Tipton challenger visits Durango

Sal Pace asks business owners, mayor about economic concerns

State Rep. Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, explains his opinions on education and buying local to Durango Mayor Christina Rinderle and John Whitney at Brickhouse Cafe & Coffee Bar. Pace has announced his bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, the Republican incumbent in the 3rd Congressional District. Enlarge photo

SARAH FRIEDMAN/Herald

State Rep. Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, explains his opinions on education and buying local to Durango Mayor Christina Rinderle and John Whitney at Brickhouse Cafe & Coffee Bar. Pace has announced his bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, the Republican incumbent in the 3rd Congressional District.

Local business owners and Durango Mayor Christina Rinderle mixed business with breakfast Sunday morning during a roundtable discussion hosted by State House Minority Leader Sal Pace.

Pace, D-Pueblo, has scheduled a full weekend of events throughout the San Luis Valley and the Western Slope after recently announcing his candidacy for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.

Pace looked to the group of successful entrepreneurs for factors that have impeded or aided the growth of their respective businesses, citing the strength of local economies as the key to easing the budget crisis that has recently consumed Capitol Hill.

“There’s a big debate about how do we handle the budget, and in my mind we sort of have it backwards because the reason we’re in the budgetary crisis as a state is because income has gone down, sales tax has gone down, and the demand for services – whether it’s the school lunches or it’s Medicaid – have gone up,” Pace said. “All those problems, every one I mentioned, can be fixed with turning the economy around”

Locally, the city of Durango is funded largely by sales taxes, Rinderle said.

Strategies such as including Durango Dollars as part of city employees’ bonuses have helped create a crucial connection between local businesses and the city, she said.

Whencity employees spend money locally, small businesses thrive while city benefits from sales tax, she said.

Job creation, in addition to maintaining existing businesses, will be crucial in stimulating the economy, Pace said.

Overregulation, tedious paperwork and high income-tax rates were among the issues Pace discussed with the group, concerned that such factors could impede the growth of small businesses.

There’s a common misconception about what drives business people and entrepreneurs, and considerable time wasted on the notion that high income taxes squelch businesses creation, said Jerry Zink, co-owner of StoneAge Waterblast Tools and founder of Sunnyside Meats.

Zink said most entrepreneurs wouldn’t be deterred from pursuing their business ideas by high income taxes.

“I’m certainly not one of them who gets an idea, gets excited, wants to go do something and then sits around and say: ‘Oh dear, the income tax is so high that I just can’t do it. I just won’t; it’s got me stopped,’” Zink said. “I don’t think that’s the way it works at all.”

Taxation and regulation can become tedious, especially in the alcoholic-beverage industry, and an audit of unnecessary or outdated policies could benefit vendors, said Dave Thibodeau, who is the co-founder and president of Ska Brewing Co.

However, these are issues that small businesses learn to live with, Thibodeau said.

“I have this take on it: Like, it’s so difficult; there’s so much we’ve got to go through, but if it was easy everybody would do it; I’d have a lot more competition,” Thibodeau said.

“I’m just at a weird point right now where I’m having a hard time griping about anything because I feel so fortunate that we’re able to do what we’re doing, ” he said.

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