March 16, 2007

Labs alliance signature away from $150,000 in state funds

BOULDER – As soon as Gov. Bill Ritter signs the contract, the CO-LABS Alliance will receive $150,000 from the state to support the state’s federal labs.

The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade tentatively approved a proposal presented by the Boulder Economic Council on March 8 that would grant $150,000 over the course of three years to fund the Colorado Leveraging Assets to Better Science Alliance.

All that’s needed to write the check is the governor’s signature.

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The alliance, better known by as CO-LABS, is a 501 c (6) nonprofit connecting the business community, University of Colorado, federally funded labs and economic development organizations.

To receive the funds, CO-LABS would have to raise matching cash and in-kind contributions, said Cindy Schmidt, chairwoman of the Boulder Chamber of Commerce, who is spearheading the effort. The Boulder Economic Council is a division of the Boulder Chamber of Commerce.

According to the proposal, CO-LABS’ mission is “to maintain Colorado’s position as a leading center for research and development and to provide opportunities to enhance Colorado’s scientific capabilities.”

“We feel the labs sit out there independent of each other, and we don’t leverage the benefit they bring to the community,´ said Frances Draper, director of the Boulder Economic Council.

According to the proposal, the labs represent more than $700 million in federal investment in Colorado. The alliance formed partly in response to recent attempts to move some federal labs outside Colorado, Schmidt said.

In 2004 the Oklahoma congressional delegation began a quest to move two NOAA labs to Norman, Okla. Boulder city and lab officials, along with the Colorado congressional delegation, “formed a loose coalition and came together and fended that off,” she said.

“At that point we thought this is probably not going to be the last time that someone looks at our federally funded resources and takes a run at them,” she mentioned. “So we want to protect those Colorado resources.”

More recently, Wyoming successfully wooed a new NCAR supercomputer center away from Boulder.

Schmidt said it was unfortunate for the state to lose out, but the decision was based on the fact that, “Wyoming came through with more resources. Wyoming presented a terrific proposal to UCAR. So did the University of Colorado, and the state of Colorado helped tremendously. If the coalition had been active at that point … perhaps we could have leveraged the Colorado proposal better.”

Lab partners

Seven federal laboratories along the Front Range are involved in CO-LABS, a nonprofit organization formed to leverage the political strength of the labs in Fort Collins, Boulder and Golden.

_ Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere at Colorado State University, Fort Collins.

_ Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

_ National Institute of Standards & Technology, Boulder.

_ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder.

_ National Telecommunications and Information Administration including the Institute for Telecommunications Studies, Boulder.

_ University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and its subsidiary National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder.

_ National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden.

BOULDER – As soon as Gov. Bill Ritter signs the contract, the CO-LABS Alliance will receive $150,000 from the state to support the state’s federal labs.

The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade tentatively approved a proposal presented by the Boulder Economic Council on March 8 that would grant $150,000 over the course of three years to fund the Colorado Leveraging Assets to Better Science Alliance.

All that’s needed to write the check is the governor’s signature.

The alliance, better known by as CO-LABS, is a 501 c (6) nonprofit connecting the business community, University of Colorado, federally funded labs…

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