Economist: Startups Showing Increasing Impact on Colorado’s Economy

12/13/13Follow @MichaelXBD

Colorado is wrapping up a record year for startups, and according to the state’s leading economic forecaster, they could be having a growing impact on the Centennial State’s economy for years.

Richard Wobbekind is the executive director of the Business Research Division at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and he oversees the university’s annual Colorado Business Economic Forecast. His models, along with the business, government, and academic leaders surveyed for the report, foresee the state adding 61,000 jobs and continuing to grow faster than the national average.

Wobbekind presented the forecast this week, and I interviewed him after the presentation to get his opinion on trends affecting the tech industry and entrepreneurs. Here are some of his thoughts.

-He’s Bullish on Startups of All Kinds. Wobbekind’s forecast was the proverbial 30,000-foot overview, looking at all major sectors of Colorado’s economy, but even from that distance it was possible to see startups were having an impact.

And those startups are not just in tech; they range from restaurants to consulting firms to lifestyle product makers.

One stat Wobbekind includes in his forecast model is the number of new business licenses issued by the Secretary of State’s office. It is a blunt data point, but over the years it has acted as a gauge for the formation of startups, and it is increasingly important, he said.

“Our view is on the startup side of the equation… it has been a very critical factor in the recovery,” Wobbekind said.

In 2012, more than 83,000 new businesses were formed, and through September of this year, 67,500 new businesses received licenses, according to the secretary’s office. That puts Colorado on track for a record year.

“We think that’s really significant, not just for right now, but in terms of momentum,” Wobbekind said. “Once those companies that survive year one and maybe year two, they start to become employment engines.”

Not all will survive, but on the whole they seem to have staying power, judging by the rate of renewals.

“What you can tell is we’re not seeing half of them disappear overnight,” Wobbekind said.

-Lean times look to give Colorado entrepreneurs a push. “There has been a great deal of business creation over the past four years,” Wobbekind said. While some could say that’s despite … Next Page »

Michael Davidson is the editor of Xconomy Boulder/Denver. He covers startups, venture capital, clean tech, energy, aerospace, telecoms, and whatever else happens above 5,280 feet. Contact him at mdavidson@xconomy.com. Follow @MichaelXBD

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