Clark's Cone of Silence

A unique look at economic development in the region

Metro Denver EDC’s Annual Meeting proves “most interesting”

The Metro Denver EDC’s Annual Meeting was a celebration of economic success.  For those present, the parody of yours truly as “Metro Denver’s Most Interesting Man” was a clearly a spoof of the Dos Equis Man, all designed to bring humor and fun to an event that can be leaden.

Subsequent media reports that accompanied the event, mentioned humorous interludes between awards. Suddenly, emails poured into our offices congratulating me for being chosen for this “most deserving” accolade as “most interesting.” At first, I thought folks were just playing along with the joke…not so.  Some actually thought the Annual Meeting was an awards ceremony for interesting people. Ah, to have known on April Fools’ Day that this joke was that good, we would have run the joke then!

Our annual confab is always lively, funny, upbeat, and informative. This year it was easy to do it all. The past several years’ growth has affirmed the economic decisions made by business, civic, and political groups to diversify our economy, build world-class infrastructure for the future, and continue to attract millennial workers. Here’s a recap:

The Colorado and Metro Denver economies exited the Great Recession faster than all but three states. In both 2013 and 2014, employment in the Metro Denver region grew 3.6 percent annually, culminating in more than 100,000 net new jobs – a record number of new jobs over a two-year period. The region’s innovation clusters grew healthily in 2013 and 2014, with 2013 setting another historic record when all clusters and sub-clusters experienced positive job growth.

In 2016, the Regional Transportation District will open five transit and bus rapid transit lines: the East Line to DIA, the I-225 line that will connect I-25 South and the East Line through the Anschutz Medical Campus, the Gold Line through Arvada to Wheat Ridge, the Northwest Line to Westminster and the Bus Rapid Transit Line from Boulder to Union Station. By 2018, the North Line to 128th Avenue will be complete. And just for grins, we opened Union Station in Lower Downtown in 2014 – the central interchange for all transit lines.

There may be a bit of a slowdown in job growth this year, but even with cutbacks in oil and gas, the region looks to grow jobs at a 2.5 percent clip, an enviable growth rate in almost any part of the nation.

The ability of the regional economy to absorb a significant slowdown in one of its higher-paying clusters, is testimony to the diversity of our economy.

The final link is what we call, “The Golden Triangle,” (nonstop air service to Asia, Europe, and Central/South America) was also completed this year thanks to the dogged efforts of DIA staff and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

It was a banner year for “Deal of the Year” awards. Three corporate headquarters in three different industries were honored for their headquarters locations to Metro Denver. Ardent Mills, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, and Panasonic Enterprise Solutions all committed to bringing new executives, new business, and new, high-paying jobs to the region.

The only serious challenge to our economy is the rapidly increasing price of housing and the absence of new condominium construction due to a defect in existing condo construction law.

It was a great celebration and a great year. You can take that to the bank, from a man who once parallel parked a train. See the comedy that kept what was already a celebration at a humorous pace.

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About Tom Clark

Tom has over 30 years of economic development experience at the state, regional, and local levels, spanning from Illinois to Colorado. He is known both for his quips and his candor. Often quoted in the local and national press on Metro Denver’s economy, his iPhone is his most valued possession next to his Les Paul guitar. He is also famous for writing parody songs, maintaining an orderly office, and funding the office swear jar. Tom says that if wasn’t an economic developer, his dream would be to work in a chocolate factory.

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About The Cone of Silence

Invented by Professor Cone from TV’s "Get Smart," the Cone of Silence was designed to protect the most secret of conversations by enshrouding its users within a transparent sound-proof shield. Unfortunately, from experience, we have also learned that it never works properly. This blog offers those outside our “Cone of Silence” a unique look at economic development in the region.

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