Colorado Business Leaders Emphasize Need for Collaboration to Keep Economy Strong
A group of Colorado business leaders representing the energy, agriculture, construction, and transportation sectors spoke of the need for collaboration in the face of an anti-business agenda being pushed by political leaders and activists during a panel discussion hosted by the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA).
The discussion was part of COGA’s 35th annual meeting this week with more 600 Colorado business representatives in attendance and focused on the growing political and social trends in Colorado that’s taken aim at business development and economic growth.
Ted Leighty, the CEO of the Colorado Association of Home Builders, gave examples of how all of the sectors represented at the COGA meeting work together to provide people with the resources they need to live comfortable, sustainable lives.
“We build the communities in Colorado. Where you live, where you work, where you play. We provide shelter, that’s why our men and women are in our industry. Shelter doesn’t work without these other industries with us,” Leighty said. “You got to have the car in your garage, you’ve got to be able to get to work, to school, you got to have power—that’s oil, that’s gas—the plastics that are used in the house in appliances. You don’t have a home if you don’t have food, you’re not providing sustenance,” he continued.
Those comments were echoed by Chad Vorthmann, the Executive Vice President at the Colorado Farm Bureau, who warned the Colorado way of life could be threatened without collaboration.
“We’ve got to stand together and link arm-in-arm. We need to be talking more about the interconnectibility of the major industries in our state and what that means to the future of Colorado,” Vorthmann said. “And meet our voters at our doorstep and talk to them about what kind of Colorado do they want for their future. Because a Colorado without any one of us is not the Colorado that I think most of them are seeing.”
Dan Haley, the President and CEO of COGA, acknowledged the business community in the state faces long-term challenges and is why he brought multiple industries together for the COGA meeting.
“These industries have been around for a hundred years and we need them around for another hundred years. We are literally building the roof over our heads, powering those homes, putting food on the table, and automobile dealers are providing the freedom to move and get around from place to place,” Haley said.
Matthews Groves, a vice president at the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association warned that a growing regulatory system in the state would hurt economic growth and urged industries to work together to address a changing business environment.
“If you don’t have the opportunities to spread your message across industries. If we don’t stand there linked arm-in-arm as four separate industries up here there we’re going to be nothing more than a speed bump on a path to a place we don’t want to be,” Groves said. “If our industries don’t start swinging at a couple more pitches that might be a little more out of their strike zone, we’re just going to get taken down one, by one, by one, by one.”
Haley said he didn’t expect an upcoming legislative session with new sweeping oil and gas bills.
“We would like to think that SB 181 is still working its way through the process, and there wouldn’t be a lot of oil and gas legislation in the upcoming session,” he said.
But Haley did acknowledge that the state legislature could introduce bills to ban certain gas-fired home appliances like those that have popped up in other states, although he believes those efforts would backfire in Colorado.
“I know we will see some bills and some of that is aimed at disturbing the use of oil and natural gas products. And if you look at what’s happened on both coastlines, New York and California, legislation and different things coming up, going after things like gas furnaces, gas stoves, gas fireplaces,” he said. “If the legislature here wants to take those aggressive steps, things will tip in our favor. People who might have concerns about oil and gas, but don’t want government coming after their gas stove or gas fireplace.”
Western Wire has previously covered the campaigns waged by environmental activists to block new home construction that uses natural gas for cooking and heating.