Go Code Colorado: another year of data-driven competition

Simon Tafoya, the policy director for Gov. John Hickenlooper, and Secretary of State Wayne Williams, at the Go Code Colorado challenge kickoff Wednesday night in Denver (SOS photo)

Colorado’s funkiest and most fun data contest — Go Code Colorado — kicked off Wednesday night, marking the fifth year that the Secretary of State’s office has invited creative minds to use public information to build a product that helps businesses.

“We work hard to make data available and usable for Colorado businesses,” Secretary of State Wayne Williams said in his opening remarks.

Previous winners have developed a range of projects. One helped small farmers locate farmers markets and price information. Another created a platform for companies to connect with potential employees based on personality match.

Sen. Steve Fenberg, a Boulder Democrat, heaped praise on the Secretary of State’s office and the award-winning Go Code Colorado program during last year’s competition.

“This is, in my opinion, the epitome of how we should be thinking about government moving forward,” he said. “We should be thinking about how to take the assets and the innovation of the new industries that are popping up around tech and see how that expertise and that talent solves some of the problems that maybe government can’t do on its own.”

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Secretary Wayne Williams: “We make it easy to do business in Colorado”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, center, and two Trinidad City Council members, Carlos Lopez and Rusty Goodall, at the Capitol Thursday. (SOS photo)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams shared the story of a couple in rural Pueblo County trying to get a loan when he talked with movers-and-shakers outside the metro area at the state Capitol on Thursday.

“They had just received a call from their bank indicating that the records of the business they were purchasing were not in order and based on that the loan they needed was in jeopardy,” Williams said.

Not knowing what to do, the couple called the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

“The agent in the Service Center reviewed the record and provided instructions on how to fix the record issue through our website and online filing options. Using the wife’s phone while the agent listened in, they were able to update the record and relay that information to the bank. Once the bank received that information, they were told that the loan would be approved,” Williams said.

“The couple told the agent that the business they were purchasing was part of their lifelong dream, and that they could not believe all their issues could be fixed online and real-time from a truck in the middle of a field.”

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Gov. Hickenlooper’s last speech mentions a favorite: beer

Colorado Gov. John W. Hickenlooper delivers his final State of the State address Thursday at the Colorado State Capitol. (Photos by Evan Semón Photography/Special to the SOS)

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a former brewpub owner, twice mentioned “beer” when he delivered his eighth and final State of the State Thursday.

The term-limited governor has mentioned beer in at least six of his eight State of the State speeches.

The first reference this year to beer came when the governor talked about “topophilia.”

The brewpub that John Hickenlooper founded, Wynkoop Brewing Co., commemorated his first inauguration with a beer.

“It’s our love of place, and reflects our love of Colorado,” Hickenlooper told the 100 lawmakers and others in the packed House chamber.

“It’s the growling of tractors in Brush’s Fourth  of July parade. It’s the smell of barbecue at the little league ball fields in Sterling on a summer night. If you’ve seen a sunrise over the plains, drank a cold beer after a day of hunting, or consider ‘Rocktober’ a real month, you’ve experienced it.”

He also talked how in ancient Greece, discussions about hot topics took place over large dinners and lasted days.  There was no “cable TV debate or tweet storm,” different viewpoints emerged and people “invested their time in each other, often fueled by wine.”

“Here in Colorado, we’ll stick with beer,” he said, drawing a friendly protest from Rep. Edie Hooten, a Boulder Democrat who likes her wine.

Hickenlooper also said “giddy up” twice on Thursday. That refers to a story he tells often, with someone asking about the opposite of the kind of “woe” that means sorrow and distress and getting the cheerful answer “Giddy up!”

Two years ago, Hickenlooper published his memoir, “The Opposite of Woe: My life in Beer and Politics.”

He ended his State of the State by saying, “Thank you for your partnership, your friendship, and for deepening our love of this wonderful, wild ​place. One last time from this podium: Giddy up!”

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Eat, drink and make merry with the Colorado Restaurant Association

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango, and Grand Junction Sentinel reporter Charles Ashby at the Colorado Restaurant Association’s Blue Ribbon Reception Wednesday night. (SOS photo)

When I covered the legislature for the Rocky Mountain News the editors loved it that the Colorado Restaurant Association’s reception occurred on opening day, meaning I actually made deadline so I could dash over to the event that night.

My first Blue Ribbon reception was in 2000 and one of the first lawmakers I talked to was Rep. Marcy Morrison, a Republican from Manitou Springs. Where’s that? I asked. She explained it was west of Colorado Springs and I remember thinking, “El Paso County! She must be really conservative!” Talk of an example of why stereotypes don’t work.

These days I don’t have to worry about deadlines, but I still can’t wait for the legislature’s opening day and the best legislative reception of the year. My tweet from last night’s Blue Ribbon reception:

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From her Denver garage to D.C. — a “new American” success story

Lorena Cantarovici, owner of Maria Empanada, and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at her Greenwood Village store. She was named the 2017 Colorado Small Business Person of the Year. (SOS photo)

The 2017 Colorado Small Business Person of the Year on Tuesday welcomed Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams to her empanada store and offered advice for others thinking of following their dream.

“Don’t be afraid. Be fearless,” said Argentinian native Lorena Cantarovici, owner of Maria Empanada.

She still gets goosebumps when she thinks about going to Washington, D.C., this year to be honored by the U.S. Small Business Administration for being the state winner.

That’s quite a journey for an immigrant who arrived with less than $500 in her pocket and began making pastries for her friends out of her kitchen and garage, and ended up operating three stores in the metro area.

Williams visited Cantarovici’s store in Greenwood Village as a way to remind Coloradans that their nominations for the state’s 2018 Small Business Person of the Year are due next month.

“Part of why we’re here is the Secretary of State’s office is the office in which you form a business. We’ve got more than 660,000 businesses in Colorado and and we want to encourage people to think about what is that next Maria Empanada, the next small business success story that we should celebrate here in Colorado,” Williams said.

“One of the great things about America is the opportunity everyone has to succeed. You get to go the direction you want to. In some cases, you convince people to buy this thing called an empanada that they might not ever have heard of before.”

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