Monday, June 27, 2011

Difficult Questions Surround the Stock Show Relocation Plan

The emerging donnybrook between the cites of Denver and Aurora over Gaylord Entertainment's proposed hotel and theme park complex at the High Point Development near DIA raises some of the most vexing economic development questions to hit the Metro Denver region in several years.

  • Will the proposed development, near DIA and along the planned airport train route, promote regional economic well being or drain energy and convention business from the Metro Area's urban core in downtown Denver which has been so painstakingly built up over the past few decades?

  • Should the State of Colorado award a multi-hundred million dollar tax increment financing subsidy, perhaps the largest ever in Colorado, to help build 1,500 hotel rooms and 500,00 of convention space in Aurora?

  • Is this plan the only way to ensure the cherished National Western Stock Show is revitalized and modernized and stays in Colorado for the foreseeable future?
    Can Denver and Aurora find a formula for approving the Gaylord project, keeping the Stock Show in Denver and making sure their is an equitable distribution of economic benefits and costs flowing from any potential related new developments?

  • Will Governor Hickenlooper play a role in this deal?

The Denver Post has an excellent primer exploring these issues.

A View of the Rockies will be closely studying this situation in the coming weeks and months. So far we don't know enough to have an informed opinion.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Denver Way

Growing up in Colorado and living as an adult in Boston, New York, San Francisco and now New Jersey, I have always admired the State of Colorado and its cities like Denver for having decent, effective, well-run governments that are able to make decisions and execute projects to promote civic improvement. As a young, western city without the types of entrenched establishment interests and ethnic tribalism that exist in some older locales, Denver seems to exhibit an openness to newcomers and new ideas.

Economic development gurus like Richard Florida argue that a key to attracting the creative, information savvy workforce needed to power the economies of today and tomorrow is openness to ideas, lifestyles, cultural variety, ethnic and racial diversity and other differences among people.

The election of Michael Hancock as Denver's 44th Mayor is instructive. The city's last four elected Mayors come from diverse backgrounds: African American, Caucasian, and Hispanic. The fact that two of the last three people elected mayor of Denver have been African American, in a city in which only 11% of the population is black, is particularly striking and strong evidence that Denver is a relatively open and tolerant city.

It seems to me that a repeated willingness of a citizenry to elect leaders from different racial and cultural backgrounds to top level positions, is a compelling example of openness and tolerance and will go a long way toward promoting the "Denver brand" to the creative class.