• Thelma Grimes

Many years ago, business author Jim Collins wrote several impactful books on how some of the country’s and world’s most successful businesses have survived, or in some cases, failed. He covered the topics through “Built to Last,” “Good to Great,” and “How the Mighty Fall.”

Each of these books are insightful and helpful in looking at the history of how companies like Walmart became empires, although Sam Walton’s original vision is far from what the company has become.

Collins’ works also look at failed companies such as Radio Shack and its missteps that led to eventual closures.

If we were to apply Collins’ points in these books to today’s America, and more specifically, here in Denver, I ask the question — Are we built to last?

For a variety of reasons, I would say the answer is no.

For now, we will skip the fact that leadership nationwide is faltering and that is not a good character in being a lasting, successful entity.

Instead, I want to look at how we are living as a nation, especially here in Denver. In a recent Facebook post, a friend spoke excitedly about becoming a first-time homeowner. However, the post was not general merriment as he went on to talk about the monthly mortgage payment for the home he will now be taking on with some stress.

You see, the home was priced way above what it should be. I am not talking a couple thousand dollars either. I am talking $100,000 to $200,000 more than it should be sold. That means a higher mortgage for first-time homeowners who are already a bit stressed before the key unlocked the door.

This is a common problem across the Denver metro area. Homes are being sold for two to three times what they should be, making the thought of affordable housing more of a punchline than reality.

So, what does that have to do with being built to last? Well, let’s look at this young family. They wanted to buy this home and stay in the place they grew up, near family.

However, what about the young families with no strong ties to our community? Do you really think young, educated families will want to stay here if they cannot make enough money to afford a house? If they cannot earn a living wage and actually live comfortably?

Ultimately, they will leave and seek more affordable options in a city either starting to grow, or one that is making it possible for young families to have a shot.

The loss, in the end, is ours. We are going to start losing young families and students graduating from college and entering the workforce. These young families and minds are the ones who establish our future.

They bring fresh ideas to our companies. They bring money to our economy as they spend at retail store and restaurants. They spend money to take part in community entertainment and events.

However, if all their money is going towards ridiculous mortgage payments, continually increasing utilities and HOA fees — will they stay here? Will we be able to keep great minds and citizens here?

Our markets are not built to last if we make it too hard for young professionals to even get started in the first place. Instead we are heading toward a more realistic narrative of how the mighty fall.

Thelma Grimes is the south metro editor for Colorado Community Media. Contact Thelma by emailing tgrimes@coloradocommunitymedia.com.