There is no question that the economy of Colorado Springs and El Paso County are strongly tied to two things: the U.S. military and tourism. The economic impact of the military is obvious, with El Paso County being home to the U.S. Air Force Academy, Fort Carson, and the new U.S. Space Command. But nearly as important is the free flow of tourism into Colorado Springs, which serves as a major part of the lifeblood of the local economy. According to Visit Colorado Springs, 23 million visitors visited the region in 2018, spending a total of $2.4 billion and resulting in an estimated direct economic impact of more than $199 million. Simply put, without these military bases and the transportation means for tourists to flock to the area from out of town, the Pikes Peak region’s economy would be seriously impeded.
As state legislators, we have seen firsthand how exorbitant costs and endless delays obstruct necessary infrastructure projects from being realized, despite the clear added value these projects bring to help grow the local and state economy.