Growing Colorado's Economy
December 04, 2011
Growing Colorado's Economy
Colorado has fared better than the rest of the country with the collapse of the economy following the mortgage crises and speculative derivatives, yet many people remain out of work in Colorado and what's worse is that despite extended unemployment much of the employment has become chronic to the point where people "fall off the rolls" of what is counted. Colorado's unemployment rate is now 8.1% (U.S. = 9%) but 40,000 new jobs were created in Colorado since September 2011.
In walking my district and talking with constituents it is clear that a variety of sectors have been hard hit across a spectrum of education and work levels. So what can we do from a policy perspective? While many of the abuses that led to the crash need to be remedied at the federal level, there are a variety of important roles the state (and you) can play.
(1) Office of Economic Development: The Governor has a variety of new initiatives coming out of this office. This office can offer information, resources, grants and a variety of opportunities to help create and grow Colorado businesses.
(2) Colorado Eco-Tourism: Colorado remains a top tourism destination and our local economy receives a 7-fold return on our investments in this area. You can help by supporting our local natural beauty and encouraging friends and family to come visit us in Colorado! Colorado continues to have some of the most breath-taking beauty in the world.
(3) Local First: While mass layoffs often happen with the largest of corporations, the recovery and growth of the economy is going to be fueled by small, local businesses. Every time you make a purchase from a local business, the benefit to our local economy is three-fold. Coloradans spent $12 Billion last year on holiday shopping. If we shifted even 10% of our spending to the locally owned businesses, it would add $3 Billion to Colorado's economy! For other great ideas on buying and supporting local, please visit: http://coloradolocalfirst.com/.
(4) State Contracting: Of course the state has a very limited budget, but the State of Colorado spends over $3 Billion year in contracting with the private sector. By contracting smart we can not only save taxpayers money, and ensure we provide better services, but we can also have a significant impact on our local economy. The state could give bidding weight to Colorado contractors and employers who are hiring Coloradans, paying a living wage, and not out-sourcing local jobs.
(5) Outsourcing: While it is a businesses prerogative to ship our jobs oversees, it is important to patron and support the companies that don't. We can also take a studies look at ensuring the state (and federal) government is not extending public subsidies or benefits to corporations who ship our jobs overseas.
(6) Colorado's Growth Sectors: I am very proud to have authored SB 09-51 which created the opportunity for solar lease financing in Colorado, which has doubled the amount of residential solar in less than 2 years but has also brought three new companies to Colorado to date! There is no question that Colorado has fared better in part because of our forward thinking on the New Energy Economy. Our health care industries have remained relatively strong as well.
(7) Education is the backbone of a strong economy: In order to ensure our children our well-educated, critical thinkers, and ready for the workforce, we need to provide the quality of education that is necessary so all of our kids in K-12 succeed, have the greatest opportunities and can afford to go to college or vocational schools for work. There are decent-paying jobs that remain unfilled at present because of a need for more engineers and IT specialists. We need to make sure we are filling those jobs.
(8) Tax Credits are a Mixed Bag: The data show that some targeted tax credits can serve as effective incentives but that many others don't have any impact. We need to get past talking points and take a sober look at the data as to what has a measurable impact and what doesn't. Unaccountable distribution of public funds to private corporations who do not create jobs or ship them overseas is simply wasteful spending and corporate welfare. Colorado cannot afford corporate subsidies to the largest actors who do not need the funds and are not using them in a measurable way to create jobs.
Want to add your own ideas? NOW is the time.
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