Mayor John Hickenlooper joined Metro Denver business and civic leaders today to announce new, locally developed economic stimulus measures and update the community on the progress of previously announced strategies to accelerate infrastructure projects, create jobs, increase spending and attract federal stimulus funding to the region.
“No community is immune to the effects of the national recession,” Hickenlooper said. “Denver and Colorado are weathering it better than many regions of the country, largely because we have business and civic leaders who work collaboratively to ensure our economy rebounds as quickly as possible.”
Hickenlooper said funding for local infrastructure bond projects – including those of the City’s Better Denver Program, Denver Public Schools, Denver Water and RTD (FasTracks) – along with federal stimulus awards to Denver and its regional partners, will inject at least $4.5 billion into the area economy over the next three years, creating thousands of design, construction and operations jobs as well as employment in related businesses and industries. These funds and projects are in addition to normal commercial and residential construction activity in the metro area, which, on average, totals nearly $4.25 billion annually, according to data provided by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.
“The amount of funding we have to work with in this region is impressive,” Hickenlooper said. “We are doing all we can to move it into the community so that the jobs and other economic benefits associated with these projects materialize as quickly as possible.”
Hickenlooper thanked Denver City Council representatives and City Auditor Dennis Gallagher for their support and involvement in the stimulus efforts and acknowledged members of the Economic Stimulus Task Force he appointed late last year for their service to the City. He also announced several new strategies developed by that group.
Better Denver Infrastructure Bond Projects
Better Denver Program Manager Don Hunt said the City has completed 15 of the 215 infrastructure projects approved by voters in 2007. Construction has begun on another 15 projects, 64 are under design and another 96 projects are in the planning phase. Construction is slated to begin on a total of 60 projects this year, Hunt said. The new Central Park Recreation Center in Stapleton and the California Street Streetscape Project downtown are examples of projects the City is accelerating. Officials plan to complete the Better Denver projects in 4 years, well ahead of the 10-year timetable typical of most public bond projects.
Federal Stimulus Funding
Also today, Hickenlooper introduced Deputy Chief of Staff Amy Mueller as the City’s lead on efforts to pursue and monitor federal stimulus funds. Mueller said the City has already been awarded $45.5 million in federal stimulus funding and is well positioned to bring in additional funds as they become available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Recently awarded funds will go toward the Central Park Boulevard interchange in Stapleton, enhancements to the City’s bike-share program, airport improvements, energy-efficiency improvements and public safety and workforce training efforts, among others. Partner agencies – including Denver Housing Authority, Denver Public Schools, RTD/Denver Union Station and State agencies and programs – have been awarded an additional $410 million for metro-area projects, Mueller added.
Local Economic Stimulus Plan
Hickenlooper and Tami Door, president and chief executive of the Downtown Denver Partnership, also shared a package of creative new economic stimulus strategies, including those developed by a business and industry-led Economic Stimulus Task Force created by the Mayor late last year. Industry sectors represented by the group and team leaders for each sector are:
Banking: Bruce Alexander, President & CEO, Vectra Bank Colorado
Legal: Cole Finegan, Managing Partner, Hogan & Hartson LLP
Energy: Doug Hock, EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc.
Retail: Nick LeMasters, General Manager, Cherry Creek Shopping Center
Real Estate & Housing: Susan Powers, President, Urban Ventures LLC; Ferd Belz, President, Cherokee Denver, LLC
Hospitality: Walter Isenberg, President & CEO, Sage Hospitality Resources
Cultural Organizations: George Sparks, President & CEO, Denver Museum of Nature & Science & Erin Trapp, Director, Denver Office of Cultural Affairs
Architecture & Construction: Brad Buchanan, AIA, Principal, Buchanan Yonushewski Group LLC
Some strategies developed by the Task Force have already been incorporated into recently announced programs including:
“Fork the Recession; Feed the Recovery!” – A statewide promotion by the Colorado Restaurant Association and its partners to encourage the public to help stimulate the economy by patronizing restaurants. The campaign will run through May and includes special deals at many restaurants.
VISIT DENVER Tourism Stimulus Program - Designed to entice leisure travelers to Denver from throughout the Rocky Mountain region with more than 100 discount packages for theatre, symphony and opera tickets, sporting events, museums, theme parks, restaurants, shopping, art galleries, music festivals and more, all at the “mile high” price of $52.80.
Bank on Denver – A National League of Cities (NLC)-supported program to help Denver residents achieve greater financial stability and access to mainstream financial services. Thanks to efforts by the Denver Economic Prosperity Task Force, Denver was one of eight cities selected to participate in the program, which includes substantial technical support from NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education and Families.
Loaned Executive Program – Also known as Civic Connections for Displaced Executives, this program was developed by displaced local real estate developer Bill Ryan and the Downtown Denver Partnership to link the expertise of high-level executives who are searching for jobs with community projects that need expert assistance. To date, 40 people have assisted with 8 projects benefiting groups ranging from the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) and Junior Achievement to the Colorado Restaurant Association and the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee.
Finally, Hickenlooper announced two economic stimulus measures the City will roll out in the next several weeks:
Energy Efficiency Assessments and Facility Improvements at City Libraries & Recreation Centers – A two-phase program that will solicit proposals from sustainability consultants, contractors, architects and engineers to conduct energy audits and recommission studies to identify potential improvements at 29 recreation centers and 22 libraries. The improvements would reduce energy and maintenance costs and create jobs. The second phase of the program will tackle the improvements identified in the phase-one assessments in order of those that offer the largest and fastest paybacks and best financing arrangements, and including those that qualify for federal stimulus funds. The phase one Request for Proposals will be issued April 30 by the General Services Purchasing Division and will be available on their website: http://www.denvergov.org/Default.aspx?alias=www.denvergov.org/purchasing In the meantime, questions on the program may be directed to Christian Williss at 720-913-8816, email@example.com.
Home Renovation Bonanza – A two-week offer from Community Planning and Development’s Building Permit and Inspection Services division will allow homeowners to make home renovations and repairs without the expense of City construction permit fees. The limited-time program will run June 1 to June 15, and certain conditions apply. Visit www.denvergov.com/building for more information.