Business summit addresses trends

Technology, demographics and transportation all discussed at Englewood gathering

Tom Munds
Brad Segal, left, talks about economic development trends during the May 15 Englewood Business Summit. This marks the second year for the event and, this year, about 80 people attended the free three-hour session.

More than 80 attendees gathered, sampling a continental breakfast and creating the hum of conversations about business subjects during the opening of the May 15 Englewood Business Summit held in the Englewood Civic Center.

“The time before the session starts provides an informal opportunity to meet new people,” real estate broker Ralph Kostermann said. “I do business in Englewood and I met several people today I didn't know were here in the city. For me, it's a good way to start this event.”

The informal time was held in the community room and then the focus shifted to Hampden Hall for the program. Marsha McGilley of South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce made opening remarks and then introduced Brian Hart, owner of the Englewood business Frame de Art.

“I see and talk to a lot of people outside Englewood and I tell them what a great small business community this is,” he said. “Englewood maintains its small town attractions such as being able to talk to all the council members, your voices are heard and the leaders stand ready to help you. It is a great place to do business.”

McGilley then introduced the first speaker, state demographer Elizabeth Garner.

She talked about the impact aging population has on businesses and noted Colorado, particularly the Denver metro area, tends not to feel as much impact from an aging population as other areas because of the sizable influx of young people moving in.

“Statistics show 45 percent of the people moving into Englewood in the last few years were 25- to 29-year-olds,” Garner said. “Another statistic is that most people working in Englewood don't live in the city. Only about 7 percent of the more than 21,000 jobs are held by Englewood residents.”

But, she said, everyone will feel the impact of the aging of the Baby Boomers. Businesses need to be prepared to respond to shifts in lifestyle and spending habits of the aging population, she said, while still meeting the needs of younger customers.

“I found the trends identified very important,” said Lonnie Koyama, lead economic development specialist for the Colorado District of the Small Business Administration. “It shows the changes taking place and I feel that is important knowledge I can apply to my job plus it is important for my family.”

The second speaker on the agenda, Brad Segal, talked about the attitudes of the generations from Baby Boomers born after World War II to those born after 1996.

“The face of the workplace is changing and becoming more diverse,” he said. “For example, 60 percent of those earning masters degrees are women. That is a much higher percentage than it was 15 or 20 years ago.”

Segal said there are also changing attitudes about transportation. He said the current generation is less focused on driving cars and more focused on other modes of transportation.

“The bike sharing program is the fastest growing mode of transportation in the history of the planet,” he said. “More than 500 cities in 49 countries now have bike-sharing programs.”

He also talked about the explosion of technology, citing statistics in the increases in application of real-time communications. He said, in some cases, there is more access to cell phones than there is to food.

“Grants from the federal and state government are declining steadily,” he said. “The result is increased importance of public-private partnerships to undertake large, high-cost projects.”

The summit wound up with Englewood City Councilmembers answering questions from the audience. One question asked what was the most pressing issue facing Englewood in the next five years.

Councilmembers cited the need to make sure the police and fire departments were where they needed to be, a need to upgrade housing and continuing economic development by keeping a strong business environment.

“This had been a helpful session,” said business owner Sarah Thoemke after the summit. “It reaffirms that, as a small business owner, I am on the right track.”

David Semple also said he felt the seminar was good.

“There was a lot of information provided,” the insurance services owner said. “The information helped me know what areas to target and the facts helped me understand the trends and what is going on in the business world.”