Turn traction to more action in state’s economy

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Gov. John Hickenlooper praised Colorado for its economic rebound in his State of the State address last week.

We, too, like many of the signs we see, and like to think we are coming out of the woods. The early weeks of a new year make for a good time to share some good numbers, stand up and put ourselves in the optimistic category.

The Colorado Municipal League, a nonprofit agency that represents interests of 267 cities and towns in the state, reported last week that our state’s cities and towns fare better than most others across the nation.

The organization’s State of our Cities and Towns report noted 47 percent of Colorado municipalities closed out the year with increased revenues and further noted an inverse relationship to three years ago when 46 percent reported lower revenue. To our readers, take heart that Front Range cities fared particularly well with 83 percent reporting increased revenue.

Going onto the new year, we’ll be looking for the results of increased revenues in our cities — cities that have made staff cuts and implemented furlough days in recent years. This month in Northglenn, the council found it could muster a 2 percent increase for most employees after three years of frozen salaries. These are the types of impacts we hope to see, as well as careful consideration of how to put increased revenues to work for residents in services, fees, backlogged street projects and other numerous other impacts to pocketbooks and quality of life.

Further the report states local economies investing in economic development activities is paying off as well — noting 88 percent of municipalities participate in one or more economic development activities. The list includes classic car shows, art festivals, beer festivals and bike races.

The USA Pro Cycling Challenge that whizzed through various parts of the state in August, including Golden and Denver, quickly comes to mind.

The partnerships to work quickly and effectively were pronounced as strong community spirit bubbled up in day-to-day business, volunteer efforts, in-kind contributions and the like. We witnessed these partnerships working effectively and ethically. The report added that the state added 40,000 jobs in 2012, and the work of municipalities is part of that effort as the state continues to wrestle out of a recession period.

Big picture, last year it was big news when Colorado was ranked third best state in the Beacon Hill Institute competitiveness survey — an index that compiles economic indicators in an expansive 44 categories compiled at the institute at Boston’s Suffolk University. We noticed how the report prompted local comments that the state will never again return to the boom and bust cycles it was known for, especially in the 1980s. We, too, are optimistic. So we’ll be watching and hoping to see even more traction moving forward.

Colorado has a lot of good stats which should encourage cities, communities and businesses to dig in with their best efforts this year.