Colorado Business Leaders See Another Tech Boom

Colorado Governor Bill Owens and several of the state's economic development leaders were in New York City this week to reach the Big Apple's dense media pool and spread their message about what they have to offer.

"Colorado is open for business," Owens announced to a crowd of investors, business leaders and media representatives gathered at Aspen, a restaurant in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. "We want you to come to Colorado and see what we've been doing."

The state's business leaders began a campaign to brand the state and promote business last year, but Hurricane Katrina hit, taking the wind from the state's efforts while people waited to evaluate the economic impact. Now, they are back on track and they have plenty to brag about.

Not only does the state have the Rocky Mountains to appeal to people who might live and work there, Colorado boasts one of the most well educated workforces in the nation. Only Massachusetts has a higher percentage of people with a Bachelor's Degree or more, according to Morgan Quitno, publisher of annual and monthly state rankings.

Sponsored post

The state ranks third in the nation for the percentage of its labor force in science and engineering and fourth for the number of graduate students in science and engineering, according to the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Its biggest export is electronic integrated circuits, and it is one of three states with a technology secretary.

All 64 counties, even the most rural areas, have high-speed Internet infrastructure and the state is backing several funding initiatives, including a program that joins venture capitalists with entrepreneurs.

Leaders, armed with a slew of rankings and statistics, are also touting a business-friendly environment, with strong employment growth, low litigation rates, labor market freedom, a favorable regulatory environment and low taxes.

Instead of trying to attract one company or one type of industry, state leaders are attempting to show a wide array of outsiders that they already have clusters of biotech, aerospace and telecommunications companies, research labs, nanotechnologies and other technology assets to build upon. They are also developing several public and private initiatives to encourage growth.

Metzger Associates CEO John Metzger, serving as a publicist for the Advancing Colorado campaign, explained why he thinks the state could be the next hot spot for the evolution of technology.

"Silicon Valley absolutely was the accelerator for the tech environment, but you had to live in traffic jams and work 14-hour days," he said. "Colorado is the human evolution, the rejection of that. People here work hard, but sometimes they leave at five because they want to do things, and they can do them because they're accessible."