Malcolm Gladwell has written a fascinating new book titled Outliers. In it, he defines outlier as "a scientific term to describe things or phenomena that lie outside normal experience". As an example, most summer days (in the Northern hemisphere) are warm. A summer day with a high temperature that was below freezing would be very unusual. Statistically speaking, it would be an outlier.
Someone with a real life could probably think of many fascinating examples of real world outliers. However, my mind immediately turned to economic development. Specifically, there is a strong case to be made that Pueblo is an outlier in terms of attracting business investment.
Let me explain.
It's no secret that the landscape of communities trying to attract businesses is very competitive. Every one of them can point to their unique quality of life, attractions, business incentives and infrastructure. To just look at promotional literature, the entire country is littered with perfect locations for business relocation.
Yet we know that businesses prefer certain successful communities. Case in point, the Pueblo Economic Development Corporation (PEDCO) has assisted 77 companies to relocate in Pueblo. This level of results certainly makes Pueblo an outlier in terms of economic development.
But as the book explains, most often there is some underlying factor that contribute to unusual success. By digging deeper it becomes clear that Pueblo does have a unique attribute that differentiates it from almost every other community of its size. That attribute, unique in Colorado, is an economic development fund authorized by city voters to help companies overcome the financial challenges of relocating.
Want to learn more about how this incentive could apply to your company? Call PEDCO at 719-544-2000 to find out.
Our hearts go out to our friends and neighbors in Colorado Springs as they continue to deal with the tragic wildfires that have destroyed homes, property and disrupted so many lives. The one bit of good news is that so far no one has been injured or killed in either the fires or the fire-fighting efforts. We hope things stay that way.
As a result, we are going to stray from our normal emphasis on economic development and jobs. At the moment, there is a more pressing issue.
PEDCO has volunteered its Business and Technology Center (BTC) as a collection point for supplies that can be donated to help those affected. The BTC is open from 8-5 weekdays (closed July 4). We are located at 301 N. Main in downtown Pueblo. More information is available from Crystal Romero, the BTC Administrator at 719-546-1133
Items that are in need include:
- Eye drops (NOT Visine); Lubricating drops ie Artificial Tears
- Baby Powder for the firemen
- Bottled water; Gatorade
- Non-perishable food items; snack items ie granola bars (food fireman can eat on the run)
- Bath towels
- T-shirts all sizes
- Canned food
- Sleeping masks for firemen
- Disposable ear plugs
- Tubes of nasal gel
- Cloth napkins for handkerchiefs
- Pocket sized paper pads, pencils & little sharpeners
- BIOYTENE gum & mouth rinses
- Bags of 100% cotton long socks
Neighbors helping neighbors is a tradition in Southern Colorado. The people of Colorado Springs and the fire-fighters working to protect them appreciate your generosity!
A rise in unemployment rates isn't exactly a headline that brings a smile to the Pueblo Economic Development Corporation (PEDCO). But, on the other hand, it was not entirely unexpected.
Although the Colorado State Department of Labor's official numbers show that Pueblo's unemployment rate ticked up a tenth of a percent to 10.5%, that really only confirms the sense of the business community nationwide - the sputtering recovery seems to have hit yet another lull.
Of course, every piece of disappointing news brings potential. In this case, the unemployment rate highlights that Pueblo has a workforce of highly qualified people immediately available for work. And, since the local situation parallels national trends, there are likely even more people "underemployed" with qualifications for jobs more challenging than their current positions.
This available workforce, coupled with Pueblo's low cost of living (see CityRanking.com) and quick response capabilities creates great opportunities for companies needing speed to market. A case in point is Rocla Concrete Tie, Pueblo's newest corporate relocation. Rocla needed to construct a new manufacturing plant, hire a qualified workforce and be in production - all within 6 months. Pueblo was the one community able to cost-effectively meet these demanding requirements. Read the full story.
Unemployment numbers around the country vary with some being better and some being worse. However, in Pueblo's case they serve as a tangible reminder of a qualified and available workforce eager to make new companies the next success story.
A report from Headwaters Economics shows that Colorado is attracting investment and new business at a rate faster than the US as a whole. The full report goes on to explain that from 2000 to 2010 Coloradoans' real income grew by 15% - even in the face of the national recession.
Furthermore, Headwaters notes that:
"In 2010, Colorado was a top-ranked entrepreneurship state, creating 450 new businesses per month for every 100,000 adults, outpacing the U.S. as a whole which created 340 new businesses per month for every 100,000 adults."
A significant part of Colorado's attraction is the accessability and beauty of the state's protected wild areas.
Dr. Daphne Greenwood from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs echos the thought. "Colorado’s prosperity depends on protecting the natural environment that is part of our special quality of life. Protected public lands play an important role by providing recreational opportunities, wildlife habitat, and amenities that attract and keep creative people in Colorado."
Of course, business growth depends on many factors including the most important objective of making a profit. But it is good to see that high on the list is finding a location that offers employees access to an unmatched natural surroundings. In that case, it is easy to understand why Colorado continues to be a leader in places people want to do business!
Liveability.com, a website devoted to finding the best cities in the U.S., has just rated Pueblo in the top 10 "Best Cities for Historic Preservation". We are honored to be included the list and can't help but gloat just a bit that Liveability.com has previously included Pueblo in the top 10 cities for "Surprisingly Great Food Cities", "Top Food Festivals", and "Top Places for Book Lovers".
As a result, Pueblo has named Liveability.com into our official Top 10 list websites.
Joking aside, it is worth asking the question: "the recognition is nice but what does this have to do with economic development?" The answer is quite a bit.
Economic development is more than just making the business case, managing infrastructure and providing financial incentives. A critical part of attracting new businesses and encouraging existing ones to grow is developing a community that people want to call home. Food, festivals, history, culture, the arts, recreation, education and much more are all components of a welcoming and vibrant community.
Being in the heart of Southern Colorado, Pueblo is already blessed with advantages in natural beauty, climate, recreation and culture. Gaining national attention through awards such as this latest one can only help add to our reputation.
We've known for a long time that Pueblo offers an unmatched economic development opportunity - it's nice to also be recognized for other characteristics that make Pueblo a great place to live!
More attractions, more people and more funds will soon be coming to the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk. Pueblo received the good news that the Colorado Economic Development Commission approved $14.8 million in funding over a 30 year period.
The current Riverwalk has already become a major tourist attraction and business hub for Southern Colorado. The full tourism proposal requires $100 million investment so not all the project may be completed in the sort term. However, the new features will include some combination of:
- Extending the historic Arkansas Riverwalk channel system
- New exhibition hall for the exisitng convention center
- Training facility of the Professional Bull Riders
- Aquatics center
- Hotel complex
Unlike a traditional grant, the funds will come to Pueblo on a yearly basis as the state returns a portion of sales tax revenues.
It's great to receive further recognition that Pueblo continues to thrive as a destination location for people both within Colorado and also from other states.
It doesn't take much web surfing to find plenty of information about problems in public schools. And, as a reflection on the times, virtually every community in the country finds itself in a similar situation.
That's one reason why it is so refreshing to see a high school recognized for exceptional
academic performance. Pueblo's East High has just been named by U.S. News and World Report to be the 32nd highest ranked school in Colorado and number 877 in all of the United States.
The news is further confirmation the great educational opportunities exist in Pueblo. As always, parental involvement is essential to help guide students into the specific programs that meet their unique interests and needs. In the case of East High this includes the highly acclaimed International Baccalaureate program with its rigorous approach to academics.
Of course other great education options exist in the city and county of Pueblo. This includes a wide variety of public schools, charter schools and private/religious institutions. Some serve as "magnet schools" with a special emphasis on specific areas of study. Contact PEDCO to learn more about education opportunities in the Pueblo area.
NewGeography has just ranked Pueblo as the 38th best small town (under 150,000 population) for job growth. NewGeography is a website that reports the trends and developments in economic development, metropolitan demographics, and community leadership.
While chanting “We’re Number 38!” may not have the same ring to it as “We’re Number 1”, after considering the thousands of communities in competition we are happy for the recognition.
But more important than just the number are the underlying factors that made it possible. First and foremost, job growth reflects availability of a well-qualified and conscientious workforce that is actively looking for employment. With the lingering effects of the economic downturn, Pueblo certainly has experienced and capable people anxious for jobs.
To maintain the pool of talent, the next important factor becomes the availability of training to fill specialized job needs. Pueblo has unique strengths in this area with the outstanding job training capabilities of Pueblo Community College and the Workforce Development Center. Both have been recognized for their success in meeting the needs for customized job training. Further, Colorado State University at Pueblo has exceptional four year degree programs (and beyond) in majors that are most in demand from new and existing employers.
Finally, the ranking also reflects the growing list of prospects interested in relocating to Pueblo. As an example of a small town with big city access to transportation, technology and education, Pueblo is a great example of how to drive economic growth!
The more you hear “We’re Number 38!” the better it sounds…