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Metro Denver EDC Hires Director of Economic Competitiveness & Corporate Attraction

The Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation (EDC) today named Laura Rodriguez as the organization’s director of economic competitiveness and corporate attraction. The Metro Denver EDC, a part of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce family, oversees economic development for the broader Metro Denver region and manages a service territory of nine counties and nearly 70 communities – an area that amounts to approximately two-thirds of the state’s population and three-quarters of the GDP.

Rodriguez, who most recently served as the managing director for business investment at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VDEP), brings to the EDC nearly a decade of experience in both state-level economic development and economics. While in Virginia, she was instrumental in developing the Tech & Services Business Investment work and, most notably, ensured growth across the commonwealth’s rural communities despite the economic challenges faced due to the pandemic. Rodriguez helped to generate approximately 60 business leads with nearly $5 billion in capital investment and 10,000 jobs in FY 20/21 alone.

Before moving to Virginia and joining the VEDP team, Rodriguez was a central part of Colorado’s economic development efforts, serving first as an economist and later as senior manager of global business development under Govs. Hickenlooper and Polis. During her four-year tenure in the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade (OEDIT), she helped to develop OEDIT’s strategy for both international and domestic business development and recruitment, managed trade missions and international conferences, and oversaw day-to-day prospect activity on behalf of the state.

“We are thrilled to have Laura Rodriguez join our team at the Metro Denver EDC,” said Raymond H. Gonzales, who recently took the helm as president of the EDC and executive vice president of the Denver Metro Chamber. “She is widely considered one of our state’s top economic development practitioners. And as she returns home to Colorado, we’re delighted to put her expertise and leadership to work on behalf of the Metro Denver region.”

A key hire for the Metro Denver EDC, Rodriguez will step in to manage day-to-day economic development efforts and expand strategic initiatives tied to the region’s business and talent attraction.

This fall the organization launched a new business brand, The Elevation Effect, geared toward highlighting Colorado’s benefits to companies and workforce, alike. Further, her experience in international business development will also help expand the team’s global initiatives at a time when interest from foreign companies is on the rise.

“Laura’s expertise in global business investment is particularly important to our future efforts,” added Gonzales. “While she will hit the ground running and help our team to service a growing pipeline of prospects in the short term, her background in working with international companies will further our reach and help us to better position Metro Denver at a global level over time.”

Rodriguez joins the EDC as the group is both facing a leadership evolution, as well as challenges maintaining Colorado’s “business friendliness.” This fall, former EDC CEO J. J. Ament transitioned off the EDC team to run the broader Denver Metro Chamber and last month Gonzales stepped in to run the economic development function after a decade of success managing Adams County. Earlier this month, the team released its annual Toward a More Competitive Colorado report, a yearly benchmark of Colorado’s strengths, challenges and opportunities regarding future job growth and economic expansion. The report, which highlighted the state’s economic rankings compared to top competitors, also expressed some concern regarding Colorado’s policy environment heading into the legislative session.

Despite the changes in leadership and challenges in maintaining a pro-business policy environment, the EDC’s prospect activity has not slowed – with its pipeline nearly double in size at more than 50 active prospects spread predominantly across tech, bioscience, warehousing and agriculture/beverage production. For reference, the EDC’s average number of prospects over the past six years has been 30 companies at any given time.