Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry Archives - Colorado Politics
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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirDecember 11, 20172min3300

As the state’s chamber of commerce, the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry is a voice for the state’s business community, a mover and shaker at the Capitol and a catalyst for civic action. It’s also a convener at large in state politics, bringing together top elected officials as well as hopefuls for public office to talk about the issues of the day.

An example is a panel it hosted in August, drawing most of Colorado’s Washington delegation to brief business leaders in Denver. And January 25, it will conduct a forum at which candidates for governor in the 2018 race are scheduled to make their case to CACI’s influential audience.

As reported in a CACI press release the other day, seven gubernatorial hopefuls of both parties already have agreed to join the dais for the event: Republican Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, Democratic businessman Noel Ginsberg, Democratic Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder, Republican investment banker Doug Robinson, Republican state Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Republican provocateur and former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo. Still pending are Democratic former state Sen. Michael Johnston, Democratic former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy and Republican entrepreneur Victor Mitchell.

Colorado’s key influencers — as well as its political junkies — won’t be able to resist this event, moderated by Denver CBS4’s Shaun Boyd. Want to attend, or even help sponsor the gathering? You can start by clicking here.


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Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandOctober 12, 20178min381
The increasingly polarized political dialogue in the United States is due, at least in part, to Russian manipulation of social issues, according to two national security experts who visited Denver Thursday. The panel on cybersecurity took place during a luncheon hosted by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, the state’s chamber of commerce. It […]

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirOctober 12, 20173min5060

Prominent and politically plugged-in Denver attorney Jon Anderson was elected 2017-18 chair today by the Board of Directors at the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry. Anderson, a partner at prestigious law firm Holland and Hart who once served as chief counsel to then-Gov. Bill Owens, long has been a go-to guy in state Republican circles.

The association — “CACI” to its friends — is Colorado’s de facto chamber of commerce and the voice of the state’s biggest and most prominent businesses. An e-announcement about Anderson’s election quotes him regarding the organization’s role in the business climate:

“CACI has led the effort to establish Colorado as a pro-business state. … Colorado has the lowest unemployment rate in the country and is enjoying a thriving economy because of this focused effort to grow and expand our state economy. Colorado’s next challenge will be to ensure that state and local leaders do not take our thriving economy for granted.”

Anderson added a cautionary note: “Colorado has experienced a recent surge in legislation, ballot measures and policies that would hamper and harm Colorado businesses and Colorado workers.”

Longtime CACI President (and onetime state House Speaker) Chuck Berry weighed in:

“Jon has a keen sense of advocating for business interests in the public arena and he is an ideal person to lead our Board in these challenging times.”

Among the strong suits making him that ideal person:

Anderson’s political and election law practice includes representing corporations, non-profits, and candidates on federal, state, and local activities. In the current election cycle, Anderson represents members of the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, a U.S. presidential campaign, non-profit organizations and multiple Super PACs and 527 committees. …

… Anderson’s government practice is focused on high stakes matters before federal, state and local government. …

CACI’s board meanwhile also chose Rhonda Sparlin, a partner at RubinBrown LLP, as chair-elect, and elected several new board members. Here are details on those and other developments at CACI.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirAugust 7, 20178min1260

Loren Furman is one of the Colorado business community’s most influential voices. Not the kind of voice that publicly trumpets business interests from the tops of Denver’s tallest skyscrapers; she’s the kind who quietly promotes those interests deep in the corridors of power at Colorado’s Capitol and beyond. As senior vice president of the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry — the state’s chamber of commerce — Furman is also its chief lobbyist. Ah, there’s the L-word. Everyone thinks they know what it means to be a lobbyist, but they’re often wrong. Furman enlightens us in today’s Q&A.

First, a little more on her background: Before joining CACI in 2008, she served as legislative director for the Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration and worked with the Governor’s Office and General Assembly on state workforce issues.  She previously lobbied wide-ranging policy issues at the legislature in her native Florida, where prior to that she worked for the Majority Office of the Florida House of Representatives. Furman, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from Florida State University, was named one of “Colorado’s Most Influential Women: Up and Coming by the Denver Post in 2012

Colorado Politics: Your duties include serving as the chief lobbyist for the state’s largest, most wide-ranging business association — representing, as CACI’s mission statement puts it, “all sizes of business from a statewide, multi-industry perspective.” What are some of the challenges representing such diverse interests that sometimes may conflict with one another?

Loren Furman: You’ve identified one of the biggest but most fulfilling challenges in my role.  I truly enjoy managing the priorities of our diverse members, and found that where there is conflict, it can often be resolved.  Over the years, we have developed long-standing legislative and regulatory policy solutions that would not have evolved without our members’ expertise and willingness to talk to each other.

CP: Especially outside politics, “lobbyist” carries a stigma as well as an aura of extraordinary influence. Are both fair? Do both miss the mark?

LF: Just last week my dentist asked me what I did for a living and subsequently said, “Wow, that must mean that you attend a lot of dinners and parties!” My colleagues would empathize with my curt response to someone gouging my mouth with steel instruments while undermining our profession. I believe there is still a great deal of misunderstanding and ignorance about the role of a lobbyist. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that will change much over time.

CP: As a voice for business, CACI is perceived as leaning right of center, and its leadership is more red than blue by background. Yet, you obviously have to work both sides of the aisle and with governors of both parties. What is your message to Democrats as to why they should value your input on legislation as well as broader policy initiatives?

LF: Over the years, we’ve seen legislation introduced by certain legislators that would have driven up huge costs and administrative burdens on our state’s economic producers.  Those proposals have an adverse impact on the very people — the workers — that those legislators want to protect.  It has taken years, but we’ve been successful in reinforcing the message that Colorado businesses need to thrive so that their workers can thrive.  Adopting policies that increase costs or create a wedge in the worker-employer relationship are counterintuitive.  That’s a message we’ll continue to reinforce with legislators on both sides of the aisle.

CP: Where did you grow up, and what do you miss most about it?

LF: As a 70’s offspring of hippie parents who raised me in the Florida Keys, you can imagine my wacky and weird childhood experiences. What do I miss?  The crystal-clear, beautiful blue water of the Keys and the quirky, laid-back personalities that you’ll only find in the Conch Republic!  What don’t I miss?  The snakes, flying bugs, humidity and various other creatures that invade the Florida Keys — all of which helped me develop my lobbying survival skills!  Despite my strong Florida roots and love for southern food, Colorado is a beautiful place to live and a state I proudly call my home.

CP: As a college freshman, did you think you eventually would become a power lobbyist or be involved in politics at all? If not, what did you envision at that age?

LF: Ha!  As a college freshman at Florida State University, my only focus was finding the next house party and surviving on $20 a week!  I certainly didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up. My involvement in politics came from living in Tallahassee (Florida’s capital) and being exposed to the Florida political scene.  As a staffer in the Florida Legislature in one of the most political offices, I immediately loved the process and the ability to influence the outcome of a bill.  That was the start that I needed, and one that prepared me for a career that is the most fun imaginable! 

CP: What do you like most about working in politics in Colorado?

LF: Many things!  Having a role in how legislation ultimately becomes law and working with state leaders and my colleagues in that process is an exceptional experience. There is a huge misperception that politics is conducted in smoke-filled back rooms. This job involves incredibly hard work and very talented people.  Working in the political process and with those individuals make this business beyond rewarding.

CP: Do you see our perennially purple state staying that way — or trending eventually toward one end of the political spectrum?

LF: Since moving to Colorado in 2005, I’m fascinated by the significant change in the state’s political spectrum from deep red to now purple, and the little-to-no-change over the last 10 years.  Unless we see a surge of new residents move to Colorado from more conservative states, I expect Colorado will stay in the purplish hue or could potentially see a shift to a blue state depending on the next presidential election.

 


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 9, 20174min820

A leading voice of Colorado business statewide, the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, pretty reliably leans Republican on most of its policy stances even as it tries to maintain good relations with both parties at the statehouse. But there’s one issue — international trade — that divides the GOP itself in the era of Donald Trump. And CACI seems to be doing its level best to influence that ongoing debate with input from the businesses that create most Colorado jobs.

The freshman Republican president’s heartburn over free trade, and standing trade agreements in particular, are well-established. Yet, the business world’s reliance on overseas markets has been a cornerstone of the GOP’s economic vision for generations.

Hence, a case of the jitters among business types following the president’s declaration last month he is renegotiating 1994’s landmark North American Free Trade Agreement. That’s the trilateral pact that opened up Canadian and Mexican markets to U.S. goods, including agriculture. Vice-versa, as well, of course. Colorado commerce has benefited, too.

Today, CACI’s weekly e-newsletter to its many members around Colorado included this message:

CACI is asking our members to add comments to the official request for comment from the office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) who will be submitting recommendations to President Trump for areas of NAFTA to negotiate.  Because many CACI members and the Colorado economy rely on our trade partners in Canada and Mexico, we encourage you to share formal or informal comments with the USTR about why these trade relationships are essential to your business.

Diplomatic but clear enough; the business community is worried. This appears to be one area where business and the administration are at loggerheads, at least, for now.

Some Republicans in Congress — still wary of crossing their theoretical party leader for all the usual political reasons — nevertheless have spoken up for free trade as well. Last month, Colorado’s junior Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner voted against confirming Trump’s pick for U.S. trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, who is a longtime critic of free trade.

Gardner issued a statement contending Lighthizer’s policies, “could hurt Colorado’s farmers and ranchers.”

The administration had that one in the bag, though; Lighthizer was confirmed by overwhelming majorities of both parties despite Gardner’s vote. There’s no suggestion Gardner’s stance has hurt his standing with the president, with whom he votes most of the time.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 18, 201728min1400

So, seven members of Congress walk into a luncheon with a bunch of business bigwigs and …

… Well, we’ll be able to finish that joke after we find out if all the “invited panelists” — Colorado’s seven members of the U.S. House of Representatives — actually show up for the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry’s biennial Congressional Luncheon in Denver on Aug. 9.

Never mind the basic logistics of trying to coordinate all seven of their schedules to seat them on one dais at the same event, a challenge under the best of circumstances. The unusual dynamics of 2017 could make it an even taller task this time around. And for those who do show, there’ll be plenty to talk about.

Of course, some members of Colorado’s congressional delegation probably will welcome the extra exposure of a sit-down with the state’s business titans. Seventh Congressional District Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, for example; he’s all in for the 2018 governor’s race. And Second District Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis might be up for the event, too; he told ColoradoPolitics.com’s Peter Marcus last month he is “going to be deciding in the next month or two whether or not to launch a statewide race for governor.” (And why not? He’s the guy whose congressional campaign slogan is, “Dream. Dare. Do.”)

Meanwhile, 4th Congressional District Republican U.S. Rep. Ken Buck has a new book to pitch, so perhaps CACI also can count on him.

On the other hand, there’s Sixth Congressional District Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, who has been caught for months between a Trump and a hard place, hounded by the press as well as political adversaries for his take on the latest policy shift / mood swing / outburst by his own party’s president. Coffman’s probably not crazy about the prospect of being ambushed yet again in a public venue by a vocal mob — constituents? activists? Democratic operatives? — challenging him on repealing and replacing Obamacare. The same might be said for Third Congressional District Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton. Or maybe not?

But enough of our speculation. What do we know? We certainly wish CACI the best in convening the panel and of course look forward to it. Just sayin’ it’s an odd year, and not just numerically.

Here are details of the event, including how to sign up:

2017 Congressional Luncheon 
Third Biennial  
Invited Panelists
Congressman
Ken Buck
Congressman
Mike Coffman
Congresswoman
Diana DeGette
Congressman
Doug Lamborn
Congressman
Ed Perlmutter
Congressman
Jared Polis
Congressman
Scott Tipton

PRESENTING SPONSOR

SUPPORTING SPONSOR
 Investment $5,500
  • Prominent logo recognition in PowerPoint presentation during luncheon
  • One table of ten at luncheon, preferred seating after Presenting Sponsor
  • Opportunity for Member of Congress or Staffer seated at your table
  • Verbal recognition at event
  • Recognition in The CACI Capitol Report
  • Logo Recognition on CACI Website on Events Page
  • Logo on invitations (2,500 impressions)
  • Logo in programs (400 impressions)

CONTRIBUTING SPONSOR

 Investment $2,950
  • Recognition in PowerPoint presentation during luncheon
  • One table of ten at luncheon, preferred seating after Supporting Sponsor
  • Opportunity for Congressional Staffer seated at your table
  • Recognition on CACI Website on Events Page
  • Logo on invitations (2,500 impressions)
  • Logo in programs (400 impressions)

Corporate Table: Click here

CACI Member $1,500
Potential Member $2,500

Individual: Click here
CACI Member $150
Potential Member $250

For sponsorship inquires, please contact Tricia Smith
Senior Vice President, Events and Political Fundraising

When

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Where
Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center
650 15th St, Denver, CO

Program

Registration & Networking:

11:15 a.m.- Noon

Luncheon Program:

 Noon- 1:30 p.m.

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 4, 20172min1090

The House approved a bipartisan plan Wednesday to extend and expand incentives for investment in new tech ventures in Colorado. Startups that would benefit include bioscience, aerospace, advanced manufacturing, energy, electronics, engineering and information technology businesses.

Under House Bill 1090, the current tax credit of up to $50,000 for investing in a tech startup through the end of this year would be extended through 2022. And the current $750,000 cap for total tax credits granted in any year under the program would be doubled to $1.5 million.

The measure is sponsored in the House by state Reps. Tracy Kraft-Tharp, D-Arvada, and Jim Wilson, R-Salida.

Headache relief for Colorado small businesses …

A press statement by House Democrats says the tax credit already has created “nearly 700 good-paying jobs at Colorado high-tech startup companies since 2014.” The press release quotes Kraft-Tharp:

“Access to seed capital is one of the key challenges facing early-stage companies. … This bill reduces risks to investors and draws additional investment dollars to Colorado’s emerging high-tech economy.”

The proposal passed the House 43-20, with eight Republicans in tow. The GOP is generally less keen on government-directed economic incentives like tax credits, but the Republican-leaning Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry endorsed the bill early on.

HB 1090 now heads to the Republican-run Senate.

 


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirApril 27, 20175min46
When the Senate GOP’s kill committee shot down a House Democratic bill last month mandating unpaid leave for workers in the private sector, they probably didn’t think they’d get another bite at the apple. You know, a chance to reconsider their opposition to such policies? As it turns out, they are being given just such an opportunity — another leave […]

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirApril 24, 20175min67
Legislation to bar employers from inquiring about the criminal history of job applicants underwent nips and tucks last week to soften its impact before being approved by majority Democrats in the state House today on a party-line vote. Among the tweaks amended into House Bill 1305 was the removal of provisions that some critics said set up a […]

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