Sunday, April 25, 2010

OpenEI: A Tremendous Resource on Renewable Energy

I wanted to do a short post about OpenEI, a tremendous new resource on the renewable energy economy sponsored by the US Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The site, still in beta mode, uses Wiki collaboration to document, catalogue and analyses the renewable energy sector in the U.S. and globally.

A couple of interesting tidbits from the site:

The Qwest Loss: A Quick Reaction

There is no way to spin the Qwest acquisition by CenturyTel as a positive development for the Denver Region. This is depressingly bad news for the local economy. The loss of Denver's largest corporate HQ will have painful and far reaching implications.

This development once again raises the issue of why Metro Denver with its educated work force, excellent infrastructure, high quality of living, outstanding recreational and cultural amenities, tradition of good government, healthy regional cooperation and decision-making, and strong clusters of industries seems to always struggle in maintaining and attracting high profile corporate HQs. Is it the region's spatial isolation from other major business centers, relatively small population, bad luck, lack of regional dominance over any single sector, relative scarcity of certain professional and financial services (advertising agencies, accounting, investment banking, consulting), other reasons not yet identified or some combination of the above?

Whatever the cause, this is a bitter pill to swallow.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Daniel Gross On The Recovery: An Example from Colorado

Financial and economic writer Daniel Gross has an insightful piece in Slate on why the U.S. economic recovery will be stronger and faster than many experts predict. Gross cites the emerging wind energy cluster in the Colorado's "Renewable Range" as an example of an emerging ecosystem which has the potential to create a huge amount of new economic activity.

"Skepticism about the potential for millions of "green jobs" to materialize
overnight is warranted. But in some areas, a process similar to the iTunes
experience is developing. The Danish wind-turbine maker Vestas in recent years
has announced investments of nearly $1 billion in wind-turbine-manufacturing
plants in Colorado, which, when completed, will directly employ about 2,500
people. But Vestas has also attracted a dozen-odd suppliers, including
components producers like Aluwind, PMC Technology, Bach Composite, and Hexcel.
And it's not just about the hardware. Renewable Energy Systems Americas, the
largest manager of wind farms, moved its corporate headquarters to Broomfield,
Colo., in 2008. Last month Colorado mandated that 30 percent of the state's
energy be produced from renewable sources by 2020. "

This is Gross' second mention of the wind energy story in Colorado, that I am aware of, so he must be tracking developments in Denver closely.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Financial Services and Technology Customer Service Jobs: A Trend in Metro Denver?

One positive economic development trend which seems to be emerging is financial and technology companies like, Charles Schwab, IBM, and Intuit, locating and expanding upper end customer service call centers in the Denver region. The region's highly technically skilled labor pool, business friendly climate, relatively low cost of living (compared to places like California) and Mountain Time Zone all seem to be positive factors helping to attract these jobs. These inroads are good news for the region's economy. What would be even better for Colorado, is if the region could attract and incubate more global corporate headquarters in addition to these regional, back office operations.