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This policy framework is a working document. | Updated: February 2020


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COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT •Transportation •Community Broadband •Workforce Housing •Land Use & Redevelopment

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT •Education & Workforce Training •Recruitment & Retention •Immigration Policy •Minimum Wage

CLIMATE & ENERGY •Boulder’s Electrical Utility •Innovation & Clean Energy •Building Energy Efficiency Code

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QUALITY OF LIFE •Public Involvment & Stakeholder Engagement •Diversity & Inclusivity in Leadership •Financial Management & Capital Improvements •Sustained Sales Tax Revenue • Visitors & Tourism •Livable Neighborhoods •Arts & Culture •Healthcare 2020 POLICY • FRAMEWORK • BoulderChamber.com DRAFT

| pages 31-35 | TAXES , FEES & BUSINESS REGULATIONS •Small Business Affordability •Economic Sustainability Strategy • Development Impact Fees • Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax




The Boulder Chamber

This Policy Framework highlights the issues most critical to our member businesses and organizations and sets the policy positions that guide our work. The Boulder Chamber seeks to balance the long and short-term economic vitality of our community with its environmental goals and social objectives.

Home to a world-class research

university, a wide mix of key industry clusters, major government research facilities, visionary entrepreneurs and the nation’s most highly educated population, Boulder’s economy is truly unique in size, diversity and character.

As Boulder’s leading economic vitality and business support organization, the Boulder Chamber advocates for local and regional policies that foster and strengthen this rare economic ecosystem. The Boulder Chamber helps new businesses through their start up phases, and supports established businesses and non-profits to innovate, thrive, and continue to serve the community now and into the future.

Boulder’s Primary Industries and Key Characteristics: • • • •

Aerospace Biosciences Energy Information Technologies/Software

• • • •

Natural Products Outdoor Recreation Tourism Research (including CU

Boulder & the federal labs)


employers (5+ employees)



research labs





Top research


develops policy positions based on feedback from the community, our members, our policy committee--the Community Affairs Council and final approval of the Boulder Chamber Board of Directors. The Boulder Chamber recognizes that Boulder’s long-term economic stability requires policy rooted in good governance principles, reflects broadly representative inclusive and extensive feedback and is informed by strong data and analysis. Our policy process includes convening and collaborating with community groups and local and regional leadership to identify the most sustainable solutions for our community and economy. The Boulder Chamber approaches public debate over policy issues in an intentionally constructive fashion, seeking to bridge the spectrum of competing perspectives and arrive at solutions that advance Boulder’s longterm interests.

Nationally-recognized center of entrepreneurship and innovation 2020



Inclusive Community Engagement The Boulder Chamber is

committed as an organization to a journey toward equity for our membership, for our local businesses and for the community we serve. We have great work to do as a community to move toward a more just and equitable society, and we know that work includes the Boulder Chamber as a partner with City Council and the residents and businesses of Boulder. •Along those lines, the Boulder Chamber believes the community has an opportunity to increase its engagement with underrepresented populations. This includes adopting polices that are consistent with our social, cultural and environmental values, and proactively engaging members of diverse populations within our community. •In addition to the social equity considerations, attracting and retaining a diverse workforce is critical to business innovation and competitiveness. As an essential element of the quality of life in our community, policy decisions should address the ongoing challenges of affordability and income inequality.

•The Boulder Chamber advocates for diverse representation at all levels of the private, public and nonprofit sectors. This includes leadership roles, to provide a balance of perspectives on local boards, committees and governing institutions. Our Leadership Fellows program, produced in collaboration with the Community Foundation Boulder County, helps advance inclusive leadership development initiatives across our community with partners across Boulder County. This program’s partnership amongst Boulder County and other participating government and civic entities helps advance inclusive leadership development initiatives across our community. BOULDER CHAMBER'S CORE VALUES: LEADERSHIP: Taking action to make a positive impact INTEGRITY: Earning trust through authentic and ethical actions COLLABORATION: Generating solutions through inclusive engagement and partnerships INNOVATION: Thinking, creating and acting to bring new value COMMUNITY: Building community is at the core of everything we do



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We support the principle of greater inclusivity in policy decision making within the City of Boulder, as recommended by the Public Participation Working Group. Encouraging meaningful public participation and proactive stakeholder engagement, including the perspective of Boulder business owners and their workforce, should be a standard element of a collaborative decisionmaking dynamic within our community. This includes adequate input opportunities for affected businesses whenever the city or state consider new and/or renewing taxes, fees and regulations.



Boulder Together is a strategic multi-year initiative of the Boulder Chamber designed to address three areas of economic and community need.

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT There is a gap between the number of jobs available in Boulder and the workforce available to fill those positions across all industries and skill levels. One of the biggest contributing factors to the overall challenge is the lack of training specific to the needs of local businesses. Trends indicate this gap will only grow in the next few years, especially as workplace environments continue to evolve and more jobs require higher levels of technological literacy and professional competencies. The Boulder Chamber is meeting our region’s workforce demands by driving collaborative community-wide partnerships to define Boulder’s workforce needs.We are also developing a more diverse talent pool using workforce training and recruitment strategies to meet the demand for high-quality, qualified talent, including skills-based hiring, apprenticeships, mentoring, industry sector partnerships and job fairs.



As a result of a transportation network that has failed to meet the needs of regional growth, our roadways experience severe traffic congestion from the 250,000 vehicles – including 50,000+ daily work commuters – traveling through Boulder every single day. Aside from the detriment to the environment and the quality of life, continued traffic congestion threatens to make Boulder isolated and inaccessible to our workforce.

The lack of affordable and accessible housing for low, moderate and middle-income households is identified as the most problematic issue amongst Boulder County employers, business owners and community members. The lack of housing options forces employees to commute long distances and some job seekers to reject or ignore employment opportunities in our community.

The Boulder Chamber is focused on improving workforce mobility as a key economic and community need. We accomplish this by advocating for increased funding, and by developing innovative and customized mobility solutions for local businesses and their workforce.

Improving workforce housing is a key economic and community need. The Boulder Chamber is applying creative private sector financing and land use tools to meet our local and regional workforce housing needs. We are working with the city to improve its development and permitting processes. And we are advocating for the elimination of regulatory and procedural barriers to affordable and timely development.






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Regional & Local Transportation Effective regional and local transportation networks are key

requirements for our community’s economic vitality and environmental health. Due to the cost of living and limited housing options in Boulder, our local economy depends on a workforce consisting of a significant number of daily in-commuters that rely on our transportation system and services. Acknowledging this dynamic, the guiding vision for our local and regional transportation networks should ensure balanced planning and continued investment for all modes of travel --automobiles as well as other alternative options – to provide efficient and convenient mobility options for Boulder’s workforce. In particular, the Boulder Chamber advocates for the following priorities:


for all modes of travel and a broad range of users that is responsive to the opportunities and challenges associated with increased development, including parking availability, expanded transit options, improved bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and business access. •Expand creative transit and transportation services that are destination oriented and designed to effectively connect our workforce from where they live to where they work.



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•Support safety measures for all modes that operate within our transportation system. •Preserve and expand Boulder’s RTD Eco-Pass or similar bulkpurchase model transit access available for all members of our workforce. •Implement improvements identified in the East Arapahoe Transportation Plan, the City of Boulder and Boulder County’s respective Transportation Master Plans, RTD’s Northwest Area Mobility Study, the Denver Metro Region’s Mobility Choice Blueprint and Northwest Rail Quiet Zones..

•Advocate for regional mobility investments for SH 119/Diagonal Highway, SH 7/East Arapahoe and continue advocating for delivery of the promised FasTracks investments. •Engage stakeholders during planning efforts including businesses and business organizations like the Boulder Chamber and Northwest Chamber Alliance--comprised of the Chambers representing Broomfield, Longmont, Superior, Louisville, Lafayette and the Latino Chamber of Boulder County. •Prioritize effective and convenient first and final mile connections. While regional transit connections between communities are essential, our workforce, students and visitors need convenient connections to their ultimate destinations. We support increasing options for more affordable, convenient and flexible travel options.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT Issue Areas and Positions


Developing customized transportation solutions for our local businesses and their workforce will depend on deploying advanced technologies that meet unique mobility needs. We support exploring Transportation Demand Strategies and other new, innovative technology solutions.

MICRO-MOBILITY PILOTS & INNOVATION Expanding mobility options for Boulder’s workforce should include piloting public/private sector solutions for the first and final mile, that include multi-modal, micro-transit pilots in major employment centers, such as East Boulder (including

the Flatirons Business Park,) Gunbarrel and other areas throughout Boulder that experience a lack of mobility options to employment centers, particularly from regional transit stops.

TRANSPORTATION FINANCING & INVESTMENTS •Ensure that any funding mechanism is respectful of the shared benefits of investment of our transportation system, avoiding an unbalanced cost burden for businesses and their employees. •Establish sustainable state, regional and local transportation funding mechanisms that have flexibility for investing in the needs of all travel modes.

•Advocate for an equitable distribution of transportation funds across Colorado that secures a fair share of resources for our region and avoids imposing an undue or disproportionate cost burden solely on businesses, without exploring equitable solutions. •Provide private-sector leadership representing local and regional economic interests in developing new funding models and strategies to pursue needed transportation funding.

The Bottom Line: The Boulder Chamber is supportive of collaborative local and regional transportation planning and investments for all modes of travel that make commuting to and from work, across town, and business activity convenient whether driving, taking a bus, biking, walking or utilizing other mobility services.





Local & Regional Workforce Housing Expanding the diversity of housing options for Boulder’s workforce

and families is critical to maintaining as an economically vibrant community. The current average home price of $1M limits housing inventory available to our nurses, artists, teachers, retail employees, restaurant staff and those earlier in their careers. We advocate for housing options that support a community that includes racial and socio-economic diversity, enabling employees at all ends of the salary continuum an opportunity to call Boulder home. The Boulder Chamber works collaboratively with housing providers, community development experts, workforce representatives, City and County staff, elected officials, finance professionals and other advocates to advance innovative yet practical strategies and solutions for Boulder’s economically diverse workforce.

WE SUPPORT: •Strategies and programs to create and maintain a more diverse mix of housing types - rental and ownership, permanently affordable, market rate, multi-unit, semi- and fully detached, to meet the housing needs of low, moderate and middle income individuals and families. •Innovative, mixed use solutions that marry housing with commercial/retail, parking and recreational opportunities that reflect the needs of Boulder’s workforce. 2020

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•Mixed-use, higher-density development that incorporates a substantial amount of affordable and middle-income housing in proximity to multi-modal transit corridors. •Regulatory adjustments that create new residential infill opportunities through additional dwelling units, owner accessory units and lot splitting. •Providing more live/work options for creative professionals, including the creation of special residential zoning for artists within arts districts.

•Creation of smaller, higherdensity, innovative housing products including tiny homes and accessory dwelling units. •Revising/removing land use designations, zoning and regulatory barriers in specific areas where our community should incentivize new housing. •Innovative and flexible housing solutions, such as higher occupancy limits, setbacks, density adjustments and allowance for cohousing and co-operative housing.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT Issue Areas and Positions

•Deploy strategies and methods that generate housing products conducive to retaining younger members of our workforce, both in the character of housing developments, and at a price that is affordable to those who are in their early career stages. •Implement innovative methods for reducing the impact of high land costs, such as land leases and land trusts. •Improving efficiencies in the housing review and approval processes and reduction of regulatory requirements for affordable and workforce housing proposals.

•Incentives for projects that incorporate high-quality design that contributes to community character. • Analyzing housing finance options and opportunities and advocating for adoption/ implementation at the state and local levels. • Individually and as part of the Northwest Chamber Alliance, the Boulder Chamber coordinates with the Boulder County Regional Housing Partnership’s activities to support increasing affordable housing in communities throughout Boulder and the surrounding area.

The Bottom Line: The Boulder Chamber supports programs that incentivize development and redevelopment opportunities to provide affordable and attainable housing choices for Boulder’s workforce. BoulderChamber.com


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Housing Incentives, Regulation & Predictability The Boulder Chamber advocates for efficiencies and improvements in the housing review and approval processes, and a reduction of regulatory requirements for affordable and workforce housing. These could include: •Maintain a sunset date for Appendix J for height limits restrictions that were made in zones under a moratorium, and prioritize the work required to consider where height makes sense in the City, that includes robust community engagement. •Create incentives around height exemptions for projects that incorporate high-quality design that contributes to community character. We oppose retroactive actions, moratoriums and/or the quick implementation of regulations that prevent projects from moving forward or impose further restrictions on projects that are in the review process. This negatively impacts businesses and the clients they serve, often resulting in significant lost financial investment, additional costs and decreased income for scores of day laborers, contractors and trade professionals that depend on the projects’ work and timely advancement. 2020

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Land Use & Development/Redevelopment The Boulder Chamber supports mixed-use development along transit

corridors and in under-utilized commercial zones, including East Boulder. Higher density and mixed-use zoning in these locations promotes walkable access to employment, commercial services and local/regional transportation alternatives. Development opportunities should respect neighborhood character and achieve Boulder’s community-wide economic, social and environmental goals.


The Boulder Chamber’s advocacy for infill and redevelopment adheres to the following principles: •To leverage existing transit corridors and other opportunities. •Incentives for greater floor area ratios than current zoning allows should be identified for areas where it’s possible to promote more housing. •Developing spaces and creative policies for small businesses to locate, grow and flourish within our community. •Substantive community-based dialogue with key stakeholders to advance future redevelopment that balances both neighborhood interests and community-wide

goals. These planning efforts should not be deployed as a tool for delaying redevelopment opportunities. •Leveraging the Urban Land Institute report titled “Boulder’s New East Edge - a vision for transportation, mixed-use and sustainability around 55th and Arapahoe” as a suggestion for the type of development/ redevelopment and infill opportunities that could be possible for East Boulder or other commercial/industrial zones. Subarea plans should explore where opportunities exist to allow adding density that accommodates diverse housing options.


The Boulder Chamber advocates for significant development projects that support economic vitality and the community’s quality of life and respond to the needs of local businesses. These include redevelopment opportunities in areas such as Alpine/Balsam, Boulder Junction, Diagonal Plaza, East Boulder, and University Hill projects such as the hill hotel and the CU Hotel/Conference Center, and the University of Boulder’s South Campus property. Ongoing redevelopment along the 28th Street and 30th Street corridors, including the former Macy’s building, provide opportunities for higher density in the regional core, as directed by the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan.



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COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT Issue Areas and Positions


Annexing the CU Boulder South property will recognize accommodate infrastructure in the area to achieve important community safety goals through flood mitigation, and to responsibly manage future development. This potentially includes much-needed housing for faculty, staff and students, which could help reduce housing pressures in other areas of the community and relieve commuterelated congestion.


Incentives can facilitate the creation and preservation of affordable commercial spaces for small businesses, start-ups, nonprofits and creative professionals. 2020

Affordable commercial space is analogous to affordable housing, with the costs associated with office and commercial rents influencing the affordability of services businesses can provide to Boulder’s residents. It is not only the price of real estate that drives up overall costs, but high rental rates are also significantly influenced by the fees and costs that the City of Boulder imposes on our local businesses and on the development of new retail and commercial space. Boulder should avoid implementing policies that create direct or indirect costs that typically cause increases in retail and commercial rental rates. To attract and retain local and regional businesses, Boulder must maintain competitive rates for

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commercial spaces that are affordable to all business sizes and types. We encourage the commitment to a longterm economic strategy with clear near-term steps to create and preserve spaces for businesses that diversify employment centers. The results of these efforts will help provide space for critical incubators, innovation hubs and start-ups as part of future mixed-use developments, ensure Class A office space is available to help keep companies in Boulder and provide flexibility for nonprofits and shared spaces.


The Boulder Chamber supports exploring increased density in industrial and commercial zones to accommodate

future mixed-use development. However, the preservation of our General Industrial areas is critical, as the demand for this land use is currently very high throughout the Front Range. New opportunities for innovation hubs, that include a mix of uses and services in the Light Industrial Zones, should be further explored for specific areas such as the Flatirons Business Park, 55th & Arapahoe and Gunbarrel.


We support amending the land use codes and site review process to further define the Community Benefits language and broaden the definition of valued community goals, which could

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT Issue Areas and Positions

include investments in arts/culture, housing diversity, architectural design, transportation improvements and affordable commercial spaces. Further, we believe the current regulations associated with providing affordable housing as a “community benefit” should be tested against economic market variables to assess the ability to achieve housing goals through our local regulations.


The Boulder Chamber objects to using a moratorium as a development control tool without clear evidence an emergency situation exists. In implementing moratoriums for indefinite periods, there is usually no way to anticipate the unintended consequences to

Boulder’s economy, businesses and City tax revenues. In most cases, development is already controlled by Boulder’s zoning and extensive discretionary review processes (and with City Council control through call-ups). Moratoriums have at times been complemented, and additionally complicated, by a lack of clarity about the desired outcomes and specific metrics to qualify ending the moratorium. This creates ambiguity, confusion and lack of direction for architects, builders and property owners. Rather than using moratoriums as a control mechanism, we encourage collaboration with our community’s building professionals to provide vision and direction for innovative development or redevelopment concepts.

Allow industry experts and capable teams to develop options, and incentivize the type of benefits that are desired, rather than limit opportunities. Land use development decisions should meet a variety of social, cultural and environmental goals in a sustainable manner while always giving appropriate weight to our community’s economic vitality and the fair expectations of property owners. Further, we support codes and processes that allow for outcomes based on data and input from those impacted. The Boulder Chamber and its membership will continue to participate and collaborate in the planning processes underway to ensure we meet the community’s broad policy goals are met.

The Bottom Line: The Boulder Chamber objects to extreme measures such as development moratoriums as land use control tools without clear evidence of a public emergency.



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COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT Issue Areas and Positions


Height modification requests should be allowed beyond the eight areas of Boulder, currently identified in Boulder’s Land Use Code. These eight areas do not reflect a professional analysis - with community input - of where building height over 38 feet is appropriate in the city. Instead, they reflect several 2015 development sites in process. Policies that effectively downzone personal property demand rigorous analysis and direct engagement with impacted property owners. As a community we should identify where taller buildings could be considered based on compatibility with their surroundings, consistent with Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan goals and policies. Completing Phase II of the Community Benefit Study should be a priority before the original commitment of a May 2020 deadline. This phase should define new site review criteria and analyze additional community benefits options. 2020

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The Bottom Line: The Boulder Chamber believes City Council should revisit the land use code limiting buildings to 35 feet in height and allow for height modification requests throughout the city where taller buildings could be compatible with their surroundings to help achieve community goals.


The Boulder Chamber believes that the “Opportunity Zone” designation our community received for the area from 28th and Iris to 55th and Arapahoe can incentivize desired redevelopment in targeted areas. Land use codes and Use Tables (which show what uses are allowed in specific zones) have been updated to allow for the evaluation of appropriate locations for housing, mixed use, commercial services and use types. Code changes

that advance Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan policies for the Opportunity Zone should be prioritized so projects can move forward that promote the adaptive re-use of buildings, revitalized commercial/industrial areas, walkable neighborhoods, a mix of complementary land uses and a reduction of single occupancy trips, while preserving existing affordable units.


The Boulder Chamber encourages a process to define a future vision or development plan for the Area III Planning Reserve. This will help the City of Boulder better prepare for development opportunities in that area. It also could establish a vision for Area III that is responsive to community values,

rather than risk the absence of a plan and encourage by-right development that is not in line with community needs.



Related Land Use & Redevelopment Issues of Importance •Education Institutions & Federal Laboratories: The future vitality of our public education institutions and federal laboratories should be considered in all applicable planning and community development policies. •Arts & Culture: Incorporate arts and culture into planning to create a vibrant community. This includes efforts to create additional performance spaces and live/work housing options for artists. The Boulder Chamber also believes public art should be recognized as a benefit in site reviews.

•Easy physical access to amenities such as parks, open space, arts and culture and shopping contributes to the quality of life of residents. They should be considered in parking and transportation planning. We also need to ensure there is adequate parking in close proximity to retail corridors/centers along with the appropriate signage and other mechanisms to conveniently direct customers to open parking zones. Parking code changes must caution against tightening the supply in proximity to office and retail services.

•Parking: The City of Boulder parking codes should be updated to fit contemporary requirements and adjusted in accordance with other goals such as the relationship between parking, density, housing and access to transit. This should be balanced with the goal of maintaining adequate parking options and affordable prices for our businesses and their employees.



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Community-wide Broadband

Communication infrastructure is vital to support our economic, educational and social needs; it also creates jobs. We support the City’s effort to partner with public institutions and the private technology sector to establish this infrastructure, because: •High-speed broadband Internet infrastructure is a critical service that allows Boulder’s economy to remain regionally competitive. •Ubiquitous access to broadband infrastructure increases market competition, which is a positive element of a vibrant and innovative economy.

•Broadband infrastructure facilitates innovation capabilities in diverse industries including health care, information technology, customer service and transportation, including the accommodation of advanced mobility and transportation demand management technologies.

•Ubiquitous broadband has demonstrated to provide communities with higher speed service at lower costs, which are goals of both the public and private sectors.

We advocate for the City of Boulder to give strong consideration to private sector or public/private partnerships to advance the most efficient and effective options for building out its broadband system.

•Co-working spaces as well as other innovative commercial and residential uses need this consistent, highspeed service.

The opportunity to offer next-generation Internet services is a clear business advantage that our community is eager to leverage. We would all


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benefit from a publicly available fiber-optic infrastructure and more economical, highercapacity broadband services. Given these benefits, we advocate for the City to explore financing and building out a community-wide broadband network on its own independent merits, separate from the delivery of other infrastructure systems that are subject to uncertainty, such as a municipal electric utility.

NEW & EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES: Our local infrastructure needs to evolve to maintain Boulder’s economic competitiveness. The Boulder Chamber

looks forward to technological advancements such as 5G networks, and additional advances that our University, school districts, federal labs and businesses with the latest communications technology resources. This technology also helps maintain Boulder’s safety. During emergency incidents, first responders must be equipped with the most up-to-date communications equipment. This is especially important given Boulder’s unique geography where signals are often lost.

The Bottom Line:

The Boulder Chamber strongly advocates for citywide broadband infrastructure and technology investments and encourages rapid advancement of a network build-out thatrealizes efficiencies through public/ private partnerships.



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Education & Workforce Training High-quality education at the K-12 and secondary levels not only allows our

community to attract and retain talent, but also ensures every child receives a rigorous curriculum that gives them the necessary skills to meet workforce demands. As the foundation for a functioning democratic society, we support opportunities and partnerships that improve the quality of our education system and generate innovative approaches to prepare our workforce of the future. Additional focus should be given to training and work-based learning programs that increase access to skills needed at all levels of employment in our economy.

We support: •A state-level budget fix to provide sustainable and stable funding across all education levels, including K-12 school districts and higher education institutions such as CU-Boulder, as a key component for preparing the future workforce and helping recruit and retain businesses and workforce talent. •Increased funding for the establishment of new training programs that prepare our workforce for job pathways that require technical skills or careerspecific training. •Policies that support education institutions and private organizations that provide effective technical workforce training. 2020

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•Efforts to bridge the local business community to St. Vrain Valley School District and Boulder Valley School District to ensure that our business talent and expertise is shared with schools and pathways are created for students to enter our workforce. •Increased support for Career and Technical Education and workbased learning programs within K-12, post-secondary and public workforce systems. •Programs and policies that assist businesses in training and re-training workers to meet current job demand, including veterans, individuals with barriers to employment, older adults and underrepresented populations.

•Business incentives for, and expansion of, opportunities that provide mid-career skill development and training, including continuing education programs, career-specific pathway trainings and certificate programs. •Policies that create stronger connections and ease the transfer of credits between programs and institutions, including technical education, university classes and community college programs.

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT Issue Areas and Positions


The Boulder Chamber supports polices that help businesses recruit and retain top talent. We support: •Policies that help attract a diverse talent pool to meet their employment needs. •Measures that make Boulder an attractive recruiting center for top talent, such as highquality public schools, job opportunities for other family members, a thriving arts and cultural sector, quality of life and housing affordability. •Regional programs and networks that match workforce skill sets with the needs of local businesses and employers.

The Bottom Line: We support industryled programs and policies that facilitate workforce recruitment and retention for businesses of all sizes and industry types.


It is critical to our long-term economic sustainability to address income inequality and the challenge of keeping hard-working individuals out of poverty. The minimum wage is just one mechanism for addressing these issues and is important for providing financial security and predictability to lowwage earners. As one of the only chambers in Colorado to support the 2016 minimum wage increase, we demonstrated our commitment to helping lift our lowest wage

workers out of poverty. At the same time, we recognize that mandated wage increases place additional burden on small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Wage discrepancies can be experienced acutely within specific industries, leading to inequality and undue impacts within compensation structures. That is why we believe it is appropriate to review the data and monitor the benefits and impacts of mandated wage increases before taking actions on wage issues.



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Immigration Immigrant workers are vital to communities and industries across Colorado. Our high-tech, agricultural, hospitality and tourism sectors are particularly impacted by our immigration system. For these reasons, as well as the human toll that our broken immigration system creates, the Boulder Chamber supports comprehensive immigration efforts, which include viable solutions that many of the previously listed industries have helped shape. Improvements in our immigration system will benefit Colorado’s economy and provide a welcoming environment for immigrants in our community. •The Boulder Chamber urges lawmakers to seek legislative solutions to immigration policies, such as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), that provide protection for those currently living, working and contributing to our communities from deportation. •We also seek solutions to the H-1B visa programs to allow our businesses to employ workers with special skills from across the globe.


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CLIMATE & ENERGY BoulderChamber.com


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ISSUE AREAS AND POSITIONS Boulder’s Electrical Utility / Municipalization The Boulder Chamber is committed to partnering on efforts across throughout our region and with the City of Boulder to become a leader in a thoughtful balance of our environmental and economic goals.

We believe clean energy powers the future of business and recognize that the sustainability of Boulder’s economy depends on new developments in clean energy industries like wind, solar and smart-grid applications. At the same time, advancements in these types of technologies and the pursuit of new mechanisms for delivering electric services must adhere to critical values, such as price competitiveness and reliability. The potential for Boulder to municipalize its power utility presents opportunities along with significant risks to those key values. The Boulder Chamber strives to balance the pursuit of clean energy goals with full respect for business interests and concerns associated with risk mitigation. We are also concerned that further investment in the municipalization effort could distract our community from other more efficient and timely measures for achieving our renewable energy and climate protection goals, particularly in the area of increased solar development.


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Our current position with respect to municipalization follows these principles: •We encourage Xcel and the City of Boulder to pursue all possible avenues for a negotiated resolution that is consistent with Boulder’s clean energy goals. •We want to ensure any resolution is protective of business electric utility rates and current or better reliability thresholds (which include adequate redundancies and back-up power systems). •We support the commitment to a public vote, once all costs and risks are known, on any final decision to municipalize.

•We support efforts to work with energy experts, industry partners and members of the community to inform consumers and identify more efficient and effective strategies to achieve our local climate protection and renewable energy goals.

CLIMATE & ENERGY Issue Areas and Positions


The Bottom Line: We support expeditious achievement of clean energy and climate protection goals and will be a leader in that endeavor. We feel we can realize these goals in a quicker timeframe, more efficiently and with less disruption to our local economy through statewide policies and/or public/private partnerships rather than the effort to municipalize our electric utility.

The Boulder Chamber is actively engaged with a national clean energy association, Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy, which aims to grow jobs in the clean energy sector as well as establish partnerships for furthering clean energy initiatives. We also work with the City of Boulder and Boulder County on innovative strategies for incentivizing our businesses to reduce carbonbased fuel consumption. We will continue to engage in partnerships that facilitate best practice sharing to advance our

community’s clean energy and climate protection goals.


We recognize the economic benefits of effective energy efficiency retrofits and other sustainable business operations. We support incentives, education efforts and grant programs that encourage our members to take advantage of available opportunities and move us, as a community, state and nation, toward reduced energy consumption, expanded renewable energy development and

greater resiliency from natural disasters. The Boulder Chamber believes there are opportunities for greater efficiency in the achievement of environmental standards and we seek to partner with the City in this area. This includes the opportunity for businesses to constructively share their perspective on the impacts of new energy regulations and upgrade requirements. It is critical to continue to allow projects that have submitted land use review applications to adhere to the energy code

regulations in place at the time of submittal. Additionally, property owners should be allowed a reasonable time to implement or retrofit existing properties and be provided resources to identify cost effective and financially feasible solutions. We believe the City of Boulder should offer incentives to those committed to invest in green building and upgrades. Further, we believe there should be flexibility for City staff to consider modification requests, on a case-by-case basis, for any project that can demonstrate it is technically impractical or financially infeasible to meet some aspect of the new code for their building project.



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RELATED ISSUES OF IMPORTANCE •Barriers and Incentives for Energy Innovation: State and federal efforts that reduce the barriers to transition to renewable energy systems. We support density development bonuses and other incentives for businesses that make investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. •City of Boulder’s 2050 carbon reduction goals: The City of Boulder should consider the broader impacts of its policies, in everything from climate protection to housing and transportation, by measuring its climate impacts on a regional scale. •City of Boulder Solar Strategies: We support the implementation of innovative clean energy solutions and the associated investments without imposing additional costs to business. We will facilitate the engagement of those voluntarily seeking to participate while resisting mandates that fail to account for business investment and operation concerns. •Advancing Colorado’s Climate Goals: We support statewide efforts that provide financially viable approaches to reducing carbon emission and retiring coal plants. This includes models that provide revenue consistency that incent the adoption of renewable energy and allow for coordinated planning.


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QUALITY OF LIFE BoulderChamber.com


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Financial Management & Capital Improvements Operating budgets and capital

investments need to account for, and prioritize, essential infrastructure improvements and services, including those that increase public safety and resiliency in the event of floods, fires or other natural events. The City of Boulder should clearly delineate capital funding for critical infrastructure projects, as funding for essential City priorities should not continually be dependent on the passage of supplemental funding initiatives or assessing additional costs solely to businesses when the benefits are shared across the community. The City of Boulder should move in a direction that will encourage budget and spending efficiency through comparisons to peer cities and/or best practices. Further, the City should identify reserve allocations that may be available for higher priority expenditures. City Council should incorporate the use of 2020

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performance metrics in its review of critical service delivery. The City budget, particularly the General Fund, should include a mechanism of flexibility to account for emerging needs or priorities that require funding. In 2020, funding shortfalls for transportation, libraries and public safety services should be addressed.

SUSTAINED SALES TAX REVENUES A high quality of life is maintained by ensuring we have sufficient revenues for adequate city services. The most significant revenue mechanism that funds our City budget, capital improvements and essential services is sales and use tax revenues. We must take proactive steps to ensure policies are in place that safeguard our competitiveness in the face of increased regional competition and other factors that lead to loss of sales tax revenue.

We must proactively support retail services and other tax generating opportunities, such as special events and arts and culture programs and venues that are enjoyed by visitors and residents alike and benefit many of our local businesses. EQUITABLE TAXATION We support an approach to taxes and fees that considers the populations they will impact most, including members of our workforce unable to afford to live in Boulder and potential costs they may incur to in-commute.

QUALITY OF LIFE Issue Areas and Positions

We encourage programs and planning that increase access to arts and culture in neighborhoods throughout the city and engage the business community.


The Boulder Chamber unequivocally welcomes visitors to our community and appreciates the economic contribution of tourism. Visitor spending is key to funding everything from open space and parks to police and fire services. Not only does the tourist economy generate a considerable amount of revenue for essential services, but it also provides many of our residents with jobs. Conventions and other businessrelated tourism/visits contribute to innovation and the global competitiveness of the University, federal labs and our primary industries. Additionally, the survival of many local businesses and our arts and culture sector depends on visitors and tourism. City Council must continue investing in the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s leadership role in promoting the Boulder experience — which in turn supports our economy and adds to the quality of life we experience as residents and for our those doing business in Boulder, our guests, friends and visitors.

The Bottom Line:

We support investment in our tourist economy that encourages visitors to enjoy Boulder.


The Boulder Chamber supports the type of community planning initiatives that create compact, affordable, 15-minute walkable/ bike-able, mixed use, high quality connectivity for our neighborhoods and residents. We support the continued investment in neighborhoods across Boulder that improve their vibrancy, safety, walk-ability and access to supporting services and desired businesses.


Programs that maintain our community’s social and cultural vibrancy are important for the benefit of all residents and as a critical tool for attracting and retaining a high- quality, diverse, and creative workforce.

We support the creation of art districts, affordable studio space, live/work housing options for artists and spaces for arts and culture uses such as retail, display, community art, maker-spaces and performance venues as specific elements to be included in community planning and financing. Sustainability and predictability are needed for arts and culture grants as well as for library services; creating a 1% for the arts program tied to municipal capital projects is one example, among others, for establishing a stable source of funding. The City of Boulder should pursue more stable funding mechanisms for library services, including the exploration of a regional library district or some other revenuesharing model that recognizes the draw to Boulder’s library services from across Boulder County.



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QUALITY OF LIFE Issue Areas and Positions


The Boulder Chamber will collaborate with local leaders, organizations and governments to advocate for a sustainable safety net of services to meet critical needs for the less fortunate in our community and to help sustain a thriving workforce.


The Boulder Chamber supports efforts to engage a wide array of stakeholders with multiple perspectives in the ongoing dialogue to improve our health care system without interrupting coverage for those that desperately rely on it or creating periods of unpredictability for our providers.


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The Boulder Chamber advocates for greater transparency in the cost of health care, including costs for services and prescription drugs.


Public safety is essential to the stability of a good business climate. In Boulder County, our law enforcement is doing a remarkable job, though we support their efforts to address concerns associated with disparate treatment based on race and culture. Our leadership should also prioritize infrastructure improvements that keep our citizens and business areas safe. A focus of public safety should be on community safety features such as flood mitigation infrastructure, offender management facilities, crime prevention

programs and other community needs.


Open space is key asset that improves our quality of life and also advances our economic vitality, attracting visitors who enjoy our beautiful environment. We support the preservation of Open Space as a community asset that appropriately balances conservation initiatives and recreational uses.


We recognize the importance in supporting our community’s most vulnerable populations. We work with community leaders and partner with organizations in government, health care and housing to support initiatives that address the needs of our homelessness population. At the same

time, we need to make sure that policies ensure safety and security for our local businesses and residents.




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Taxes & Fees Taxes and fees maintain important public services and

infrastructure, but they must appropriately balance the cost and associated impacts in a manner that protects our economic vitality and keeps Boulder affordable to a wide diversity of businesses and individuals. The Boulder Chamber seeks clearly delineated rates that will not unduly burden business activity in any sector. We support ample notice, measurable goals and clear explanations.


We expect transparency in analysis and decision-making processes, along with regular accounting of expenditures. In general, we will always scrutinize proposed tax initiatives to ensure they are addressing a genuine need. Our local economy is affected by the cumulative impacts of rising taxes, fees, and other costs of doing business in Boulder. Small businesses, startups, creative professionals and nonprofits often experience the effects disproportionately. There is a concern that continued reliance on increased sales tax as a revenue source to meet community needs is reducing the competitiveness of Boulder’s small businesses.


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We encourage streamlined regulations and approval processes that do not impose a further burden on business. We note that an examination of the regulatory environment that prevents or stalls creative projects or initiatives may be appropriate. Further, with any mandated investment to meet new regulatory standards, we will seek public support to mitigate or eliminate the immediate cost impacts on local businesses.

AFFORDABILITY FOR SMALL BUSINESSES Small businesses serve as the dynamic foundation for our innovation ecosystem; they are the places we shop, restaurants we frequent, and services that support our

neighborhood causes that move us while playing a critical role in our economic welfare. Though our larger companies offer a diversity of opportunities and economic value, small businesses represent the majority of employers in our community. In many instances, too, our locally grown small start-up businesses become the larger companies that balance our economic ecosystem. Statewide reports have found that nonprofits account for more than 5% of the gross product, accounting for more than $4 billion in wages. Given those reasons, we have a clear interest in protecting affordability for our small business and non-profit base in Boulder.

The Bottom Line:

Boulder Chamber supports measures that continue to make our community an affordable location for small businesses, start-ups, non-profits, and creative professionals, as they are important providers of jobs and services.



Economic vitality in the City of Boulder is a public/private collaboration to promote a healthy economy that supports the outstanding quality of life enjoyed by its residents and sets the framework for a positive business environment. We should acknowledge studies which institute guiding principles that we developed as a community to shape our future policies oriented towards Boulder’s economic vitality. It is essential that we work collaboratively to update a long-term vision and near-term strategies for a sustainable path to economic development that fosters innovation, competitiveness, and maintains a positive business climate while enhancing community character and preserving environmental quality.


Over the past several years, the Boulder Chamber has been involved in the conversation about the impacts, benefits and costs of development in Boulder with a diverse range of community members representing a variety of interests.

The Bottom Line:

The Boulder Chamber is concerned about the current rate of linkage fee increases and the impact they will have on our small businesses and nonprofits.

We support responsible and effective proposals for addressing our affordable housing needs. The 2018 increase of the commercial linkage fee did not meet that test, providing minimal affordable housing benefit, while its impacts on commercial rents have imposed a new hurdle of increased cost on businesses that hope to make Boulder home. The impact is particularly acute for small independent businesses and start-ups.



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The Boulder Chamber accepted $12 per square foot rate as a compromise balance between generating resources for affordable housing and avoiding rates that further increase rental costs for small business and make commercial development infeasible. There are many other, more responsible and effective policy options for addressing our affordable housing needs. While the recent current City Council majority tripled the linkage fee to $30 per square foot in 2018, to be phased in over the course of three years, we seek a ask them to pause prior to authorizing further an automatic increases each year in order to fully understand the fees impacts and benefits. The effects of the linkage fee increase will occur over a longer period of time than the proposed threeyear phase-in timeline, but we need to be aware of the impacts as they arise.


The Boulder Chamber previously has requested the following economic metrics as benchmarks that be understood about conditions in Boulder prior to the fee increase. The City of Boulder should track these metrics in comparison to our neighboring communities in Boulder County: •Number of businesses, and employment, by industries (some industries, particularly low margin industries and small businesses, are disproportionately impacted). •Sales tax revenue. •Building permits by product type (retail, office, industrial, hotel). •Number of square feet developed by product type. •Commercial rents. •Commercial occupancy and vacancy rates by product type.

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•Comparison of affordable housing revenues via the linkage fee, at the prior ($9.53 and $12) amounts versus at the increased rates. •Number of affordable housing units built with linkage fee funds to date and as a result of fee increases. Comprehensively understanding the impacts, benefits, and functionality of the fees in relation to development and small business affordability in the community will provide the City with better information for adjusting fees appropriately and the associated effects that those adjustments will consequently have on the community and our economy.


The Boulder Chamber supports access to, and investment in, programs that promote healthy food choices for all members of our community and applauds the positive impacts of the programs funded by the Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax revenue. At the same time, there is also concern about the economic impacts of the Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax. Since its implementation, sales tax revenues collected from grocers in Boulder are down, while those revenues are up in surrounding communities. This can be attributed to overall competitiveness across the region, but we often hear concerns that it’s the Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax that is influencing consumer decisions to shop outside of Boulder. This is a concern we can’t afford


to ignore in an era of declining sales tax, let alone the impact on our local businesses, especially when at two cents per ounce, Boulder’s tax is the highest in the nation. We continue to be concerned about the unintended negative impacts and logistical challenges the tax has imposed on local businesses such as Boulder’s natural foods industry, health products or our small businesses such as restaurants and retailers. One proposal for supporting restaurants and stores as they lose revenue due to reduced sugar sweetened beverage purchases is to provide them with financial assistance to help market the sale of healthier beverage choices.

RESPONSIBLE REGULATION FOR THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY Given the nascent nature of this industry, we support the ongoing collaboration of a community-based body with City staff in balancing the complex interaction between state law and local policies.

We note that, as our experience with the cannabis industry grows and initial concerns prove unfounded, it will be appropriate to conduct a more thorough regulatory review. Boulder’s initial regulations now appear to be relatively excessive compared to surrounding communities, which is a threat to the competitiveness of our local businesses and has led to investment by local companies in industry innovation outside of Boulder.


The Boulder Chamber works to maintain a predictable business climate for all businesses and industries by continually seeking the appropriate congruence between state law and local ordinances and opposing laws and regulations that are based on unsubstantiated perception, as opposed to fact-based concerns.

We should always strive to maintain equity for the cannabis industry in areas as diverse as energy efficiency regulation and regulatory enforcement penalties. BoulderChamber.com


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COMMUNITY AFFAIRS COUNCIL The Boulder Chamber’s business

advocacy efforts never rest. We are constantly watching, analyzing and speaking up for a vibrant prosperous Boulder. Boulder is unique, and that makes us a special Chamber, serving our business members and supporting a strong economy in a way that reflects Boulder values. The Community Affairs Council is a policy advisory committee tasked to accomplish the following goals through a systematic process:


36 •POLICY • BoulderChamber.com FRAMEWORK DRAFT

• Identify and address community issues of concern to Boulder Chamber members and Boulder businesses.

• Provide input and perspective

on behalf of Boulder Chamber members and the general business community on public policy issues.

• Recommend policy direction and

positions to consider by the Board of Directors.



Senior Director of Policy Programs (303) 938-2084 lori.call@ boulderchamber.com

• Erik Abrahamson, CBRE • Peter Aweida, Westland Development Services • Chris Barge, The Community Foundation • Allison Billings, Impact on Education • Darryl Brown, Boulder Community Hospital • Ed Byrne, Ed Byrne, PC • Kim Calomino, University of Colorado • Ashley Cawthorn, Berg Hill Greenleaf Ruscitti • Chip, Downtown Boulder Partnership • Ann Cooper, RE/MAX of Boulder • Brian Coppom, Boulder County Farmers Market • Jonathan Dings, Boulder Valley School District • Frances Draper, University of Colorado (Ad Hoc member) • Michal Duffy, Out Boulder County • Mark Heinritz, The Sink • Jason Isenberg, BBVA Compass • Cecilia Jacobsen, The Zayo Group • Jay Kalinski, ReMax of Boulder • Lauren Lambert, Google • Makenzie Lystrup, Ball Aerospace • Sean Maher, RRC Associates • Alana Malone, Green Dot Labs • Nikhil Mankekar, Naked Sunrise

• Nikki McCord, McCord Consulting Group • Nicole Milo, Centura Health • Bob Morehouse, Vermilion (Co-Chair) • Paul Nashak, Mountain Sun Pub & Breweries • Tim O’Shea, Engage Colorado • Dennis Paul, Elevations Credit Union • Richard Polk, Pedestrian Shops • Danica Powell, Trestle Strategy Group (Co-Chair) • Dan Powers, CO-Labs • Matthew Rarden, Premier Members Credit Union • Gordon Riggle, Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado • Bill Rigler, MAPRagency • Andrew Shoemaker, Shoemaker Ghiselli + Schwartz • Ariel Solomon, Premier Mortgage Group • Adrian Sopher, Sopher Sparn Architects, LLC • Stephen Sparn, Sopher Sparn Architects, LLC • Aaron Spear, Bank of Colorado • Gabrielle Stockmayer, Dietze and Davis Law Firm • Julie Van Domelen, Emergency Family Assistance Association • Dan Wittenberg, Snell & Willmer

Andrea Meneghel

Public Affairs Director (303) 938-2077 andrea.meneghel@ boulderchamber.com

John Tayer President & CEO (303) 442-1058 john.tayer@ boulderchamber.com

Clif Harald Executive Director, Boulder Economic Council (303) 786-7567 clif.harald@ boulderchamber.com

With thanks to our Volunteer Arts Liaison & Advisor, Deborah Malden



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We build community through business

Profile for boulderchamber

2020 Boulder Chamber Policy Framework  

2020 Boulder Chamber Policy Framework