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Two Colorado Cities Rank Among the Best in US for Starting a Company

Denver and Colorado Springs made Inc. Magazine’s list of the top 50 U.S. Surge Cities


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Denver and Colorado Springs both made Inc. Magazine’s list of the 50 best U.S. cities for starting a business. While Austin, Texas took home the prize as the best metro area for startup growth, Denver followed at No. 4 —  falling just behind Salt Lake City and Durham, N.C. at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Colorado Springs also made the list at No. 21. 

These cities — which the magazine refers to as surge cities — were selected by Inc. and innovation policy company Startup Genome based on seven essential indicators: rate of entrepreneurship (the percentage of adults who are entrepreneurs), high-growth company density (the number of high-growth companies for every 100,000 adults), population growth, net business creation (year-over-year percent change in the number of business establishments), wage growth, job creation and early-stage funding deals (the number of deals per 100,00 adults). 

Inc. refers to Denver as “like San Francisco and Palo Alto — but with cows.” Denver rose to the No. 4 ranking from its position at No. 8 in the 2019 index. The reason for this, perhaps, is Denver’s rate of entrepreneurship, which is second highest among all 50 cities on the list. The city’s proximity to Techstars’ headquarters in Boulder and its entrepreneurial culture, associated primarily with Denver Startup Week, were also attributed in the list. 

Denver also ranked as No. 4 in high-growth company density — noting that while early-stage funding is easier for Denver startups to come by than growth capital, companies are still able to scale —  and No. 8 in wage growth. 

For Colorado Springs, millennials, other high-skilled workers and its small town values are to thank for the city’s ranking on this list. The city was ranked at No. 5 for wage growth, No. 11 for population growth — according to this report, 16,000 millennials moved to the city in 2017 alone  — and No. 11 for rate of entrepreneurship. 

Another factor includes the Colorado Springs’ labor pool, which the magazine says is comprised of highly-educated (ranked No. 12 in the country by Wallethub) and technically-inclined adults (thanks to the five military institutions in the city). The magazine also  references the city’s incubators and successful startups that call the city home. This includes incubators Exponential Impact and Catalyst Campus as well as startups Cherwell Software, Quantum Metric and FoodMaven. 

Tech Towns

While Inc. makes no reference to specific industries that are driving the success of the cities on its index, both Denver and Colorado Springs have been recognized for their presence in the technology industry. Earlier this month, technology association CompTIA ranked both cities in its list of the best 20 cities for IT and tech jobs

On this list, Denver ranked at No. 9 and Colorado Springs at No. 16. Boulder also made the list, ranking between the two cities at No. 14. (It’s worth noting that Austin, Texas also took the No. 1 spot on this list.) 

To compile this list, CompTIA evaluated cities with populations of 250,000 where demand for tech workers was the greatest. The ranking is based on the number of IT job ads, the cost of living index rank, the cost of living adjusted median hourly earnings rank, the percentage of job growth rank over 1-year and 5-years, as well as what it calls the location quotient rank (or the number of IT job ads divided by the number of people employed). 

CompTIA found that Denver had posted over 60,000 tech jobs over the last 12 months. It also noted that this number is expected to grow by 3% in 2020, and by 5% over the next five years. According to the report, the median income for IT pros in the state is $97,719 a year. The top employers of IT jobs in the city were mainly cable and service providers such as Dish Network, CenturyLink, Comcast, Charter Communications and more. 

Boulder made the list for its “vibrant, health tech ecosystem,” according to CompTIA. The report highlights the city as the home to Ball Aerospace, one of the top employers of IT pros in Boulder, which has led to a number of startups emerging in the aerospace and bioscience industries. The report also calls attention to its venture capital investment, which hit $1.6 billion 2018, as well as the continued growth of startups in the city. 

According to the report, Colorado Springs made the ranking due to the large growth in the IT and tech space over the years. CompTIA specifically highlights the city’s population growth, affordability and sustainable economy. The number of IT jobs in the city hit over 13,000 this year and is expected to grow by 6% in the next five years.

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Ali Longwell

Ali Longwell is the digital editor at ColoradoBiz. She has also written for SDxCentral, a B2B online technology publication, as well as Denver-area lifestyle magazines 5280, Denver Life Magazine, Avid Lifestyle and more. She can be reached at alongwell@cobizmag.com

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