by Pam Zubeck
On the first decent weather day in a week, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper toured Fort Carson and then made remarks to a battery of reporters, emphasizing his first priority: economic development.
"I think we should reflect on how fortunate we are to have Fort Carson," the governor said, noting that Carson accounts for billions of dollars in direct and indirect economic impact.
"In many ways, Fort Carson is the link between Colorado Springs and Pueblo," Hickenlooper added. "How do we get these communities to work together for economic development? How can we build better relationships and be more productive? We can make sure those in the military have the best training possible, the best equipment, the best of everything."
Hickenlooper said he'll visit all 64 counties in the next couple of months, beating the drum for economic development.
Asked whether he'll try to change the minds of many in Southeast Colorado who oppose the Army's expansion of Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, he noted while the expansion is off the table for now, bridges need to be built.
"How do we listen closely to their concerns and make sure we address those concerns? I think what we should be looking at the facilities that are there now and how do we get maximum use."
He added he would like to see the post become "part of the community," like it is in Colorado Springs, where there's "a general appreciation" of Carson.
Asked to comment on the recent announcement that the Army prefers Carson as the site for a new Combat Aviation Brigade, Hickenlooper said Colorado's goal is to "give those warriors the best training they could possibly get": "I hope the community reaches out and makes their sacrifice for our country something that is revered."
Wearing an Under Armour brand jacket with ARMY on the back, the governor said he'd like to see such garments made by Grand Junction-based Loki, a company that manufactures a jacket with gloves tucked inside the sleeves. He noted the Under Armour jacket doesn't have that feature.
Hickenlooper's 15-minute appearance drew a full contingent of media. It nearly coincided with a prayer luncheon at the Air Force Academy, which began at 11:30 a.m.