From fracking to moon launches

Much progress was made in 2012 in jumpstarting the Boulder Valley economy. Boulder continued to garner national attention as a startup mecca, and sectors ranging from real estate to banking continued to recover.

Health-care providers experienced expansions, acquisitions or mergers, all amidst a medical landscape that is destined to change even more in 2013.

What else can we expect to see in the new year? Much uncertainty exists about the nation’s fiscal path and the direction of the national economy. Even so, I think it’s fitting to offer some new year’s wishes to some key players in the Boulder Valley:

• To new Boulder Chamber chief executive John Tayer: the latest equipment from Gibbon Slacklines to help him balance the diverse interests of the city’s business and environmental communities. Tayer was an excellent choice to lead the Boulder Chamber, and I’m confident that he’ll help bridge the divides.

• To Alan Stern, CEO of startup Golden Spike Co., which plans tourist trips to the moon: copies of Jules Verne’s “From the Earth to the Moon” and H.G. Wells’ “The First Men in the Moon.” Stern’s proposal attracted worldwide attention, proving that, for some things, it really is “rocket science.”

• To the Boulder Valley’s natural grocers: more converts to natural and organic foods, and a steady stream of new innovations from the area’s burgeoning natural-products sector.

• To new University of Colorado head football coach Mike MacIntyre: a great recruiting effort, a rejuvenated fan base and a few more wins than CU saw in 2012. MacIntyre takes over at a difficult time for my alma mater, but if he duplicates the success he had at San Jose State, the Buffs are in good hands.

• To Denver-based Nichols Partnership Inc., which recently purchased the former Daily Camera buildings at 1048 Pearl St. and 1023 Walnut St. in Boulder: smooth sailing on redeveloping the city’s premier location. Downtown is in desperate need of new office space, and this project will give local businesses a Boulder option for expansion.

• To officials with the city of Boulder and Xcel Energy: creativity. Both sides have been battling over whether Boulder will municipalize its electrical utility, with the city facing pressure from environmentalists to take over the utility service in order to boost renewables. Xcel has given little ground, casting any possibility of compromise into doubt. While the outcome is uncertain, both parties should think creatively in order to ensure that Boulder ratepayers are best served with cost-effective and reliable power, while also boosting dramatically the city’s renewable portfolio.

• To Phillips 66: a buyer for the former StorageTek campus in Louisville, once envisioned for a major renewable-energy research center.

• To fracking opponents and supporters: clarity. A compromise orchestrated by Gov. John Hickenlooper on fracking practices did not deter Longmont voters from banning the practice altogether. Pressure is mounting in Boulder County and elsewhere to follow suit. But it will be up to state agencies and the courts to clarify just how far municipalities and counties can go in regulating the practice.

Christopher Wood can be reached at 303-440-4950 or via email at


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