Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Last week, I had the pleasure of hearing Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper speak at a Boulder Chamber of Commerce Luncheon. You can watch a video clip of his presentation (it is about a half an hour long) below.

A good portion of his remarks centered on his goal of branding Colorado as a business friendly state, a place, in his words, that “does things differently.” He spoke of attracting young entrepreneurs to the State to encourage business development and mentioned several strategies to entice them, such as providing more access to capital or to mentors. He also discussed his goal of creating a government in Colorado that is efficient, effective, and elegant.

During a short Q & A following his speech, I was able to thank him for his recent efforts to protect services for individuals with developmental disabilities living in Colorado. Read more about those efforts here, you can hear my comment at the 26:30 point in the video below.

After my comment, the Governor expounded on his reasoning behind protecting those services, stating that there is a strong economic development argument for taking care of those he described as the “last and the least.”

I couldn’t agree more. Take, for example, the Governor’s declared goal of attracting creative and ambitious entrepreneurs to the State. Well, if a creative and ambitious entrepreneur-type happens to have a family member with a disability, he or she is not likely to bring those entrepreneurial talents to a State that isn’t willing to, or capable of, supporting that family member’s needs. I happen to believe that having the proper infrastructure that can meet the needs of all citizens in the State is an essential piece of branding Colorado as a business friendly place.

In fact, my only surprise with the Governor’s presentation was that he left out that word “essential” when he listed his other “E” words necessary for creating a successful government (efficient, effective, and elegant). I’ve heard the Governor and other members of his administration include essential in that list in previous presentations, and I’m extremely encouraged (hey – two other “E” words!) that essential is considered to be a crucial aspect of their approach to government.

A recent commenter on one of my earlier blog posts said it best: "Many people in today's society don't like to admit that they benefit from the public good. Flies in the face of our myths of individualism, and raises the notion that we owe something to the efforts of managing the public good. But this point - that we all benefit from good human service - must be championed."

Providing services to some of our most vulnerable citizens isn’t something to be done just because it makes us feel good about ourselves. It should be done because it is essential to the health, well being, and yes, even the economic development of our communities.

Thank you, Governor Hickenlooper, for recognizing and acting on that truism.

Then again, what do I know?


  1. My husband's disability-related needs provide employment for 6 people directly as personal attendants - total support for a family of 3 and a single mother; allows a father to go to college so he can support his family; supplements the income of a young man who works in human services; supplements the income of a senior citizen; gives job experience for a displaced construction worker; and supports a college student.

  2. Robin has a great point about how providing these services creates jobs in our community, which seems to be vital at this point in time. What about the long term? Entrepreneurs might be attracted to more than just a sutible place to live with their family. Are there any plans to actively seek out young entrepreneurs and bring them into the emerging "high tech industry" that has also become vital to providing services for people in the community?