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Error Sector Loss Approaching – Why isn’t our tech sector booming?

Pueblo is being left behind when it comes to the high tech industries. Who’s responsible and how can Pueblo compete?

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From between two desks filled with computer monitors and towers of books with titles like “Mobile Robots”, “Sensor Robots” and “Making Things See” professor Nebojsa Jaksic oversees the growing mechatronics program at Colorado State University- Pueblo, a small gold mine of innovators.>>>

He teaches and works with students in the program to build products that make life easier. Innovations like robotic chair stackers, a solar-powered electric bicycle and robots that could build houses are among the projects Jaksic watched students work on this past year. 

Mechatronics is the combination of mechanical and electronic engineering with the use of computer controls. The program also has the potential to improve the economy in Southern Colorado, as the state is becoming a front-runner for tech companies and start-ups. 

Colorado ranks third in the tech industry when it comes to concentration. In 2012, 162,600 Coloradans were employed in the tech industry, up 600 jobs from 2011, according to the 15th edition of the Cyberstate Report from TechAmerica,. 

The report found that Colorado is sixth in the nation for software publishers, seventh in computer equipment manufacturing and ninth in engineering services. 

Built in Denver, an advocate and “matchmaker” for inventors, investors, academics and creatives of digital technology, reported there were 122 digital tech start-ups in the state. That’s equivalent to launching one start-up every 72 hours. 

Cocoona Technology, a Boulder company that invents and markets natural technologies used for fabric, and Blogfrog, a software publisher specializing in brand building, are just two examples of companies that call the Denver-Boulder area home. 

Mapquest, Otterbox, Photobucket and NewsGator all call Northern Colorado home as well. 

While the Denver-Boulder area is becoming a hub for technology, Pueblo’s economy is still based around manufacturing, as it always has been.  

Jack Rink, president and CEO of the Pueblo Economic Development Corporation, said that even though Pueblo is heavy in manufacturing, the organization is open to bringing more tech companies to Pueblo and encouraging start-ups. 

“Industries tend to attract each other,” Rink said, explaining that businesses tend to “cluster.” Because Pueblo was established as a manufacturing city, other companies have made Pueblo their home, just as tech companies have relocated to Denver because they’ve witnessed other businesses succeed. 

This principle means the industrial culture in Pueblo will likely continue. 

Southern Colorado is also becoming a hotspot for railroad companies that will continue to expand in the near future. This will feed the manufacturing sector and possibly the tech industry, said Rink. 

Both Rink and Jaksic said railroad engineering has become more hi-tech, which could expand the digital culture in Southern Colorado but the railroad industry is highly complex and a much different type of technology than start-ups are. 

This fall CSU-Pueblo will be introducing a master’s program in railroad engineering. When the department looked into adding the degree Jaksic said the Transportation Technology Center and PEDCO were both big supporters. 

“We heavily rely on the railroad industry to help,” Jaksic said. 

TTCI will be providing instructors for the courses, some of the best labs in the country and has even received applications from students wanting to enroll in the program. 

“We’re hoping to bring in more railroad companies,” Jaksic said, adding that responsibility would be on PEDCO. 

As for growing a culture where the tech industry can thrive in Pueblo, Rink said PEDCO engages in several marketing techniques, attends conferences in hopes of attracting businesses to Pueblo and has planned a trip to San Francisco to recruit companies looking to relocate. 

Rink said diversifying the industries is most important. PEDCO would like to bring more healthcare companies to the area as well. 

The question still remains how to encourage start-ups in Southern Colorado. 

Rink said in order to encourage entrepreneurship, four components are needed: an educational feeder system, people who understand technology and business, economic incentives and the ability to network with other people in the same industry. 

To foster start-up companies, there exists little funding, however. In 1984, voters approved the half-cent sales tax and while this money goes to PEDCO, it is used it to “bring primary jobs to the area.” Rules set by city council make being able to qualify for funding difficult for small businesses or start-ups but Rink said there are still opportunities for start-ups.  

“We are happy to help smaller or existing businesses find ways to qualify for funding- and would love to do more of that,” Rink said. 

It’s not that there aren’t resources for start-ups in Pueblo. They’re just greater in the Denver-Boulder area. 

Northern Colorado is rich in venture capitalist groups and incubators, a major reason why the area is becoming known as “silicon mountain.” 

USA Today reported in August that TechStars and Foundry, two Colorado based venture capitalist groups, have over $350 million to help start-ups succeed. 

And while data on the Rocky Mountain Venture Capital Association website shows that just over $90 million has been invested through venture capitalists in the state, Southern Colorado is staying the course.  

“(Pueblo is more focused on) proven technologies,” said Hector Carrasco, Dean of the College of Education, Engineering and Professional Studies at CSU-Pueblo. 

This all goes back to PEDCO’s mission of bringing primary jobs to town. Carrasco said this usually leads to manufacturing jobs because primary jobs make products that are sold outside of the community where they are produced.  

When the focus is on primary jobs and older, proven industries, entrepreneurship seems to be lost. Jaksic doesn’t believe there is incentive for his students to venture into a start-up in the region. 

Jaksic said the majority of his students take internships after graduation rather than founding their own companies or continuing their innovations because starting pay with an established company is good, usually around $60,000 and start-ups aren’t guaranteed to succeed. 

“If (students) have a lot of buy-in in their (senior) project, they’ll continue,” Jaksic said, but this doesn’t seem to be happening, “They don’t want to be hungry,” he added. With nearly all of his students securing jobs, or internships that lead to jobs, after graduation, creating companies just isn’t a part of the picture.  

So how does Southern Colorado retain young, innovative minds that build businesses? 

That answer is still unclear. 

Rink said promoting entrepreneurship is an important aspect to fostering new growth but bringing companies to town that will hire these graduates is key because “many will not choose to take the entrepreneurial route, either because they don’t have a risk-taking personality or they prefer to work for an established firm with the kind of resources and structure they prefer.” 

Joey Cho, assistant professor of computer information systems in the Hasan School of Business at CSU-Pueblo said it is rare for his students to establish their own start-ups, as they are usually looking to find jobs already available in the Pueblo area. 

He said bringing speakers of start-ups to talk to students might inspire them. 

Cities usually tend to attract relocating businesses because they have good infrastructure like airports and a pool of qualified employees, Cho said. 

Carrasco believes cities to the north are booming in technology because of the universities. They’re large and many of the innovators choose to stay in the area because they like the atmosphere. He noted that those universities are much larger than CSU-Pueblo but overtime that should happen in Pueblo too. 

But as Jaksic puts it, “One part is missing. The crazy inventors.”

— by Kara Mason

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Middle schoolers have a plan to stop rock art tagging in Western Colorado

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Courtesy gjhikes.com

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (AP) — Arron Buehler’s day in a western Colorado canyon might not have had the Hollywood panache of Ferris Bueller’s day off, but something about seeing Buehler’s name scrawled on the sandstone escarpment gave Chris Joyner pause.

Joyner, spokesman for the Grand Junction Office of the Bureau of Land Management, looked at Buehler’s name — and those of many others emblazoned on rock in a canyon south of Grand Junction — and said that, paradoxically, there might be a reason for hope.

It was just last year that Buehler posted his name, next to Elizabeth, who left her mark in 2017.

Few of the names appeared to be more than a year or two old, and, “That tells me there’s opportunity here,” Joyner said.

The more recent the markings, the more likely the vandals are to be found, and the more likely it is that other methods might discourage younger people from following Arron Buehler’s lead, Joyner said.

Joyner and BLM archaeologist Alissa Leavitt-Reynolds are working in Grand Junction to deal with vandalism on federal lands, whether it be by graffiti artists such as Charley Humpy (who helpfully added, “Remember me” next to his name and yes, the BLM is doing all it can to achieve total recall), drug users ditching evidence in the desert, mayhem by “marksmen” and plain old dumping.

As much as Arron Buehler and a multitude of companions — Brian, Charley, Dizz, Dominique, Kay, Megan, Elizabeth, Jon, Sam and Tosha all seem to be begging for court dates (and Tosha, did you know your name covered an ancient petroglyph?) — Joyner said prosecution ought not be the only response to a growing trend of vandalism and worse on western Colorado’s rocky outcrops and arid landscapes.

Citations for vandalism aren’t tracked by the Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Office, which prosecutes offenses on federal land, so no precise numbers are available.

An Army veteran, Joyner is using his post 9/11 GI Bill funds at Johns-Hopkins University to study ways to divert people from what he terms “dysfunctional visitor behavior.”

“Dysfunctional visitor behavior” has a more authoritative ring than “vandalism” and “littering” and Joyner said he hopes that a scholarly approach can help agencies fend off some of the destructive activity on federal lands before it takes place.

Some of his research suggests that “informed participation in nearby historic and cultural sites” can influence the way many residents perceive those sites, Joyner said.

The students in Ginger DeCavitch’s social studies classes at Mount Garfield Middle School experienced “informed participation” last summer.

DeCavitch took her students into Bangs Canyon to see the mica mine and found the defaced escarpment “as we were stepping over broken beer bottles and charcoal” from fires.

Vandals had used charcoal to scratch names and slogans on the rock, DeCavitch said.

“They call it tagging” and few participants see any issue with defacing the rock, taking selfies and posting them on social media, DeCavitch said.

She contacted the BLM soon afterward to see if her class could help clean up the mess they found.

“They all wanted to go back,” enough that some students hauled 40-pound containers of water down an occasionally difficult trail to help clean the site, DeCavitch said.

Her middle school students sat silent as members of the Southern Ute tribe described how they perceived the canyon and the ancient markings, many of which had been defaced, DeCavitch said.

Far from being discouraged, her students were enthused about tackling the enormity of the defacement, DeCavitch said.

“We have a plan that we’ll be back,” she said.

Introducing young people properly to wild lands is one way to discourage future vandals and dysfunctional visitors.

It’s one “foot-in-the-door” tactic that Joyner hopes land managers take up.

Visitors also can be endowed with a sense of ownership by agreeing with a simple proposition — the idea that one ought not litter on public lands, for instance — and then be brought along to agree with how to visit them appropriately, Joyner said.

It’s part of a human tendency to want to be consistent, he said. People who agree not to litter tend to want to build on that as opposed to act in contradictory fashion, he said.

Even providing a small gift or trinket can engender a sense of responsibility among potential vandals, Joyner said.

Other techniques include the “broken-window” approach — the idea that replacing broken glass as soon as it’s found and thus denying miscreants their moment of victory — isn’t as easy as it might be in other environments, Joyner said.

DeCavitch’s class, for instance, learned that while cleaning up a mess might eliminate an eyesore, it also could erase history.

Her eager middle-schoolers couldn’t go forward with the cleanup until members of the Southern Ute Tribe, headquartered in Duchesne, Utah, approved the plan, DeCavitch said.

While Joyner’s studies have suggested that males 16 to 25 who live within 60 miles of Grand Junction are the likely offenders, one look at the escarpment suggests that young women are more active participants than crime statistics might suggest, Joyner said.

One study suggests that younger people prefer non-coercive approaches, but Joyner said that doesn’t mean the BLM is losing interest in prosecuting vandals and others.

Far from it.

BLM officials routinely contact school officials and consult high school yearbooks to match the names they come across with people who could be prosecuted.

Some miscreants make it easier, posting selfies of themselves with their works. Some even lower the level of difficulty by including hashtags.

The criminal exposure can reach felony levels because of the difficulty and expense of dealing with cleaning up or restoring the markings that date back hundreds of years.

If the malefactors are found, Joyner said, “We don’t write warning tickets.”

___

Information from: The Daily Sentinel, http://www.gjsentinel.com

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The #WhatNow of #MeToo for the #COLeg

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AP Photo/David Zalubowski

When several lawmakers, lobbyists and staff at the state Legislature came forward this fall to allege they were victims of sexual harassment by lawmakers, two big questions followed: how often does this happen? What can be done to prevent more cases?

Reporters have asked state officials the first question repeatedly, returning to readers with little response from the state. The latter prompted a conversation from leadership, but as for what’s next—how the allegations, formal complaints, and legislature’s response—will impact politics under the gold dome and whether women will feel any safer is to be determined.

So far, top state lawmakers have decided to hire a human resources officer—who would be independent from the legislature—to be a contact person when incidents involving sexual harassment are brought forward. Now, leadership is tasked with handling and investigating such claims.

The group also decided to hire an independent consultant to review the legislature’s sexual harassment policy, and lawmakers, staff, and aides will undergo another round of sexual harassment training this year. Typically, those working at the Legislature are only required to go through training every two years.

Those changes are a good start, said Erin Hottenstein, executive director of Colorado 50/50, an organization that aims to get more women in public office. But the legislature stopped short of changing any current policies. And Colorado 50/50 called for an entire overhaul.

“I’m very pleased that there was a recognition that the policy needs to be improved,” Hottenstein said.

But there weren’t any specific recommendations regarding transparency, which Hottenstein said is significant in looking at what happens next.

Lawmakers and staff said they couldn’t disclose how many sexual harassment claims that leadership in each chamber have received because they were personnel issues.

“I think there’s a way to be transparent and safe,” Hottenstein said. “There should be a high- level summary document that shows on a certain date a sexual harassment complaint was made and who it was against and a date of a deposition and what the result was.”

Hottenstein said transparency becomes crucial in these cases because it leads to accountability and the public’s right to know what actions the people elected to office are taking.

In October, Pueblo Rep. Daneya Esgar broke her silence posting on Facebook that she was no stranger to sexual harassment and experienced it just a week earlier with a colleague she works with regularly as a lawmaker. The post was part of the #MeToo movement after a New York Times expose highlighted the stories of several women who said they’d been sexually harassed or assaulted by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

Then, a flood of other allegations were brought to the surface in Colorado politics. Rep. Faith Winter said fellow House member Steve Lebsock had harassed her at a legislative party in 2016. Winter and a lobbyist say they filed formal complaints against Lebsock.

An intern said Sen. Randy Baumgardner harassed her with sexually suggestive comments. The same went for Sen. Jack Tate of Centennial, who was accused of telling an intern that if she wanted to get ahead in her career, he could help.

Rep. Paul Rosenthal, who is openly gay, allegedly groped a man and used his seat to try and get a date with another.

But the case between Lebsock and Winter gained the most attention, even prompting Lebsock to take a polygraph test, which the administrator says he passed, to prove his innocence. Lebsock has hinted that the entire incident may be a case of dirty politics, alleging that Winter is the one lying.

When several lawmakers were asked if the case would mean a splintered Democratic party in the House, they were unsure, but optimistic about the session.

Still, there haven’t been any resignations over the allegations, though several, including leadership and editorial boards from across the state, said these legislators should step down from their seat. Some even called for House Speaker Crisanta Duran to step down from her position because she promoted Lebsock to a chairmanship despite knowing there was an incident between him and Winter.

The transparency piece has yet to be addressed by state lawmakers, and it’s unclear whether any policy or legislative changes will address that in the coming months. But for what it’s worth, the women who have broken their silence about sexual harassment in the Legislature are supportive of the changes leadership has discussed.

“I’m encouraged to see the direction leadership is taking when it comes to developing new and independent methods of dealing with complaints of sexual harassment at the Capitol,” said Esgar, who still hasn’t named the colleague she said grabbed her thigh at a legislative event earlier this year. “I’m hopeful that new ideas are still being formulated and considered, when it comes to ways to change the culture itself.”

The lawmaker added that a new session will certainly mean new ideas will come to light, “it’s our responsibility to lead the state in changing cultures to help make work environments safe and productive for all employees on every level.”

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20 cities primed on the Amazon wishlist to be its next HQ

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NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon’s second home could be in an already tech-heavy city, such as Boston, New York or Austin, Texas. Or it could be in the Midwest, say, Indianapolis or Columbus, Ohio. Or the company could go outside the U.S. altogether and set up shop in Toronto.

Those six locations, as well as 14 others, made it onto Amazon’s not-so-short shortlist Thursday of places under consideration for the online retailing giant’s second headquarters.

The 20 picks, narrowed down from 238 proposals, are concentrated mostly in the East and the Midwest and include several of the biggest metro areas in the country, such as Chicago, Washington and Los Angeles, the only West Coast city on the list.

The Seattle-based company set off fierce competition last fall when it announced that it was looking for a second home, promising 50,000 jobs and construction spending of more than $5 billion. Many cities drew up elaborate presentations that included rich financial incentives.

The list of finalists highlights a key challenge facing the U.S. economy: Jobs and economic growth are increasingly concentrated in a few large metro areas, mostly on the East and West Coasts and a few places in between, such as Texas.

Nearly all the cities on Amazon’s list already have growing economies, low unemployment and highly educated populations.

“Amazon has picked a bunch of winners,” said Richard Florida, an economic development expert and professor at the University of Toronto who helped develop that city’s bid. “It really reflects winner-take-all urbanism.”

Among those that didn’t make the cut were Detroit, a disappointment for those excited about progress since the city came out of bankruptcy, and Memphis, Tennessee, where the mayor said the city gave it its “best shot.” San Diego also failed to advance.

“Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough,” said Holly Sullivan, who oversees Amazon’s public policy. “All the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity.”

Amazon said it will make a final selection sometime this year.

Besides Austin, another Texas city made the cut: Dallas. In the South, Miami and Atlanta are being considered.

Officials in cities that made the shortlist took the opportunity to further tout their locations, with Philadelphia’s mayor noting “all that Philadelphia has to offer” and officials in and around Pittsburgh citing the region’s “world-class talent pool” and other advantages.

Other contenders among the 20 include Denver; Montgomery County, Maryland; Nashville, Tennessee; Newark, New Jersey; Northern Virginia; and Raleigh, North Carolina.

“It’s a long list for a shortlist,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist at job site Indeed.

He said Amazon may use the list to pit the locations against each other and get better tax breaks or other incentives. Two metro areas, New York and Washington, have more than one location on the list, increasing the competition there, he said.

“It’s hard to say whether all these places are in play or Amazon wanted to encourage continued competition,” Kolko said.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether locations would be able to change their proposals or offer better incentives, but said in a statement that it will “work with each of the candidate locations to dive deeper into their proposals.”

State and local governments played up the amenities they think make their locations the best choice. Some pulled off stunts to stand out, such as New York, which lit the Empire State Building in Amazon orange.

Some gimmicks didn’t work: Tucson, Arizona, which sent a 21-foot cactus to Seattle, did not make the list. Neither did Birmingham, Alabama, which installed giant replicas of Amazon’s Dash buttons.

The company had stipulated that it wanted to be near a metropolitan area with more than 1 million people, and nearly all of those on the shortlist have a metro population of at least double that.

Amazon also wanted to be able to attract top technical talent; be within 45 minutes of an international airport; have direct access to mass transit; and be able to expand the headquarters to as much as 8 million square feet in the next decade.

But Amazon also made it very clear it wanted tax breaks, grants and any other incentives.

Boston’s offer includes $75 million for affordable housing for Amazon employees and others. Before leaving office Tuesday, Gov. Chris Christie approved a measure to allow New Jersey to offer up to $5 billion to Amazon. Newark is also proposing $2 billion in tax breaks.

But many of the state and local governments competing for the headquarters have refused to disclose the financial incentives they offered. Of the 20 finalists, 13, including New York, Chicago and Miami, declined requests from The Associated Press to release their applications. Toronto’s mayor said Thursday that the city offered no financial incentives to woo Amazon.

Several said they don’t want their competitors to know what they’re offering, a stance that open-government advocates criticized.

Amazon plans to remain in its sprawling Seattle headquarters, and the second home base will be “a full equal” to it, founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has said.

The extra space will give the rapidly growing company room to spread out. It had nearly 542,000 employees at the end of September, a 77 percent jump from the year before. Some of that growth came from Amazon’s nearly $14 billion acquisition last year of the Whole Foods grocery chain and its 89,000 employees.

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Associated Press writers Josh Cornfield in Philadelphia, Matt O’Brien in Providence, Rhode Island, and Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report. Rugaber contributed from Washington.

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