Archive for Current Affairs

Maybe we all don’t all want to work at Starbucks, but I’m going to donate $5 to the Create Jobs for USA campaign currently in place at the world’s largest coffee retailer.

For $5 you get a red, white and blue wristband, which in my case will become a stocking stuffer for a niece or sister.

The simple fact is that community businesses now employ more than half of all private-sector jobs, and they’ve created 64 percent of all new jobs in the past 15 years. Unfortunately, new job creation isn’t keeping up with the layoffs from the long U.S. recession, with U.S. unemployment stuck at about 9 percent.

So Starbucks has teamed up with the Opportunity Finance Network, a group of community lending institutions financing local businesses. These CDFIs, or Community Development Financial Institutions, support urban, rural and native communities with loans to low-income, low-wealth and other underserved people. It’s estimated that for every $3,000 donated into this project, one new job will be created.

You can read more about this at or just pick up some information while buying your next coffee at Starbucks.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is putting his money where his mouth is, committing $5 millon from his company to see the campaign. He’s a proponent of ending the gridlock in Congress but while not holding his breath on that, he’s also urging other CEOs to start spending some of the pile of cash they’re sitting on and start hiring or start some programs to create job growth.

Schultz also recently urged business leaders to stop campaign contributions to both the president and Congress until they reach a “fair, bipartisan deal” to reduce the federal debt. Hopeful thinking, but I liked it nonetheless.

So maybe skip that morning breakfast roll you stare at in the Starbucks case, and donate your $5 to help create a new job in your community. Your donation is worth seven times a such in new financing through these CDFIs, which gain the ability to acquire more financing from other sources.

So your $5 wristband is really worth $35!

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University of Colorado economist Richard Wobbekind sees modest growth for Colorado in 2011 as the state continues to deal with high unemployment.

It was economic forecast déjà-vu this week as the University of Colorado’s top economist addressed Boulder business leaders.

I covered the same event – the Boulder & Beyond Economic Forecast organized by the Boulder Economic Council – a year ago and wrote about how Colorado’s population continues to grow despite continuing job losses and an “unemployment number that isn’t improving much.”

So as 2011 kicks into gear, what’s here to great us? 

  • A state unemployment rate that just inched up a notch to a record-matching 8.8 percent in November.  A year ago we worried when it was 7.5 percent. Colorado hasn’t seen unemployment this high since the early ‘80s.
  • A slow housing market that keeps dragging on, with foreclosures saturating the market and holding down both new construction starts and prices.  The high-end market for homes above $1 million is especially tough.
  • State and federal deficits that politicians seem unable to deal with as the slower economy puts a stranglehold on tax revenues. Colorado, with a projected $1.5 billion budget gap forecast for 2011, joins a crowd of other states in the same boat. Colorado now has debt of nearly $25.7 billion. Only four states, Alaska, Arkansas, Montana and North Dakota, predict they’ll be in the black. That’s almost peanuts, however, when compared to the U.S. debt, which just crossed the $14 trillion mark for the first time.

Go to to really see some scary numbers. When I clicked it, the debt level equals $45, 125 for each citizen. Of course the numbers constantly click higher.

So one has to wonder? Why does everyone seem so happy and optimistic at these 2011 forecasts when charts and graphs – and even a 9-Inning Scorecard that CU Economist Richard Wobbekind presented – still show all of these plunging red bars?

Wobbekind wasn’t alone this year with a fairly upbeat  forecast.  On another event panel, Denver economist Patricia Silverstein presented a study by metro Denver economic developers that listed 100 measures that keep Colorado competitive. On the list, the state’s 67 “strengths” easily outweighed the 33 “challenges.”

Turns out, Silverstein said, Colorado continues to rank very high in everything from venture capital investments, stock IPOs, renewable energy sources, number of patents filed, high school ACT & SAT scores and finally, the lowest level of obesity in the country. Smiles all around.

And it’s reports like these that continue to get people packing their U-Hauls or jumping on the next flight (another stat is that Denver International Airport hit a record-breaking 52 million passengers last year) for the “gold” in them thar Colorado hills.

Only one small problem.  Colorado lost 140,000 jobs in 2009 and 2010, and although Wobbekind is now calling for “moderate” growth, that translates into only 10,000 new jobs this year. The recession essentially gave Colorado a zero net gain in jobs for the past 10 years, Wobbekind pointed out.

So you ask, where’s the good news? With cheap capital, businesses are busy making investments, but mostly in equipment, computers and software – not new employees. Economists see an 8 to 9 percent increase in business fixed investment for 2011, a good long-term sign.

Consumers, the real engine behind the GDP, somehow have finally reduced their debts and saving rates look stable at around 5 percent. As a result, retail sales are actually getting back to pre-recession levels. Consumer spending on cars, clothes, food and other items now accounts for about 70 percent of gross domestic product.

Wobbekind is calling for U.S. GDP growth of about 3.5 percent in 2011, but he admits the majority view among economists is closer to 3 percent or lower.

Both businesses and consumers seem to be a pretty confident bunch all of a sudden.  The CU Leeds Business Confidence Index just got back to 54.8 in the first quarter – just a little under the 54.9 in the second quarter of 2007 and up from 48.6 percent last quarter. U.S. consumer confidence hit an 8-month high this week, according to the Conference Board.

While some job recovery is taking place in the private sector, Wobbekind said it’s offset by a loss in federal jobs – not your typical scenario.  “There’s an awful lot of repair that needs to be done at this point,” he said, describing the job picture.

Boulder itself, Wobbekind said, is faring better than most of the state. The latest unemployment rate for Boulder and Broomfield counties dropped a bit this week to 6.5 percent. Colorado home price appreciation turned negative in 2010, down 1.7%, but that beats Nevada’s downturn of 10 percent. Boulder may end up a percent or so.

Construction jobs in both residential and commercial sectors have taken “the biggest pounding,” Wobbekind said.  Manufacturing jobs, in a slow decline for many years, will continue to shrink.  On the upside, Wobbekind is forecasting a 15.7 percent growth in professional, scientific and technical services jobs. Depending on if your in an up or down jobs sector, wages might actually begin to increase this year.

So are economic forecasters just putting a happy face on rather dismal economic figures that still look much better when compared to the past few recession years? Or will 2011 surprise everyone with a better turnaround than expected.  The real answer, you see, will come at the 2012 economic forecast.








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For a city with 10 breweries — all with tasting rooms, and arguably the birthplace of the the microbrew craft industry, Boulder is the perfect spot for a new conference Nov. 5-7, the world's first Beer Bloggers Conference.

Now here's a conference I think I can enjoy covering because not only will it include sessions on social media, how the online media is covering the beer industry but, of course, it includes tasting beers.

The conference will be held at the Boulder Marriott, and information is online at

I'll come back and keep you posted when I learn more about this "tasty" conference idea, but in the meantime, here's what some people had to say in PR that just went out today.

I saw the announcement about the conference, I rushed to get my credit card out
because I have a feeling this will fill up quickly," said Gerard Walen of Road Trips For Beer. "Boulder
is one of my favorite cities to visit, and I'm looking forward to going back
there and meeting some of the folks in person that I only know on the beer

organizer Zephyr Adventures, a
Montana-based adventure travel company, already co-organizes both the Wine
Bloggers Conference and the International Food Bloggers Conference. “The Wine Bloggers Conference has
provided increased credibility for wine bloggers, connected bloggers with the
wine industry, and improved both the quality and quantity of wine blogging
around the world”, says Zephyr’s owner Allan Wright. “We think the Beer
Bloggers Conference will have a similar positive effect on the beer industry.”

Boulder was chosen as the inaugural location for the conference because of its
scenic beauty near the Rocky Mountains, its excellent transport with nearby
Denver International Airport, and its 10 local breweries.  The
Boulder Beer Company
and Oskar Blues
have signed on as initial sponsors, in addition to Draft Magazine, the Colorado Brewers Guild, and the Boulder Convention & Visitors

Panelists on the future of digital media in Boulder were, left to right, Winston Binch, partner, Crispin Porter + Bogusky; Seth Levine, managing director, Foundry Group; and Chris Scoggins, senior vice president, DataLogix. 

Boulder business, education
and government leaders took a look into the future 25 years from now and saw
everything from a much older population and a shrinking employment base to a
digital media and outdoor recreation Mecca that continues to attract

But as University of Colorado
economist Richard Wobbekind reminded attendees at the 2010 Economic Summit on
the University of Colorado campus Wednesday, in the words of Yogi Berra, “It’s
tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

That said, there were no
shortage of experts from the hot business sectors of clean tech, digital media,
natural & organic foods, outdoor recreation and biotech willing to stick
their necks out and make a forecast. The theme for the well-attended summit,
sponsored by the Boulder Economic Council and CU, was “Boulder in 2035:
Opportunities & Insights.”

 First, a few of the facts,
emphasized by both business research statistics from CU and generally what
everyone that lives in Boulder already knows.

 “Boulder has drawn a line in
the sand,” said David Driskell, director of community planning and
sustainability for the city. “We’re not going to grow out, we’re going to grow

Redevelopment of Boulder
areas such as its east Arapaho corridor (near CU’s developing east campus) and
the aging Diagonal Marketplace retail center are where the city will be placing
its attention.

The reality, Driskell
emphasized, is that Boulder will never be all things to all people.  And that no doubt includes businesses
looking for larger manufacturing facilities. “We’re going to continue to
incubate startups,” he said.

If you just happened to move
into the city and somehow remain oblivious to Boulder’s staunch slow-growth
philosophy, several charts and graphs from Wobbekind put some new wrinkles on a
well-known story.

For a city that’s long touted
its place as an entrepreneurial haven for high tech, the numbers now show
employment in advanced tech sectors are actually declining. Technology brings
higher productivity, Wobbekind explained, resulting in fewer jobs for high-tech
workers. The most recent example? Hewlett-Packard’s announcement of some 9,000
layoffs from its technology-services division, where data centers will become
fully automated.

In the recent recession, more
than 70 percent of the lost wages in Colorado occurred in advanced tech sectors
that included professional services, manufacturing and information.

In other not-so-shocking news
for anyone who’s been in Boulder for very long, Wobbekind forecasted a nearly
flat growth rate through 2035, for both employment and population growth, while
“satellite” cities like Broomfield, Longmont and Erie will continue to attract
new jobs and increase their populations.

Another Boulder Valley city,
Louisville, which is making a conscious decision to limit housing but
encouraging commercial growth, also may find its job growth limited as
employers seek out cities where their employees can find homes.

“It’s just not getting any
cheaper to live in Boulder or Louisville,” Wobbekind said.

High on Wobbekind’s list of
changing demographics not to be ignored is the fact that Boulder, like all of
Colorado, is aging.

Everyone who moved in during
the growth years of the ‘70s and ‘80s are now nearing retirement age. In the
city of Boulder alone, Wobbekind says the 55 to 69 age group and those over 70
will have the most dramatic increase in numbers in the next 25 years.

Services such as health care
and transportation, as well as a declining tax base as seniors reduce their
spending, are all areas to watch, he said.

Although rail and other
multi-modal transportation choices may become available, expect an increase in
commuters driving cars in search of job centers. Even shorter trips are going
to take longer due to congestion.

Not all forecasters, however,
bemoaned a future of gray-haired senior citizens clogging up the freeways.

Panelists looking at the future
of digital media reminded summit attendees that Crispin Porter + Bogusky, a
global advertising company billing $1.7 billion annually, came to Boulder
because it knew the city’s quality of life would attract the younger talent it
needs to survive and grow.

Looking very far ahead is
nearly impossible in the fast-changing digital world, said Winston Binch, a
partner with CP+B. “Just figuring out what will happen next week is a

The company is moving much of
its work to the mobile platforms, as the I-Pad and millions of new mobile phone
apps dramatically change the way businesses reach their new customers.

You’ll soon be using your
phone to buy your Starbucks and display your airline-boarding pass, Binch said.
“Social commerce,” he predicted, is here to stay.

Foundry Group venture
capitalist Seth Levine said the rise of digital media is allowing marketers to
measure their results like never before.

Social media and software
geeks are the new “Mad Men” of the advertising world, Levine said, and Boulder,
with resident companies like OneRiot, Lijit, video ad network SpotXchange, creative
agency Victors & Spoils and even Google, are creating a “nexus” of
communication companies for the future.

With CP+B helping to launch
the Boulder Digital Works with CU, and other tech gatherings like Glue or TechStars
gaining national attention, Boulder continues to stir up a pot of the right
ingredients for digital media success.

Boulder also continues to grow
its reputation as an epicenter for both the natural and organics food movement
and outdoor recreation and sporting goods companies.

Organic foods veteran Barney
Feinblum predicted that the word “natural” will probably disappear from food
labeling as “organic” becomes the accepted standard. As an example, he pointed
out that organic milk producer Horizon is now the leading brand of milk being
sold in the U.S.

While organic products today are
only about 3.5 percent of the market, he believes price premiums will decline,
and organic goods will capture up to  25 percent of the food market in the next 25 years.

A company like Whole Foods,
Feinblum said, will expand beyond organic and healthy foods to selling electric
cars and home renewable energy systems.

“Our industry is looking to
get ahead of the curve on sustainability,” explained Lori Herra with the Outdoor
Industry Association. And this presents environmental challenges when most of
the outdoor recreation products are manufactured overseas.

Even on the federal level,
Herra said, the conversation is starting to change from “extraction” on federal
lands to recognizing the economic strengths of “recreation.”

Dr. Jenni Skyler, director of The Intimacy Institute of Boulder, was named the 2010 Young Careerist in the annual competition organized by Boulder Business and Professional Women. Lindsay Shaw, owner of Lindsay's Boulder Deli at Haagen-Daz in downtown Boulder, was selected as the runner-up.

This was the second year I was asked to help judge this competition, which looks at the candidates' career achievements as well as their their ability to project an image that reflects the role of today's young workforce in society. And once again, this was a tough and close contest, with each of the five women competitors taking the initiative to compete before judges as well as a final speech before members of Boulder's BPW organization.

In one part of the competition, all of the candidates join in a group discussion, looking to come up with solutions to a topic presented by the judges. With a sex therapist, an ice cream shop owner and others involved in different businesses, from architecture to financial consulting, the candidates decided they wanted to launch an community education group, providing mentoring and education on topics such as equity in pay to other women. And one idea for the name of the group? "Sex, Ice Cream & Business." Now that could certainly attract some participants.

I was always a supporter of BPW while I was editor of the Boulder County Business Report, and the business newspaper continues to be a sponsor of this competition, along with Flatirons Bank and Joining me as judges were Sue Deans, former editor of the Boulder Camera, and Wendy Reynolds, senior vice president of Flatirons Bank in Boulder. 

Skyler, a Ph.D. and board certified sexologist, was enthusiastic and kept the audience listening close as she spoke about her career as a sex therapist. She also writes several sex columns — "Sophisticated Sex" for the Boulder Weekly; "Sexy Shabbos with Dr. Jenni" for the Boulder Jewish News; and Sunday Sex Talk on She spoke on how to build healthy sexuality and how this helps men and women in our society.

Shaw also impressed both the judges and BPW members with her own life stories of how she has been a businesswoman for the past six years after encountering sexual discrimination in her first career as a teacher. Her talk about how she lost her job because she was living an "alternative" lifestyle — dating another woman — was open, honest and from the heart. 

Also competing were Julie Winslow, a investment adviser with Securian Financial Services; Katie Pekarek, a project manager for Kristin Lewis Architects; and Kathryn Matta, an event specialist with A Spice of Life Catering. All of the young businesswomen are active in numerous humanitarian and nonprofit organizations.

Funds raised from the event help support the Colorado BPW Education Foundation, YWCA and other advancement of women programs. The competition is also designed to attract new young member to BPW, and Skyler won a membership in the organization.

To learn more about the Boulder Business and Professional Women, visit their Web site at The group meets monthly with the mission of full participation, equity and economic self-sufficiency for working women.

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Boulder artist and author Tina Collen is hoping for some fast-moving sales of her book "Storm of the i: An Artobiography" with a release party on Friday, Feb. 12 at the downtown Boulder showroom of the Tesla electric sports car.

Collen says she'll talk about her memoir as an artist trying to understand her turbulent relationship with her father, and the astonishing event that occurred after she finished the book. 

Collen's writing is interwoven with her memorabilia, her art and her work as a graphic designer. 

The event runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and guests will be able to look over the all-electric Tesla Roadster, with a range of about 244 miles per charge. The Tesla Gallery is located at 915 Pearl St.

To learn more about Tina Collen and her new book "Storm of the i,", visit

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Page One Ad in the Farmer & Rancher Exchange, published in Spearfish, N.D. 

An enterprising car dealership in South Dakota has come up with a program even more fitting than Cash for Clunkers for its farm customers — "Cows for Cars!"

It's a real program, advertised in the Farmer & Rancher Exchange newspaper, and promoted on Page One. 

And you have to give credit to some creative thinkers at the dealership that sells Jeep, Ford, Chrysler, Dodge and Mercury. "Hoof on it for all the details on this udderly great promo!" the ad reads.

And why not? A good steer or heifer is just as good as cash in the agricultural setting of rural America, and as the ad reads, "Bring in your cows and we'll work out a trade on a new or pre-owned vehicle." 

No cows? Scott Peterson Motors says come on in anyway, "We'll trade for just about anything." And what the heck, you get to "Shoot the bull with our salesmen," and make a deal.

I like to read the local papers when I'm traveling, and during a recent pheasant hunt up to South Dakota, this ad jumped right out at me. I don't really know how many cows were traded in … but I'm sure it got the local residents thinking about making a deal if nothing else.


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Harvest house postcards-web
Postcards from the '50s show the Harvest House Motor Hotel in Boulder, now called the Millennium Harvest House Hotel. 

The history of the Millennium Harvest House in Boulder will be on display this weekend, Dec. 5-6, as the hotel hosts several organizations celebrating the holidays and the official closing of the city's 150th anniversary.

I remember an early meeting at the hotel of the Boulder County Business Hall of Fame, shortly after current General Manager Dan Pirrallo had been hired. The hotel's new ownership had renamed the facility the Millennium Hotel, using the name of the parent company.

But Pirrallo explained at the meeting that every time he introduced himself as the new manager of the Millennium, everyone would say, "Oh, you mean the Harvest House." He wondered if the hotel could successfully brand its new name, and all of us responded by telling him that for most long-time residents, the hotel would always be the Harvest House.

Shortly thereafter, Pirrallo convinced the new owners that they could be the Millennium, but they really needed to keep the Harvest House as part of the name, too. 

Pirrallo, recently named hotelier of the year by the Colorado Hotel & Lodging Association, will take part in the Sesquicentennial Closing Celebration at the hotel's Century Room from 3 to 6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 6. The hotel will have a photo display of its history set up in its lobby and corridors, and Pirrallo will speak during the Boulder 150 closing event.

It will be a busy weekend at the hotel as Historic Boulder also will set ups it annual "Homes of the Holidays" gift boutique on both Dec. 5 and 6 and sells tickets to its "Homes for the Holidays" tour of five local homes. Tour tickets are $14 for Historic Boulder members, $17 for non-members in advance and $20 for non-members during the tour. 

On Sunday, the Boulder History Museum sets up its Gingerbread House Contest at the hotel, part of its annual Winter Fest celebration.

To close out the city's 150th birthday, the public is invited to come join in music, singing and dancing. Calico and Boots, a local square-dancing group, performs at 3:30 p.m., followed by Boulder's Ars Nova Singers at 4:15 p.m. with a community sing-along from 4:45 to 5:15 p.m. led by local singers Melinda Mattingly and Evanne Browne.

Also commemorating the 150th, the Sesquicentennial quilts, which have been on public display in several city locations throughout the year, will be officially presented to the city, with the quilters on hand to describe their inspiration for the five panels.

The Sesquicentennial Celebration Committee also will present two plaques to the city. One commemorates the Aug. 8 Sand Creek Massacre Spiritual Healing Run that ended in Boulder; the other illustrates the Sesquicentennial poster that was created by artist Steve Lowtwait. Light refreshments will be served during the event.

For information on Boulder's Sesquicentennial Closing Celebration and stories and history of the city's 150th, go to



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BOULDER – Several
holiday-themed events and music, including Historic Boulder’s “Home for the
Holidays” house tour and the Boulder History Museum’s Winter Fest Gingerbread
Contest, will help celebrate the Dec. 5-6 closing of the city’s 150th

A year of special
Sesquicentennial programs and events has commemorated Boulder’s founding in

On Saturday evening,
Dec. 5, the Boulder Sesquicentennial Celebration and the Boulder History Museum
will have an entry in the annual Lights of December parade, which loops around
the Pearl Street Mall from 6 to 7 p.m.

The annual “Home for
the Holidays” tour features “a collage of magnificent homes throughout
Other events, including the ”Home for the Holidays” boutique,
History Museum’s Winter Fest – Gingerbread House Contest and the Boulder
Sesquicentennial Closing Ceremony, will be at the Millennium Harvest House,
1345 28th St., on Sunday, Dec. 6.

Home tours are 10 a.m.
to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6. Homes will
include: 2940 20th St., circa 1874; 541 Highland Ave., circa 1890;
977 9th St., circa 1905; 819 6th St., circa 1954; 720 11th
St., circa 1922; and 125 Bellevue Dr., circa 1963. A shuttle will be available
to the Bellevue Drive home, weather permitting, leaving from King Avenue south
of Baseline Road near 15th Street.

Tour tickets cost $14
for Historic Boulder members, $17 for nonmembers in advance of the tour and $20
for nonmembers during the tour. 
Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Historic Boulder office, 1123
Spruce St., the Table Mesa and 30th Street King Soopers stores, the
Boulder Book Store, the West End Gardener, at Page Two in Gunbarrel and at
Timbalier Dry Goods in Lafayette.

Tickets for the house
tour also will be sold at Historic Boulder’s Holiday Boutique, held this year
at the Millennium Hotel’s Century-Millennium conference rooms from 10 a.m. to 4
p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5. The Holiday Boutique also will be open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Dec. 6 at the Millennium Harvest House.

In the Lights of
December Parade, members and friends of the Boulder 150 Committee and Boulder
History Museum will wear historic or unusual hats and display the Boulder 150
banner. The parade also features local school groups, athletic groups, scout
troops and businesses.

The Boulder History
Museum’s Third Annual Gingerbread House Contest will be on display Sunday, Dec.
6 in the hotel’s Century-Millennium conference rooms. Winners will be announced
at 4 p.m.  The all-edible houses
must be delivered to the hotel conference rooms between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Dec.
6. Winning entries will be displayed later in the week at the hotel.

Pre-registration for
the Gingerbread House Contest is required. Entrants should go the to the
Boulder History Museum’s web site at for details.

The Boulder
Sesquicentennial Closing Ceremony will be 3 to 6 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Millennium
Harvest House with opening remarks by Dan Corson, chair of the Boulder 150
Committee. A presentation by Dan Pirrallo, general manager of the Millennium
Harvest House, will mark the hotel’s 50th anniversary this year.

Calico and Boots, a
Boulder-based square-dancing group, will perform a demonstration of traditional
and modern American square dancing at 3:30 p.m., followed by Boulder’s Ars Nova
Singers performing at 4:15 p.m. with a community sing-along scheduled from 4:45
to 5:15 p.m. and led by local singers Melinda Mattingly and Evanne Browne. Tom
Riis, music professor and director of CU-Boulder’s American Music Research
Center, is coordinating the program.

The Sesquicentennial
quilt panels will be on display, and the talented quilters who designed and
made the quilts will be present to describe the inspiration for these five

Two special plaques,
commemorating Sesquicentennial events, will be presented to city officials from
5:15 to 6 p.m. The Sesquicentennial quilt panels also will be presented to the
city.The panels cover Boulder’s history from 1859 to present depicting
transportation, open space and recreation, arts and culture, commerce and
technology and education.

The Sand Creek Massacre
Spiritual Healing Run Plaque, commemorating the
run Aug. 8 by members of the Northern Arapaho Tribe that ended in Boulder, will
be presented to the city.  The
Sesquicentennial Plaque, illustrating the Sesquicentennial poster created by
Boulder artist Steve Lowtwait, will be presented to the city.

Light refreshments will
be served after the dedications. For information on Boulder’s Sesquicentennial
Closing Celebration and stories about Boulder’s 150th anniversary,
go to

Categories : Current Affairs
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Ted Turner spoke at the University of Colorado as part of the Entrepreneurs Unplugged series by Silicon Flatirons Center and the CU Law School.

BOULDER — Ted Turner’s been called lots of things in his
career – media mogul, entrepreneur, philanthropist, billionaire, rancher,
environmentalist, peacenik and “Mouth of the South.”

He brought a little of all of those to a packed room at the
University of Colorado Friday as part of the Entrepreneurs Unplugged series
organized by CU’s Silicon Flatirons Center and the Law School.

Before his interview, Turner was presented with Silicon
Flatiron’s inaugural Entrepreneurs for Good Prize, a crystal award that
appropriately encased a buffalo.

Having just returned from a pheasant hunting trip in South
Dakota, home to part of his 2 million acres of ranch land, the founder of CNN
and author of “Call Me Ted” told the campus audience that if he were looking
for a job today, it would be in “clean, renewable energy.” It will be a growth
industry, Turner predicted, because “we’re going to win because we are right.”

Next stop on his travels, in fact, is the nation’s capital,
where he’ll be lobbying for a clean energy bill.

Despite the tough odds of overcoming objections of the
powerful coal and oil industries, Turner compared his new environmental mission
to the’80s when he was trying to convince Congress to open up the nation’s TV
airwaves to new satellite technologies.

At the time, he said, all three major TV networks were happy
– carving up major sports events like the NFL between them, producing just 2½
hours of live news each day and reaping hefty profits.

“I wasn’t happy,” he said, “because I wasn’t one of them.”

Turner said he knew he was gambling everything on his vision
for a 24-hour news channel at CNN, but “I knew with certainty that it was going
to work.” Just getting your news at 6 p.m. was “inconvenient” if nothing else.

As a hard-working businessman for all of his life — working for
his father’s advertising billboard business when he was 12 — Turner admitted
that the 1996 merger of Turner Broadcasting System with Time-Warner came about
partly because he was just “tired.” As a large Time Warner stockholder, he lost
billions when the stock collapsed after Time Warner merged with AOL.

When he owned both the Atlanta Braves and the Hawks, he would leave his TV business offices and head straight to the games, which turned into
18-hour days. “So I got too tired so I said screw it – I’m done!”

Co-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, Turner
minces no words calling for the United States to get out of Iraq and
Afghanistan. Now chairman of Turner Enterprises, which oversees all of his
current businesses, including the Ted’s Montana Grill restaurants and ranch land across 12 states, Turner said customers always must be important if you’re
running a business for the long term.

“I became a peacenik,” he said, because when he was running
CNN and the U.S. started bombing people around the world, they were “bombing my

The Silicon Flatirons format is an initial interview by Brad
Bernthal, entrepreneurship director for the center. And Bernthal had his hands full trying to keep his guest on
track with several questions as Turner would launch into new subjects.

At one point, Turner said if the U.S. just has to be at war,
why not go with an entrepreneurial spirit and attack Canada. They would
surrender quickly, he joked, and double the land mass of the U.S.

To anyone in the media, Turner said, “I really was just
joking about attacking Canada.”

Turner reads the Economist every week to stay up on world
events, and he likes newspapers. But he also said the newspaper industry model
is similar to the polluting coal industry – “it’s an obsolete technology.” He
wondered aloud who’ll eventually be able to pay to gather the news. “The
bloggers don’t have news organizations,” he said.

In the next 50 years, Turner said, “we have to be smarter
than we’ve ever been.

“If we heat up the world seven to eight degrees, we’re

When it comes to new technologies, Turner drew laughs
admitting he’s an old “fuddy-duddy” struggling with too many dials on TV to
figure out how to watch it. But at 70 years old, he admits he’s feeling pretty
good, running his ranches, fly-fishing and campaigning to protect the






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