The Lure of Colorado
Colorado is loved by many within and outside of its borders, primarily for the quality of life it offers. The weather, scenery, access to the Rockies and hip vibe are just some of the many reasons why people flock there. More than 70,000 people moved to Colorado in 2017, a 1.4 percent increase.
Over the past few decades and particularly in the past few years, tech-heavy companies have started up, expanded to or moved to Colorado in droves. In 2015, Colorado ranked third in the nation for its concentration of high-tech workers who contribute 11.3 percent of the state’s economy. Talent is abundant, from transplants and a consistent new crop of candidates entering the workforce from area schools such as Colorado School of Mines, the University of Denver, and the University of Colorado. In fact, the unemployment rate in Colorado is only 2.8 percent, the fifth lowest in the nation.
Colorado is a big state, but the companies and talent seem to be concentrated in a few regions around the Denver area, namely the Denver Tech Center, downtown Denver, Boulder and Castle Rock. We’ll break down why.
The Denver Tech Center
Denver even boasts its own Denver Tech Center (DTC) – a centralized business hub in the southeast region of the city that includes 25 million square feet of buildings that house some of the most well-known brands in the world. IT recruiters in Denver have no shortage of clients or talent from which to choose.
The DTC may still be the corporate epicenter of Colorado, but the DTC can’t avoid an inevitable downside of its location, namely Interstate 25. Denver’s stretch of I-25 is ranked as the nation’s 50th worst traffic corridor and it provides the only access to and from the DTC. For this reason alone, many companies are opting for other areas of the city and even the state in order to attract and retain talent.
Even though downtown Denver is a typical metropolis, it is still a magnet for tech companies. Forbes gave downtown Denver the top spot in its “Best Place for Business and Careers” and ComputerTrainingSchools.com named it as the best place to start a tech career. According to the Downtown Denver Partnership, most of the many corporate relocations and expansions were in the technology sector, which saw 644 tech startups and 160 tech businesses founded in just 2017.
Downtown Denver is easy to access from any direction and employees can avoid the dreaded I-25 altogether. Many prefer to live in downtown Denver. In fact, its residential population has tripled since 2000. It has a humming tech scene and is a short drive to the beloved mountain air. With restaurants, shops and even parks within walking distance, downtown Denver is hard to beat.
Castle Rock is halfway between Colorado Springs and Denver, placing it smack dab in the middle of two of the most sought-after cities in the state. Between 1990 and 2007, its county grew 254 percent, helping Castle Rock become one of the fastest growing cities in the nation at 5.1 percent.
Many Colorado-based companies open second offices in Castle Rock, pulling talent from surrounding suburbs as well as the two cities that flank it. Even with its growth, Castle Rock offers a small town feel with easy access to hundreds of companies in both directions. Little traffic, mom-and-pop stores and cafes, and a slightly lower cost of living than in Denver, Castle Rock offers a fantastic quality of life.
Like Castle Rock, Boulder still feels like a small town and is only a short commute from Denver. Many people chose Boulder as their home and hopped on the interstate to get to work. Today, however, companies are opening offices in Boulder. Boulder is known as an entrepreneurial powerhouse, with six times more high-tech start-ups per capita than the nation’s average. Boulder County is considered among the top 20 most productive metro areas in terms of GDP.
Boulder has its own local color. College students, sojourners and hipsters are intermingled with techies and tree-huggers who want a laid-back vibe. The young and vibrant community is among the fittest in the nation, offering residents and guests alike outdoors at its best. Boulder isn’t cheap, but the views, chill scene and quality of life is next to none.
Whether you are a company looking to expand, a startup searching for a home, or skilled IT talent wanting a better life, Colorado should be on your short list. Because it’s such a great place to live, it has become a great place to work as well. From the DTC and downtown Denver to the more relaxed Castle Rock and Boulder, Colorado is rapidly becoming a tech mecca that offers something for everyone.