Hickenlooper talks business development, transportation during Summit County visit | SummitDaily.com

Hickenlooper talks business development, transportation during Summit County visit

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Summit Daily/Mark Fox

BRECKENRIDGE – Gubernatorial hopeful and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper visited local towns Saturday, meeting with the public and sharing thoughts on business, transportation and more.

The Democratic candidate said Breckenridge is a “perfect example” of his vision for other mountain towns in Colorado to “fill in the gaps on Main Street and make it a place where people want to be.”

Hickenlooper, 58, is known for his business achievements that helped revitalize Denver’s lower downtown area before he was elected the city’s mayor in 2003.

His plans for the state’s economy involves marketing Colorado as a great place to start a business.

“It’s the ability to brand the state as pro-business, pro-innovation and pro-hospitality,” Hickenlooper said. “Come spend your next vacation in Colorado, you might just want to start your business here.”

On his visit to Breckenridge, Hickenlooper met with local leaders and stopped at businesses including Amazing Grace, Creatures Great and Small and The Breckenridge Photo Shop.

His ideas for economic development involve encouraging Colorado-based businesses to help with marketing. For example, Smartwool is an iconic brand based out of Steamboat Springs.

“They’re the market leader in hiking and skiing socks,” Hickenlooper said. “And nowhere on their packaging does it say, ‘Imagined and created in Colorado.'”

He said he suggested the idea to some of the businesses representatives and received a positive response.

CNBC last week announced Colorado as No. 3 on its list of “Top states for businesses.”

Hickenlooper said he wants to make the state a center for entrepreneurs. His economic development plan includes creating strategies for job creation at the county level – with participation from a variety of industries – through nine regions across the state. Representatives of the regions would convene to help ensure efforts are coordinated, according to a Hickenlooper campaign press release.

Hickenlooper also said he wants to cut “red tape” in government. He said the Denver government was reduced by 7 percent since he took office, in part through centralizing the units for information technology and purchasing – rather than having one such team for each department.

Regarding traffic issues along the Interstate 70 mountain corridor, Hickenlooper suggests the state consider a strategy used in Europe that offers modest incentives to trucking companies not to travel highways during peak weekend times.

“It doesn’t solve the problem, but it dramatically improves the problem,” he said of the short-term solution.

He also said traffic challenges could be eased by finding ways to encourage companies to ship goods across the state on railroads rather than highways.

Long-term, Hickenlooper is waiting for the results of pending studies before taking a position on a light-rail passenger system, said campaign spokesman George Merritt.

The mayor’s visit Saturday also included visits to volunteers working on a Breckenridge hiking trail and a performance at Lake Dillon Amphitheatre before spending the night at a home in the Wellington Neighborhood.

SDN reporter Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or rallen@summitdaily.com.

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