Nine global site selection consultants attended the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation‘s (Metro Denver EDC) annual Site Selection Conference, Sept. 14-16, 2016. The event was coordinated in partnership with the Metro Denver EDC’s investors and economic development partners throughout the nine-county Metro Denver and Northern Colorado region.
Over the three-day familiarization tour, the site selectors experienced the region’s business assets first-hand with the area’s top companies and economic developers as their guides.
The first event on their agenda Wednesday, Sept. 14, included a private meeting with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, where the group discussed job growth and the advantages of doing business in Colorado. The meeting was followed by a regional briefing by Tom Clark, CEO of the Metro Denver EDC.
The next morning, the site selectors participated in a breakfast and innovation panel discussion at DaVita’s world headquarters near Union Station. Executives from Johns Manville, Prescient, and Sharklet Technologies discussed their research and development operations in the region and how Colorado’s innovative and entrepreneurial climate helps companies succeed in the region.
The consultants got a 360-degree look at the region’s major employment centers, infrastructure, and real estate developments by helicopter, touching down along the way for meetings with area business and workforce leaders. The first stop included a tour and panel discussion at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder. Panelists included executives from Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Google-Boulder, and Woodward. Students from Skyline STEM Academy were on-hand to share details about STEM education pathways.
The site selectors also engaged in a conversation with workforce and higher education leaders at Charles Schwab Lone Tree campus. Panel participants included representatives from Arapahoe/Douglas Works!, the University of Denver, the University of Colorado Denver South, Comcast, and Charles Schwab. The consultants also experienced Metro Denver’s cultural scene Thursday evening during a reception and dinner with business leaders at the Denver Art Museum.
At the conference’s final event on Friday morning, site selectors took part in a panel discussion about current site selection trends, Making the Cut: Factors Driving Today’s Site Selection Decisions. Moderated by Norm Franke, Regional President of Alpine Bank and Co-Chair of the Metro Denver EDC Executive Committee, the site consultants shared their thoughts on Metro Denver’s competitiveness and opportunities for future corporate expansions and relocations.
Franke asked the site selectors how Metro Denver stacks up against other regions and markets for new jobs and investment.
Betty McIntosh, senior managing director with Cushman & Wakefield in Atlanta, noted that regional cooperation and attention to developing industries, puts Metro Denver in a unique position.
“By pursuing an industry cluster strategy, you’re making the most of the resources you have,” she said. She also added that the “way” Metro Denver does economic development is appealing to both site consultants and companies. “The regionalism really shows in Metro Denver. It’s so refreshing to see.”
Site selector Mike Quint, senior vice president with Jackson & Cooksey in Dallas, voiced that Metro Denver’s cooperative economic development echoed with him as well.
“How you work together—what’s good for the region is good for everyone —we totally believe that,” he said.
John Rocca, managing director with JLL in Los Angeles, mentioned the importance of international flights in attracting companies and jobs in today’s global business environment. “I think Denver International Airport has put you on the map,” he said.
The panel noted that talent is driving location decisions in today’s competitive environment. Chris Lloyd, senior vice president and director with McGuireWoods Consulting in Richmond, VA, said the state is known for building a skilled worker pipeline.
“We look to Colorado as a model as far as workforce training,” he noted.
Janet Fritz is the senior director of marketing and technology for the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation.
This report was originally published to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation’s website, you can view the full article here.