Two business leaders are trying to build a consortium of sorts to unite entities with economic interests.
The Colorado Business Roundtable is in its infancy, with executive director Jeff Wasden and president Gayle Dendinger starting discussions to form the group in February and taking concrete actions in March.
“Everyone we’ve approached has been really optimistic about the group,” Wasden said. “Nobody’s said `no.’ ”
Wasden is also the owner of PROformance Apparel in Littleton and vice chair of public affairs for the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce. Dendinger is the CEO of shipping company CAP Logistics and publisher of ICOSA, an economic media company.
Although both men are well versed in a business environment, Wasden and Dendinger said the roundtable is a collaborative effort that deviates from the corporate model.
“It’s all about setting up connections and building relationships,” Dendinger said.
Dendinger said he first attempted to found a Colorado-based business roundtable in 2001, but between the 9/11 attacks in New York City and the fizzle of the dot-com boom, 54 percent of members went out of business and the collaborative died out.
With the economy making a recovery and the CBRT building momentum, Dendinger said he hopes participants will adopt a new philosophy.
“Instead of shrinking, market harder,” Dendinger said.
The group has various goals in different arenas, from public policy to education and plans to work with other organizations like Colorado Concerns on immigration issues and the South Metro Chamber on hydraulic fracturing. The group held its first event in Lone Tree on April 16 in conjunction with other organizations to discuss a study by the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business regarding the impact of a fracking ban on Colorado’s economy.
Wasden said a big part of the mission is education. Dendinger said access to ICOSA will be big part of that.
“Part of what we’re trying to accomplish is an organization of doers, who want to create the best and brightest in the state,” Wasden said. “We want to partner with other organizations for diversity and strength, to get that extra lens. Instead of working in a vacuum, the idea is to leverage and multiply, then educate.”
The group operates under the larger umbrella Business Roundtable in Washington, D.C., which has roundtables in 25 other states in its network, Dendinger said.
“It’s a sustainable model that endures, but also gets things done,” Dendinger said.