State gets $2M to push tourism

Lieutenant governor discussed economy at local summit


Colorado Lt. Gov. Jane Norton told an audience Wednesday that ski town economies can look forward to a $2 million advertising campaign this winter touting the advantages of a winter vacation at the state's resorts.

"The $2 million will go to aggressively promote our world-class winter vacation destinations, including on TV and in newspaper ads," Norton said.

The lieutenant governor was speaking at the opening session of Economic Summit 2003 at the Steamboat Grand Resort and Conference Center. She said the ad campaign would be funded from $9 million approved by the Legislature to bolster tourism marketing in the state. Other aspects of an economic stimulus package include $7 million devoted to workforce development centers and $4 million for grants from the Colorado Economic Development Commission. Economic development foundations in Northwest Colorado may seek a portion of the funds, Norton said.

The state commission has announced plans to begin an economic assessment of South Routt beginning in August, Norton said. State officials will look for opportunities to strengthen the economy.

"Our administration is committed to eliminating the continuous cycle of boom and bust that has characterized our state for a century," Norton said.

Colorado already is the fourth most tax-friendly state, and Gov. Bill Owens is committed to keeping taxes and regulations low, Norton said.

Norton is a historic figure in that she is the first Colorado lieutenant governor to come into office under a new law that allows gubernatorial candidates to choose their own running mates. Governors and lieutenant governors haven't always been in step in Colorado in the past, and Norton said her smooth working relationship with the governor is a result of the change.

The governor has charged her with working on health insurance reform, and she believes the state took some positive steps this year. More than 80 small-business owners consulted on the matter told state government they want costs controlled and they want choices, Norton said. She believes the availability of a new form of basic health insurance that minimizes mandates will begin to address those concerns. In the future, proposals for new health insurance regulations will be required to undergo a cost/benefit analysis, Norton said.

The lieutenant governor also is following the progress of a pilot program that will allow different industry associations to combine their memberships to wield more leverage when shopping for insurance. The initiative has been pursued by the Colorado Newspaper Association, and might fit the restaurant industry, too, Norton said.

"We think we've made substantial progress. We know we have to do more," Norton said. "We need to stabilize the small group market first."

Another of Norton's charges from the governor is to improve the health of Colorado families. She believes that done carefully, economic development can help to stabilize families.

"Economic development is inextricably linked with how healthy our communities are," Norton said. "If we can work on economic development, we can do more to help families. Economic development practiced responsibly builds communities. It strengthens families and lessens the burdens on social infrastructure."


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