Raleigh looks to Denver for inspiration


About a month ago, economic development leaders in Raleigh, N.C., made  a low-key visit to scope out what they could learn from Denver.

The interesting thing is that by many economic development measures, Raleigh is in much better shape than Denver. For example, while Denver was No. 5 in the country for net migration from 2007 to 2009, Raleigh was No. 1, by a wide-measure.

“They have lots going for them and we joked about why the came,” said Tom Clark, executive vice president of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. “However successful they have been, they’re looking for a more cohesive vision among the communities and a more aligned economic strategy.”

FasTracks discussed

Clark said they were especially interested in FasTracks, the Denver region’s $6.5 billion light-rail and rapid-transit bus-line development that is underway. “They don’t have that kind of regional transportation system in the Raleigh area, so they are very interested in what we are doing out here,” Clark said.

Joel Kotkin, a Distinguished Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University in California, an adjunct fellow with the London-based Legatum Institute, and  author of The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050,  and Mark Schill, vice president of research at  Praxis Strategy Group, an economic research and community strategy firm, attended the meeting and had this to say about it in NewGeography.com, where they both serve as editors.

“Recently a group of leaders from Raleigh made a visit to Denver to learn what makes that city successful,” they wrote. “Speaking to the group, we pointed out that by objective measurement – job growth, educated migration, population growth – Raleigh beat Denver by a long shot, yet it was to Denver the group was looking for inspiration. In fact, over the past three years, Americans have moved to Raleigh at a rate more than three times that of Denver. Perception can be a funny thing which makes a winner feel inferior to a clear runner-up.”

Alan Salazar, Chief Strategic Operating Officer for Gov. John Hickenlooper, was unaware of the meeting until told about it by InsideRealEstateNews.

“That’s very exciting,” Salazar said. “I’m going to tell Gov. Hickenlooper about it.”

He said even areas of the country that may have more robust economies than Colorado by some metrics, such as Raleigh, can learn from Colorado.

“We have been operating in a very bipartisan way,” Salazar said. “Other states have terrible relations between the parties. It’s not a train-wreck in Colorado. It is worth coming to Colorado to see the intersection between higher-education and technology and the environment, and what Richard Florida calls the “Creative Class.”

Contact John Rebchook at JRCHOOK@gmail.com

To read the entire NewGeography article on this topic, please visit this link.

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John Rebchook

John Rebchook has more than 30 years of experience in writing and communications. As the Real Estate Editor for the Rocky Mountain News, he wrote about residential and commercial real estate for 26 years. He has won numerous awards for business stories and columns that he wrote, both as an individual and part of teams. In addition to real estate, he also covered economic development, banking and financing, the airlines, and cable TV for the Rocky. In addition, he was one of the original freelance writers for GlobeSt.com, covering commercial real estate for the Internet publication.

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