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The Phantom Canyon Creation Story: How Beer Can Help Bridge the Partisan Divide

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Governor John Hickenlooper didn’t offer many specifics yesterday during his first State of the State address. But he spoke optimistically about the need for cooperation and business smarts as the state attempts to dig out of recession. “There are many reasons to feel hopeful,” Hick says. “We have made huge strides with renewable energy and have the potential to grow more and greener jobs” (via The Denver Post).

But for many, the highlight of his address was his opener, a story about how, 20 years ago almost to the day, he found a way to save the old Cheyenne Hotel in Colorado Springs, a historic building slated for demolition (read transcript). He struggled with the project for two years, nearly failing, when he called in the subcontractors who had bid on the project (the electrician, plumber, sprinkler guy, others) and delivered his pitch, convincing them to put up $150,000 and become his partners. “From that point on, everything was different,” Hickenlooper says, and the now-successful Phantom Canyon Brewing Company was born.

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The speech caught Representative Bob Gardner’s attention. “That’s a great story, and it speaks to a philosophy about everyone having a stake in the system,” the Springs Republican tells The Gazette, adding that he considers the bit “nonpartisan.” Hick’s message of state officials, business owners, farmers and ranchers, workers, and residents coming together at the same table to handle economic troubles brought Republicans to their feet faster than Democrats, notes the Denver Business Journal. Hickenlooper also struck a balance between business and environmental interests, points out The Colorado Independent.

Now that the week’s inaugural celebrations in Denver have wrapped up and the big speeches have been delivered, the governor is embarking on a four-day tour of eight cities across the state to begin working on an economic plan (via 7News).

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