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

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