Several leaders and economic analysts from the Parker area gave updates on the state of the local economy during a breakfast event hosted by the Parker Chamber of Commerce Nov. 12.
The event, held at the PACE Center, brought about 85 people from the business community together.
During their presentations, Deputy Town Administrator Bo Martinez and Mayor Jeff Toborg spoke about the economic future of Parker. Both said they’re looking to diversify the town’s business portfolio with multiple new types of businesses.
“We want to get in those businesses that do daytime jobs, that have living wages and good economies,” Toborg said.
He added that the town is also putting an emphasis on business retention.
“We’re going to come talk to you about what it means to be a business in Parker, what you need from the town, and then I and Bo are going to take that back to the town council,” Toborg said.
During his presentation, Martinez — who has been on the job for about 10 months — provided a snapshot of the Parker economy:
• There are 2,500 businesses.
• 35,000 workers.
• A 5.6% unemployment rate.
Martinez said that with much of the economy turning to e-commerce, he’d like the town to focus on services that can only be provided in person, such as haircuts, nail salons and restaurants.
“Those are the things we need to invest in going forward. It’s all about entertainment, it’s all about authenticity, it’s all about providing those opportunities to our residents and people who are coming to our community,” he said.
The town plans to hire a consultant in 2022 to work on a comprehensive economic development strategy, he said.
Toborg and Martinez also both mentioned a focus on the downtown area.
“We have all the building blocks to build a great downtown,” Martinez said. “That won’t happen unless we have leadership at all levels, including (those in) this room, working with us and having champions having us push this forward.”
Martinez emphasized that time is of the essence for this type of project.
“Our time is now, the window will close and we will miss this opportunity,” Martinez said. “I don’t want to be standing here 10 years from now and say, ‘You know what? We should have done something back in 2021.’”
Other presentations on Douglas County and the region came from Stephanie Mufic with Arapahoe/Douglas Works and Lisa Strunk, a senior economist with development research partners, who spoke about employment needs and the general economic state of the area.
The CEO of the Parker Chamber, TJ Sullivan, said he’d like the chamber to do more of this type of event in the future.
“This is the direction we want the chamber to go. We want the chamber to do more things like this that help propel business,” he said.