Economic council chief outlines strategies to spur vitality
Retention. Economic council members work to keep the community’s existing 550 primary employer companies happy, Harald said. Those companies employ about 26,000 workers in key industries such as aerospace, clean tech (generally seen as alternative-energy companies), bioscience, natural and organic products and the outdoor industry, he said.
New business formation. Members support the local startup and entrepreneurial business community, Harald said. He named Brad Feld as a key partner to help the council meet its objective. Feld is a partner in the local Foundry Group venture capital firm and a co-founder of TechStars, a startup company “accelerator” that has $70 million under management for its programs around the United States, including one in Boulder.
Help businesses looking to relocate. Members can give new companies any help they need when they plan a move to the community, Harald said.
Collaborate with key strategic partners such as elected officials on the city, county and state level.
Boulder’s continued economic vitality also faces challenges, Harald said, including the continued decline in public investment in research and education, as well as the area’s low commercial and industrial vacancy rates. Many local companies are growing, he said, and there’s not much space available to which they can move as they get bigger.
In response, the council is working with the city of Boulder on streamlined commercial planning and zoning codes and permitting processes to help potential new development move quickly, Harald said.
Some changes in the works include updates to the commercial-property tenant-finish process in terms of how permits are reviewed, said Liz Hanson, Boulder’s economic vitality coordinator. Land-use regulations also are being reviewed to potentially provide more flexibility.
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