After a 2012 that saw Hitachi, Dish Network and Children’s Hospital, among others, move into Douglas County, 2013 has started with a bang.
In the first month alone, Charles Schwab, Redwood Trust and Visa have announced a combined 1,500 new jobs in Douglas County.
What’s the secret?
“I think a lot of it comes down to the fact that Douglas County has done a good job with property tax, has got a good business climate by and large, and overall statewide there’s a pretty low tax rate,” said director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Ken Lund. “We’ve got a phenomenal workforce and a great place to be. I think we can compete on that basis.”
That, modest incentives and a “get-it-done” attitude, Lund said, are what have allowed Colorado and Douglas County to haul in new business at an alarming rate. While other states may offer better incentives, Colorado has been focused on saving prospective businesses time and money with top-notch execution to lure them in.
“We competed for the Visa project with Virginia and Utah, two states that claim to be the best in execution, but we had a final contract with Visa before those states even submitted a bid,” Lund said.
With each announcement, Douglas County becomes more of an attraction, too.
“Every time we land one business, Hitachi for example, it demonstrates to other businesses, ‘wow, something is good there. If that business chose to go there, we should look at that area,’ ” said Douglas County Commissioner Jill Repella. “The more announcements we get, the more attention we get, and the more success we have.”
Repella knows it’s all about the follow-through, though, and that’s part of the reason Douglas County has been so successful.
“As an elected official I can pretty much say anything I want,” Repella said. “But if we don’t have follow-through all the way through to the end as they are experiencing going through the construction process and getting their business’ doors open, then our words mean nothing.”
Bigger than the number of jobs that have come into the county of late – an estimated 4,000 in the last six months – is the overall economic impact.
“Children’s hospital came in with 300 new jobs and that’s about a $3 million yearly economic impact,” Repella said. “So do the math. We are talking significant numbers on local impact. That trickles through the entire economy and existing businesses benefit from that.”
“From a state perspective, you see the difference in speed in Douglas County,” Lund said. “The metabolism of government is different. I see that because we are sitting on top of the whole state. You may or may not see it depending on where you sit, but we see it every single day. Douglas County, to Jill’s credit and to the other commissioners and other business leaders does it fast and that helps, because speed does matter.”