Could Denver, a city known for its beautiful wildlife, rugged mountains, and laid-back attitude, be the country’s next big tech hub? Its citizens seem to think so.
Last year, Denver was named one the top 10 U.S. metropolitan areas for startup activity in the U.S. by the Kauffman Foundation, a private organization that champions entrepreneurship and small businesses.
“I’m constantly astounded by the companies and startups here,” Krista Morgan, CEO of P2Binvestor says. Morgan has an inside track on the city’s startup scene, since her business provides loans to small and mid-sized companies in the area.
In addition to city’s list of established business employers, like Oracle and Lockheed Martin, they have a wide variety of ambitious local tech startups including Boom, which aims to create supersonic travel for civilians; Havenly, an online interior decorating startup that recently raised $5.8 million; and nPloyed, a tech recruitment firm that is relocating to Denver from Arizona.
Meanwhile, Comcast, one of the city’s biggest employers, has established an innovation hub in the city called Comcast Labs, which is a tech development center that builds next-generation television products. (One product to come out of the Labs: an app that allows users to stream television shows from mobile devices anywhere they are.)
The state of Colorado offers a range of financial incentives for entrepreneurs, including tax credits, and Denver has plenty of attractive bait to help lure startups, too. The city’s Commons on Champa, for example, is a 20,000 square foot public workspace that offers programming and event spaces to entrepreneurs.
The city’s talented local workforce helps both startups and national businesses in the area prosper, according to a 2015 report by Jones Lang LaSalle, a real estate and financial investment firm. “Denver’s workforce is highly educated, with high demand for skilled tech employees as the industry is growing,” the report says. “Historically, Boulder was home to the majority of tech firms, however companies are looking to [Denver neighborhoods like] the CBD (Central Business District), RiNo (River North Art District), Platte Valley (Central Platte Valley) and LoHi (Lower Highlands) for more talent, amenities and transportation.”
The Denver lifestyle goes a long way in attracting high-quality workers. Its housing market is more affordable than famously expensive startup hubs such as New York City or San Francisco. The city is also undergoing a unique agricultural renaissance.