Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce Hosts 2021 State of the State Presented by Xcel Energy
Virtual Event Featured Remarks from Gov. Jared Polis, Commentary from the Chamber’s Kelly Brough and a Panel of Business Leaders for a Discussion on Economic Development and Policy
DENVER – Today, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce gathered to reflect on an historic legislative session that saw leaders tackle issues from health care to transportation. The annual event – regularly attended by elected officials and business leaders – highlighted the many ways business engaged in Colorado policy during the 2021 legislative session. Gov. Jared Polis also shared his thoughts on the session, which concluded last week.
Gov. Polis focused on some bright spots of the legislative session such as stimulus relief for small businesses and transportation. He noted the business community’s partnership as a key factor for the state’s focus on economic recovery following the pandemic.
“We are also prioritizing Colorado’s future by leaving our state’s budget in the healthiest state it’s ever been,” said Gov. Polis. “We’re prepared to weather whatever storms might be headed our way through thoughtful input and partnership with the business community.”
At her last State of the State as President and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Kelly Brough contrasted the remarks of Gov. Polis with a reminder of the need for collaboration and stakeholder engagement to craft good policy, and the ways in which legislators failed to work alongside the business community to achieve the goals that all Coloradans share for the state.
“We can’t say it enough. We need policy that recognizes it takes all of us to be successful. That the health of our state budget, our nonprofits and our public sector depend on a thriving private sector,” said Brough. “Just as the private sector relies on strong education, transportation, health care and the support of a nonprofit ecosystem to be successful. It takes us all.”
Brough highlighted examples of collaboration on issues of data privacy and transportation but overall emphasized the need for more stakeholder engagement on issues that impact all Coloradans. This engagement is particularly important when it comes to understanding the long-term consequences of policy on different sectors or communities. Brough warned of the pitfalls that exist when one party is in control at the Capitol. Read Brough’s full remarks.
Business leaders echoed Brough’s focus on the need for more interaction between business leaders and elected officials earlier in the legislative process. J. J. Ament, CEO of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, moderated a discussion between Carla Dore, president, Workplace Resource, Helen Drexler, president & chief executive officer, Delta Dental, Mowa Haile, president, Sky Blue Builders, LLC, and Alice Jackson, president, Xcel Energy.
“Colorado’s sun isn’t necessarily shining everywhere,” remarked Ament. “We’re increasingly hearing from executives and site selectors that they are concerned with where Colorado is headed when it comes to policy – that the cost and regulatory burden of doing business in our state is going up.”
Dore and Haile spoke to challenges that the small business community has experienced due to recent legislation, and how they prepare for the impact of these changes as business owners. Drexler and Jackson added the perspective of large employers in the state and discussed the challenges they – and their employees – have faced over the past year.
All of today’s speakers touched on the fact that Colorado is a great place to live – and should remain a great place to do business for both employers and employees – as the legislature continues to tackle tough issues that impact organizations from all sectors and Coloradans across the state. In addition to Xcel Energy, today’s event was also sponsored by Southwest Airlines and Delta Dental.
About the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce: For 153 years, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce has been a leading voice for Colorado’s business community. With a membership that spans the state and includes 3,000 businesses and their 400,000 employees, the Chamber is an effective advocate for small and large businesses. The Chamber’s family of organizations includes the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation, the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center, the Colorado Competitive Council, B:CIVIC, Prosper Colorado and the Denver Opportunity Youth Initiative. For more information, go to denverchamber.org.
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