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A Brief History of Metro Denver’s 25 year pursuit of a diverse economy.

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Presentation on theme: "A Brief History of Metro Denver’s 25 year pursuit of a diverse economy."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Brief History of Metro Denver’s 25 year pursuit of a diverse economy.

2 “Every city gets to make “century” decisions. In all of these there is only one common element – the business community brings ‘continuity’.” Bruce Rockwell

3 Metro Denver EDC Region 3.4 million residents 67% of state population Over 75% of State GDP

4 The Century Decisions Prior to 1980 Denver Pacific Railroad to Cheyenne, Wyoming The water decisions of the 19 th & 20 th centuries The Moffat Tunnel The City Beautiful Movement Stapleton The Valley Highway Lowry and Fitzsimons purchases

5 City and County Building 1934 -2006

6 1930’s – A New “Port” Stapleton Airport opens as Mayor Ben Stapleton sees the opportunity of commercial air service

7 “The man who insists upon seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides.” Frederic Amiel

8 153 Days of Unhealthy Air 1973

9 The Oil Shale “Bust” of 1982 “Denver: You Can’t Fall Off the Floor” – Forbes, 1986 A recession is a terrible thing to waste. Economic development groups proliferate Office vacancies reach 31% in Downtown “Finger pointing time” – “Find the bad guy.”

10 The “October Cup of Coffee” “Crazy 8 comes up with a REAL crazy idea: “Sell the region first, our communities second.”

11 “Economic Armistice Signed” Denver Post – January, 1987 Governor, warring Mayors sign historic agreement. The importance of “ritual” in regional collaboration. “Customs” vs. “rules” Developing a culture of collaboration. “Honest broker on neutral ground.”

12 A strategy to become a “world community” emerges Place making economic development Regional organizations proliferate in a “burst” of new thinking. Scientific Cultural Facilities Districts DIA Metro Mayors Caucus Metro County Commissioners Caucus Stadium Districts Regional Air Quality Commission RTD and eventually FasTracks

13 Innovation Clusters in Metro Denver

14 The Metro Denver Network and The Metro Denver EDC Principles of Agreement – making assignments Code of Ethics – developing a code of conduct Six Strategic Objectives Mobility – mass transit Tax Reform – TABOR, Gallagher and “single factor apportionment” DIA Existing Business National Marketing and Public Relations Special Projects

15 The Century Decisions since 1990 Mountain Backdrop DIA Fitzsimons and Lowry The 470s Lower Downtown T-REX and FasTracks


17 DIA


19 Did all this matter? 3 rd fastest job growth for metro areas: July, 2011 – July, 2012 4 th fastest growing state 1 st choice for 25-34 years olds to “migrate” 4 th lowest metro area in “loss of housing value” during Great Recession New home for US Patent and Trade Office satellite office Region averages 6-10 corporate headquarters’ relocations each year since 2003. Average annual HQ locations from 1983-95: <1. Colorado now 3 rd most diverse economy in U.S.

20 Phoenix, Arizona

21 Las Vegas, Nevada

22 Denver, Colorado

23 “Mistakes, I’ve made a few….” Frank Sinatra

24 Put “Two Forks in it, it’s done.” George Bush, Sr. goes from “Texas Hold ‘Em” to “Colorado Fold ‘Em.” Bush caves to environmental interests and years of planning and effort for major water storage project dries up Democrat Governor Roy Romer unable to persuade Republican President Bush to reverse decision. 600 years drought in 2003-2006 shows folly of decision

25 Air Quality What Brown Cloud? Region ignored “unhealthy” air problems for almost 100 years. By 1985 Denver was “2 nd most polluted city in the U.S. behind L A Concerted effort by Chamber and environmentalists changed citizens’ perception of air quality from an “environmental problem” to an “economic problem.” By 1992, Robert Redford proclaimed on national TV, “The only place in the country that gives a damn about air quality is Metro Denver.” Region enjoyed 15 years of no violations for any pollutants.


27 “Bad” Decisions Gone “Good”

28 Lowry Air Force Base Technical Training Center for Army Air Corps and temporary campus for Air Force Academy

29 “Please Uncle Sam, don’t cut all those $900 a month jobs at Lowry!” Aurora and Denver combine to save an Air Force base from closing….a base that lacks one important element…. A RUNWAY!!!!! Lowry becomes Poster Child for re-development of abandoned military base – an urban community with multiple uses and a “classic” urban neighborhood. Closed in 1994 it is now the highest priced housing ZIP code in Denver.


31 Another bad decision becomes a “century decision” for the Denver region Fitzsimons now nation’s largest “life sciences” center under construction $5.0 billion vs. $2.5 billion for most competing sites like Johns Hopkins

32 “Manufacturing” Land Closure of Lowry and Stapleton coupled with Gateway at DIA turns Denver into major land developer in region – more land than Jeffco From abandoned sewage plant to 13,000 acres of prime land in a decade A “land locked” urban center no more

33 50 Year Decisions LoDo or Auraria – whither go the Boys of Summer? The Can – Pepsi that is…. Mile High Thunder in the suburbs?

34 Infrastructure Placements Drive Downtown Revitalization Coors Field Pepsi Center Invesco Field

35 Convention Center

36 Coors Field Opening Date: 1995 Capacity: 50,445 Coors Field Opening Date: 1995 Capacity: 50,445

37 Pepsi Center Opening Date: 2000 Capacity: 19,100 Pepsi Center Opening Date: 2000 Capacity: 19,100

38 INVESCO Field @ Mile High Opening Date: 2001 Capacity: 76,125 INVESCO Field @ Mile High Opening Date: 2001 Capacity: 76,125


40 FasTracks Doubling the Airport for 100 million passengers The Super Slab – all transmission High Speed Rail on the Front Range, with a stop at DIA for kicks


42 “I like a person who is proud of his community. And I like a community that is proud of the person who lives within it.” Abraham Lincoln

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