- Ken Lund was a speaker Colorado Commercial Real Estate Symposium.
- Hick is talking to a New Jersey company about moving its HQ here.
- Lund said Colorado had become too complacent in attracting companies in the past.
After Gov. John Hickenlooper appointed Ken Lund as the executive director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, he trotted him out in front of the media to explain how he would target 14 key industries to help grow and sustain the state’s economy, as outlined under the Colorado Blueprint.
Lund, who had served as Hickenlooper’s Legal Counsel for nine months before taking his new post in Aug. 2011, asked the governor who would hold him accountable, and Hickenlooper told him the media would.
“We have done everything in the blueprint,” but said he is still waiting for the media to acknowledge the accomplishments, he told more than 600 real estate and business leaders who attended the Colorado Commercial Real Estate Symposium earlier this month.
Lund interspersed his talk with clips from the 1995 film Apollo 13 directed by Ron Howard, with the famous line by Tom Hanks playing astronaut Jim Lovell: “Houston, we have a problem.”
Lund, an attorney with Holme Robert & Owen, in Denver before joining the governor’s office at a fraction of his private-sector salary, said there was a problem in Denver and Colorad, as far as economic development efforts.
“We had become complacent,” he said, believing that Colorado’s mountains and lifestyle would automatically trump anything else.
For example, he said that right before coming to the symposium, he and Hickenlooper had been visiting with a “potentially real exciting headquarters opportunity,” from a company based in New Jersey.
It may seem like a no-brainer that Colorado would beat New Jersey hands down, but he noted that the company’s move means uprooting employees who have kids in school and a stake and commitment to their community.
Colorado sometimes showcases the wrong things, he said.
“We trotted out John Elway,” the former Denver Broncos quarterback, in the mid-1990s, when the state unsuccessfully tried to persuade Boeing to move its headquarters to Denver in the mid-1990s, he noted. Boeing chose Chicago over Denver and Dallas.
Lund, said he discovered that the state’s economic development efforts amounted to “35 years of programs in search of a strategy.”
He summed up the “core objectives” of his office with six bullet points:
- Build a business-friendly environment;
- Retain, grow and recruit companies;
- Increase access to capital;
- Create and market a strong brand;
- Educate and train the workforce of the future;
- And cultivate innovation and technology.
Advanced industries being targeted are:
- Advanced manufacturing;
- Energy and natural resources;
- Infrastructure engineering;
- And technology and information.
Key industries being targeted are:
- Tourism and outdoor recreation;
- Creative industries;
- Health and Wellness;
- Defense and homeland security;
- Financial Services;
- Food and agriculture;
- And transportation and logistics.
“Denver will never be a financial center like New York or London,” Lund said.
Denver, however, is the No. 1 destination city for the coveted 25-34 year-old demographic, according to the Brookings Institution, he noted.
“Colorado has the chance of being the most innovative state in the country,” Lund said.
“Our talent is amazing. That is sure to lead to great things not just currently, but long into the future.”
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