THE PODIUM | Road to recovery is paved with potential

Jan 11, 2021

It comes as no surprise that COVID-19 has adversely affected almost every aspect of our state’s economy. While obstacles seem to have stacked against us this year, the disruption has brought an opportunity for Coloradans to rethink and rework policies that could elevate Colorado into a faster and more sustainable economic recovery. The Common Sense Institute and Colorado Business Roundtable partnered to answer a simple question: What policies would enable a faster and more sustainable Colorado economic recovery?

We partnered to launch what we call the Road to Recovery Initiative. This project brings together dozens of Colorado leaders from a wide range of industries and backgrounds to develop recommendations for getting Colorado back to work. It includes leaders with expertise from energy, aerospace, tech, finance, real estate, and thought leaders on economic development and the future of work, who helped develop data-based strategies for success and forward momentum.

Colorado businesses have more than risen to the challenges brought on by the pandemic. They have reimagined ways to deliver services, have restructured supply lines, and have gone above and beyond to support relief efforts. The COVID-19 crisis has unearthed new, modern challenges like remote work and education and fragile supply lines, as it magnifies the old ones, including technological disruptions and a changing workforce.

As we prepared our Road to Recovery Initiative, we discussed philosophically and practically what it means to measure the success of our economy. Economic success should be reflective of the economic status of ALL Coloradans. We included data in this report inclusive of key-quality-of-life indicators as well as personal success measures.

Prior to 2020 and the global economic and cultural upheaval brought with the COVID-19 pandemic, Coloradans had created the #1 state economy, and our state stood out for having strong economic growth and a desired lifestyle. We experienced competitive advantages that attracted business growth and an educated workforce. While the last eight months have proved to be difficult for Coloradans, we’ve fared relatively better than national averages. Some sectors and regions of our state have been hit harder than others. For instance, consider the hospitality industry. By all counts restaurant owners have suffered devastating impacts.

The Road to Recovery Initiative process included identifying key pillars critical to Colorado’s long-term economic success, brainstorming and collaboration, and vetting recommendations with additional outside expertise. In the report, we focused on three key pillars: Prioritizing a competitiveness agenda; reimagining tomorrow’s workforce, and investing in a future-forward infrastructure. For each of the pillars, the Common Sense Institute’s team of economists put together Key Pillar Indicators to help frame policy recommendations with key metrics and data: Where were we in 2019? Where are we now? Where do we want to be?

The Road to Recovery Initiative Pillars outline and provide clear and intentional recommendations for how to mitigate residual effects of the current recession moving forward. With the goal of prioritizing a competitiveness agenda, we can help foster and maximize sustainable economic growth through proper regulatory balance and supporting fiscal policies that promote innovation, job attraction, and retention. We need to be mindful of how Colorado is positioned in the wider marketplace for future residents and employers on both a national and global scale.

Reimagining tomorrow’s workforce requires modernizing training pipelines, embracing technology, and strengthening post-secondary education options. Providing opportunities for youth and working adults to find fulfilling jobs and sustainable career pathways.

To unleash Colorado’s long-term competitive potential, we must invest in a future-forward infrastructure. Focusing specifically on issues such as mobility, energy, and broadband/5G because they are the backbone to support a strong economy, business growth, and quality of life.

COVID-19 has devastated our communities who are suffering from lingering health effects and loss of life. It has also brought disruption within the business community and local economy. Within this disruption, there is is opportunity. We can protect and influence our economic success in Colorado, while also ensuring sustainable and long-term economic growth providing a high quality of life for all four corners of our state.

Together, we can come together to create thoughtful and strategic policy decisions and help get Colorado back to work. We encourage you to find more information or read the report at: https://www.roadtorecoverycolorado.org/

Debbie Brown is the president of Colorado Business Roundtable, a public policy organization comprised of executives from some of the state’s largest employers working to strengthen Colorado’s economic vitality. Kristin Strohm is the president & CEO of the Common Sense Institute, a nonprofit, free-enterprise think tank dedicated to the protection and promotion of Colorado’s economy.

Colorado Politics – January 11, 2021
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