Colorado’s population growth to slow in 2018, but new jobs still coming

Colorado’s employment and population growth will slow for a third consecutive year in 2018. The state will stay competitive in recruiting, and every major sector will add jobs, according to an economic outlook released Monday by the Business Research Division at the Leeds School of Business.

This information was presented during the 53rd annual Colorado Business Economic Outlook Forum at the Grand Hyatt Denver. More than 1,000 business and civic leaders planned to attend.

The outlook features forecasts and trends for 13 key business sectors across Colorado, the population and the national economy. The 140-page report also breaks down economic trends for several regions across the state. Overall, Colorado is projected to add 47,100 jobs in 2018, an increase of 1.8 percent, according to the forecast.

“The national unemployment numbers are low, but the state unemployment numbers are incredibly low,” said Richard Wobbekind, executive director of the Business Research Division.

The report outlines good news for workers as the low unemployment numbers should lead to increasing wages across a variety of sectors, he said. The labor shortage may, however, lead businesses to replace workers with machines or other technology, according to the report. The population will grow by 90,600, Wobbekind said. Most of that growth will come from people moving to Colorado.

Regional economic highlights:

Boulder County
The area continues to outperform the state with a highly educated workforce, a high quality of life and a world-class research university.

Kit Carson County
Low commodity prices and the prison closure put eastern Colorado in a difficult economic position. Farm conditions are stabilizing, but balance sheets will continue to be less than stellar. Tourism is a bright spot, with strong visitor numbers at the Colorado Welcome Center along Interstate 70.

La Plata County
Tech and the outdoor industry are doing well. The Southwest Colorado Accelerator for Entrepreneurs (SCAPE) is helping entrepreneurial ventures. Demand for construction and real estate will slowly provide a foundation for growth. Optimism among business leaders remains high, but underemployment is expected to continue.

Mesa County
Mesa County added as many people to its population in 2016 as it did in the five years between 2010 and 2015. Employment was nearly flat in 2017, but the business and economic outlook is trending upward. A declining unemployment rate, growing business diversification, and a strong real estate market position Mesa County for growth in 2018.

Northern Colorado
With a highly educated workforce and growing technology and entrepreneurship sectors, Weld and Larimer counties are more attractive than ever. Weld County continues to be a leader in agriculture production exports.

In 2017, the Pueblo area marked its lowest unemployment since 2000, at 3.5 percent. The aerospace, hemp, and rail industries set up the Pueblo area for further growth in 2018.

Southern Colorado
While Colorado Springs has traditionally lagged behind Denver and Boulder, that is no longer true. El Paso County added more than 10,000 jobs in the last year. Increased productivity is boosting the standard of living and the quality of life. The city is on track to outperform the nation in employment and wage increases. That should continue in 2018, making the region a smart choice for business growth and new investment.

Key industry growth forecasts
Construction 1.5 percent growth; 2,500 jobs

Education and health services 2.5 percent growth; 8,400 jobs

Financial activities 1.2 percent growth; 2,000 jobs

Government 1.1 percent growth; 4,600 jobs

Information 0.4 percent growth; 300 jobs

Leisure and hospitality 1.9 percent growth; 6,200 jobs

Manufacturing 1.1 percent growth; 1,600 jobs

Natural resources and mining 4.4 percent growth; 1,100 jobs

Professional and business services 2.4 percent growth; 10,000 jobs

Trade, transportation and utilities 1.9 percent growth; 8,700 jobs

Other services 1.6 percent growth; 1,700 jobs

Total 1.8 percent growth; 47,100 jobs

Announcing the Caren S. Franzini Fellowship

Recognizing outstanding women in development finance for their leadership and dedication to the advancement of the industry.
The Caren S. Franzini Fellowship was established in 2017 by the CDFA Board of Directors to recognize the exemplary leadership of Caren Franzini, a past President of CDFA and former CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). During her career, Caren was dedicated to the advancement of development finance best practices, education, and advocacy.

Recognized by her peers and colleagues as “simply the best,” Caren brought a high level of mastery and acumen to her work. Her commitment to the development finance industry is evident in the numerous programs created and the billions of dollars of investment that she catalyzed during her tenure at NJEDA. She was equally passionate about building leaders and experts in the field as she was about financing businesses and expanding economic growth and job creation for New Jersey communities.

The Caren S. Franzini Fellowship was created to build leadership positions for women in the field of development finance and to inspire them to embody Caren’s spirit and professionalism. Franzini Fellows are given the opportunity to work directly with CDFA through a one-year program aimed at developing lasting woman leaders in the field of development finance. Each class of Franzini Fellows will collaborate on a project of significance to the development finance industry and present it to a national audience. Franzini Fellows may build a new type of financing program, research creative deal structures, write a publication of best practices, or demonstrate new methodologies in the development finance industry. Collectively, their work will showcase expertise in development finance and the power of woman-led initiatives.

Franzini Fellows will meet in-person four times per year: at CDFA Summer School, the CDFA National Summit, and twice at the CDFA Rosenberg Leadership in Columbus, OH. During these engagements, Franzini Fellows will meet with other successful women in the development finance industry, receive training and inspiration from leaders in the field, and create a roadmap for building a successful career in development finance. In between in-person meetings, Franzini Fellows will be connected through an online platform that allows them to collaborate on their project and share best practices for building leadership traits.

The Caren S. Franzini Fellowship is open to women who have worked in the development finance field for less than 10 years. Franzini Fellows accepted into the program must be employed by a CDFA member and be sponsored by their employer for the duration of the fellowship. Applications will be made available once the Franzini Fellowship has been fully endowed. Consider making a gift in Caren’s honor to help establish the Fellowship.

ON THE MOVE: Town of Erie hires new Economic Development Manager


The Town of Erie has hired Benjamin (Ben) Pratt as its new Economic Development Manager. In his new position, Mr. Pratt is responsible for managing the Town’s economic development efforts including primary employment and retail attraction and development.

Pratt has over seven years of direct economic development experience, and most recently served as Vice President of the Erie Regional Chamber & Growth Partnership in Erie, Pennsylvania. Pratt served in that position since 2013.

Pratt received his Bachelor of Arts degree in International Business from Mercyhurst University and his Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) accreditation from the International Economic Development Council.

“I’m honored to be given the opportunity to help lead Erie towards achieving new private investment, better job opportunities for residents, a more diversified economy and a healthier tax base,” Pratt said.

Ben’s first day at Town Hall was Monday, November 27th.

ON THE MOVE: Grand Junction Economic Partnership Names New Executive Director

On December 4, 2017 The Grand Junction Economic Partnership (GJEP) announced that local resident Robin Brown has accepted the position of executive director effective December 11. Brown will replace Kristi Pollard, who stepped down in late October.

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Garfield County named Colorado’s healthiest community

Garfield County, in northwestern Colorado, is the first community to receive the Governor’s Healthy Community Award presented by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) and LiveWell Colorado. Representatives of Garfield County were honored last week at LiveWell’s 2017 Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Summit for their work pursuing community wellness, while impacting economic vitality.

In it’s inaugural year, the Governor’s Healthy Community Award is part of the OEDIT statewide initiative, “For Colorado: For the Health of It!, focused on integrating health and wellness into the places Coloradans live, work and play. OEDIT partnered with LiveWell Colorado’s HEAL Cities & Towns Campaign to highlight a community that is working in all sectors to encourage healthy living across community support networks. As this year’s winner, Garfield County will receive $2,000, contributed by Rocky Mountain Health Plans, to further enhance its community wellness efforts.

Garfield County, a rural county made up of six municipalities, was selected as the 2017 award-winning community for its focus on disease prevention, through healthy eating, active living and health equity. The county embraced health and wellness as an economic driver, by creating a cultural demand for healthy lifestyles, supporting local farmers, and expanding bike and pedestrian infrastructure – especially in areas with limited public transit and poor connectivity.

“Providing equal access to healthy eating, active living and workplace wellness to all Coloradans is important for our communities and to our economy,” said Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. “The leadership and residents of Garfield County have worked hard to develop a comprehensive approach to health and wellness that addresses health disparities and leverages partnerships to reach their entire community. I am thrilled to congratulate Garfield County as the winner of the 2017 Healthy Community Award!”

In an effort to equalize health disparities, often caused by long commutes, necessity of working multiple jobs and the high cost of health insurance, Garfield County worked with dozens of organizations and nonprofits to provide resources and break down barriers so all residents have full and equal access to healthy lifestyle options that also support the local economy.

“Our strong community collaboration across school districts, hospitals, businesses, public safety, education, public health and nonprofits drive us to overcome health barriers to reach our goals and better our community,” stated Dana Wood, Garfield Healthy Communities Coalition coordinator.

The county worked with Cultivando, a leadership and advocacy group from Commerce City, CO, to offer a leadership program in Spanish to train bilingual public health workers in February, 2017. Cultivando also conducted an additional four-day leadership training in September, 2017 for 25 Hispanic women in the community. During the training, women learned how to help empower each other, the basics of healthy living, and how to take control of their health and the health of their families.

Other health interventions made in Garfield County assisted families with children, including policy changes in school districts and a mobile school lunch program that provides nutritious foods and fresh fruits and vegetables to schools with high free and reduced lunch populations.

“Garfield County’s health efforts have shifted to an offensive approach by motivating people to change their lifestyles for the better. This influences a healthier workforce and healthier education system, which contributes to a healthier community”, Tom Jankovsky, Garfield County Commissioner, noted, regarding the positive impact of community health efforts can have on economic vitality.

Rocky Mountain Health Plans sponsored the award’s monetary prize in support of its mission to improve the health and well-being of its Colorado neighbors and communities. RMHP offers health insurance coverage to individuals of all ages and businesses of all sizes, serving over 230,000 individuals, seniors, employers, and Medicaid and Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) beneficiaries.

For Colorado: For the Health of It! Initiative

OEDIT is fueling the For Colorado: For the Health of It! Initiative with the mission to cultivate a culture of health and well-being in small businesses and communities to enhance economic vitality statewide by providing free health and wellness consultation; awarding a healthy community and small business; and exploring the development of a statewide wellness council. Colorado Small Business Development Center (COSBDC) is a stakeholder organization within OEDIT implementing the free health and wellness consultation statewide.


ON THE MOVE: Delta County hires new Executive Director

Delta County Economic Development, Inc. (DCED) has selected Stacy Voigt as its new executive director filling the position created by the departure of Trish Thibodo. DCED is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit membership organization working in a public/private partnership to strengthen and diversify the economy of Delta County. The selection was made after an extensive search and selection process which included candidates from local, regional and statewide sources.

“Stacey comes to us from the Loveland Downtown Partnership & Development Authority where she served as a project coordinator on a variety of public/private initiatives,” reported John Gavan, DCED board president. “We feel she will be a great addition to DCED and help to advance DCED’s contributions to the community,” Gavan pointed out that Voigt brings experience with renewal authorities and tax increment financing similar to the process going on in the City of Delta.

Voigt’s first official day on the job will be Nov. 15 and she will meet with the DCED board the following day. Voigt is married and the mother of two elementary age boys. The family will be making Delta County home. Voigt grew up in a small farm community in eastern Washington.

Voigt’s resume includes experience working with public/private partnerships, grant writing, business retention and expansion, as well as administration of nonprofit organizations. She is master’s prepared in urban and regional planning from University of Colorado Denver as well as an undergraduate degree in design studies from the University of Colorado Boulder. Voigt serves as the vice president of the Parks, Recreations, Historic Preservation, & Arts Advisory Board for the City of Edgewater. She has also been involved with a number of committees for Jeffco Schools.

Voigt expressed her excitement about joining DCED. “I am extremely honored to be welcomed into the community of Delta County. The county has done a great job of building its core strengths, values of entrepreneurship, and leveraging its local assets, helping to create a synergy of economic vitality in the county. This new energy is ready to be harnessed and I am excited to roll up my shirt sleeves and get to work with the community to help them achieve their greatest economic potential. I think this is an amazing time for me to join DCED and I am looking forward to the opportunity to lead the county into an even more prosperous future.”

Amazon Not the Only Topic at Annual Colorado Economic Developers Conference

Economic Development Council of Colorado (EDCC) Hosts
Gubernatorial Forum for 2018 Candidates

Vail, Colorado – October 2-4 – More than 200 economic development professionals and partners gathered at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort for EDCC’s annual Drive | Lead | Succeed Conference. While Amazon HQ2 was top of mind for some, the conference agenda showed the breadth and depth of issues that economic development professionals address each day in their communities.

Inspired by the theme “Up Your Game,” this three-day conference, presented by Xcel Energy, focused on a wide scope of subjects that economic developers are addressing in their cities, towns and counties. In addition to a public forum featuring several of the candidates vying for the governor position in 2018, attendees dug deep into:

  • Foreign direct investment
  • Affordable housing
  • Financing tools and funding mechanisms
  • Trends in talent development
  • Public private partnerships.

The conference kicked off Monday, October 2nd, with a Gubernatorial Forum with 12 of the 15 announced 2018 Colorado Gubernatorial candidates. This event was hosted by EDCC’s Public Policy Committee, a committee which advocates for creating a positive economic development environment through legislative action within the State.

During the two-hour forum candidates discussed their perspectives on topics important to economic development, including transportation, broadband, water, workforce, and economic development policy.

This forum was one of the first times the candidates were in the same room discussing their vision and proposed policies for the state. The panel of candidates were arranged by name, rather than party affiliation, creating an opportunity for the candidates to share their platform and projects they are passionate about. The candidates featured at the forum were:

  • Steve Barlock
  • George Brauchler
  • Commissioner Lew Gaiter
  • Noel Ginsberg
  • Bill Hammons
  • Mike Johnston
  • Cary Kennedy
  • Greg Lopez
  • Victor Mitchell
  • Doug Robinson
  • Erik Underwood

U.S. Representative Jared Polis (2nd District of Colorado) was unable to attend in person, but sent a video addressing his bid for the governorship. Candidates Lieutenant Governor Donna Lynne and Walker Stapleton were invited, but unable to attend.

“We were thrilled with the turnout of the conference, and the Gubernatorial Forum in particular,” said John Hall, Chair of the EDCC. “But we weren’t surprised. These candidates are eager to reveal their plans and platform as the next leaders of our state, and what better audience than economic development professionals who are truly focused on the future of Colorado’s growth and success.”

See conference agenda, speaker bios and presentations, and photos from the event

CU Boulder’s Business Research Division: Leeds Business Confidence Index Report

Leeds Business Confidence Index Report, which is prepared by CU Boulder’s Business Research Division at the Leeds School of Business, captures Colorado business leaders’ expectations for the national economy, state economy, industry sales, profits, hiring plans and capital expenditures. A total of 284 qualified panelists responded to the survey.

The Leeds Business Confidence Index (LBCI) fell ahead of the fourth quarter of 2017, reflecting lower expectations for both the end of the year and the first quarter of 2018 despite all individual components of the index remaining in positive territory. The overall index came in at 56.5 for Q4 2017 and 55.3 for Q1 2018 (Note: an index value of 50 equals neutral).

For the second consecutive quarter, the LBCI’s overall outlook remained positive even as expectations cooled for individual indicators. The index fell 3.2 points from last quarter, but still remained higher than last year’s figure, gaining 3.5 points from Q4 2016. Panelists’ expectations were weakest for the national economy, but were buoyed by stronger expectations for the state, industry sales and industry profits.

“We are seeing a larger decline in optimism about the national economy than we are about the state economy,” said Richard Wobbekind, Executive Director of the Business Research Division.  “The state economy is still considered healthy and a larger percentage of respondents believes it is expanding rather than contracting.”

The LBCI reflected modest declines in expectations across a number of economic indicators. Sales and profit expectations ranked among the highest of the six survey components, but both still slipped ahead of Q4 2017. Capital expenditures and hiring also fell as growth expectations slowed.

Colorado’s job market remained a bright spot as the state continued to exhibit strong employment growth. Jobs increased 1.8 percent year-over-year in August 2017, the 14th-fastest rate in the country. Meanwhile, the state unemployment rate continues to outperform the nation as a whole, coming in at just 2.5 percent.

Colorado’s low unemployment rate, however, could make it difficult for employers to fill vacant or new positions, leading more than one-quarter of survey respondents to name it their top economic concern. Housing was the second most frequently mentioned issue, specifically high real estate prices and a lack of affordable housing that could discourage potential employees from relocating to Colorado.

For more information and to read the full report, visit the Business Research Division.

Richard Wobbekind, Leeds School, 303-492-1147
Brian Lewandowski, Leeds School, 303-492-3307
Trent Knoss, CU Boulder media relations, 303-735-0528

Follow us @CUBoulderNews

12 Front Range cities, University of Colorado, Arrow Electronics, other top state leaders launch Colorado Smart Cities Alliance

The Colorado Smart Cities Alliance, a first-of-its-kind initiative in the United States, officially launched Monday September 25, 2017. The statewide, multi-jurisdictional, public-private coalition aims to make Colorado a leader in the development of intelligent, 21st century infrastructure, improving everything from transportation and housing to public safety and the environment for the state’s 5.5-plus million residents.

With more than three million additional people expected to move to Colorado by 2050—a more than 50 percent increase—there is an urgency for community leaders to collaborate on finding innovative, cost-effective ways to better monitor, manage and improve infrastructure and public services.

The Denver South Economic Development Partnership identified this need, and founded the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance to provide an open, collaborative and active platform where local business and citizen leaders, public officials and community stakeholders could come together in their efforts to continually improve the region’s economic foundations for future generations.

Watch the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance Video

“The Colorado Smart Cities Alliance is advancing policies and technologies that will better equip Colorado residents to live, work and play in a future that is increasingly being shaped by the complex challenges of urban growth,” said Jake Rishavy, vice president of innovation at the Denver South Economic Development Partnership. “We’re working to create a 21st-century technology infrastructure right here in Colorado that will help to enhance everyone’s quality of life, particularly as our communities continue to grow. With our citizen-centered approach to design and public policy, this alliance is going to put Colorado on the map as a smart cities leader.”

A dozen cities along Colorado’s Front Range are founding members of the alliance:

  • Arvada
  • Aurora
  • Boulder
  • Centennial
  • Colorado Springs
  • Denver
  • Fort Collins
  • Greenwood Village
  • Littleton
  • Lone Tree
  • Longmont
  • Westminster

The alliance also includes notable research partners:

The Colorado Innovation Corridor, The Innovation Corridor, a partnership between Formativ, the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

The Colorado Technology Association, a connector that brings together public organizations, academic institutions and private enterprise to advance the tech ecosystem across the state ensure Colorado leads the way in smart city innovation.

The University of Colorado, a premier public research university and the largest institution of higher education in the state, is the alliance academic partner. CU Denver, Colorado’s only public urban research university, will lead the university’s efforts for the alliance.

Colorado’s largest company by revenue, global technology-solutions provider Arrow Electronics is serving as a technology advisor to the alliance, helping member cities design and pilot projects. Arrow is also building a platform where alliance members can securely share, aggregate and analyze data while piloting and improving upon smart cities projects.

Learn more about the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance:

Estes Park Economic Development Corporation Receives Excellence in Economic Development Award from the International Economic Development Council

The Estes Park Economic Development Corporation won a Silver Excellence in Economic Development Award for its General Purpose Website, a project in the category of General Purpose Website of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).

The honor was presented at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 19, during the IEDC Annual Conference, which was held Sept. 17 – 20, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

“On behalf of the IEDC board of directors and Excellence in Economic Development Awards Advisory Committee, congratulations to the Estes Park Economic Development Corporation. Not only did they work to provide a necessary service to their community; but also, their participation in the awards program sheds light on their stellar projects which other communities can now use as a benchmark,” said Michael Langley, FM, the CEO of GREATER MSP, Minneapolis–St. Paul, MN, and 2017 IEDC Board Chair.

The website communicates the community’s economic development priorities, reflecting a regional strategy that was based on extensive stakeholder interviews and 790 e-survey responses. The survey research represents about 7 percent of Estes Valley’s population. More existing and potential businesses are reaching out for assistance looking to do business in the Estes Valley.

Since inception of a marketing plan and social media content calendar 12 months ago, they have seen 75% growth in Twitter followers to 269 followers. Facebook has 53% growth in page likes to 368 likes, a 120% increase in page views and a 425% increase in post likes.

The Website enhances the credibility of our e-newsletters and the open rate for the newsletters is 46.08% while the industry average open rate is 1.2%. Newsletter Signups on the website has seen 57% growth month over month.

“This website would not have been possible without the support and input from our Board of Directors, Stakeholders and community” said Adam Shake, Estes Park EDC Director of Communications and Business Development. “We would especially like to thank Town of Estes Park Public Information Officer Kate Rusch, Town of Estes Park Police Operations Captain Eric Rose and Larimer County Workforce Center Business Training Coordinator Mike Kohler for their individual contributions to the website.”

Jon Nicholas, Estes Park EDC President and CEO stated that “I am grateful that this website was built completely in-house. While many organizations rely on outside consultants and website designers, Adam Shake brought the technical expertise and ability to build a website on a Squarespace platform that incorporates responsive design and offers high quality information and business services to our Estes Valley businesses on a variety of devices.”

“The awards process is a thorough, non-biased and multi-layered process. These are extraordinary accomplishments for all winners, and an overall great effort by all participants. We look forward to next year’s awards competition,” Langley said.