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Chapter 12

Location

Although each region has its own unique challenges, Colorado as a whole is an incredibly desirable place to live and work.

Colorado’s rural areas face challenges beyond childcare in attracting and retaining talent. At Colorado Mesa University, President Tim Foster says that students would like to stay on the Western Slope after graduation, as the area is less crowded, with more outdoor activities and fewer impediments to affordable housing and transportation than communities on the Front Range. However, the economy in the western part of the state has recovered more slowly by comparison, so it’s not as easy for recent graduates to find jobs.

Even where jobs are available, lack of local competition in a particular industry can also impact the ability to attract workers, who may fear they have limited options if their job is lost. Colorado as a whole doesn’t have the same density of opportunities as some coastal competitor states, and the recession has increased concerns about job security. This problem is exacerbated in double income families, where both spouses must find a job match in order to stay in Colorado.

At the more senior levels, high-end talent can be hard to recruit for similar reasons. Because Colorado has more divisional headquarters rather than true corporate headquarters, C-level executives worry that there may be nowhere else to go in state if they leave their current company.

Fortunately, more and more corporate headquarters have moved or are moving to Colorado in part because of the availability of talent and high education levels of the workforce. Many of these companies say that quality of talent is their primary reason for being here.

Compared to big cities on the coasts, Denver is a relatively comfortable place to be. Colorado as a whole is innovative, healthy and fairly affordable. The active culture and great climate encourage a healthy lifestyle, and are major factors in attracting people to move here.

Recruiters say that location is one of the most important factors in “selling” applicants on a job offer. Some say that location is so important that recent college graduates will take a job that’s not in their field, just to be able to live in a particular area. Meanwhile, rotational programs are having a tough time attracting candidates because employees don’t like to move frequently.

The greater Denver/Boulder area is an incredibly popular place for people to move. It has walkable city centers with lots of space, great weather, and plenty of restaurants, music and nightlife. Tax rates are reasonable by comparison and Denver International Airport’s proximity benefits both businesses and vacationers.

If Denver is not a Tier 1 city now, it will be in five years.

Chris Onan, co-founder and CFO, Galvanize

Within the state, different areas face different challenges. For example, companies based in the Denver Tech Center area say that they are able to attract a more highly technical workforce than other areas. However, employers also say that young people would rather live closer to the Denver/Boulder city centers, even if it means facing longer commutes to their jobs.

But while individual areas have their challenges, for the most part Coloradans love living here. The quality of life is very attractive, and is a major reason why migration rates are so positively skewed toward people moving in rather than out.

Colorado is known for promoting a more balanced lifestyle than other states and locations, and that combined with the increasing importance of work-life balance helps explain why so many talented workers are choosing to move here. 95 percent of Millennials say that work-life balance is important, and as a whole, people are prioritizing lifestyle over career—so location is becoming even more important in attracting workers.

At the State of Colorado’s Office of Information Technology, workers have started an internal rally cry: “Love my job, love my state.” This resonates strongly with the workforce, who love looking out their windows at the beautiful mountains and remembering what attracted them to Colorado in the first place.