Colorado Blueprint: A bottom-up approach to economic development


Here’s the link to the full report from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. The user interface is very clumsy. Here’s the executive summary:

Colorado Blueprint: A bottom-up approach to economic development

Since Jan. 11, 2011, the Hickenlooper Administration has engaged more than 5,000 Coloradans from all 64 counties in developing a comprehensive and collaborative approach to economic development. A state team composed of representatives of a dozen state agencies and statewide organizations traveled more than 6,000 miles to gather input from every corner, valley and plain that makes up Colorado.

Every county put together a summary expressing the needs, priorities, vision, strengths and weaknesses of its local economy. These county summaries were rolled up into 14 regional statements. Based on the county and regional input, we identified the following six focus areas to promote economic development in Colorado:

I. Create a Business-Friendly Environment

o Coloradans deserve a government that is responsive to their concerns and priorities, is frugal with their tax dollars and promotes economic development. That means knowing when to regulate, how to regulate, and when to get out of the way. This is one of the important roles of government. To this end, the Hickenlooper Administration is focused on the Three E’s of good government: efficiency, effectiveness and elegance.

II. Recruit, Grow and Retain Businesses

o Colorado is a great place to do business. Through more targeted marketing of the state, as well as increased coordination within the economic development community, Colorado is poised for economic growth. It is also important to build on existing successes, such as the Sustainable Main Streets pilot program championed by the Department of Local Affairs, as we work to ensure economic vitality in communities and on main streets in every corner of Colorado.

III. Increase Access to Capital

o Every county and region expressed the need for capital formation and increased access to capital, whether that takes the form of debt financing, equity investment or access to grants – and often all three. The state is expanding current venture and angel capital programs, while also designing a new cash collateral program to support businesses trying to get operating loans.

IV. Create and Market a Stronger Colorado Brand

o Colorado is one of the best states to live in or visit, being a premier place to work, play, explore and conduct business. Together, people across Colorado can define a vision for how we preserve and enhance the Colorado Advantage. A common brand and vision for all of Colorado will provide a strong foundation for increasing Colorado’s market share in overnight visitors, relocating companies and direct investment—both on a nationally and globally.

V. Educate and Train the Workforce of the Future

o One of Colorado’s key economic drivers—and selling points to potential business–is a highly-educated population and world-class institutions of higher education. To maintain and grow this globally competitive workforce, we need a strong and coordinated education system, including workforce, that leverages the boot-strapping “can-do” attitude of all Coloradans.

VI. Cultivate Innovation and Technology

o There is a strong spirit of innovation found around Colorado, with bright and adventurous people making discoveries and working to make new ideas thrive. Most regions of the state require improved communications technologies, including broadband, as a foundation of economic development and innovation.

This is not a comprehensive collection of all-encompassing end-goals for all of Colorado, but rather a first set of achievable objectives to undertake together. It is a working document, which means plans and partner names may change as we work to ensure that the benefits balance or outweigh the costs of implementing an initiative. We need public engagement and analysis, especially on the actions undertaken to “move the needle” in these six focus areas. We want to continue to update and adapt this Blueprint through sustained conversations about what Colorado’s economy should look like in the future. Together we can achieve measurable progress on our initiatives, and build the momentum needed to drive economic recovery.

We are committed to collaboration. We will return to every region four times in the next three years (every nine months) to evaluate and celebrate measurable progress on state, regional and county work plans. As we hit targets, we will desire new goals for the upcoming nine months. Through these feedback loops, state and local leaders will maintain open lines of communication and become better partners in supporting entrepreneurship and job creation across Colorado.

Special Note: During the “bottom-up” process, we captured thousands of valuable inputs and comments across a wide range of topics. A significant number of these comments and priorities will live at a local or regional level, where they can gain maturity and momentum and possibly be elevated to the Blueprint at a later date.

More coverage from the Northern Colorado Business Report. From the article:

The Weld-Larimer goal statement included similar business-related focus areas as the statewide plan but also included a goal to “develop, preserve and enhance water storage and delivery options in the region.”

That goal was later objected to by the Fort Collins city council, which wrote a letter to the governor’s office expressing the city’s nonsupport for the goal based on its reservations about the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project that would include Glade Reservoir.

The NISP project, proposed by Berthoud-based Northern Water, is currently under review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Colorado Blueprint will continue to be updated over time and Hickenlooper administration officials said they intend to re-evaluate the plan every nine months to measure progress on its goals.

More coverage from Patrick Malone writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“There are 100 different things people say they need,” Hickenlooper said. “We’ve distilled it down to six things. We can’t do 100 things. Six things we can do.” He said the “Colorado Blueprint” sets a course for the state’s economic recovery by focusing on the most pressing economic development challenges identified by Colorado residents…

The plan was culled from dozens of public meetings throughout the state that began in January. Each of the state’s 64 counties offered a plan, which gelled into 14 regional plans. Some county and regional plans targeted specific job-creation numbers and reductions in joblessness, a level of specificity that does not appear in the state plan.

“I think what you’re asking us for is to pull a number out of a hat,” Hickenlooper said. The governor said finite goals such as those reflected in some county and regional plans would have doomed the state plan to constantly shoot at a moving target. “The economy is so complex,” Hickenlooper said. “If you look back over the last four years at every economic prediction that the top economists have used it’s probably about half as reliable as the seven-day weather forecast.”[…]

The backdrop for Hickenlooper’s speech was the site of TAXI and Freight, a revitalized business park that has undergone a metamorphosis in the past two years from a taxicab and trucking yard into the cradle of Colorado’s creative class. Office fronts are glass garage doors more commonly found at radiator shops. Inside them, employees in their 20s and 30s toil in T-shirts and shorts. Bicycles, ping-pong tables and foosball tables adorn the offices and provide pastimes during breaks. Building angles are sharp with vivid trim and paint just weathered enough to make the park contemporary chic. Businesses at the park may look like recreation centers to the untrained eye, but they produce highly advanced microchips, manufacture research microscopes, offer intricate Web design and sell fine art…

“One of the things that surprised me in rural Colorado — both in mountain towns and on the Eastern Plains — was that innovation and technology are part of their everyday language and their everyday life,” Hickenlooper said. “Until you’ve spent a day with a dryland farmer in Southeast Colorado and see how innovative they have to be to make a profit out of very difficult landscape, you haven’t seen anything about innovation.”

More coverage from Patrick Malone writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“The local communities, as they push through their own recoveries, are still going to be focused on their own objectives as they stated in their own local summaries,” [Dwayne Romero, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Information and Technology] said. For Pueblo County. those objectives are increasing primary jobs with an emphasis on manufacturing, increasing the flow of tourism dollars, supporting existing industries and small businesses to expand, promoting Pueblo as a regional health care destination, developing a leadership counsel to enhance the agriculture economy and expanding offerings at Colorado State University-Pueblo and Pueblo Community College to produce graduates whose skills appeal to innovative employers that might want to relocate to Pueblo…

The lawmakers [Sal Pace/Keith Swerdfeger] also agree that expanded graduate, engineering and hospitality offerings at CSU-Pueblo and forging a dual-credit relationship between the university and the community college are longer-term goals, but vital parts of the city’s economic future.

Protecting water throughout the Arkansas Valley will be imperative if Pueblo County is to attain its goal of promoting agriculture, Swerdfeger said.

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