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Hancock unveils business initiatives in State of the City speech

Monday, July 15, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Selina Sandoval
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Hancock unveils business initiatives in State of the City speech

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock used his second State of the City address to lay out an ambitious but somewhat vague plan to increase entrepreneurship and foreign business interest in the Mile High City while continuing to cut down on homelessness and a shortage of lower-income housing.

In a 30-minute speech to a packed room at the Forney Museum of Transportation, Hancock said his administration plans to open a new center for entrepreneurism and technology, create an International Welcome Center and launch a new strategic plan to strengthen Denver’s arts and creative economies.

He also plans to partner with the National Western Stock Show and with Colorado State University to help make the current stock-show complex a year-round destination and to continue adding to Denver International Airport’s growing number of international nonstop flights — such as the ones that have launched in the past year to Tokyo and Mexico City, he said.

>Full text and a CBS4 video of the speech.

But Hancock also gave only rough outlines of each of the plans and mentioned several times that the funding source would be unspecified public-private partnerships. At one point, as he announced his plan to have 3,000 units of workforce housing constructed in the city over the next five years, the mayor pleaded for private organizations to join him in the initiative.

"To sincerely address this housing gap, we need to build, rehab and preserve at least 600 units per year for the next five years,” Hancock said. "But we can’t do this alone. I am asking local nonprofits, private sector developers and the financial community to help the city deliver on the goal of 'three by five': Three thousand workforce units in the next five years.”

Still, several business leaders who attended the event said that even without a lot of details, Hancock showed that he was watching out for the region’s private businesses and economy by focusing on the core needs of education, infrastructure and creating opportunities for people.

"I think his emphasis on education is where it all starts, and investing in the infrastructure and creating this place where people want to be is a good focus,” said Walter Isenberg, president/CEO of Sage Hospitality.

Among the ways that Hancock will create that place is a joint project with the Downtown Denver Partnership and Colorado Technology Association to create an entrepreneurism center that will serve as "an investment in the ideas economy and will support emerging high-growth companies with advisers, short-term leasing and connections to create jobs and inspire innovation.”

Tami Door, president/CEO of the downtown partnership, said officials are searching for a single location that can house several nonprofit organizations geared toward entrepreneurship and also incubate specific industries that are targets for city economic-development leaders. That space would host educational sessions that allow small technology companies to partner with educational or non-profit groups, and the idea is that start-up firms could have support to grow into larger companies that can anchor the city’s economy.

"Picture a town hall where our community comes together to start and grow companies, where we leverage all the resources the public sector has to offer and we engage the energy of the nonprofit sector to drive the private sector,” Door said.

Collaboration also is the theme to a plan to build a campus for animal sports and medicine around the National Western Stock Show that will mirror the biotechnology focus occurring on the University of Colorado Anschutz campus in Aurora.

In addition to working on animal issues, Colorado State will also work on food and agricultural issues on the campus and help Denver to achieve a goal of having 20 percent of the fresh produce sold in the city by 2020 be produced here, Hancock said in an interview.

"This is a dynamic opportunity that’s going to happen,” the mayor said.

The International Welcome Center also would be a public-private partnership, one that would answer questions for foreign visitors and foreign residents on how to find housing, start businesses, find out medical services and seek out neighborhoods where people from their native countries live, Hancock explained. Though housed in the city’s Office of Human Rights and Community Partnerships, the office will seek to use private resources and expertise as well to capitalize on the increasing amount of foreign tourism and business visitors, he said in an interview.

For original article, click here.

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