Moving the South Metro Denver Economy Forward

Column by Jeff Holwell

Photo
By Jeff Holwell
Posted

At the risk of sounding overly optimistic, I believe our greatest economic days are ahead of us, for both our country and our community. I say this recognizing that the last decade included 9/11 and its aftermath, two foreign wars, the "Dot-Com" recession and the "Great" recession, as well as the current threat to the Euro and all of its economic implications. It all sounds so daunting, and we are justified in feeling skeptical about the future; however, a macro view of our economy and our history should tell us a different story.

The United States is a growing country of 300 million people, we are living longer and healthier lives than ever before, our values of democracy and capitalism are thriving across the world (as evidenced by surging and real freedoms provided to us by technology or through the rapidly growing economies in the emerging "BRIC" markets of Brazil, Russia, India, and China), and we still remain a country of innovators, manufacturers and the largest economy in the world.

Our economic problems are real; however, many are self-inflicted, and while they will be difficult to fix, they are fixable. Take Social Security and Medicare for example. These were entitlement programs crafted when people lived much shorter lives and without today's medical technologies. Before we go bankrupt, we must make tough choices, such as raising the retirement and entitlement age, and we have certainly faced greater threats. These sacrifices are minimal compared to those of our predecessors who fought the Revolutionary, Civil or any of the two World Wars. Or take the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China. While it is commonly reported that these emerging markets are economic threats, isn't their success what we always hoped for as a capitalist country? If so, perhaps we should view their emergence as a fantastic success and a great opportunity for commerce in years to come.

The story for South Metro Denver is similar. As a native of Centennial (Arapahoe High class of ‘92), and former director of business development for both Gov. Owens and Gov. Ritter (at the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade), I have witnessed the competition and can personally attest to South Metro Denver's economic strengths. We are a growing region in a growing state. We have more office space than Downtown Denver. We host sophisticated industry clusters, including aerospace, aviation, energy, financial services, health services, professional servicers, technology and telecommunications. We have a strong transportation, education and business infrastructure with a highly educated workforce and a relatively low cost of doing business. Finally, as icing on the cake, we have an unmatched quality of life that, while difficult to quantify, certainly matters to a business and its employees.

To compete for our economic future, we must lead and be confident. This is the responsibility of each business, resident and organization in our community. The South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce will do its part by executing a comprehensive business retention, expansion and attraction strategy that includes the business community as its ambassadors. Our initiative includes interviewing 1,000 primary business leaders in South Metro Denver over the next year, applaud their efforts to create wealth and jobs in our community and enlist their support (or provide our help) to growing their business and the local economy. We will work with our business, community and economic development partners to market our region as a thriving place of commerce and industry, and most importantly we will inspire confidence and leadership in our business community to move the local and national economy forward.

From the Pax Romana to the Fall of Rome, the Roaring 20s to the Great Depression, and the Dot-Com boom to the Dot-Com bust, our world has experienced numerous economic cycles, yet commerce and industry remains a central theme of our humanity. These cycles and this reality will continue into our future. I believe we are experiencing a great economic shift, and our fate lies in our own hands. With intentional, inspired leadership from the business and civic community, South Metro Denver will thrive and succeed, as will our economy.