Creating Sustainable Jobs and Businesses for the 21st Century

As the former CEO of a nonprofit, head of a community foundation and past President of the City Council, Michael has met payrolls, managed organizations, balanced budgets and led economic-development efforts. As Mayor, Michael will be the city’s leading advocate for business development and job creation. His strategies for retaining, expanding and growing jobs, supporting private enterprise and strengthening our economy will make all of Denver – from downtown to each and every unique neighborhood – the best city in America for business. Through purposeful public investment, Michael will drive private-sector economic activity and create a business environment that is predictable, stable and welcoming.

There are five pillars to Michael’s job-creation and economic-development action plan:


Make Denver the Start-up and Small Business Capital of the Country

As the former chairman of the City Council’s Economic Development Committee and the sponsor of a bi-annual economic summit, Michael knows the majority of job growth comes from small and start-up businesses led by innovators and entrepreneurs. Michael’s economic action plan focuses on “retain, grow and attract” strategies. He will establish an economic gardening ecosystem that cultivates new businesses and supports existing firms so they can grow by:


  • Launching new initiatives to increase access to capital for small businesses and start-ups so they can retain existing jobs and add new ones. Access to capital remains one of the biggest obstacles facing businesses. The entire lending pipeline – from angel investors to venture capitalists to banks and other private-equity lenders – continues to be constricted. Michael will develop new strategies with each segment of the lending community, including:
    • Creating “StartUp Denver,” a unique public-private partnership that will combine resources from the city, businesses and economic-development experts to break down barriers and create new opportunities for start-ups.
    • Introducing “Invest in Denver,” an awareness and outreach campaign that will target potential angel investors, convene VC firms and encourage them to increase their investments in Denver, and strengthen relationships with state, federal and private lenders to help Denver businesses gain access to capital.

    • Ensuring that Denver businesses, including minority- and women-owned firms, are given preference when it comes to procuring city contracts, and serving as the strongest champion for Denver businesses, goods and services to consumers throughout the state, across the country and around the globe.

    • Collaborating with private partners to create new “zones of affordability” for small and start-up businesses to connect companies with cost-effective office, manufacturing, warehouse and research space.

    • Exploring innovative initiatives, such as micro-credit lending, which are proving successful in other cities and countries.

    • Raising the visibility of existing capital programs to ensure accessibility for Denver businesses.


Re-Focus and Re-Energize the Denver Office of Economic Development

Michael will personally take a leading roll in all economic development efforts and will ensure the Denver Office of Economic Development becomes a stronger force and partner by:

  • Developing and implementing a strategic action plan. As Mayor, one of Michael’s first directives will be to re-focus the office on growing jobs from high-potential economic sectors, industries and neighborhoods.
  • Reviving the Business Concierge Program. Businesses often need help navigating city government and obtaining permits, licenses and other approvals. The Concierge Program will provide timely, personalized and solution-oriented assistance, including assigning individual project managers to large-scale projects.
  • Streamlining and improving services for businesses through a new initiative called Peak Performance. Peak Performance will be a data-driven, goal-oriented strategy to ensure city services are delivered more efficiently and cost-effectively. Peak Performance will bring a business approach to service delivery, and ensure services such as permitting, licensing, parking and street maintenance are provided quickly and with high quality.
  • Setting identifiable and achievable standards. For businesses to grow and thrive, they need predictability and consistency in government regulations and procedures. As past President of the City Council, Michael helped overhaul the city’s zoning code to make it more business friendly. As Mayor, Michael will use Peak Performance to establish standards, benchmarks and checklists to help new businesses start and existing businesses expand. He’ll let businesses know exactly what to expect, including how long it will take to obtain permits.
  • Streamlining and simplifying business taxes. Michael will create a city government that makes it easier for businesses to do business by streamlining and simplifying taxes. Michael’s plan will give businesses the option of paying the Occupational Privilege (or head) Tax annually instead of the cumbersome monthly payment plan now required.
  • Deploying new technologies to improve efficiency and save money. Michael will direct city agencies to deploy new technologies to streamline building permits (including automated and electronically issued permits for pre-approved preliminary plans), zoning changes and other items to make government more efficient, and to save businesses time and money.


Maximize the Potential of Existing Regional Assets and Denver’s Unique Neighborhoods

Denver International Airport, the Colorado Convention Center, Union Station, FasTracks, Vestas Wind Systems, the Anschutz Medical Campus and the National Western Complex. The metro area is home to a vibrant offering of existing economic assets, and Denver itself boasts an array of unique and diverse neighborhood business districts. Michael will help maximize these assets and strengthen our neighborhoods by:

  • Developing a Strategic Economic Development Master Plan for DIA and the surrounding area. As the councilman whose district serves DIA, Michael knows the airport is the next frontier for our economy. Michael has led overseas economic development missions to help secure direct international flights. As Mayor, Michael will create a Strategic Economic Development Master Plan for the airport area to guide future airport expansions, coordinate growth, attract foreign businesses, and increase import-export opportunities for Colorado goods, services and innovations. Michael also will work with regional partners in neighboring Aurora, Brighton, Commerce City and Adams County to create the nation’s next and best “aerotropolis” around DIA.
  • Creating an inspired “Gateway to Denver” from DIA to Downtown Denver. The 22-mile “Corridor of Opportunity” between the airport and downtown is the Gateway to Denver for thousands of business and leisure visitors every day. Michael will convene an all-star team to devise a new vision to showcase this economic-development diamond in the rough.
  • Launching a targeted neighborhood development initiative. Thanks to the vision and hard work of many over the past few decades, Denver’s Downtown is vibrant and exciting. Denver also is home to a collection of distinct neighborhood business districts, each with their own challenges. As Mayor, Michael will knock down silos and bring city agencies and resources together with private partners to target and address the unique needs of specific neighborhoods. This will enable the city to help advance projects in areas such as Arapahoe Square, the I-70 industrial corridor, Cherry Creek North, and 19th and Humboldt, while also allowing the city to help reinvent development projects slowed or derailed by the recession, such as those at the Gates Rubber site and 9th and Colorado.
  • Maximizing our unique regional strengths. Denver is the regional hub for many industries, including energy, aviation and aerospace, health care and biosciences, tourism, arts and culture, and sports. Michael will solidify Denver’s standing as a regional leader by building on our strengths and assets, such as the Anschutz Medical Campus, the Auraria Higher Education Center, DIA and the Denver Center for Performing Arts.


Improve Education & Develop World-Class Human Capital

Nothing helps or attracts businesses like strong schools. Michael attended Denver Public Schools and his kids do, too, and he knows all-to-well that companies won’t stay, expand or relocate here if our schools don’t improve. Michael’s economic action plan calls for:

  • Investing in our future by improving Denver Public Schools. Better schools make Denver a more attractive place for both our citizens and for companies and workers considering relocation. Creating a world-class public school system will guarantee that we have the future workforce to meet the needs of businesses.
  • Convening the city, school district, higher education and business community to forge a collaborative agreement built on mutual accountability with common goals. By bringing stakeholders together to set high goals, clear measures of progress, and specific commitments from all partners, Michael’s plan will lead to: increased efficiencies between the city and DPS,  improved student learning, higher graduation rates, meaningful internship programs, and a better-educated and better-skilled workforce for Denver businesses.
  • Creating stronger partnerships with colleges and job training programs. Michael will strengthen partnerships and awareness about the many colleges and unique job-training and job-placement programs at work in Denver and around the region.
  • Improving coordination. Michael will improve coordination among businesses, Auraria Campus colleges, and workforce training programs to ensure Denver can offer businesses highly skilled and education employees to meet the private sector’s needs today and tomorrow.


Improve Relationships with Existing Businesses and Aggressively Recruit New Companies

Government alone can’t fix this economy, but it can certainly help support businesses and establish economic conditions that will retain existing jobs and encourage job growth. Michael’s plan includes:

  • Aggressively marketing Denver and recruiting new businesses. For the rest of the world to see Denver as a vibrant urban area, we need a Marketer in Chief to elevate Denver’s brand as a business-friendly city with the highest quality of life. Over the past seven years, Denver has attracted 17 new corporate headquarters. But Denver also has lost several high-profile corporations. Michael will aggressively seek to attract new companies and headquarters and the large number of jobs they can bring. 
  • Creating the Mayor’s Business Advisory Council. Michael will convene a Business Advisory Council of leaders from across the city and spanning strategic sectors. They will become key partners with the mayor to grow jobs and strengthen the economy.
  • Creating a Strategic Retention Task Force to advise the mayor. This task force will advise the mayor on a range of issues that will help keep existing companies prosperous and operating within the city limits. Michael will seek to partner with the Governor and the Colorado Office of Economic Development on this effort.
  • Visiting businesses. Michael believes strongly in meeting people where they are, and that includes visiting the exciting companies that are driving Denver’s economy forward. Michael will be a champion for Denver’s businesses, as well as a frequent visitor to our laboratories of innovation and centers of manufacturing.
  • Strengthening partnerships with economic development and industry organizations. By increasing cooperation and maximizing resources, we can reduce duplication, provide greater support to businesses and more quickly strengthen our economy. Michael will be a strong partner with organizations such as the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., Downtown Denver Partnership, Visit Denver, Colorado BioScience Association, Clean Tech Industry Association and the Colorado Software Industry Association.
  • Being a leader in regional cooperation. When Denver thrives, the entire Front Range thrives. As Mayor, Michael will play an active leadership role with regional partners in coordinating resources and developing and implementing economic growth strategies.
  • Working with state and federal officials to support Denver job growth efforts. By working with the Governor, Colorado Office of Economic Development, the Legislature and federal officials, Michael will ensure Denver businesses have access to their share of available resources, such as new small business lending, state job growth incentives, and transportation funding. Michael will also ensure Denver acts as a strong advocate for new resources such as new, targeted incentives and additional venture capital.
Michael Hancock's Action Plan to Create Jobs and Grow our Economy.pdf160.19 KB