Open for Business — Four Priorities for Maintaining Colorado’s Economic Competitiveness

Colorado's economic competitiveness continues to be a force to recon with, but there's some apprehension about what the future holds.
Colorado's economic competitiveness

It’s easy to forget that Colorado businesses aren’t buildings, they are real people — employees, business owners, suppliers, investors — that make up the foundation of Colorado’s economic success. It’s also easy to forget that the economic concerns affecting individuals and families, like inflation, high interest rates, supply chain issues and more, also impact business. Additionally, recent surveys have reported that business owners share some apprehensive feelings toward Colorado’s economic competitiveness.

The most recent Leeds Business Confidence Index from the University of Colorado reported that business leaders show more pessimism today than this time last year when it comes to the state and national economies.

READ: Our Economy in 2023 — What to Expect

When asking large employers in Colorado for their priorities that state leaders should consider for building a stronger economic outlook, these are the items that rose to the top:  

Prioritize a competitive tax and regulatory agenda.

Colorado’s economy has been among the strongest in the country and consistently ranks high in comparison to other states. However, new regulations, taxes and fees at the state and local levels have contributed to a higher cost of doing business in Colorado. 

READ: How Will FTC’s Proposed Ban on Non-Compete Clauses Impact Colorado Law?

Public policy has a profound impact on these costs. One recent example is the enacted Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program (FAMLI). On January 1, Colorado employees started seeing paycheck deductions for FAMLI and businesses are also footing the cost. While the numbers may seem innocuous, adding yet another cost to employers will not go without effect. This payroll impact is one of many that increases the cost of doing business in Colorado and speeds up a costly trend that, if gone unchecked, could cause employers to find more affordable places of operating.

Modernize training pipelines and ensure a cohesive partnership between academia and business.

A trend currently being experienced across nearly all industries in Colorado is the number of businesses facing workforce shortages. For companies looking to retain talent and attract a strong workforce pipeline, this is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Building a “tomorrow-ready” workforce requires modernizing training pipelines, embracing technology and strengthening post-secondary education options to allow Coloradans to be trained to fill critical job openings. 

Partnerships between the private sector, traditional education systems and talent producers are critical to meeting the current and future talent demand and providing relevancy. If Colorado leaders want to create a strong future, they must continue to focus on building strong training pipelines. 

READ: 6 Ways to Find New Employees During the “Great Resignation”

Invest in future-forward infrastructure.

A future-forward infrastructure system is critical to unleashing Colorado’s long-term competitive potential. Colorado must focus on issues such as sustainability of our natural resources — including water quality and quantity, transportation mobility, aviation, energy, broadband and 5G access. These essential pieces of modern infrastructure are the backbone supporting a strong economy, business growth and quality of life.

Lead with purpose: Support communities and people in need

Many companies and nonprofit organizations that serve our Colorado communities take ongoing, meaningful action to support individuals in need and improve their quality of life. The shared passion that surrounds philanthropic giving, community engagement and a commitment to environmental and social responsibility has a profound impact on the lives of thousands of Coloradans. This work needs to continue.

Some of our biggest state challenges — affordability, community safety, health and wellbeing — can only be confronted when leaders from many sectors work together to find and implement solutions. 

READ: Maximize Your Charitable Giving Donations —Aligning With Your Budget and Passions

Colorado has a strong foundation for growth. We are a hub for countless industries, a home for world-class higher education and medical institutions and, most importantly, we share a community spirit grounded in growth and helping those in need. Looking ahead, we can secure our footing in a global economy by championing Colorado’s economic competitiveness through the priorities outlined here, and doing so will ensure our state remains a thriving place to live, work, play and innovate.


Debbie Brown is the President of the Colorado Business Roundtable.

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