State announces partnering in new venture capital fund

The following announcement is from SSTI

Investing money from the state’s pension fund, Colorado will partner with local CEOs and technology companies to create a $150 million VC fund to help get local tech startups off the ground, according to multiple news sources. The fund, expected to launch by summer, would be run by a consortium of business leaders who would contribute around $10 million each, while the state would be the largest LP, contributing money from pension funds, according to an article in TechCrunch. Colorado’s fund would focus purely on tech and span all stages of funding, the article states.”


how does your commute stack up?

research suggests that long commutes are not very good for one’s mental or physical health. click here to see how the average commute time from your zip code compares to the rest of the country.

what the White House says sequestration means for Colorado

The White House released state by state estimates of the impacts of sequestration. You can find the projected impacts on Colorado by clicking this–> Colorado-sequester.

my latest in the Coloradoan: A good job is hard to find, but so are good employers

A good job is hard to find.

Nationally, more than 12.3 million people are unemployed, with 38 percent of them without paid tasks for at least 6 months. The broadest official unemployment measure, which includes people working part-time but wanting to work full time and others who are “marginally attached to the labor force,” is 15.4 percent.

The local story is not as bleak. Last year Larimer County added 5,500 jobs, and total employment is at an historical high. Yet while these new jobs have gradually nudged the county’s unemployment rate downward, 11,000 of our neighbors and we are actively looking for a job and can’t find one.

Despite the improving local employment picture, inflation adjusted household incomes have stagnated over the past decade. The number of uninsured adults has increased. Meanwhile, more than 1 in 8 local kids lives in poverty.

Clearly, the national and local economic recovery from the Great Recession remains tepid.

Because global economic forces are so mighty, local policy makers have few truly effective tools for improving a region’s economic health. They are not, however, powerless. Elected officials can work closely with businesses to create an environment that enhances economic vitality while preserving core community values.

Which brings me to Woodward Inc.

Currently, the City and DDA are working with the iconic company in its efforts to establish a new global headquarters near Old Town. Most likely, the DDA would expand its boundaries to encompass the proposed property, making Woodward eligible for tax increment financing.

Such a move would provide new energy to that part of Fort Collins, although certainly at the expense of the “open space” currently afforded by a golf course. It would also bring more people downtown, adding to its vibrancy.

Although the City can partner with Woodward, I am not suggesting granting permission to treat the Poudre River as a cesspool. Nor am I advocating that the mayor park an armored car full of cash at Woodward’s receiving dock. The New York Times recently ran a compelling story about how often economic development incentives end up being ineffective, and Fort Collins learned from Celestica how fleeting hopes can be.

Yet it is important to remember that Woodward is a rather unique entity. Originally wanting to enjoy the benefits of being near a fledgling CSU, the company is now firmly entwined in the City’s fabric. Unlike many of the region’s large employers, its leaders have established deep-roots. They sit on the boards of local non-profits, send their kids to Poudre schools, and drink beer at CooperSmith’s.

Despite these ties, it is indisputable that such companies can be “bought.” Every state in the US would love to have the more than 1,000 high paying jobs that Woodward provides. They would love to have a company that allows hard workers without a college degree to earn a good living.

While it’s true a good job may be hard to find, it’s often even harder to find a good employer. Let’s not lose the ones we have.

My 2013 Economic Outlook for Denver MSA

I was fortunate enough to present today at the Denver Business Journal’s annual economic outlook event at the Brown Palace Hotel. I predicted a pretty good year for the region, as the recovery becomes increasingly well-established. Still, unemployment will remain stubbornly high for the next couple of years. Here is a PDF of my slides.


My deepest sympathies to all of the people of Newtown, and most especially the families. I have three daughters and I live across the street from the elementary school of the youngest two. It is absolutely mind numbing to even imagine such a tragedy. Although the gunman was obviously deeply troubled, there is much more society and politicians can do to help beyond providing improved access to the desperately needed mental health services. 

new report outlines fiscal challenges facing state governments

When the Great Recession hit, state tax revenues plummeted. Increased unemployment meant less income and sales tax revenue. Businesses saw lower profits, reducing the taxes they paid.

In the meantime, the demand for public services increased. With more people out of work, outlays from the unemployment insurance program grew significantly. With people falling into poverty and losing their health insurance, Medicaid expenditures increased.

This put Colorado in a difficult bind. Because the state is required to have a balanced budget, the government had to cut spending and turn to alternative revenue sources. With much of the big-ticket spending items mandated, cuts were especially concentrated on discretionary programs, such as higher education.

On the revenue side, some of the shortfall was filled by the Federal stimulus program (those dollars have run out). Some new revenue sources were implemented, such as taxes on vending machine purchases.

Colorado’s fiscal challenges are not unique. Indeed, impacts were much more significant in states such as California and Arizona.

Despite the end of the Great Recession and the bouncing back of revenues, many states still face daunting challenges. A report released just today by the State Budget Crisis Task Force outlines these challenges for 6 states. Although Colorado is not directly discussed in the report, it faces many of the same challenges. In particular, the report identifies:

  • Medicaid Spending Growth Is Crowding Out Other Needs
  • Federal Deficit Reduction Threatens State Economies and Budgets
  • Underfunded Retirement Promises Create Risks for Future Budgets
  • Narrow, Eroding Tax Bases and Volatile Tax Revenues Undermine State Finances
  • Local Government Fiscal Stress Poses Challenges for States
  • State Budget Laws and Practices Hinder Fiscal Stability and Mask Imbalances