2023 Policy Platform for the
Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce
Over 155 years ago, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce was established by a committed group of business leaders to bring a rail spur to Colorado. This decision unlocked access to trade and a workforce that launched Denver’s economic growth. Today, the Chamber continues to be the largest, premier advocate and voice of the Colorado business community. In 2023, we will focus on our ongoing priority to create opportunities for all Coloradans through job growth and economic development. Nothing helps our families, neighbors, community and economy more than the opportunity for more Coloradans to access great jobs.
To support this effort, the Chamber works hand-in-hand with our members to:
- Help businesses start, grow and thrive;
- Attract new corporate headquarters and expansion projects;
- Build and recruit the country’s best, brightest and healthiest workforce to our region;
- Advocate for policy that makes us the best place to do business;
- Help educate the workers of today and tomorrow;
- Build leaders who share our ideals and values;
- Work toward solutions to our state’s most pressing issues; and,
- Provide members with the network, resources and access to experts to help them get ahead.
Policy is frequently described in either apocalyptic or utopic terms; however, real policy and meaningful solutions happen somewhere in between those two extremes. The Chamber plays a crucial role in developing a political climate in Colorado that values critical thought, deliberation and conversation. We are pragmatists who believe in collaboration to meet the goals of a diverse set of residents and businesses. We are conveners and leaders who understand that politics and policy aren’t black and white – that issues have nuance and complexity. And we believe many Coloradans support politicians rejecting political hostility and divisiveness, instead focusing more on common ground.
As we look ahead to the 2023 legislative session, our mission is to challenge and collaborate with our lawmakers to enact legislation that has been vetted by involving a broad group of stakeholders.
When one party controls all levers of government, our role in driving deliberation and leading with the business community in mind becomes ever more salient. We support legislation that advances the interests of our business community and the workforce we employ throughout Colorado, and we pledge to continue our mission in the next legislative session and beyond.
As we move into 2023, the Chamber will prioritize three policy areas – sustainability, housing and economic competitiveness.
Climate change is an unavoidable topic as the legislature, local city councils and mayors seek ways to reduce its impact – mostly by setting aggressive goals that lack a practical plan, sustainable funding or public input.
The Chamber firmly believes that clean air and water benefit all Coloradans, and we can meet environmental goals with reasonable, well-developed policies that don’t sacrifice a thriving economy for environmental extremism. Proposals that reflect the political and economic realities of our community – such as funding the transition toward new technologies while emphasizing the importance of natural gas, reexamining and revitalizing Colorado water law for current times, incentivizing the use of public transit, and expanding market-based approaches toward the use of renewable energy – create a Colorado where businesses and residents can thrive together.
Due to elevated prices and rising interest rates, the affordability of purchasing a home is at its lowest point in more than 33 years. In just the past seven years, the cost of purchasing a home has doubled, with half of that increase occurring over the last two years. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Colorado is the ninth least affordable state for housing.
The reality is that Colorado has failed to build enough housing to keep up with demand. In the Metro Denver area, the deficit ranges between 64,000 and 129,000 units. Seven counties in the Metro Denver area have housing deficits, and 98% of all Coloradans live in a county with an aggregate housing supply shortage.
The Chamber supports not just the development of affordable housing, but housing for all Coloradans. We believe in policies that allow local governments and developers to build and preserve not only designated affordable homes, but also homes for those in the “missing middle” income brackets and beyond. Policies focused on increasing housing supply – such as construction litigation reform, reviewing and revising outdated land use and zoning policies, increasing sustainable and viable access to capital, and ensuring competitive housing markets – create a Colorado where residents can live where they work, simultaneously investing in their communities and their family’s financial security.
With more than 70 thriving cities of all sizes, a renowned international airport (ranked third busiest in the world) and the top talent in the U.S., the Metro Denver area remains one of the best places to live, work and play. In 2022, CNBC named Colorado the #1 state for workforce – and it’s not just because we’re highly educated. The ranking is about skills, training programs, talent attraction at all levels and the human capital we offer based on productivity and economic output.
However, we hear more and more from our members, executives and site selectors about concerns regarding where Colorado is headed when it comes to policy. They worry that the cost and regulatory burden of doing business in our state is on the rise. The Chamber emphasizes how crucial it is to prioritize our economy and workforce as we continue pandemic recovery efforts. We inherently believe that businesses want the best for their employees and their community, and that a robust workforce is necessary to create thriving neighborhoods and cities.
Ensuring Colorado has the talent to fill available jobs and meet employer demand is a key priority for the Chamber. Young, highly educated and skills-based workers populate Metro Denver. Our combination of health, family and career opportunities makes for a balanced life that’s nearly impossible to match. Through unique, innovative efforts led by the Metro Denver EDC, such as TalentCO, we enhance the regional economy via the expansion and retention of primary jobs and capital investment.
The Chamber also believes we should collectively focus our efforts on policies that will lead to a sustainable workforce and healthy business climate – such as investing in K-12 and higher education, better aligning resources to address crime and homelessness, breaking down barriers of entry to employment, and focusing on workforce development initiatives while also fostering tax friendliness and a reasonable regulatory environment. These policies help Colorado grow and attract a well-educated and productive workforce, which fosters vibrant, diverse communities across our state.
As we enter the 2023 legislative session, legislators must ask themselves a few simple questions: Is this legislation making it easier or harder for my neighbor to get or keep a job? Is this legislation helping or hindering business creation and innovation? Is this legislation pragmatic and plausible? Is this legislation solving the problem? And will this legislation improve or hinder growth and prosperity in Colorado?
Over our long history, no organization has better represented the Colorado business community than the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. For 155 years, we have been the leading voice for pro-business policy in Colorado, and we will continue our long-standing tradition of being the preeminent voice for business under the Gold Dome in 2023. We look forward to working with legislators from across the state to continue making Colorado the best place to live, work and do business.