Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Tolerance Index: How Does the Denver Region Rank?

Image from Atlantic Cities and Martin Prosperity Institute

Richard Florida frequently cites "the three Ts" of economic development: technology, talent and tolerance as powerful factors driving a place's economic success.  In two recent posts on the Atlantic Cities web site, Denver is ranked 19th among large U.S.  metro areas and Boulder is ranked 9th among all U.S. metro areas on the Tolerance Index.   Components of the index include the percent of  residents who are foreign born, the concentration of gays and lesbians, and the level of segregation between  racial and ethnic groups.

Florida believes that the causal arrow runs from tolerance to economic success and not the other way around.   You can see on the map above that the Denver Region is a bastion of darker purple tolerance in a relatively sparse portion of the U.S.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Risks to Regional Green Energy Cluster

Long time readers of this blog know that I have been trumpeting the growth of and benefits from the green energy sector in Colorado.  A series of exogenous events are serving to undermine this cluster in the state and the U.S. 

In the wind energy vertical, the Federal renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) which provides an income tax credit of 2.2 cents per KW/hour of wind energy produced is set to expire on December 31, 2012 and appears to be another casualty of gridlock in Washington DC.   This has implications for employment in Colorado as companies like Vestas and their supply chain partners will basically stop making wind generation equipment in 2013, leading to large layoffs if this policy is not renewed.  It should be extended to provide a predictable environment for investment decisions, promote increases in renewable generation capacity, protect jobs and the environment, spur innovation and help U.S.-based facilities compete globally.

In the solar energy vertical, several high profile companies - including Loveland Colorado-based Abound Solar - have recently declared bankruptcy in the face of tough competition from Chinese manufacturers and headwinds from the weak economy.  Thus GE's recent announcement that
it will be suspending its plans to build the largest Solar factory in the U.S. for 18 months is particularly painful.

In the longer term, Colorado, the Front Range, and the Denver Region remain well positioned to benefit from an increase in demand for renewable energy but the short to medium terms seem to be filled with risks and disappointments.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

More on the Patent Office

Graphic from U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Web Site

A few interesting tid bits on the Patent Office coming to the Denver region.

  • There is a pretty fierce debate on selecting a site for the office: Downtown Denver, Stapleton, Fitzsimons, the Tech Center, the Federal Center, or the former site of the University of Colorado Medical School off Colorado Boulevard.   This will be fascinating to see play out.

  • The Patent Office  Press Release announcing the selection of the three new satellite cities provides insight about the agency's internal perspective on the impact of these branch locations:
"The four offices will function as hubs of innovation and creativity, helping protect and foster American innovation in the global marketplace, helping businesses cut through red tape, and creating new economic opportunities in each of the local communities. Next week, Acting Secretary Blank and Under Secretary Kappos will travel to each of the newly selected cities to meet with local businesses, entrepreneurs and public officials to discuss the new office openings.
  • It is also interesting to see what the Patent Office had to say about their site selection criteria and methodology for choosing the three cities among hundreds of candidates in a supplemental document attached to the announcement press release.
"Selection of the four sites was based upon a comprehensive analysis of criteria including geographical diversity, regional economic impact, ability to recruit and retain employees, and the ability to engage the intellectual property community, among others...
The Dallas area provides the USPTO with a southern, central time zone hub from which to operate. The region is exceedingly rich in engineering talent, patent applicants, and patent grants. Dallas boasts an above average population of potential Veteran employees.

The Denver area provides the USPTO with a mountain time zone hub from which to operate. Empirical evidence demonstrates that Denver is a sought-after place to live and work with relatively low cost-of-living—a critical combination for the recruitment and retention of top talent. Further, the economic impact of a USPTO satellite office in the Denver region is projected to be disproportionate relative to most other cities. Denver also boasts an above average population of potential Veteran employees.

Silicon Valley provides the USPTO with a pacific time zone hub in the heart of California’s most vibrant innovation center. Silicon Valley, and the areas that surround it, contain many of the USPTO’s top filers as well as legions of start-up and small tech companies that depend on the USPTO. Further, Silicon Valley’s great quality of life and abundant population of engineering talent will provide fertile recruiting grounds for the Agency. The USPTO recognizes the challenges of retention in a hyper-competitive market, and will work to construct a concept of operations for the three offices that recognizes such challenges."

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Denver to Get Satellite U.S. Patent Office

The Denver Post and Denver Busimess Journal are reporting that the U.S. Patent Office will announce on Monday that the Denver Metro Area, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Jose will join Detroit as one of four cities where the U.S. Patent Office will open a satellite branch. This is another big win for economic development in the Denver Region as the presence of this office will accomplish several major objectives: help strengthen the Metro Denver region's competitive site selection position in drawing innovative high techology companies and researchers who generate patents by making it logistically easier for these entities to apply for and recieve patents when located in Colorado; increase Denver's attractiveness to professional, legal and financial services comapnies who support technology companies; provide hundreds stable of well paying regional jobs; and send a signal to investors, entrapranuers and knowledge workers that Denver is a great place invest, work and live.

Many political, business and civic leaders did a great job of selling the state and region.  See The Case for a Satellite Patent Office in Colorado as a very well constructed piece of marketing collateral for the Denver Region.

Colorado Senator, Micahel Bennet, who was a key advocate for Colorado and sponsored the legislation which authorized creating Patent satellite officers issued a press release praising the decision:

"This is a well-deserved victory for the state of Colorado,” said Bennet. “This tremendous news affirms what we already know about our state – that we are leaders in innovation, technological development, and economic growth. The new office will provide a boost to the growing high-tech industries in Colorado, such as the bioscience, clean energy, and aerospace fields.

“The work to bring the patent office to Denver was a truly collaborative effort that included bipartisan support in government, the business community, academia and from local leaders across the state. In particular, patent attorney John Posthumus has worked tirelessly for years as one of the leaders to make this a reality. The patent office will anchor Colorado’s reputation as a leader in innovation and the 21st century economy and will benefit the state for many years to come."