Long-time area businessman hired as OCCA exec director

       In a new effort to promote the area and take some of the weight off individual merchants, the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group has hired long-time area businessman Dave Van Ness and given him the title of executive director.

Dave Van Ness on the avenue.
Westside Pioneer photo

       “It's going to be challenging, fun and interesting,” he said in a recent interview.
       The OCCA has had people in similar permanent, paid roles in the past, but no one since August 2010.
       Carole Jourdan, a shop owner and vice president of the OCCA board, said the decision was made because “there was more work than we could do.” OCCA President Nelson Roseland has especially been putting in the hours, she said.
       Van Ness sees his position as one that will nurture OCCA membership, support the planners of OCCA's special events, seek to attract more shoppers and collaborate with other business organizations in the Pikes Peak region. He expects to be working out of the OCCA office (in the Cogwell building, above the Squash Blossom store) about 20 hours a week.
       The OCCA has traditionally represented Old Town's businesses, but a major rift occurred in 2009, leading to the formation of a second group, the Historic District Merchants of Old Colorado City. Van Ness did not wish to speak directly to that situation, but expressed an openness to all Old Town pro-business entities. “One of the goals in hiring me is to build coalitions and collaborate with all the pro-business organizations to present a united front for businesses on the Westside,” he said.
       As for specific OCCA plans after Christmas - the promotional plans for which are already in place - Van Ness is still gathering information and putting together lists of what might be accomplished and prioritized. He said he hopes to get together with OCCA board members, perhaps on a “retreat,” to lay out a program of work for the coming year.
       A 1966 graduate of Colorado College, his life has included 50 years in business in the Colorado Springs area. He owned and managed a computer business, Compass Computer Solutions, until the mid-'90s. One of his jobs was in-stalling the first computer at Goodwill, Van Ness recalled. He also previously owned property in Old Colorado City - the house at the northeast corner of 25th Street and Pikes Peak Avenue and the house that's now Front Range Barbeque in the 2300 block of West Colorado Avenue. As a side note, he said he was the person who converted the latter house to commercial uses, turning it into a real estate office.
       Currently a Monument resident, Van Ness served four years as executive director of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce (leaving that post in July) and is still on the board of directors of the Health Advocacy Partnership, a Tri-Lakes nonprofit, and on the financial advisory board of the Monument Academy school.

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