Thursday, November 19, 2015

Top 4 Reasons Why Tech is Booming in Colorado

Silicon Valley or Silicon Mountain?

Colorado has become one of the hottest places for startup innovation. According to the news and tech website Mashable, “the tech scene in Colorado is on fire, particularly for companies that specialize in natural food, computer storage and biotech.” Here are the top four reasons that the Colorado tech scene is booming:
  1. Magnet for Tech Talent and Jobs
    For the first time, Denver, Colorado leads Forbes’ 2015 list of the best places for business and careers as #1 out of 401 metropolitan areas in the U.S. The Denver metro area is regarded as having one of the most diverse and highly educated labor forces in the country, with more than 100,000 out-of-state migrants moving to Denver between 2010 and 2014. As The Wall Street Journal states, "Millennials are flocking to the Mile High City, and it isn’t just the nearby ski slopes, microbreweries or urban hiking trails that are attracting them: It’s the jobs." In the past 12 months, more than 4,000 new technology jobs have been created across multiple industries in the state of Colorado. From large tech companies like Google, HP, Oracle and IBM -- who have a significant presence in the state -- to the budding start-ups, Colorado has a very strong tech ecosystem.
  2.  Startup-Friendly Environment
    For entrepreneurs looking to get their idea funded, Colorado is a great place to be. Investment is flowing into Colorado. More than $1 billion in venture capital was put into Colorado-based companies in 2013, with half of that amount allocated toward tech companies. Also, there are a variety of state level funding opportunities such as Colorado’s Venture Capital Authority, and the Advanced Industries Accelerator Grants Program.

    Additionally, there are many great networking and connecting opportunities in Colorado. Once a year, multiple cities across Colorado, such as Denver, Colorado Springs, Longmont, Fort Collins and Summit County, host “startup weeks”, where startups can network with business leaders and learn how to scale up. Colorado is also home to several innovation centers: Galvanize (Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins), Industry (Denver), Innosphere (Fort Collins), and Impact Hub Boulder where networking events, education, and incubator programs allow Coloradans to support one another in their journey toward innovation.
  3.  Getting from Place to Place
    In an effort to improve Colorado’s growing pains, Governor John Hickenlooper (as mayor) launched Denver’s FasTracks program, which established 121 miles of commuter light rail tracks, bus rapid transit, and park-and-ride locations. More recently Gov. Hickenlooper pledged $100 million to make Colorado the very best state for biking. These public transportation options help to keep Colorado green and make it easy for employees to ride the lightrail to the airport (soon!), as well as to major technology employment centers such as the Denver Tech Center, downtown Denver, and the Interlocken Loop.
  4.  Work Hard, Play Hard
    Coloradans enjoy incredible amenities, making the state an attractive place to live and work. Colorado has world-class sports teams, endless sunshine, a diverse range of restaurants and breweries, and boundless outdoor activities within the great Rocky Mountains! This amazing state is also home to several unique events such as the Great American Beer Festival, the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, and the Denver Film Festival, just to name a few.
With all of these great reasons for tech companies and employees to locate here, Colorado is poised to become the next great technology hub for innovation, or is it already? As we continue to attract world-class talent, the next BIG idea and the next BIG company could already be in the works, right in our own backyard.

Monica Coughlin: Chief Strategy Officer. Sports enthusiast, volunteer, proud aunt, world traveler. I tell the IT industry why Colorado is the place to be. Find me on Twitter at @MonicaCoughlin.