Economist: Startups Showing Increasing Impact on Colorado’s Economy

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a sluggish economy, he feels otherwise.

“A lot of people who got laid off would say, ‘I always thought about starting a company anyway, this just gives me an incentive.’ The recessionary effects almost build in the initial momentum for more startups,” he said.

-Creating better communities. Wobbekind is based in Boulder, and while his focus is on broad, statewide economic trends, he’s followed the discussion about Boulder’s evolution into a startup community.

From his perspective, the key to building a sustainable community that will have a major impact is to build major companies and keep them locally owned. The example he pointed to was Rally Software Development, (NYSE: RALY), the Boulder-based company that went public this April.

“For the state, it would be great if more of the companies turned into Rally and IPOed and stayed in the state and got bigger and bigger, because when you do this selling out, and someone buys it, it raises the wealth of the investors, but they often take the technology and move the company,” Wobbekind said.

Rally’s story runs counter to the more frequent tale of Colorado technology startups being bought by larger companies and then ultimately leaving the state, Wobbekind said. Keeping homegrown companies in Colorado with local ownership is better for Colorado businesses, but also the residents.

“You typically get a lot more philanthropy from companies that actually live here,” he said.

-Colorado Springs Surprise. This summer, the Kauffman Foundation released a report saying four of the ten most “startup dense” communities were in Colorado. They were Boulder, Fort Collins-Loveland, Denver, and Colorado Springs.

Boulder’s been at the top of surveys like that for years, and business, government, and academic leaders in Fort Collins and Denver have worked hard to burnish their cities’ reputations. But Colorado Springs—a major military town with an abundance of defense contractors—ranked unexpectedly high in the eyes of many people in Colorado.

“I was a little surprised by Colorado Springs, so I’d like to see what kind of data they’re using,” Wobbekind said.

Wobbekind said he wasn’t familiar enough with the report’s data to really analyze its findings, but in general it reflects what he’s learned from living in Colorado for decades and teaching at its top business school—the state seems to attract people who are a bit unconventional and are willing to take risks, both in their personal lives and careers.

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