Former Colorado governor and Democratic presidential candidate, John Hickenlooper, visited Big River United Energy Aug. 14, touting his experience as governor of a rural state.

Hickenlooper spoke with plant officials and took a tour of the facility. He told officials he understood the importance of a strong rural economy and cited his experience as governor of Colorado from 2011-19.

“When I became governor, Colorado was 40th in job creation. I said we’d be the number one economy in the nation. People laughed. We have been the top economy in the nation for the last three years and in the top three of rural economies the last three years.”

Hickenlooper said while governor he created a business plan for the state that included rural areas. “By the end of next year, we will be the only state in the country that will have broadband service in every city and town in the state.” Hickenlooper said that service is paid for by a dollar tax per month on cell phones. “I tell people they are paying a sliver of a tax so we have a strong economy from where your food comes from. No one has ever complained.”

With a background as a brewer, he said he understood the process of making ethanol. “I understand fermentation and distillation, but it’s different to see it at scale. We have 10% of transportation fuel in this country coming out of ethanol. I don’t think most people in this country understand how significant that is. It helps us be sustainable, it fights climate change and it is an injection of cash in rural economies.”

Colorado also has universal background checks for those wishing to purchase firearms. After mass shootings a week ago in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Hickenlooper believes it’s time for background checks nationally.

“We weren’t trying to take guns away from people, but after the shooting in Aurora (in 2012) where 70 people were shot and 12 died, we recognized as leaders, part of our job is to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and universal background checks are the one sure-fire way to do that.”

He believes it’s only a matter of time before universal background checks are nationwide. “People are changing. A couple more terrible shootings and we’ll get it done nationally. We’re in a different situation now. People are scared to go shopping, kids are scared to go to school. We are allowing ourselves to be terrorized by Americans and that’s got to stop.”

Hickenlooper addressed his low poll numbers and he denied a news report that had him dropping out of the presidential race. “I’m going to put some more time into this presidential campaign. I’m the only person who has done what other candidates are talking about. I was a small business owner, a mayor and a governor. That executive experience uniquely prepares me to bring this country back together.”