Why Colorado? Come for the Rockies, Stay for the Opportunity
Words of wisdom, wanderlust and work ethic from Frannie Matthews, the president of the Colorado Technology Association
I came to Colorado because my parents had wanderlust. I have stayed in Colorado because I've been afforded great business opportunity in a wonderful community.
Early on, my parents decided family travel was a priority. For over a decade, we would do an annual four-week road trip. Our family of six traveled from Orlando, Florida to various destinations across the U.S. and Canada. Tucked tightly in an Oldsmobile station wagon we hopped from one Holiday Inn to the next. For the life of me, I could not figure out why we would drive for hours and stop at a motel that looked just like the one where we stayed in the previous night. You see, my complete focus was the pool and the diving board and with any luck at all a slide. Why would you ever leave the first aquatic fun zone?
The year we ventured west was the year I "got it.” I remember driving into Denver on I-70 and seeing the Rocky Mountains for the first time. We headed straight for Estes Park. The motel had a great swimming pool as I recall, but its memory was thwarted by the mountains. That summer, we hiked and explored. I loved the chipmunks and birds.
Colorado became a destination for many trips in the future.
I would have loved to attend the University of Colorado. That didn't play out, but I did work at the Stanley Hotel for two summers. Long's Peak was my first 14er. I remember starting up the mountain at 5 p.m. and sleeping on a rock in the boulder field. My friends and I had no tent and no pads. When I woke up the next morning, there was ice on my sleeping bag and the face of the mountain was looming over me. I was hooked. Decades later that moment remains vivid in my mind. Only a steaming cup of coffee would have enhanced that beautiful morning.
Upon graduating from college in Florida, I decided to move to Colorado. I had a plan and a place to live, but no job. What I found was a very welcoming and collaborative business. Networking was easy and within a month I landed my first job in technology. My clients were local restaurants and my job was to sell and sometimes program point-of-sale systems. Yes, I can say I programed in HEX.
With the exception of a five-year stint in California, I have lived in Colorado throughout my entire career. Helping clients apply technology to meet the needs of the business has been my focus for decades.
Colorado has afforded me the opportunity to thrive both personally and professionally.
Colorado has a vibrant tech economy that provides an abundance of opportunity. While I was with IBM for a few years, I've also worked for small-l and medium-sized enterprises. There is a cross-industry diversity within our community. I’ve been able to thrive in this business climate.
Home to the first startup weekend in the world (in Boulder) and the largest free startup week in Denver, Colorado has a robust startup ecosystem that has its foundation in tech. And we’re starting to see the seeds of Colorado’s rapid growth over the past decade bear fruit. Homegrown transactional and marketing email company SendGrid recently had its IPO, and their story is a testament to the talent that is here and wants to come here. They continue to ramp up, expand into new space in downtown Denver and win big clients.
Colorado is home to nearly 15,000 tech business establishments. Some of Colorado’s largest tech companies include Arrow Electronics, DISH, Zayo, Comcast, Oracle and Flexential.
Denver is known for its collaborative nature. This is a big economy with a small-town feel and that welcoming and helpful ethic that I experienced when I first moved here still exists. It is a community that works together.
I’ve enjoyed a network of professional women who have been deeply supportive throughout my career. What began as business relationships have turned into rich friendships.
At Colorado Technology Association, we sponsor a Women in Technology conference every summer. It’s so exhilarating to bring 700 women together for the day. This event offers a great opportunity for professional development and it is a time to build important relationships.
Quality education for our daughters has always been a priority. We were very happy with the K-12 education in our district. Additionally, we have a strong higher education system in Colorado.
I’ve been fortunate to hold professional positions that have brought challenge and reward. With that has come long hours and a certain level of stress. While we live in a beautiful state and these mountains are what brought me here, it’s sometimes difficult to get away and enjoy them. Fortunately, we have beautiful parks and trails running through the Denver Metropolitan Area. I live within a half mile of the Highline Canal, which gives me access to over 60 miles of trails. The city parks are abundant. Regardless of the season, an early morning walk around Wash Park cleanses my soul.
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I love living here. The people are great, the state is beautiful, and we have a wonderful business environment. I am so grateful to my parents for the great road trips and in particular, for introducing me to this wonderful state I call home.
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"Why Colorado is an ongoing series from The Colorado Technology Recruiting Coalition, highlighting the region’s thriving technology industry and all the great things Colorado has to offer. Here's more information on The Colorado Technology Recruiting Coalition.
Frannie Matthews is the President of the Colorado Technology Association.