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The Boulder Chamber View: Fresh Eyes on Boulder’s Resilient and Evolving Economy

January 29, 2024

Originally published by BizWest on January 29, 2024. 

It is day 14 as I write this article in my new role as the Boulder Chamber’s Vice President of Economic Vitality and Executive Director for the Boulder Economic Council.

Arriving from South Florida, I was greeted by mountains that touched the sky, a vibrant Boulder community, and with recent temperatures below zero, Jack Frost was nipping at my nose and my toes. Filled with excitement from all these experiences, I knew this was the beginning of an amazing new journey.

For the last 10 years, I served as a Senior Vice President and Executive Director for economic development organizations in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. In this capacity, I led, launched, and implemented their economic vitality strategic plans with the goal of creating more robust, diverse and thriving economies.

These economic vitality plans helped address long-standing challenges and led to the implementation of innovative initiatives in workforce development, economic mobility, entrepreneurship, and other areas of need with a focus on making each community more inclusive and resilient.

With a goal of returning to a vibrant city close to the mountains, I narrowed my search to a few select states, including Colorado. Joining the incredible team at the Boulder Chamber and making a positive impact on the local economy and community was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I knew I would find my forever new home where a robust economy thrives alongside the great outdoors, arts, entertainment, and the best local and fine dining experiences. There is no place like Boulder.

My first two weeks have been action-packed. From attending meetings with stakeholders to co-hosting the highly anticipated Economic Forecast, I’m already becoming immersed in Boulder’s unique economic ecosystem. Insights from these engagements reveal a prominent theme for Boulder — resiliency and adaptability.

The world is evolving in this post-COVID era, with new challenges and opportunities for businesses, our economy, and our community. Amidst it all, our business community has demonstrated remarkable resilience. We have built a solid foundation, allowing us to forge ahead and withstand future headwinds.

We are all familiar with our burgeoning aerospace, biotechnology, natural products, and outdoor recreation industry sectors, many of which have demonstrated great strength through the pandemic and have accelerated in recent years. That is evidence of resilience on its own.

My short time on the ground here in Boulder has also reinforced my initial impression of Boulder as a hub for industries that are both forward-thinking and transformative. With the emergence of Boulder’s leadership in a new industry sector, quantum mechanics and quantum computing, we see Boulder’s economy continuing to evolve toward new frontiers. With fresh eyes on Boulder, I recognize this as yet another industry that represents the convergence of science and technology. It’s a unique quality of Boulder’s economy and a further foundation for resilience that I am committed to fostering in my new position.

I also observe entrepreneurism as a further unique component of Boulder’s resilient economic vitality and the foundation of a business community that perpetually evolves. Boulder’s entrepreneurial spirit is renowned and has given rise to many success stories, from tech innovators to sustainable energy enterprises, each contributing to the rich mosaic that defines our economic landscape.

According to Pitchbook reports, Boulder experienced a substantial surge of venture capital investment in 2023, doubling from around $249 million to $615 million. It’s clear that Boulder continues to maintain its place as one of Colorado’s top innovative hubs.

These are just some of the clear indications of Boulder’s economic resilience and evolving character that I’ve observed in my short time on the ground, but stand out as features of Boulder’s economy to even the most casual observer from afar (even as far away as Florida). I am thrilled and honored now to be part of the Boulder Chamber team that continues to champion industry diversity, business inclusivity, and community collaboration.

While we have our share of challenges, ranging from office vacancies to housing affordability, I am excited to collaborate with our business leaders and economic stakeholders to overcome the hurdles, building on the foundation you’ve already laid for economic resilience and evolutionary change, to chart a course for even greater success.