As decision-makers in Denver South, it is critical for us to continue to move toward a more competitive Colorado. We must be aware of how our state compares to other states on key criteria that businesses consider when relocating to, or expanding in, a region. We must be aware of what opportunities we have to improve our attractiveness to employers.

With this in mind, we welcomed Laura Rodriguez, Vice President of Economic Competitiveness and Corporate Attraction for Metro Denver EDC, to present on the Toward a More Competitive Colorado report. This report is a longitudinal study of Colorado’s business environment since 2000. It examines 26 key economic indicators, and how Colorado compares to other states on these key criteria.

Talent and Quality of Life

To kick off the presentation, Rodriguez first highlighted our state’s workforce. She noted that the workforce in Colorado has recovered from the pandemic, and is in fact now larger than the pre-pandemic workforce. With a 2.9% unemployment rate, high level of education, and a younger workforce, Colorado—and the Denver metro area in particular—continues to be an attractive destination for employers from a talent perspective.

As hybrid schedules become codified, employers want to be in locations where their employees can thrive, both at work and at home. With the 7th-highest social, physical, and mental wellbeing in the nation, Colorado continues to be an attractive destination. The quality of life our state is able to offer is attractive to individuals, which in turn is a draw for employers.

The challenge, however, is that Colorado’s population growth has stagnated, which has impacted growth of the state’s labor force. In 2022 the state experienced the slowest rate of growth since 1989. This has been hampered by the increasingly-high cost of living, which makes Colorado unaffordable to many potential transplants.

The state continues to have a one-month housing supply, versus the three-month supply that designates a healthy housing market. The ability to meet housing demand has been hampered by supply chain issues, limited land available for development, and construction defect laws that make it difficult for developers to build multifamily homes. In this, Colorado has opportunities to improve affordability and drive down the cost of living.

Key Industries

Colorado also continued to perform well in its key industry clusters, specifically high-tech and aerospace. Colorado has the largest private sector aerospace industry and the 4th-highest concentration of high-tech jobs in the United States. Companies in these sectors are drawn by the high caliber of our workforce, which is the 2nd-most educated workforce in the nation.

Concentrations of these and other key industries allow Colorado to maintain a diversified economy, which puts it in a position of strength to weather economic downturns. This strength is further buoyed by our state’s strong entrepreneurial spirit and reputation as a hub for innovation. Colorado ranks 13th in new business creation—a metric that can point to a region’s ability to weather economic uncertainty.


To maintain this competitive advantage, Colorado needs to continue to invest in its students. While STEM education has continued to be a bright spot for Colorado, the state has fallen to 42nd in the nation for graduation rates and 38th for high school graduates who pursue higher education.

Rodriguez noted the efforts being made in Denver South by our school districts to address this gap. She highlighted new schools such as the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus and the Douglas County Legacy Campus as key to maintaining a competitive talent pipeline. She also emphasized ongoing efforts at the state level to create apprenticeship programs. These programs will help bridge talent gaps for our employers and secure our state’s talent pipeline for the future.

As we left this morning, we were buoyed by a sense of optimism about the future of Colorado and Denver South. While we undoubtedly have challenges in front of us, we have some of the best and the brightest working together to ensure Colorado—and Denver South—remains a desirable place to live, work, and play.

Thank you to everyone who was able to join us for our April partnership meeting. We hope you are able to join us June 1st for our next partnership meeting, where we will be discussing A Pivotal Year in Water: What You Need to Know. For details and to register, click here.

To view Laura’s presentation, click here.