorado a superior location to form a new business, and to grow and accelerate an existing business.

With a bit of a tea party attitude, CIO Colorado believes that the voices, suggestions and ideas of small businesses and entrepreneurs have to be considered first and foremost as a legitimate contributions at the table, and not watered-down or discounted by the top-down processes and approaches of the past.

A website has been established, , where anyone may submit an idea for an economic development initiative. Submitted initiatives will be assigned to teams of small businesspeople and economic advisors to develop workable plans for implementation.

Draft plans will be published for public feedback and refinement. Small business members of CIO Colorado will vote on the list of all initiatives. The top ten initiatives will be incorporated within a report and recommended to Governor-elect Hickenlooper.

Ideas submitted so far to CIO Colorado include making sales-tax rates uniform across Colorado, enabling the state to directly invest in businesses, waiving state corporate and unemployment taxes for the first five years of a new business and setting aside a percentage of state pension funds for investments in new Colorado ventures. For membership information and to share your ideas go to .
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Steve Baker is President of International Wellness Resorts, serenely located in Placencia, Belize. He has started successful businesses and is a business advisor with a passion for every phase of business cycle from startup to exit. He’s also a public speaker and author of “Pushing Water Uphill With a Rake,” as well as an avid poor golfer. He welcomes your e-mails at and invites you to visit his website:

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