We’ll look back 20 years at today and call this a ‘golden era’ in city history," says Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC CEO Dirk Draper. "The decade ahead will benefit from our vibrant, diversifying business ecosystem. Cybersecurity, for example, already accounts for 3% of the region’s GDP. If approved, U.S. Space Command will significantly add to that. Almost $1 billion has been invested since 2007 by health care providers and hospitals. And the new William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center at UCCS will only elevate the city’s reputation as a national center for elite, amateur, and military sport research. Look at the private investment in projects like City for Champions and the new Summit House. Signs of confidence in the community are everywhere."
You expect an upbeat report from the Chamber/EDC. But Draper is not alone. Here are a few thoughtful perspectives on where the city is headed in the next five to 10 years from individuals leading our community into the future.
Chancellor, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
"UCCS was founded with support from Hewlett-Packard Co. co-founder David Packard in 1965. The futures of UCCS and Colorado Springs have been intertwined ever since. That legacy, built on a public–private partnership, will fuel our success into the future. The William J. Hybl Sports Medicine & Performance Center (opening in 2020) is a great example. This innovative facility will convene physicians, faculty, and over 1,000 exercise science students to generate leading-edge research. And, in preparation to become ‘America’s Cyber City,’ UCCS continues to participate in a growing cybersecurity ecosystem. By collaborating with city officials, the National Cybersecurity Center, Colorado Springs Utilities, Chamber and EDC, and Exponential Impact to prepare the workforce of the future, we’ll create a bright future for our city, the state, and the nation."
President, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs
"As Colorado Springs continues to grow, so will our health care resources. We have a strong acute-care community in place. Now we need programs to support emotional, psychological, and overall wellness. I project health care leaders will increasingly focus on these goals. They’re the underpinning of a strong city. Healthy habits and creating solutions for youngsters’ mental health needs will help ensure that the next generation will grow up healthier and happier. The region’s beauty, access to trails, the mountains, Garden of the Gods Park, and more already inspire higher levels of physical activity. We’re in a great position to become the ‘Healthiest City in the Country.’ Children’s Colorado will be a strong promoter to help us reach that goal. The foundation of a healthy city starts with our children and flows into adult care. The foundation is there. To grow and succeed, we need to work together."
President & CEO, The Broadmoor
"The next five to 10 years will see Colorado Springs reach its true potential as a tourism destination. Just look at the new Olympic Museum/Hall of Fame, plans for the rebirth of the COG Railway, a new Summit House on Pike’s Peak, and our expanding hotel community. The Broadmoor, for example, recently made a business-driven decision to expand its meeting facilities. The new 93,500-square-foot exhibit hall under construction will connect directly with Broadmoor Hall. This addition enables the Space Symposium to meet at The Broadmoor for years to come. Pikes Peak region visitors also enjoy our authentic experiences: craft breweries, distilleries, trails, parks, open spaces, and historic tours. A key indicator: city lodging and rental tax receipts have exceeded projections for the past five years."
Martin Business Group & President, Garden of the Gods Foundation / City Council (2007–2015)
"We’ve been investing in ourselves for several years. That allows the city a much-needed facelift—one that puts us in a good position for the future. Projects like the new Olympic Museum, downtown stadium, new Pikes Peak Summit House, and USAFA Visitor’s Center are impressive. I’m not sure we’ve always been good at long-term planning, but these projects will pay off. Colorado Springs is also attracting significant public and private financial investment. It’s been a decade since the City of Champions was proposed. Look where we are now. But we need to continue to think long term. Fountain Creek, for example, should be an amenity. By planning further out, we’re in a better position to succeed and grow. That enables the city to attract new businesses and to reap greater economic benefit."
VP & General Manager, T. Rowe Price & Board Chair, Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC
"We’re at an inflection point on a growth trajectory. The city is now a true alternative to Denver. There’s tremendous commercial and residential construction underway on the city’s north side. We are also working to assure balanced growth in Southeast Colorado Springs. You see lofts downtown—communities that didn’t exist before. The job market is solid. One challenge is to train the next generation of high-tech, software, and AI workers. Universities and Pikes Peak Community College are addressing the need, but we need to encourage STEM education beginning at the K–12 level. Our strong military presence is an asset to grow and maintain. Further diversifying our business community will enable us to thrive under all market conditions. There’s real economic potential to come from supporting companies started by women, ethnically diverse entrepreneurs, and veterans."
CEO, National Cybersecurity Center & Founder, Exponential Impact
"The next 10 years will be dynamic. Colorado Springs has a long-standing stake in the ground for DoD and space. Thanks to a city that shares our vision, we’re now able to set additional stakes for cybersecurity and Olympic City, USA. The National Cybersecurity Center (NCC) was established here by the state. Since then, our technology ecosystem has grown. In fact, so far, 128 companies are working on cybersecurity. Exponential Impact, an incubator for early stage high-tech companies, and UCCS cybersecurity are co-located with NCC. The synergy is contagious. UCCS, PPCC, USAFA, K–12 schools, and others are training our future cyber workforce, and we are well-positioned to become a national epicenter for cybersecurity, space, and Olympic sport."
Community Investor & Convener / City Council (1979–1985)
"I hope we address important topics like stormwater, low-impact development (LID), open space, outdoor recreation, and a more vibrant Southeast Colorado Springs. Why not, for example, create a long-term plan for the Fountain Creek Watershed, which is actively taking on projects? To enhance our reputation as a beautiful ‘green city,’ we might adopt smart LID guidelines. The city’s goal to have a park within 10 minutes of all residents has been achieved. We’ve modified TOPS and must continue developing sustainability initiatives to assure the future of our recreational facilities. Southeast Colorado Springs has within it elements necessary to serve its residents and those nearby. We must also encourage development of affordable housing to keep up with a growing workforce. By working together—public and private sectors, social service organizations, and community stakeholders—we can create a truly excellent city."
President & CEO, The O’Neil Group & Founder, Catalyst Campus
"Expect exciting advancements in the next five to 10 years. Emerging technologies developed and incorporated here will help aerospace and DoD programs save time and money. Concepts, prototyping, and experimental systems incubated in Colorado Springs today involve the labor of tens or hundreds of people. Long term, our prospects are tremendous. The Catalyst Campus brings early stage companies to Colorado. Rather than incubating on the coasts, they may grow to employ hundreds, even thousands of workers. It’s important to be upstream. By developing a strong base, companies will stay here. The jobs they create will be high-paying—two to three times our current average income. The economic impact of attracting highly paid engineers who buy homes and raise their families here has unlimited economic potential."