Denver Metro Chamber leadership and metro area mayors focused on the importance of working together to tackle the challenges we face as a region at the Chamber’s State of the City on Tuesday.
And while the conversations may be tough, they said, it’s what has helped the Denver metro area address and find solutions to other challenges.
“We don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk when it comes to regional collaboration, when it comes to strengthening our education system, when it comes to creating new opportunities for local businesses and local job-seekers,” Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock said to the group of more than 600 business leaders. Among those challenges, both mayors reinforced the importance of investing in our transportation system and addressing affordable housing in the region.
“If we fail to act in a meaningful way on our transportation and housing crises, we have grave concerns that our residents’ frustration will result in anti-growth measures that only escalate our housing challenges and threaten our vibrant economy,” said Metro Mayors Caucus Chair and Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul.
Earlier this month, Lakewood voters passed a 1 percent cap on housing construction.
Kelly Brough, president and CEO of the Chamber, noted that the Chamber is already following a potential 2020 statewide ballot item that would ask for a similar growth cap.
Despite this and other challenges we face “it is wonderful to represent a business community that says, these are really hard conversations for us to have, but they’re ones we’re willing to have,” Brough said. “As we take on these challenges … we continue to bring all three sectors together to ask the question of how do we solve this? We know we bring very different views of how we solve these challenges and the only solutions that will really work is if we agree on how we move forward and we find the right solution for Colorado.”
Future of Workforce Training in Focus
In the very near future, nearly three out of every four jobs in Colorado will require some education after high school, Brough said. That is the most educated workforce in the country, and that means there will be more innovation and change coming in how people are trained.
Hancock celebrated the approval in November of Prosperity Denver as one example. The Chamber was a champion of this effort that created a scholarship program to help more Denver students get to and through post-secondary education.
Bijal Shah shared how Denver-based Guild Education is helping employers provide educational opportunities to their teams – and how with the changing landscape brought on by automation and a tight labor market, more are using this kind of benefit as a competitive advantage.
“Businesses like the ones you lead today can have an impact on America’s educational future,” said Shah, who is the chief product and analytics officer for Guild Education.
In addition to shrinking skills gaps and helping employees prepare for the future, providing ongoing education also helps improve employee retention, creating ROI for businesses.
Damian J. Arguello Receives Monte Pascoe Award
Damian J. Arguello, founder of the Colorado Insurance Law Center, was honored with the Monte Pascoe Civic Leadership Award, recognizing his leadership, work to improve the community and efforts to fight for justice and equal opportunity for all.
A first-generation college student – he reflected on the community that supported him: “This award doesn’t belong to me; it belongs to this community,” Arguello said. “I’m only a product of this community’s investment.”
And, he encouraged continual “reinvestment” in the community to continue to create opportunities for all.