Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the State of the Cities - Mayors' Economic Forum hosted by the Denver Business Journal along with about 500 other Colorado corporate leaders, city leaders and innovators.
As part of Lewis Fowler’s continued expansion into the Public Sector, I felt it was important to hear exactly what the mayors are focused on for 2017 and beyond.
I had not been to this event before, and I was reminded of the amazing buzz you have when leaders across our great state come together in one place! Not only did it give me a chance to hear from some of our customer’s mayors, but I spent time with entrepreneurs and industry leaders that support all facets of the Public Sector, talking about what they believe is needed to transform our cities. It was clear to me that Lewis Fowler should continue to advocate for Business Transformation and Technology Enablement and be part of the solution around transforming our cities into Smart Cites of the future.
The event consisted of a facilitated panel discussion that included:
Mayor Herb Atchison, City of Westminster
Mayor Michael B. Hancock, City of Denver
Mayor Steve Hogan, City of Aurora
Mayor Heidi Williams, City of Thornton
Mayor Marc Williams, City of Arvada
Here are my insights from the event and key messages that really resonated with me.
What are the key themes from the mayors?
- Affordable housing - From homelessness to concern for seniors and affordable housing, there is much to do here. There are many factors in construction, builders and other various restraints including the Construction Defects Law that got everyone talking passionately on why they did/did not like it.
- Transit in the metro area - As most of us know, we are a bit behind here. Coming here from living in Chicago it has been a bit shocking how little we have progressed! They recognize it and let us know that 200,000 commute to work in Denver every day - pretty sure all of us have felt this on I-25 or otherwise!
- Growth – Did you know that Colorado has a 2.6% unemployment rate, the lowest in the nation? So of course everyone is moving here! Thus the problems above. Interesting fact around City of Aurora, which is the 50th largest city in US., today has 150 square miles and only 80 square miles with anything on it so there is a lot of room for some serious growth! My only comment on this one is that I would still like to see more discussions on attracting Fortune 500 companies’ HQ to Colorado too. We all know it is awesome here – why are they not coming here in droves?
What was not discussed, although I did try to get a question in, was much detail on innovation (although the Mayor of Aurora did at least mention it) or technology playing a role in solving or supporting solutions to some of the above items. No mention of smart cities either. I was a bit disappointed on this front and would like to hear them talking more about both of these topics in the future. I know there are exciting things happening here such as Denver’s futuristic smart city, Peña Station Next, becoming a reality.
I personally left the event feeling optimistic about the future, that there are plenty of areas where business transformation and technology can play in solving key areas in smart cities and how it can advance us as a nation. I walked away with many ideas to ponder and discussions to be had about where mayors, city officials, constituents and the greater community need to focus. I am excited that Lewis Fowler is bringing solutions to the Public Sector vertical.