Leaders of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce reflected on its past year, while looking forward, sharing positions on two November ballot items and welcoming incoming Board of Directors Chair David Eves this afternoon at its Annual Meeting.
Chamber President and CEO Kelly Brough set a tone about the importance – and the commitment at the Chamber – to overcome differences, find common ground and work together.
“The larger the group, the more diverse the voices. The more thoughtful the solution, the longer it takes to find it, but what we’ve learned in our 152-year history is while it may be harder and it may take longer, it pays off,” Brough shared with more than 900 business leaders, “because the greater the buy-in to the proposal, the bolder the vision.”
Chamber Announces Two Ballot Positions
The Chamber shared its support for Propositions CC and DD:
- Proposition CC would allow the state to retain the tax revenue it already collects but isn’t currently able to keep because it’s in excess of the cap set by the constitutional provision called the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). If approved, the additional revenue that is retained must be used to fund education – both K-12 schools and higher education – and transportation needs.
- Proposition DD would legalize sports betting (in-person and online) in Colorado and places a 10 percent tax on it. The funds generated from the tax will help fund Colorado’s Water Plan. A small portion of the revenue from the tax will be used to regulate and enforce gaming, but the vast majority of the proceeds – 93 percent in all – will be used to protect and preserve Colorado’s water needs.
Read the Chamber’s Ballot Guide.
Linda Childears Passes the Gavel to David Eves
Thirty years after his mentor Del Hock led the Chamber as board chair, David Eves accepted the gavel from outgoing Chair Linda Childears.
“The only thing that’s constant is constant change,” said Eves, the executive vice president and the group president of utilities for Xcel Energy. “How do we adapt and innovate so that we continue to be in a position to meet the needs of the business community and the community in general. I can’t think of a better place than the Chamber for those conversations to take place.”
Chamber leaders also shared their gratitude for Childears, the president and CEO of the Daniels Fund, over the last year: “You’ve been an amazing mentor for me,” Eves said.
Members Honored for Their Service
Recognizing his impact on Colorado, the business community and the Chamber, Denver Museum of Nature & Science President and CEO George Sparks was honored with the Del Hock Lifetime Achievement Award. This award was named in honor of the former CEO of Public Service Company, the precursor to Xcel Energy.
“I love this Chamber,” Sparks said, noting that the Chamber has a special place in the museum’s history – in 1908 the Chamber raised money to pay for the museum’s expenses to prevent it from closing. “I feel a special connection here.”
And, the Chamber recognized its four Champions – members who have gone above and beyond over the last year: Andrés Chaparro, Adeeb Khan, Laura Olmedo and Veronica Regan. Get to know them and how they’ve gone above and beyond for the Chamber and its investors.
Arthur Brooks Shares Message of Finding Common Ground
The importance of collaboration and overcoming division were echoed throughout the event – in particular by keynote Arthur C. Brooks.
The former head of the American Enterprise Institute shared his vision for how Americans can overcome that polarization and instead come together to create positive change.
And, he noted that business leaders can play a unique role in that space: “When there’s a problem that doesn’t appear to have a solution that’s a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs, but you’ve got to think differently about the problem,” said Brooks, who is professor of the Practice of Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School.
He challenged business leaders to find ways to disagree more, and to do so more effectively, saying that “agreement is just a form of not competing.” He also encouraged leaders to find and become more comfortable with conflict and find ways to overcome it by expressing love and gratitude – advice he received from the Dalai Lama.
“That is not weakness. That is strength … are you strong enough to answer hatred with love?”
The answer to that question in Colorado, Brough said, is a resounding yes.