Castle Rock's Domino Effect
Health care, retail and entrepreneurial ecosystem among Colorado community's advantages
The economic book being written along the Front Range has been a thriller with ups and downs and unpredictable twists. It is a story that has sparked a lot of conversation for many Coloradans and will likely continue as the Front Range is forecasted to increase in population by 2.4 million people by 2040. Castle Rock is no exception to this discussion. In fact, Castle Rock’s population has increased by 5,000 new residents in just two years.
How has the town managed?
A strategic vision set the foundation for sustainable and healthy growth dating back to the early-2000s when town and county leaders had the foresight to implement policies that would line up with their vision.
Communities have to make difficult choices that create long-term infrastructure that can benefit the community. Efficient communities find ways to strategically knock over a single domino that then, in turn, knocks over many, and gets them closer to achieving their community’s vision. Building great infrastructure allows both current and future generations the opportunity to flourish economically. Getting it right the first time is the hard part.
To achieve its own domino effect, Castle Rock’s City Council, Economic Development Council, Downtown Alliance along with business leaders and citizens considered what growth would mean and examined ways to make investments in the overall infrastructure in the most meaningful ways possible. The outcome, built into the Town’s master plan, has been looking beyond investing in just streets, bridges, roads and utilities – the build-outs we all commonly refer to as infrastructure – and finding ways to invest in the other forms of Castle Rock’s infrastructure, that will pay long-term dividends.
To improve Castle Rock’s pipeline of the smartest and best employees, a $40 million Collaboration Campus is underway. It will help provide an educated workforce to businesses located in Castle Rock. Educational partners Arapahoe Community College (ACC), Colorado State University (CSU) and the Douglas County School District (DCSD) will create a smooth pathway from high school diploma to Associate degree to Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. This two-phase project will consist of two buildings fulfilling a 108,000-square-foot campus. Phase one is expected to open in the fall of 2019.
ENTREPRENEURIAL + FINANCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE
Some of the more thoughtful and creative solutions implemented to grow and retain businesses in Castle Rock include the ConneXion Spot, Castle Rock’s first co-working space, and Innosphere, a high-tech incubator designed to support entrepreneurs and build high-growth companies. The strategic vision for the community is to foster an environment where small local companies have an opportunity to thrive in the for the foreseeable future.
Every community that plans to be relevant for employers must have the critical digital infrastructure to compete in today’s economy: Fiber. Every conversation about commercial real estate starts and ends with connectivity. The growing thirst for bandwidth seems to be endless. Comcast has been aggressive in the Castle Rock market, completing proactive retrofits for commercial buildings and building out a strong fiber and coaxial network of connectivity.
Castle Rock Adventist Health Campus (CRAHC) is very committed to the overall health of the Castle Rock community. Since the land was acquired in the early 2000s, the CRAHC began executing their vision, reimagining how health care is delivered. In 2011 a top-notch emergency room and care facility were built, followed by a 50-bed hospital and two, 60,000-square-foot medical office buildings. What is unknown to many is that the campus has more to come. CRAHC is currently evaluating a state-of-the-art wellness center that integrates western, eastern and alternative medical therapies. CRAHC is also attracting additional medical office tenants and is evident through the recent construction of the 25,000-square-foot Limelight Medical Building.
Keeping tax revenue within your community is great but using outside tax dollars is even better. In today’s online retail market place, stores are shrinking their total square footage and increasing their online presence. As long as Colorado tax policies force municipalities to disproportionately pay for their fire, police, roads and park services with commercial sales tax it will be critical for communities to not only capture their local sales tax but create regional opportunities to pay for these services. People still want to touch and feel their products but then they go online to see if they can get better prices. That said, successful projects now create regional retail opportunities in great environments.
Castle Rock is one of the many Colorado towns fortunate enough to have a historic downtown district. Maintaining its existence, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), established in 2008, is charged with encouraging focused redevelopment opportunities by utilizing tax increment financing. Projects range from beautification to community amenities, adaptive reuse, facade renovations and large development projects.
Castle Rock’s leadership is constantly reviewing what is working and what can be done to enhance its future. Leaders of the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Alliance, the Economic Development Council and the Town of Castle Rock meet on a weekly basis to discuss ideas, solutions and long-range interests.
Frank Gray is the head of the Castle Rock Economic Development Corporation.