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Blowing Boeing

How Denver went pasta point of no return.

Standing on the tarmac of Chicago's Midway Airport on May 10, Boeing's Condit acknowledged that the headquarters move was a "strategic business decision...helping us achieve our goals of growing this company." Boeing's primary competitor? Airbus Industrie.

Sam Addoms wasn't included in the Boeing 100, a group of local movers and shakers recruited to help woo Boeing to Colorado. But John Elway was front and center at the Governor's Mansion, helping to put the arm on the group.

Although Denver has plenty of eager boosters willing to go meatballs to the wall for economic development, it's very short of high-priced hotel rooms -- and it's not easy for high-flying execs to order up caviar and champagne from room service at 4 a.m. The city is more than willing to subsidize another hotel; in fact, it had already approved a handout larger than Boeing's Illinois bonus to help developer Bruce Berger build a convention-center hotel. But then a few cranky citizens passed around a petition that will take the subsidy to a public vote in November, delaying Berger's hotel plans -- but not the destruction of Currigan Hall.

The building is an architectural landmark. But this is Denver, and so it goes.

And so Boeing went...to Chicago.


Denver will survive the loss of Boeing, just as it survived the loss of the United Airlines maintenance facility a half-dozen years ago, and the super-colliding superconductor boondoggle several years before that.

In the meantime, life continues. Even before Boeing started its charade and Denver netted that "tremendous amount of publicity," Colorado had jumped up into the ranks of the country's top three tourist destinations.

Surveyed in March regarding their thoughts on city services, residents listed unfilled potholes, dirty parks and speeding drivers as their biggest worries. No one pouted that the Front Range was home to only four Fortune 500 headquarters. Or that it had just one Krispy Kreme franchise.

"Denver has thousands of reasons to be proud," Boeing pronounced in a full-page ad last Thursday that showed exactly none of those reasons and instead pictured several office buildings that could have been Anywhere, USA. (Unlike the Chicago ad that flipped its street scene, however, Denver's Boeing ad was at least an accurate representation of our downtown.) "Thanks for showing us why."

Stick a fork in us -- we're done.

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