LovelandPolitics
Loveland's Independent News Source
Loveland, February 7, 2017

When Governor Hickenlooper appointed Vail Resorts attorney Fiona Arnold to head the state's
Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) Office in the beginning of 2015, few
people in Northern Colorado took notice.  

Two years later, when Arnold resigned her office, developers across Northern Colorado from Estes
Park to Windsor celebrated her departure as a new beginning and opportunity for honest
governance in the state's economic development office.  Arnold's tenure was marked by punitive
restrictions of proposed developments in Northern Colorado contrasted by unabashed support for
one project located only 4,000 feet from commercial property she partly owns in Denver.

Passed by the Colorado Legislature in 2009, the Regional Tourism Act (RTA) provides a
mechanism by which local projects that draw out of state visitors can retain state sales tax
revenues generated from surrounding areas to finance their projects of up to $50 million per
project over a 30 year period.  The often troubled incentives law was breathed new life in early
2015 before its statutory close by the end of 2015 sparred additional applications.  As the head of
OEDIT, Arnold's office was charged with administrating the grant applications and making final
recommendations to the EDC (Economic Development Council) which makes the final
determination.

A consortium of Northern Colorado projects calling itself
Go NoCo applied for the RTA funding in
2015.  Go NoCo consists of a Stanley Horror Film Center, Whitewater Adventure Park in Loveland
designed to Olympic standards along with an adjacent indoor Water Park of the Rockies including
a 300-room PeliGrande Resort & Windsor Conference Center near a planned Raindance National
Golf Course to host senior PGA events.  While Arnold did recommend the completed application for
$86 million, she imposed significant "guardrails" upon the approval that made the proposed
projects untenable.   She also made a number of public comments doubting the potential success of
the projects and whether they would draw the intended out of state tourists intended by RTA.

In the meantime, Arnold emphatically approved funding for the
National Western Center project
that subsidizes redevelopment within close proximity to her own downtown Denver commercial
real estate holdings.  Incredibly, Arnold even disclosed this conflict in the approval yet the Denver
Post nor any of its subsidiary publications which dominate the Front Range newspaper business
picked-up the story.

Fighting for their own project's funding, Northern Colorado Go NoCo backers continued
negotiations with Fiona's office in an attempt to gain equity with the less onerous incentive
"guardrails" imposed on Denver's submittal but without success.  Arnold's recent departure in the
end of 2016 opens the possibility that Go NoCo may find parity with other approved incentives
despite failing to benefit Arnold's personal property holdings in Denver; no longer a consideration
apparently.

According to her LinkedIn page, Arnold is now President of Mainspring Developers in Denver
which develops commercial and residential real estate in Denver.
Governor's Economic Head Departure
"Good for Northern Colorado"
Fiona Arnold
REGIONAL TOURISM ACT (RTA)

The Regional Tourism Act (RTA)
establishes a program that gives local
governments the opportunity to apply with
the Economic Development Commission
(EDC) for approval of a large scale
Regional Tourism Project that is of an
extraordinary and unique nature, is
anticipated to result in a substantial
increase in out-of-state tourism, and that
generates a significant portion of the
sales tax revenue by transactions with
nonresidents of the zone.

Local governments must provide reliable
economic data demonstrating that, in the
absence of State Sales Tax Increment
Revenue, the project is not reasonably
anticipated to be developed within the
foreseeable future.