Colorado could land the corporate headquarters of one of the nation’s largest companies, Gov. John Hickenlooper told more than 1,000 people on Thursday.
Hickenlooper, almost in passing, said that last week he met with the CEO of a “Fortune 150 company, who said he might be interested in moving his corporate headquarters here,” at the Colorado Real Estate & Economic Summit at the PPA Convention and Event Center near Invesco Field.
Company’s identity guarded
Hickenlooper did not elaborate and a spokesman said he would try to get more information, but had not responded to InsideRealEstateNews by Friday night. However, an economic development official acknowledged he was aware of the potential deal, although he could not speak about it publicly yet because he signed a non-disclosure agreement. He would not give hints about where the company is currently located or its industry. “I think we have a pretty good shot at making the cut,” he said, adding it is hard to tell where the Denver stands, as company’s keep details close to the vest until they are ready to make an announcement. He estimated the company would bring 250 to 300 jobs.
But more than just jobs, the move would help dispel a perception that companies are fleeing the Denver area. High-profile companies that either have moved or plan to move their corporate headquarters from Denver include ProLogis, Qwest Communications, Coors, Frontier Airlines, and First Data. On the other hand, few notice that almost 50 companies have moved their corporate headquarters to the Denver area during the past seven years, one economic development official lamented. One of the recent economic coups was when kidney-care provider DaVita moved its corporate headquarters to downtown Denver. Intrawest also is moving its corporate headquarters to the Denver area.
“I was intrigued by the Governor’s comment,” said Chris Mygatt, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Colorado, which sponsored the event. “That was the first time I had heard about it. As governor, I hope he spends a significant time with conversations just like the one he mentioned. The Denver area and Colorado have so much to offer. We have a good, solid employee base, great weather, a ton of things to do, and reasonably priced homes, compared with a lot of cities in the country. If I were a CEO of a company, this is where I would want to be. I would like us to attract more companies like DaVita.”
Hick meets with Bill Gates
On another subject, Hickenlooper said he spent 90 minutes with Bill Gates last week, when he attended the National Governor’s Association Conference in Washington, D.C.. Gates, the founder of Microsoft and the richest man in the U.S., told Hickenlooper that he believes Colorado will lead the nation in public education reform in the coming years.
That praise comes despite Hickenlooper’s budget proposal, which calls for slashing K-12 funding to balance the state’s budget. Hickenlooper clearly found the proposed cuts painful. “No one knows more than me how important education is to economic development,” he said. But with K-12 funding accounting for 42 percent of the budget, there is no other place to cut, he said. Colorado, he said, is weathering the “worst depression since the Great Depression of the 1930s,” Hickenlooper said. He said that after the short-term recession following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the state still had a 14 percent or 15 percent reserve in its coffers, which provided a cushion. Today, the reserve is down to 2 percent. Even if it were doubled today 4 percent, he said that could only run the state for two weeks. Still, he said he thinks that fiscally responsible steps being taken today, which he said he expects to pass with bi-partisan support, will establish Colorado as one of the fiscally strongest states in the coming years.
Everyone needs to be pro-business
One thing on Hickenlooper’s agenda is to find out at a grassroots level what people believe is needed to jump start the economy. Although Colorado must always take the “highest ethical” stand as far as protecting the environment, he said everyone needs to be “pro-business.” Most governors will seek the advice of top economic development officials, but he said he wants to hear from everyone from “Rotary members to Realtors…So you are all deputized. Get to work.”
“As a small business owners, I know sometimes the government’s role is to get out of the way. I want to know what you think is unnecessary red-tape,” Hickenlooper said. He joked that as a former owner of bars and restaurants, he is not seeking a “bottom’s up,” way of doing business, but a “bottom-up,” strategy.
Denver Mayor Bill Vidal, who spoke after Hickenlooper, delivered a similar message. He said he wants every city employees not to think of their jobs as simply performing their assigned task. “I want them to see themselves as advocates for job creation,” Vidal said.< class="related_post_title">Related Posts:>