Covering what matters to Colorado business

Evan Semón Photography

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my 17 years covering the Colorado Capitol, it’s that business bills are about a lot more than the inner workings of business.

They’re about the extra cost or requirement that may make the difference between an employer giving a job to someone who is without one or deciding that they can’t afford to make that move. They’re about the public investment that can lead to a private gain. They’re about the helps and hindrances to the dreams of the people who make up every company.

And that’s a big reason why I’ve come to the Colorado Chamber of Commerce in part to launch The Sum & Substance, a news site debuting today that will track the intersection of private business and public policy. People must understand how government impacts business and vice versa, because the risk of the two sectors slipping out of balance with each other imperils not just the monolith known as “business” but the millions of Coloradans who own or work for companies.

The Sum & Substance will focus on state legislative and regulatory actions that serve as potential obstacles or boosts to businesses, striving to explain what they mean for everyone from the newly launched sole proprietorship to the corporation cutting paychecks to tens of thousands of people. It will provide information when ideas are proposed, when they are debated and when they become rules, allowing readers to plan ahead and to decide if they need to add their voices to discussions that ultimately will shape these policies.

But it also will focus on the big-picture trends, from workforce development to employment patterns, that inform them of the headwinds or tailwinds they may be facing. And it will dig into politics not for politics’ sake but to examine how the men and women running for office could affect the economic dynamism of Colorado.

Some of you may know my background. I served as a newspaper reporter for nearly 28 years, coming to Colorado in late 2000 to cover the Colorado Springs government and deciding quickly that I was never going to leave. 

I’ve written for the Colorado Springs Gazette, the Rocky Mountain News and, for the past 14 years, for the Denver Business Journal, winning 140 local and national awards and being honored as Colorado Journalist of the Year by the Society of Professional Journalists for my work in 2020 covering the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on business. I also have a family and home here, meaning my investment in subjects I cover is personal as well as professional.

What I will be doing for The Sum & Substance is, in many senses, no different than what I have done throughout my career. Though I now work for a business-advocacy group, I intend to give both sides of every story, to explain why someone may be asking for a particular rule or law even when most business organizations may oppose it. Nobody gets smarter when they hear only one side of an issue, and the point of this news site is to educate people about what matters to business.

But it will also attempt to dig into business issues at a deeper level, to cover the big discussions that permeate the state as well as the more focused, under-the-radar changes that could have major impacts on employers. Some days you may see several new stories on this site if significant events pile up; at other times — particularly when the Colorado Legislature is not in session — stories may come less frequently but with the same depth I wll bring to each issue.

In addition to serving as the editor (and writer and photographer) of this new site, I am taking on the new role of vice president of strategic initiatives at the Colorado Chamber, an opportunity that was particularly influential in attracting me to this organization. In that role, I will be leading deep-dive efforts into coming up with solutions for vexing issues that affect all businesses, such as exploring new ways to ensure workers have the skills that they need to build the careers of both today and tomorrow.

What I won’t be doing in this new role is writing on some of the topics that I’ve covered throughout my career, from restaurant openings to corporate earnings. There are news organizations that cover those stories and cover them very well. The Sum & Substance isn’t trying to compete with existing newspapers and websites so much as it looking to be to go-to site for people to understand the policies that shape businesses — and to inspire readers to take that knowledge and to get more involved in community decisions.

So, please, reach out to tell me what matters to you, what is helping or hindering your ability to operate and to provide jobs to the people of Colorado, what you need to know before you decide whether to create that extra job that somebody is hoping you will give to them. The Sum & Substance is for our community — the business community, the Colorado community, the community of people who are striving to make this a better place to live and work.

I couldn’t be more excited to begin this new adventure with you.