On January 15th I had the pleasure of attending The Denver Forum luncheon with speaker Dick Fleming. The Denver Forum is an organization dedicated to the dialogue of democracy, and 25 years after its inception, it continues to promote programming that is in the highest public interest. Fleming’s presentation shared reflections of when he was CEO of both the Denver Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Denver Partnership. He has over 30 years of CEO and practitioner experience in Atlanta, Denver and St. Louis. Fleming’s influence on the Denver region started in the early 80’s. From 1980 to 1986 he was President and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership, Inc. The Downtown Denver Partnership, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that creatively plans, manages and develops Downtown Denver as the unique, diverse, vibrant and economically healthy urban core of the Rocky Mountain region.
Fleming has many ties to the Denver area formerly leading the Denver Chamber of Commerce for seven years from 1986-1993. His efforts in Denver also included the new Colorado Convention Center which was the centerpiece of the Downtown Area Plan, passage of a quarter-billion dollar city bond initiative, metro-wide referendums establishing six-county funding for the Scientific and Cultural Facility District; a six-county Stadium District; and the recruitment of Major League Baseball to Denver. He also played a lead private sector role in the partnership between former Mayor Federico Peña and former Governor Roy Romer, driving major economic development initiatives, including two successful airport elections, negotiating with airlines and obtaining federal funding to develop $5 billion Denver International Airport.
In 1994 Fleming was appointed as the President and CEO of a 174-year-old organization—the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association—where he rejuvenated it. In 2012 Fleming left the position stating “When you’ve been in a role for almost 17 years, the timing becomes a function when it feels right.” A true collaborator, Fleming’s key achievement was the design and implementation of public/private partnerships at the local, regional and national levels including sub-cabinet grant making roles at the federal level, including the creation and management of multi-billion dollar grant programs such as the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant, the $1.2 billion Urban Development Block Grant, the $15 million Neighborhood Self Help Development, and the $15 million Livable Cities program.
Fleming earned his undergraduate degree from Loyola College. He has two masters degrees, one from Wharton School of Finance and Commerce and the second in city planning from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Fine Arts. Fleming remains in the St. Louis region doing philanthropic work.
I am inspired by the leadership of Dick Fleming. As a result of his influential guidance he has led Denver into great economic strides, including most of the city’s key tourism areas. When I fly out of Denver International Airport, gain business from a tradeshow at the Convention Center or enjoy a game of Colorado Rockies baseball I have Mr. Dick Fleming to thank.