Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pew Research Cites Denver as "Favorite City"

Pew Research recently released a national survey which named Denver as the most popular big city in the country. Click here for summary and here for full report.

According to Pew:

"A new national survey by the Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends project finds that nearly half (46%) of the public would rather live in a different type of community from the one they're living in now -- a sentiment that is most prevalent among city dwellers. When asked about specific metropolitan areas where they would like to live, respondents rank Denver, San Diego and Seattle at the top of a list of 30 cities, and Detroit, Cleveland and Cincinnati at the bottom.....These findings emerge from a wide-ranging telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 2,260 adults, conducted Oct. 3-19, 2008."

I wonder how much Denver's results were influenced by the 2008 Democratic Convention which happened just a few months earlier. Being named the number one favorite city is a positive indicator of the Denver area's ability to attract top labor market talent and employers. It will be interesting to see how Denver fares in follow up surveys in subsequent years.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The New York Times on the Denver Real Estate Market

This New York Times story about the Denver real estate market and regional economy is a few weeks old, from January 6, 2009, but interesting nonetheless. The money quote:

"A number of elements are cited as keeping this region afloat as other areas
founder: investments in public transportation, aggressive economic development
and, most significant, a two-decade campaign to diversify the region’s economic
base from oil and gas to alternative energy, aerospace, technology and
telecommunications. As a result, said Scott Anderson, a Wells
economist who also spoke to the assembly, Denver and its region are
“in for a more mild recession” than the rest of the country."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Windsor Wind Cluster

More details about the agglomeration effects in Windsor due to the Vestas location decision.

From the Rocky Mountain News

"When Vestas announced two years ago that it would build giant wind turbine blades in Windsor, economic development officials predicted that other companies would follow.That is essentially what has happened with the arrival of Hexcel Corp., said Martin Shields, a regional economist at Colorado State University. Hexcel makes a high-performance material used in the manufacture of wind turbine blades. The Stamford Conn.-based company is investing $50 million in a new manufacturing facility about 1,000 feet from the Vestas wind plant. Hexcel will initially create about 100 jobs, and is joining Vestas as a tenant in the Great Western Industrial Park."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Is Colorado a Renewable Energy Hub?

One of the overriding themes of this blog has been the importance to Colorado and the Denver Region's economic health of seizing the moment and becoming a center for the emerging renewable energy sectors. Up until now I have not seen any data which allows us to measure the region's progress in this regard.

The recently released report by the American Solar Energy Society, "Defining, Estimating, and Forecasting The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Industries in the U.S. and Colorado," provides useful data
for understanding if Colorado is succeeding in becoming a green energy hub. According to this report as of 2007 Colorado had 91,285 renewable energy and energy efficiency jobs (10,075 in just renewable energy). In the U.S. as a whole there were 504,000 renewable energy jobs and 9.09 million total renewable and efficiency jobs.

By combining this data on renewable jobs in Colorado and the U.S. with overall data on Colorado and U.S. employment as of December 2007 (138 million and 2.3 millon non-farm jobs in the U.S. and Colorado respectively) its possible to calculate a location quotient(LQ) which shows the concentration of renewable jobs in Colorado.

One way to think about the LQ is it measures the ratio of a state's share of total national jobs in a specific industry to that state's share of total national jobs. So a LQ>1 indicates the state has a greater share of jobs in a specific economic sector than its population would otherwise warrant which means the state is a net "exporter" of the products and services produced by that sector to the rest of the nation (or world). Detroit has a high LQ in automobile manufacturing (at least for now), California has a high LQ for film production, New York in financial services, etc. So a LQ>1 means an area could be a hub or cluster for a given economic sector. Obviously having a high LQ in a growing sector is a good thing for a region's economic health but having a high LQ in a shrinking sector can be disastrous.

Based on the data cited above, Colorado had a LQ of 1.18 in renewable energy jobs in 2007. Given the string of positive job announcements in early 2008 in Colorado in the renewable sector, it seems likely to me that this ratio may have grown in 2008. However, a LQ of 1.18 only indicates a moderate level of concentration and it means Colorado has a long way to go before establishing itself as a primary alternative energy hub and there is likely to be fierce competition from other areas of the country to obtain this status.

(Photos courtesy of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, All Rights Reserved)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Schwab Jobs

The long awaited expansion of Charles Schwab's presence in Colorado was formally announced on Friday. As reported in the Denver Post, the brokerage company is adding 500 IT jobs in Douglas County and is receiving a reported $1 million incentive from the state to facilitate this expansion. Given the severe economic contraction impacting the U.S. and the Denver region, this is welcome news indeed.

Monday, January 5, 2009

It Must Be Boulder

If the nine companies to watch in 2009 include alternative energy, organic products, computer hardware and software and colorful, rubber footwear companies--it must be the county where I was born - Boulder (and Broomfield). The Daily Camera had an interesting article in its business section titled "Nine to Watch in 09" about the likely comings and goings at key local employers.

The nine companies profiled included: ConocoPhillips, Crocs Inc., DigitalGlobe Inc., Level 3 Communications Inc., Pangea Organics, Rally Software, Range Fuels Inc., Siemens Energy, and Sun Microsystems Inc.

For me the most interesting tidbit was that Siemens Energy is putting its wind turbine research center in Boulder - obviously a great boost to the local alternative energy cluster and an announcement I had missed this past summer.

"Siemens Energy in June announced plans to establish a couple-thousand-square-foot facility where employees will focus on atmospheric science research, aerodynamic blade design, structural dynamics and wind turbine dispatch prediction and reliability. The company since has started settling into a 5,300-square-foot space in downtown Boulder, at 1050 Walnut St.

Siemens expects to employ about 60 people here eventually, and officials from the local municipal and scientific communities say the arrival could further boost Boulder County's position in the growing renewable energy industry. In the coming months, locals could get a taste of what Siemens' presence means, both in terms of new jobs, but also potentially new partnerships with area labs."