Annual address: Pikes Peak region fully recovered from recession

By: Rachel Riley

December 14, 2017 Updated: December 14, 2017 at 6:47 pm
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BTL: State of the Region Analysis and what it means for El Paso County
Gazette’s Eric Singer and Rachel Riley go Between the Lines for takeaways following the State of the Region speech and a look ahead for El Paso County.
photo - Colorado Springs city skyline May 19, 2005. Mark Reis photo
Colorado Springs city skyline May 19, 2005. Mark Reis photo 

Things are looking up in the Pikes Peak region.

That’s one takeaway from the 2017 “State of the Region” address, delivered by El Paso County Board of Commissioners President Darryl Glenn at The Antlers hotel on Thursday.

Glenn avoided politically-charged issues or calls for action, instead touting measures of local economic growth and recounting county achievements.

The annual community luncheon, hosted by the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & EDC, attracted hundreds of people – many of them elected officials and community leaders.

“It’s no secret that El Paso County came out of the Great Recession more slowly than other parts of the state,” Glenn told the crowd. “But today, looking at our economic indicators, I can truly say that not only are we back, the economic vitality and potential for our region is great.”

Sales tax collections through October this year are up nearly 8 percent over last year, bolstered with revenue generated by repairs needed from the July hail storm, Glenn said. Residential property values and new construction are on the rise, too. The Pikes Peak Regional Building Department issued more permits for new single-family homes through November of this year than it did in 2016, putting new home construction at about $1.2 billion, he said.

The numbers have positive implications for the region’s quality of life, Dirk Draper, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce & EDC, told The Gazette after Glenn’s address.

“The citizens have greater confidence to invest in the community again. We’ve seen that with results in ballot measures to invest in stormwater and our transportation system,” Draper said. “More prosperity and better infrastructure brings more employers, brings more jobs. Those are key factors for where the community stands and how we compete with other cities.”

During his speech, Glenn pointed to other signs of economic prosperity: the construction of the new U.S. Olympic Museum and the Ent Center for the Arts slated to open in January at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

“We’re also seeing an influx of new ideas and innovation into our region,” Glenn said.

He praised the following county achievements:

– The transfer of the county’s detox center to a private provider, Pueblo-based substance treatment provider Crossroads Turning Points Inc. Officials say the organization will be able to provide a better continuum of care for those struggling with alcohol and drug addiction.

-Upcoming reforms in the county’s Pretrial Services Program, which helps identify low-level, nonviolent offenders who are available to be released on personal recognizance bonds, or written promises to appear on court.

– A county website, unveiled by the Assessor’s Office earlier this year, that provides interactive maps loaded with information like sales records, property values and census data.

– A program introduced by the Planning and Community Development Department that makes development applications available online.

Contact Rachel Riley: 636-0108