Editor’s Note: This month, the Boulder Economic Council (BEC) is holding its annual Boulder Economic Summit, on May 21 at the University of Colorado Boulder’s University Memorial Center. The focus of the 2015 Economic Summit is “The Talent-Driven Economy.” While the BEC is known for its Economic Summit and its other signature annual event, the Boulder Economic Forecast, it also works year-round to help sustain Boulder’s remarkable economy. We focus here on what the BEC does, how it helps sustain Boulder’s economic vitality and why its work is increasingly important.
You already know that Boulder is home to a world-class research university, visionary entrepreneurs, global industry leaders, and major federal research institutions, all of which are critical to our economic vitality. The Boulder Economic Council (BEC) – the economic vitality arm of the Boulder Chamber – is an organization of business and other community leaders dedicated to sustaining that vitality. The BEC’s mission and priorities reflect Boulder’s unique economic advantages and opportunities. Highlighted below are key features of Boulder’s economy, and an overview of the BEC’s mission, priorities and selected accomplishments
Boulder’s Unique Economic Strengths
Boulder’s economy is truly unique in size, diversity, talent, and productivity. Did you know that:
- Our economy is one of the most concentrated in the world: there are over 100,000 jobs in Boulder, about one job for every Boulder resident. By comparison, there are almost three residents for every job in the Denver metro area.
- Eight key industries are prominent drivers in Boulder’s economy: aerospace, bioscience, cleantech, IT/software, natural products, outdoor recreation, research, and tourism. Our industry diversity drives nearly $36 billion in area economic productivity annually, and helps buffer our economy against recessions.
- Nearly 600 Boulder companies – and 30% of all employees – produce goods and services exported nationally and globally. Sales generated by these export or “primary” companies are invested locally in salaries, taxes, rents, bank deposits, research & development, and other business activities.
- Boulder County residents have the highest-ranked educational attainment of any metro area in the U.S. According to the U.S. Census, 59% of local residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 38% in Colorado and 30% in the U.S.
- Boulder is world-famous for our entrepreneurial ecosystem and startup business activity. Boulder has the highest concentration of tech startups in the U.S. – nearly 2.5 times the density of Silicon Valley – according to the Kauffman Foundation.
Boulder’s Economy Supports our Enviable Quality of Life
Boulder’s unique economic advantages afford our community the services, amenities and quality of life very few other cities could even consider. Tens of thousands of acres of open space and mountain parks, miles of hiking trails and biking paths, affordable and middle income housing, the Pearl Street Mall, Eco-Passes and alternative transportation improvements, flood preparedness and public safety investments, millions of dollars toward a municipal utility, arts and cultural grants, climate action plans and energy efficiency programs, and visionary neighborhood plans and improvements, are among the many community services important to Boulder residents – and most couldn’t be afforded without our prosperous economy.
Because investments in programs like these are so highly valued by us, the capacity of Boulder’s economy to support them should never be taken for granted. That’s why the Boulder Chamber’s economic vitality programs, led by the Boulder Economic Council, strive to sustain our robust economy and enhance the attributes that make Boulder one of the most advantageous business locations in the world.
Boulder Economic Council Mission and Priorities
The BEC’s mission is to “Sustain Boulder’s economic vitality through direct support of primary businesses and collaboration with business, industry and community partners.” The BEC’s top priorities are to support existing businesses in Boulder’s key industries and to advocate for a business environment that continues to nurture primary employers and industries. Key BEC programs are focused on:
- Supporting and retaining existing Boulder primary businesses. In the past two years, BEC staff have met with 240 local companies, representing 44% of all primary businesses in Boulder. Notable retention successes include Google, juwi Solar, BI Inc., SendGrid, and RealD.
- Advocating for public policies favorable to primary businesses and industries. BEC staff testified publicly at Boulder City Council and Planning Board hearings on Pearl Place and Google, height limitation and housing ordinances, municipalization, and before the Colorado legislature on a new incentive law that resulted in a $5.5 million tax credit for a fast-growing Boulder IT company.
- Supporting organizations that assist startup companies and entrepreneurs. In 2014, the BEC invested $16,000 to support CU’s Silicon Flatirons, the Boulder Small Business Development Center, Innovation Center of the Rockies, Naturally Boulder, and other startup business resources.
- Raising awareness about trends and new developments in the local and regional economy, by publishing demographic and economic research and producing community events. The BEC publishes periodic Economic Indicators and Boulder Market Profile reports found on the BEC website. Two signature events are hosted by the BEC annually: the Boulder Economic Forecast and the Boulder Economic Summit.
- Collaborating with business associations, education and workforce institutions, and economic development programs. The BEC partners with CU-Boulder, City of Boulder, Naturally Boulder, CO BioScience Association, CO Space Coalition, Metro Denver EDC, Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and Active Boulder, among others whose missions align with the BEC’s.
- Facilitating relocation of new companies to Boulder. The BEC works with local real estate brokers, lenders, CU-Boulder, the City of Boulder and other resources to assist companies considering moving their business to Boulder. Notable relocation successes include KBI BioPharma, HEAD Sports, Zayo Group, and Yoga Journal.
Boulder is privileged to have a unique economy performing at its peak. High-paying job opportunities, record high tax collections, dynamic commercial districts and business parks, renowned innovation and entrepreneurship, and other attributes of our economy help support enviable public services and amenities, appreciating home values, climate action and environmental programs, top-performing schools, and arts and culture.
The Boulder Economic Council of the Boulder Chamber is dedicated to sustaining our economic vitality and our desirable quality of life. If you’re interested in learning more about the Boulder Economic Council or Boulder’s robust and diverse economy, please visit the BEC’s website.