January 9, 2008

Eat the mountain? I'm HUNGRY!!!

I came back to Colorado Springs after being away for nearly 10 years. When I left, there was nothing on the east side of Powers… other than good areas to four-wheel and drink beer! Now, there are schools, neighborhoods, shopping super-centers, cinemas and more!

What happened to Colorado Springs? I thought this was just a way station for people in the military, formerly in the military, or who were fleeing their prairie homes in Nebraska or Wyoming for something ‘different,’ but not a big city. The businesses here were on a 5-year flip-flop system, and any talent or skilled labor seemed to come and go… or stay miserably waiting for the beauty of the mountain to sustain them!

Chapter 10 and the story about Zhengzou made me think of Colorado Springs. I left here looking for options of employment and a faster paced life, just to return and discover that all I needed was patience!

Despite being in a drought, the city has grown humongous! How do we get water to everyone? How is the city appealing to people?

As was the case in China, the leadership changed from Mao to Deng and Deng brought with him ‘the truth’ and allowed for capitalistic growth to occur as an aggregate of individuals responding to self-interest incentives. ‘The truth’ came to Colorado Springs as well. Instead of the city giving 5-year low-tax incentives to companies, the city allowed developers with self-interest to come in and do what they do, develop! I remember when there was a lot of land, but not much development. I also remember a lot of shady situations of land being purchased under the guise of intent to develop, but then the owners moving away and simply holding onto undeveloped land with the truthful intention of holding onto to sell back to some developer someday in the future. I guess through some legal action by the city and county, that land was reclaimed or those title-owners got to eventually sell to developers.

By ceasing to offer companies tax-exemptions (at least as many as in the 70’s through the early 90’s), a dynamic occurred that people actually stuck around in this way station. Californians were drawn by the low costs of living, Texans were drawn by Colorado-based companies, similar to Texas-based companies, popping up (local businesses doing what they do) and offering incentives to individuals to move here. Thus, more people, more developers, acquisition from the land title owners who did nothing with the land, and the area grew! As well, the city could do things like discover ways to supply water to the area because they weren’t hemorrhaging money that was essentially lost to tax-exemption-enjoying businesses.

Chapter 10 speaks of the investment of Japan and the US into Chinese markets, as well as ‘the truth’ being considered by politicians (Deng) and a sort of dynamic of the government stepping back and allowing markets to do what they do. In a sense, Colorado Springs profited from the investment of the city/county into itself by doing less of the self-mutilation of tax-exemption, and the movement of Texas, California and others into the area.

There are other dynamics at play, such as the growth of Denver southward allowing for commuter residence ease in the Springs and the popularity of government contracting as an industry being fed into by 5 military installations around; their employees who already have government clearance and experience stick around, instead of leaving the way station.

Of course, just because Colorado Springs has grown, it doesn’t mean that I’m going to eat the mountain. I’m going to behave as an undercover economist and look for opportunities ANYWHERE they may occur, not just THIS market.

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