Who knew … That the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado would lead the country in lobbying the federal government for an open Internet, dwarfing the response of larger tech-savvy communities such as Silicon Valley?
Or that home affordability was slipping away with each passing month?
Or even that the National Center for Atmospheric Research was struggling to maintain its climate research initiatives in the face of shrinking staff and a budget that for years remained essentially flat?
These and other stories have shaped our lives, our communities and our businesses. With this inaugural edition of Newsmakers 2014, the staff at BizWest has brought you the top news stories of 2014 and the latest updates on where things stand now, with links to each below.
Jan. 10-23: Front Range wineries outpacing Grand Valley Wineries in the Front Range for the first time produced more wine than those in Western Colorado’s Grand Valley during fiscal 2013, according to the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board.
Jan. 17-30: Developer embarks on $180M multi-use plan Real estate development firm ElementProperties LLC and Sopher Architects LLC submitted concept plans with the city of Boulder in January for a proposed redevelopment of the former Sutherlands Lumber Co. site that could cost up to $180 million.
Jan. 24-Feb. 6: Otterbox moves to settle suit Otter Products LLC, the company that makes OtterBox smartphone and tablet cases, paid $4.3 million to the U.S. government to settle allegations that the company violated federal law by underpaying customs duties, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado said in April.
Jan. 31-Feb. 13: Mall redevelopment clears hurdle Several months of legal wrangling between city of Longmont officials and clothing retailer Dillard’s Inc. came to a halt in January, finally clearing the way for redevelopment of the Twin Peaks Mall.
Feb. 7-20: NoCo home affordability takes a dive An index compiled by the Colorado Association of Realtors in February showed that homes are becoming less affordable for the region’s middle class.
Feb. 14-27: Boulder, Xcel feud over system repair If there was any question over whether emotions were running high over Boulder’s municipalization debate, the city answered that by leveling some serious accusations at Xcel Energy Inc. in February.
Feb. 21-March 6: NoCo factories slow to add jobs, boost wages Politicians and industry leaders called for a rebirth of American manufacturing this year, but the picture in Northern Colorado’s factories remained dismal, with overall manufacturing job numbers remaining largely flat or down.
Feb. 28-March 13: Group envisions brand for region One year after rebranding as the Northwest Denver Economic Development Partnership, the former Broomfield Economic Development Corp. continued to evolve as it attempted to provide a regional voice for businesses.
March 21-April 3: FirstNet opens technical HQ in Boulder A new federal initiative to create a nationwide wireless broadband network for police and firefighters opened its technical headquarters in Boulder in the spring.
April 4-17: Cash-only pot sales irk state, owners Tax collectors have been almost as frustrated as owners of pot shops as they wrestle with how to collect taxes in an ancient way – cash only.
April 18-May 1: Thousands in area face ACA penalties April estimates by the Colorado Health Institute showed that more than 58,000 people in Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer and Weld Counties would likely remain uninsured despite the Affordable Care Act, and thousands would be subject to penalties.
May 2-15: Private railway wins federal grant As hundreds of Colorado businesses scrambled to get loans to help rebuild their flood-ravaged companies late last year, Pat Broe, one of Colorado’s wealthiest businessmen, was slated to receive a nearly $1.7 million federal grant to repair his privately held rail network.
May 16-29: Banner Health, others sue MediCare A new rule designed to reduce costs and limit charges to outpatients so irked the hospital community that many institutions – including Banner Health, which has a heavy presence in Northern Colorado – jointly filed suit in April against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
May 30-June 12: Life science VC deals hit post-recession high First-quarter venture-capital deals for life sciences companies were the strongest they’d been since the Great Recession started in 2007, with biotechnology and medical device companies raking in $1.4 billion nationwide.
June 13-26: Employers shifting health-care costs to employees A study produced by Seattle-based health-care analytics company Milliman Inc. last spring showed that employees’ health insurance costs rose faster than those of their employers as the employers shifted more of the burden to combat increasing premiums.
June 27-July 10: Gessler rule stifles B corp signups Many Colorado companies failed to register as public benefit corporations, despite a new law providing for the socially responsible designation, because Secretary of State Scott Gessler office has said it would require those companies to disclose their financials.
July 11-24: JBS fine highlights meatpacking dangers JBS USA agreed to pay $100,000 in fines to settle safety and health violations handed down by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration in May, according to federal documents.
July 25-Aug. 7: Oil, gas firms dig deep for new water Applications to the state of Colorado to use deep underground aquifers for oil and gas development in Northern Colorado surged, reflecting the new lengths that oil and gas companies have gone to obtain the scarce resource in the South Platte River Basin.
Aug. 8-21: Area voice strong for net neutrality The fierce debate over net neutrality hasn’t occurred without plenty of input from Coloradans.
Aug. 22-Sept. 4: More cities eye broadband bandwagon Local governments in 2014 stepped up their interest in creating municipal broadband Internet networks that they believe are critical to their communities’ economic health.
Sept. 5-18: A year later, a long road back from floods One year after the historic 2013 floods ravaged Boulder County and much of Northern Colorado, residents and officials were touting local communities’ resolve, celebrating the repairs that had been made, and at the same time girding for the long recovery still ahead.
Sept. 19-Oct. 2: Fort Collins, Loveland eye independent airport commission Business people welcomed an effort by the city managers from Loveland and Fort Collins to develop the framework for a new commission that would include residents of the cities to help govern the airport.
Oct. 3-16: Recovery spurs cities’ spending surge Municipalities across the Boulder Valley and Northern Colorado have spent roughly $2.1 billion in 2014, up about $200 million, or 11 percent, over last year.
Oct. 17-30: As budget stagnates, staff shrinks at NCAR The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), one of the world’s premier climate research institutions, has been struggling to maintain its ground-breaking scientific initiatives in an era of stagnant budgets and a staff that has shrunk to its lowest level in more than a decade.
Oct. 31-Nov. 13: Local clinics snared in DaVita settlement DaVita Healthcare Partners Inc. said in October it agreed to undo a Colorado joint venture involved in an illegal kickback scheme that included clinics in Boulder and Longmont as part of a $389 million settlement with the Department of Justice stemming from a whistleblower lawsuit filed in Denver federal court.
Nov. 14-27: More injections sought despite quakes NGL Water Solutions DJ LLC, the company operating the fracking-fluid disposal well linked to earthquakes near the Greeley Airport late last spring, asked the state of Colorado if it could boost by 20 percent the amount of water it can inject underground despite ongoing low-level quake activity captured by a new state monitoring program.
Nov. 28-Dec. 11: Credit cards hacked? Who pays ’em back? As credit card breaches at some of the country’s major retailers continued to capture headlines in 2014, the battle between banks, credit unions and retailers over who is responsible for reimbursing consumers whose credit cards have been compromised heated up.
Dec. 12-25: Local drillers see shares tumble as oil price drops Stocks of oil companies that drill wells in Weld County have plunged with declining oil prices, potentially leading to lower capital spending in 2015.