Toward a More Competitive Colorado - Seventh Edition
Annual benchmark study examines competitive factors related to economic growth
In the seventh edition of Toward a More Competitive Colorado (TMCC), the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation (Metro Denver EDC) today reports its annual benchmarking of Colorado's strengths, challenges, and opportunities for future job growth.
First published in 2005, Toward a More Competitive Colorado is the foremost effort to compare Colorado's competitive position against the other 49 states.
"We complete TMCC annually to guide us in our work of creating a business environment where all of the state's companies, especially those in our top industry clusters, can thrive," said Tom Clark, executive vice president of the Metro Denver EDC.
Data from the report amplifies Colorado's standing as a top state for innovation, including top 10 rankings for venture capital per capita, initial public offerings, and entrepreneurial activity.
"Colorado is continually at the top of the heap for innovation," explained Patty Silverstein, chief economist for the Metro Denver EDC and author of the annual TMCC report. "The data clearly paints a picture of Colorado being a leader in this whole arena. The state's standing in innovation is perhaps Colorado's best competitive advantage as the nation recovers from the recent recession."
Other areas where Colorado dominates when compared to other states is in the area of health and wellness, ranking as the state with the lowest obesity rate, as well as second lowest for retail prescriptions, third lowest for heart disease deaths, and fourth lowest for both cancer and diabetes deaths.
"The health and wellness of our workforce, which also happens to be the second-most highly educated in the country, is a key differentiator for Colorado," remarked Silverstein. "Healthy employees are more productive and miss fewer days at work, which increases the profitability and success of Colorado's companies."
The TMCC report also uncovered areas that if not addressed, could hamper Colorado's future economic growth. Most significant are the state's tax system and Colorado's ongoing budget struggles to fund the three pillars of our economy, healthcare, education, and transportation infrastructure. Findings point to the need for a comprehensive solution to the state's tax policy and structur--which promises to be a spirited debate in the next two to three years.
"The Gallagher Amendment, TABOR, and Amendment 23 are most troublesome," notes Clark. "Working together, these three constitutional amendments make it very challenging for Colorado to reposition itself in the global market and take full advantage of its huge economic potential."
Highlights from the seventh edition report:
- Colorado's state GDP per employee ranks in the top 15 of all states.
- Per capita personal income ranks 14th, but had been as high as sixth in 2001.
- The state ranks sixth best for economic outlook.
- Colorado ranks fourth among the 50 states for "NASA Prime Contract Awards."
- Colorado continues to post robust population growth rate--ranking as the fourth-fastest growing state in the country in 2009 and 2010.
- The state maintains high rankings for fourth grade reading proficiency and continues to rank first for highest ACT and SAT scores.
- Colorado has the nation's lowest rate of obesity; however, growing childhood obesity rates is a concern.
Colorado maintains its key rankings in innovation measures:
- Third highest for Small Business Innovation Research grants
- R&D spending at academic institutions (12th)
- Patents granted (11th)
- High-tech employment (third), high-tech wage (seventh)
- Initial public offerings (fifth)
Colorado posts unfavorable rankings in K-12 education:
- Colorado ranks third lowest in the country for commodity and manufacturing export dollars per capita.
- The percentage of family income needed to pay for a public four-year college education increased from 19.5 percent in 2000 to 30.3 percent in 2008.
- Colorado's ranking in federal highway funding per capita remained at 43rd or 44th from 2006 to 2010.
- Transportation funding represented just 5.7 percent of the state's budget in 2011, up from 5.3 percent last year. Transportation funding represented 12.7 percent of the total budget 30 years ago.
- Colorado's highway performance ranking improved from 45th in 2003 to 34th in 2008, but the state's rank was even higher in 2005 (29th) and 2006 (31st).
- Pre-K resources (fifth lowest)
- K-12 expenditures (22nd lowest)
- Student/teacher ratio (10th highest)
- "Public School Eighth Graders Proficient or Better in Reading" dropped from 12th in 2003 to 26th in 2009
- Colorado ranks 48th in public support per full-time student and 48th in public support per capita
The report summarizes that Colorado's challenges are not insurmountable, but merely require the political will to confront our state budget challenges.
"We must tackle the structural deficits that limit funding at our research universities and challenge our citizens' ability to finance a college education. Left unattended, these challenges will compromise our innovation economy," stated Clark.