The “Cowtown” moniker may soon be moo-ving to Denver’s wayside.
While natives and long time residents are reticent to drop the city’s pet name, Denver is now more hip than hick as business development, population growth and infrastructure improvements are positioning the state’s capital as an energetic metropolis that is capitalizing on multiple economies.
Gone are the days when downtown Denver’s streets would roll up after 5 p.m. With its nightlife now expanding from LoDo to the RiNo neighborhood to Five Points, there is no lack of activity. From outdoor recreational pursuits, to sporting events, to cultural activities, Denver is literally bursting at the seams.
According to the City of Denver, the Mile High City is the 6th fastest growing metro area in the the United States based on population and economic growth. Denver grew 8.2% from 2003-2013, and is projected to grow 28% over the next 15 years. It is these kind of statistics that bode well for businesses that are either considering relocating or expanding to Denver or entrepreneurs who are looking for a start-up site.
Demographics alone cause businesses to salivate at the potential of Denver’s workers. The median age is 34 and they are the third most educated workforce in the nation. The adults over 25 holding college degrees is 43%, compared to 28% nationally.
Diversification has been critical to Denver’s burgeoning economic scene. Gone are the days of relying on select industries that would see a constant stream of boom and bust cycles. Major industries in the city now include aerospace, broadcast and telecommunication, healthcare, financial services, bioscience, energy, IT/software and creative/entertainment. And there are a plethora of locations to develop more businesses beyond the $1 billion that has already been infused in hotels, residences, office space and retail in downtown Denver. These new corridors will extend the reach of Denver and establish connections among neighborhoods that people never thought possible.
One of the more intriguing prospects is the Welton Street development, a 10 block channel positioned on the northeast edge of downtown. Five Points Business District is coordinating the rebirth of this historic neighborhood that until now has been better know for gang activity and crime. The advancement of Denver’s urban renewal has now extended into Five Points and you will find a multitude of shops as well as a self-guided walking tour that features historic markers and signs that outline the history of Five Points. From the 1920s and into the 40s, Five Points was often called “the Harlem of the West,” featuring exceptional jazz musicians and African-American culture, and the goal is to once again establish the area as destination for prime time arts and entertainment.
Another up and coming area is the Brighton Boulevard development that serves as a continuation of RiverNorth (RiNo) and the South Platte Riverway. This section will link the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods with Union Station, downtown Denver and DIA, which 20 years ago people would have never thought imaginable. There will be street improvements, sidewalks, bike corridors and a multitude of trees planted to accent this mixed use arena.
Finally, the National Western Complex is getting primed for a $1.1 billion makeover. The City of Denver is partnering with Colorado State University, History Colorado, and the National Western Stock Show Association to transform the century old complex into a modern 270 campus.
For people wishing to start new businesses, support is available through the Denver Metro SBDC. This organization is committed to growing new business, and job creation and wealth for entrepreneurs. They have already helped launch brewpubs, equipment rentals and high tech aerial imaging companies, just to name a few.
It is an exciting time for business in Denver and it seems things are just getting started.