Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper revealed that he has “topofilia” during his last annual State of the State message to the legislature on Jan. 11. Don’t worry, though; topofilia is not something you suffer from, but something you enjoy. The word means “a love of a place”, in this case, Colorado.
In the speech delivered to a joint session of the state House and Senate, Hickenlooper said that his topofilia includes Montrose and Mayfly Outdoors, the locally located parent company of Ross Reels and Able Reels. His administration worked with Mayfly to help relocate all of the company’s manufacturing to Montrose. Not only is Mayfly building a new light industrial plant here, it’s including a business park, an outdoor recreation center, hundreds of residential units, and a Marriott Hotel. Collectively, this is called the Colorado Outdoors Project (http://coloradooutdoors.co/) . It’s under construction on about 164 acres on the city’s north side, near the Criminal Justice Center and the Uncompahgre River.
The governor explained that Mayfly “wanted a rural environment, but a rural environment with strong broadband. They’re training local workers, while building an outdoor recreation center and a business park at the same time. They believe their business should grow side by side with the community.”
Hickenlooper then pointed out, and thanked, Mayfly president David Dragoo, who received a burst of applause from the lawmakers.
Hickenlooper said that the Colorado Outdoors Project is a good example of how to capitalize on “this topofilia, this love of place.” But, he also warned the rest of the state that “Coloradans won’t continue to love this place, and build their lives here, if they can’t move around easily, if they can’t find affordable housing, if they can’t stay connected.”
Hickenlooper pointed out that high speed internet access has become a major component of economic health in rural Colorado. “It’s great news for rural communities that many jobs can be done anywhere,” he said. “But it requires good internet.
“We need to ‘giddyup’. We went from about 60 percent to 80 percent rural coverage in the last two years. We’ll be at about 85 percent at the end of this year, and hopefully at 100 percent by the end of 2020.” After another round of applause from lawmakers, the governor added, “But to get there, we need your support.”
Hickenlooper went on to emphasize the vital importance of good stewardship of the land and the environment. “But the responsibility to be good stewards does not just fall on the rural parts of the state; it rests with all of us.”
He went on to praise Xcel Energy’s proposal to close two coal-fired power plants in Pueblo, and replace them with cleaner alternative energy sources. He believes this will result in cleaner air and lower energy bills for consumers, leading to more investment and more jobs in the city. Not everyone agrees. “I’m still not sure what it is that the critics don’t like—the cleaner air, or the lower utility bills,” he said with tongue-in-cheek. Plan are also in the works to help Pueblo’s steel industry transition to alternative energy sources. “Pueblo is known as Steel City, but soon it will be known as Wind and Solar City.”
The governor is definitely not a climate change denier. “Our climate is changing at a significant rate, in a large part because of humans. But even those who disagree with me on climate change can agree that we need to protect Colorado’s environment for our grandchildren.
“This includes protecting our water for our agriculture,” he continued. “If we don’t implement the Colorado Water Plan, rural and agricultural communities will be the hardest hit. Rural economies can never afford to match what Front Range homeowners pay for water.
“The Colorado Water Plan provides the framework, but doesn’t include all the funding for the next thirty years,” Hickenlooper said. “It lays out about 85 percent. We need the support of the General Assembly to make sure we find the rest of that funding.”
You can view governor’s entire State of the State address on You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Gt7Y9RZLVU. It is his last one, since term limits prevent him for running for re-election.