Posted: July 12, 2013
Rundles wrap up: 40By Jeff Rundles
Long about the end of the first week in July – the 7th to be exact – I will have been a Coloradan for 40 years.
I didn’t set out from Michigan with that as a goal. I was, like so many younger folks at the time, headed to California, but had a friend here and thought a short vacation in the Rockies would be just the ticket. I joke sometimes that I stopped here for a two-week vacation and that I am still on it, and, to paraphrase The Grateful Dead, what a long, strange – and wonderful – trip it’s been.
I’m not alone in that particular background. As a business reporter and editor for most of my Colorado tenure, I have come across not a few people who got posted here on their rise up the corporate ladder, only to reject the move to the next highest rung – Chicago, LA, Dallas, New York – and look for a way to stay in Colorado.
Some of them would take the next post and then, soon enough, miss Colorado and come back. In many ways I think this phenomenon is what has propelled Colorado as a leading small business and entrepreneurial haven: Many smart, driven businesspeople – and other smart people like lawyers and physicians – simply decided that the lure of Colorado was (and is) irresistible. They started businesses and practices here. Moving somewhere else meant living to work, while Colorado is the ultimate place where people work to live.
The rise of the Internet and the “virtual” work world has only fueled this. I meet more and more people all of the time in banking and financial services, international business, technology, consulting, advertising and marketing, and many other pursuits that once were tied to centers of power, influence and certain types of business and industrial infrastructure. Untethered by once-necessary proximity, many folks realized they could do business anywhere and that Colorado is attractive geography.
It is as if, I will say snobbishly (borrowing, liberally, from Gatsby), that “a sense of fundamental decencies is parceled out unequally at birth.” Or in my case in terms of Colorado, at adoption. Here in Colorado I have always found the green light, “the orgiastic future,” and I have, for 40 years, always been borne ceaselessly toward it. I, like so many people, find hope and romantic readiness in Colorado. After all, “those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away” are located right here in our state.
The place has certainly changed over the years, to be sure; however the “fundamental decencies” I found at the beginning remain intact. What’s different today in terms of business is a less-cohesive business community. There are so many enterprises here now that really have no need to be a part of a Colorado business community, engaged as they are in national or even international commerce, and the “community” they thrive in has more to do with their vertical business space. We used to be involved in so much local B-to-B, as it were, that B-to-B institutions like chambers of commerce – and, indeed, ColoradoBiz – seemed to have greater voice and relevance than experienced now. On the other hand, you hear more about Colorado businesses on the national scene than in the more parochial days, and our economy seems more diverse and stronger than ever before.
Interestingly enough, ColoradoBiz this year is also celebrating the milestone of having been in Colorado for 40 years, and my personal involvement with the magazine stretches out to most of that, some 33 years off and on. I miss some of the old days – the amazing leaders, characters and quite a few scoundrels I have met, covered, worked with, sparred with. But as always, and in step with the majority of my fellow Coloradans, I look forward with anticipation to an even brighter future.
Long ago, after completing my studies at the University of Denver and working here for a few years, I remember a telephone conversation with my mother where she inquired, in her sweet, roundabout way, when I might be thinking about coming “home.”
I believe I looked out of my office window and saw the Denver skyline with the majestic Rockies as a background, and simply said, “I am home.”
Jeff Rundles is a former editor of ColoradoBiz and a regular columnist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.