Why national parks are good for business

Public lands help drive Colorado's economy

As the co-founder of Denver-based tech startup, Utivity, I know firsthand that Colorado’s outdoor lifestyle is one of the assets in attracting businesses, talent, investors and mentors to build our state’s economy. Our employees work hard all week and play hard all weekend – skiing, hiking, camping, biking, fishing and so much more in our majestic high country.

Access to public lands – especially national parks – is essential to what makes Colorado special, and it's a catalyst for attracting entrepreneurs, creating new jobs and boosting tourism. A recent study found that over the last 45 years, counties with the highest share of protected federal lands performed better for population, employment, personal income and per capita income growth on average than those with the least protected federal lands.

In fact, many entrepreneurs credit Colorado’s outdoors as the reason why they chose Colorado as the perfect place to start and grow their businesses. The lifestyle and access to open space gives us a singular advantage in attracting and retaining talent. Smart people make smart choices – for the brains, bodies and the betterment of the world. I speak from personal experience that moving from New York to Colorado about two years ago has provided me inspiration to pursue my goals and take in places like the Great Sand Dunes and Rocky Mountain National Park.

This year, our national park system celebrates its the 100th anniversary, making National Park Week 2016 a truly special occasion. April 16-24 offers eight days of free admission to explore Colorado’s unique treasures. From diverse wildlife and iconic landscapes, to vibrant culture and rich history, our national parks are gems where Coloradans can explore, grow and thrive. Many of our employees report that the time they spend outdoors during the weekend helps them physically and mentally recharge so they are fresh and creative all week.

A recent Colorado College poll shows that 77 percent of state residents believe that federal public lands help the state economy. Small business owners agree – six in 10 said that access to parks, public lands and other outdoor opportunities was a major factor in their decision to operate their business in Colorado.

If Colorado wants to maintain its competitive advantage in attracting businesses and talent, we need to protect our national parks and other public lands. I urge our state’s leaders to continue to finding ways to increase and protect access to our public lands. Our economy depends on it.

Categories: Economy/Politics, Web Exclusives