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The CTA brings tech-savvy Colorado to Washington

ColoradoBiz reports from the nation's capital


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The Colorado Technology Association plans to meet with leaders in technology and innovation during a three-day trip to Washington, D.C. that will spotlight  actionable business goals, initiatives and insights to further position Colorado in the 21st century marketplace.

The meetings, which began Monday, bring together CTA’s CEO Erik Mitisek and COO Wendy Nkomo; Simon Tafoya, senior policy director in the Office of Gov. John Hickenlooper; and representatives from local educational institutions, both traditional and more contemporary. Business leaders in the health-technology and financial services space, among others, were invited as well. The Colorado-based group will meet with the White House in the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Economic Council, innovation advocates from throughout the federal government, as well as startup and technology leaders from around Washington D.C.

“We are coming to talk about what’s been going in the Colorado technology industry and its progress,” said Bruce Batky, CEO and co-founder of Denver coding boot camp Skill Distillery. He added the Colorado constituents intend to convene to share best practices in high-tech training, industry growth and hiring in the expanding market. Skill Distillery specializes in Java training and is certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to accept G.I. Bill benefits.

“The veteran component is one of the pieces that differentiates us a little from other states,” Batky said.

Batky spent a chunk of Monday with Diana Tsai of Veterati, a Washington D.C.-based platform that, for the last year, has facilitated mentorship between influential professionals nationwide to help capture careers for veterans. Noting that job applicants don’t go through traditional application portals to successfully secure new positions, Veterati aims to match candidates with networks to effectively connect personalities and resumes with new opportunities.

“We’re trying to connect the right people to the right industries,” Tsai told Batky, emphasizing the value of personal branding on the tech-job hunt.

“Our schools are predominantly judged based on jobs they get ... that’s the measure of achievement,” Batky said. He added that Denver has potential to be an ideal pilot city for Veterati, noting Colorado’s tax credit incentives for hiring veterans.

Tsai asked whether Colorado companies were compelled by a “sense of impact and purpose,” and how that influenced employees.

“One of the transitions that Colorado’s gone through in the last couple years – social enterprise, impact investing ­– those things are the expected norm, a giveback strategy, it’s a different way of looking at the world,” Batky said of Colorado business tactics.

Moreover, a Washington Post article looking at relative salaries and noting the value of Colorado found that earning $90,000 in Colorado is the lifestyle equivalent of earning $220,000 in San Francisco, Batky added.

The meetings of this week will also cover cyber security and data integrity across industries, as Colorado aims to be a leader in specialty space. Last month, The National Cyber Security Intelligence Center opened in Colorado Springs in an effort to accelerate research to combat cyber threats.

(Editor's note: ColoradoBiz Associate Editor Gigi Sukin, who was invited to join the CTA trip, will be filing daily updates.)

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Gigi Sukin

Gigi Sukin is digital editor at ColoradoBiz. She can be reached at gsukin@cobizmag.com.

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