Gov. John Hickenlooper announced July 20, 2011, a statewide work plan to spur Colorado's economy, help businesses grow and attract new jobs to the state. "The Colorado Blueprint: A bottom-up approach to economic development" is the product of an unprecedented effort to engage every county in Colorado on how best to improve the state's economy.
"Colorado has turned the typical economic development efforts on its head and created a plan with real benchmarks, measurable goals and concrete solutions to help every community create jobs and help businesses thrive," Hickenlooper said. "We want to thank the thousands of Coloradans who showed their spirit for innovation and contributed to this comprehensive and collaborative approach to economic development."
The work plan includes specific benchmarks to encourage economic development, including improving access to capital through a new grant program, encouraging broadband internet connections across the state, developing a one-stop-shop for business resources and requiring every department in state government to undergo an audit to reduce red tape.
"This plan will help local business to compete at their best, innovate as the markets demand and build confidence to grow jobs in Colorado," said Dwayne Romero, executive director of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade. "No other state has engaged its citizens and business the way Colorado has in an effort to find practical solutions that will make a real difference for businesses and communities."
The Hickenlooper Administration launched the Bottom-Up Economic Development Plan immediately after Inauguration Day to ensure people and businesses throughout Colorado could be involved in encouraging growth in their local communities and have a voice on how best to help businesses succeed.
Since January, more than 13,000 Coloradans from all 64 counties helped create the Colorado Blueprint. 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. This input, including input from all 14 regions, helped form the following six focus areas to promote economic development in Colorado:
I.Create a Business-Friendly Environment
- 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
- 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 to ensure economic vitality in communities and on main streets in every corner of Colorado.
III.Increase Access to Capital
- Every single 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
- 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
- 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 a workforce that leverages the boot-strapping "can-do" attitude of all Coloradans.
VI.Cultivate Innovation and Technology
- There is a strong spirit of innovation found around Colorado, with lots of bright and adventurous people making discoveries and working to get new ideas to thrive. Most regions of the state require improved communications technologies, including broadband, as a foundation of economic development and innovation.
The complete "Colorado Blueprint: A bottom-up approach to economic development" can be reviewed at www.colorado.gov/coloradoblueprint. There is also a public comment survey link online for people throughout the state to offer feedback on the work plan.