Denver, CO

DenverDenver is labeled a “bounce-back” case. The region experienced tepid performance in the 1980s, and then turned around to show outcomes on both growth and equity (compared with the Western census region) in the 1990s. This “comeback” may seem typical of boom–bust Western economies that are dependent on natural resources but the turnaround can also be explained by major infrastructure investments in the 1990s in an airport, a convention center, and other regional attractions and a growing sense of collaboration amongst business and private sector leadership in the region as well as between the central city and the suburbs (including suburban support for a new light rail system). Unfortunately, this did not eliminate the boom–bust cycle: between 2000 and 2007, Denver’s employment growth was slightly worse than the census region median and its performance on poverty reduction and income inequality was among the worst in its census region. As for the Great Recession, it actually weathered the economic storm much better than other metros in the Western United States. Apparently, it continues to just bounce back and forth, not finding a sustainable path.

Thank you to everyone in Denver who generously shared their time, ideas and insights with us:

Terri Bailey, Senior Research Officer
Matt Barry, Research Officer
The Piton Foundation

Elaine DeLott Baker, Director Center for Workforce Initiatives,
Community College of Denver

Lisa Durán, Executive Director
Rights for All People

Ledy Garcia-Eckstein, Executive Director
Vic Smith, Controller, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce
The Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation (MDEDC/WIRED)

Paula Gomez Farrell, Director
Bobbie Smith, Manager of Operations
Elizabeth Abeyta, Business Development Associate
Division of Business Development, Denver Office of Economic Development

Carol Hedges, Senior Policy Analyst
Colorado Fiscal Policy Center

Irene Ibarra, President and CEO
The Colorado Trust

Peter Kenney, Principal and Co-founder
Civic Results

Jim Kirchheimer, Senior Director of Economic Development
Downtown Denver Partnership

Mike Kromrey, Executive Director
Metro Organizations for People

Karen Lado, Vice President
Enterprise Community Partners

Leslie Moody, Executive Director
Partnership for Working Families

Carmen Rhodes, Executive Director
Robin Kniech, Program Director and Staff Attorney
The Front Range Economic Strategy Center, FRESC

Tony Robinson, Associate Professor
Department of Political Science, University of Colorado, Denver

Mike Roque, Director Office of Strategic Partnership
Jaime Van Leeuwen, Executive Director
Denver’s Road Home


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