Olson Planning & Urban Landscapes celebrated one year of business this past week. It has been a tremendous year and great strides have been made in building a foundation of business for several years to come.  I have been asked over this past year on a few occasions my ambitions for the business, with the misperception that ‘it is just a temporary option.’  I have assured each that this is not the case, and that business ownership has been an ambition of mine since I was halfway through college at Kansas State University. From the questions that I hear, it seems that I have been categorized with others who involuntarily started a business without an option.  For me, it was a calculated choice to leave a stable company in pursuit of a greater dream during what has been considered to be the Great Recession.  The long-term options seemed much greater in business ownership than to remain in a state of pay cuts as an employee.  It turned out that my calculations paid off as an entrepreneur.
In honor of the completion of the first year in business, I have adopted a new tagline for what the company has been built upon: The Nexus of Smart Growth and Landscape Architecture.
The following are the goals and ambitions that I have set for the company to continue to be a leader in the Pikes Peak Region:
1.       Organization Structure: At this time, the company is structured as a Sole Proprietorship.  The sole proprietorship structure has been the logical structure for year one; however there have been times where I have considered adding staff.  In 2011, I will continue to consider this and at which time that I feel it becomes a benefit to my clients, I will change the structure of the company to a Limited Liability Company (or LLC).  My long-term goal for the company is to remain as a boutique company with less than 10 employees.
2.       SustainabilityI have continued to participate in regional efforts to push for holistic sustainability.  The most notable of these efforts was in participating with Sustainable Fort Carson, considered to be at the forefront of sustainability in the Pikes Peak Region.  At Fort Carson, I assist with the group in implementing its sustainability goals through awareness and design review.  I am also participating with the Installation’s Housing developer, Balfour Beatty, in low water-use landscape alternatives to the conventional high water/ high maintenance Kentucky Bluegrass.  In some instances, this is a retrofit which will save Fort Carson’s Housing money and improve the appearance of the otherwise neglected landscape.
3.       Advocacy: Advocacy for smart growth and continued awareness has been a passion of mine since moving to Colorado Springs.  The blog that I have developed in conjunction with my company is certainly a byproduct of this passion.  As a business owner, I have increased the amount of advocacy that I provide for the community in the first year of business through the multitude of non-profit organizations in which I participate.  I remain as a major advocate for the principles of Smart Growth and New Urbanism statewide as the Treasurer for CNU Colorado.  As a part of CNU Colorado, I will be giving a presentation on context-sensitive landscapes at the Smart Growth for Small Towns and Rural Communities Workshop in Downtown Salida on April 8.  In addition, I continued my service to the Downtown Review Board and also accepted a nomination to become the Vice Chair of the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority.  Over the upcoming years, I will continue to provide input regarding holistic sustainability to the region as a whole.
4.       Landscape Architecture: In year one, I had the honorable opportunity to provide landscape architectural services for an amazing Denver-based architectural & engineering company, EVstudio.  EVstudio, for those who are not aware, is an incredible full-service architectural and engineering company that has emerged and expanded in an economic climate when most companies have suffered tremendous losses.
5.       Smart Growth: Smart Growth is and always will remain a pivotal part of how my company will prevail.  As an introduction for my company, I was asked to participate with the Collaborative Design Group in a competition for the Catalytic Downtown Design Competition for Downtown Castle Rock.  The team was selected by the City of Castle Rock as one of four teams from an impressive list of national firms to compete.  We are currently in the process of finalizing our drawings and imagery for the competition with all intentions of winning the grand prize.  Another Smart Growth effort currently under way for my company is an infill project in Arvada, Colorado where a previously commercially-zoned property is being rezoned and developed as attached single-family residential.
 It has been a fantastic year for the company where I have achieved more than I had originally imagined.  I look forward to working with you in year two of Olson Planning & Urban Landscapes!