Regional Report: The West, for the Most Part, is Growing

Reno is suddenly as hot as a firecracker.

ColoradoColorado has been among the fastest-growing states this century. It’s posted faster economic growth than all but a few states this year. Prosperity indeed trickles down in this entrepreneurial, do-it-yourself state; which topped the nation in personal-income growth for three years running earlier this decade.

Colorado continues to add jobs in almost every business sector, says Richard Wobbekind, economist at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado. Wobbekind foresees over 65,000 new jobs coming online this year for a 2.6 growth rate. Nearly a quarter will be in professional and business services, Colorado’s fastest-growing cluster. Biotech clusters are taking hold in the Boulder-Longmont corridor and south of there in Colorado Springs, says site selector Eric Dienstbach of Denver-based Binswanger.

On the red side of the ledger, the mining sector is slumping, reflecting plunging oil and gas prices. Agriculture, especially cattle farming, is softening due to rising feed prices and droughts. The state’s workforce delights employers, but Colorado needs more workers. Paced by fast-expanding metro Denver, the population is growing faster than all but three states, yet that’s not fast enough.

Housing is booming, and a well-utilized new rail line connects the airports to downtown and industrial parks. The region’s cultural offerings, iconic recreational opportunities and the availability of legal marijuana ensure that Millennials will continue to join the work force.


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