As Denver's next Mayor, my top priority will be economic prosperity. We need real solutions for Denver's economy - and I am putting forward my ideas for creating long-term economic strength. This week, we released the first of many "Real Solutions" papers that you will see from us in the coming weeks. Here are a few highlights:
• Help entrepreneurs by creating a Seed Capital Fund and Business Support Network and by exempting single-employee businesses from the city's head tax
• Support business expansion by establishing a Business Assistance Hotline, Gap Financing Fund and cutting red tape
• Help people get better jobs by creating Economic Prosperity Centers and expanding job training and information programs in conjunction with nonprofits and labor apprentice programs
• Work with the state, metro Mayors and business community to expand our infrastructure and connect Denver to the global economy
As a Councilman At-Large, I've already been doing much of what a Mayor does--working with others to create programs to help people get better jobs, connect people to financial resources and assist entrepreneurs. As a business economist, public servant and father of three, I understand the importance of creating good-paying jobs for the whole community.
Economic prosperity depends on small, local businesses creating jobs. Every dollar spent at a locally owned business is re-circulated at least three times in the local economy, according to the Mile High Business Alliance. There are half-a-million locally-owned businesses in Colorado, according to the Alliance, employing 1 ½ million people.
A friend of mine started a business in her basement years ago making practical, but colorful, bags for musical instruments. She expanded her company at the City's business incubator, the Denver Enterprise Center, until moving out when the Center closed. She now employs ten people and sells 70% of her bags overseas.
These are the kinds of companies that contribute most to our local economy--locally-grown, small businesses that sometimes grow into much larger companies. The City has provided assistance to hundreds of these companies at our Business Assistance Center at the Wellington Webb Building downtown, a program I initiated for exactly that reason.
I also initiated Bank on Denver, a partnership among banks, credit unions, non-profits and the city to connect low-income people to financial institutions and to provide financial education. Bank on Denver helps these families with low-cost or no-cost accounts, encouraging them to avoid payday lenders and saving them precious dollars on interest rates.
Denver's economy could be even stronger if the city were a better incubator of innovation and entrepreneurship. We need to create a network of business support services, a gap financing fund to help businesses get through tough times and use our library branches more extensively to help entrepreneurs.
Most of the ideas in my Real Solutions plan have come from the people of Denver and most are initiatives on which I am already working. Together we can implement these and other real solutions for economic prosperity, ensuring that our kids and grandkids have every opportunity to succeed and live in a city whose economy stays above the rest.
Follow Doug Linkhart on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DougforMayor