What’s Working: Didn’t know Colorado is a frontrunner in clear vitality and quantum? A Tech Hub designation might change that.

Fast hyperlinks: Colorado’s 2 proposed Tech Hubs | Denver-area inflation up 5.4% | Colorado dwelling gross sales drop | Comcast picks the Springs

With $500 million in federal funds up for grabs, a gaggle of Colorado business executives, teachers and state officers convened earlier this 12 months to help an effort to make Colorado an official Tech Hub, with a capital T.

Now, they’re ready to listen to if the state is chosen as one of many 20 hubs. “Perhaps tomorrow,” prompt Wendy Lea, in an interview Thursday. Lea, an entrepreneur who additionally led Energize Colorado within the pandemic, is co-leading TechHubNow!, a Colorado coalition shaped after the CHIPS and Science Act handed to strategically put money into America-based expertise innovation and a neighborhood workforce.

An aerial view of solar panels in a field.
The Solar Mountain Photo voltaic challenge, proven right here in a July 2, 2023 photograph, provides 293 MW of energy. Comprised of practically 637,000 panels and spanning 1,700 acres in Pueblo County, the power went on-line in February, 2023. (Mike Sweeney, Particular to the Colorado Solar)

Seemingly although, she stated, the U.S. Division of Commerce will announce it subsequent week. And Lea, together with Gov. Jared Polis and a bipartisan group of lawmakers who penned a letter  to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo this week, believes Colorado has a superb likelihood at snagging at the very least one of many 20 spots, largely due to the place we’re. 

“Seemingly, you received’t see a designation going to Silicon Valley or Boston as a result of they’re already alongside their means,” Lea stated. “That is concerning the center of the nation. The rise of the remainder.”

Lea was referring to AOL founder Steve Case’s motto that tech innovation ought to be unfold throughout America if the nation desires to stay aggressive globally. And that’s what the brand new federal program is reaching for, too. Formally known as the Regional Know-how and Innovation Hubs, the thought is to take a position a little bit bit of cash into the remainder of America by encouraging locals to help the build up of 10 superior industries, together with superior vitality, synthetic intelligence and next-generation manufacturing.

Steve Case, founding father of AOL, introduced his Rise of the Relaxation bus tour via Denver in October 2016. (Tamara Chuang, The Colorado Solar)

However there’s not that a lot cash concerned. These honored as a Tech Hub will obtain as much as $500,000 every after which be eligible to use for implementation grants of $50 million to $75 million. To date, solely $500 million of this system’s $10 billion price ticket has been appropriated by Congress. 

In accordance with the Financial Growth Administration, the Division of Commerce bureau overseeing this system, there have been 192 functions for the Tech Hub designation from all however two states. One other 55 requested just for grants. Requests totaled $75 million. There’s solely about $15 million supplied within the first spherical.

It’s difficult to construct a world ecosystem on that quantity, Lea acknowledged. However that’s not the purpose.

“With this primary designation, there’s no cash,” she stated. “However there’s cachet to recruit corporations right here. There’s cachet to retain corporations right here. There’s the cachet to lift cash to help the ecosystem. It’s actually a advertising and marketing play throughout geography and throughout applied sciences, although primarily superior applied sciences.”

The U.S. Tech Hubs Program has this concept to take a position cash in 10 strategic industries however unfold them out in places all through America. Overseen by the U.S. Division of Commerce’s Financial Growth Administration, the Tech Hubs program was a part of the CHIPS and Science Act handed in 2022. (Screenshot)

With practically each state plus three territories submitting some kind of bid, this system is doing what Mark Muro had hoped. He’s a senior fellow on the Brookings Establishment, a nonprofit suppose tank targeted on researching authorities coverage, who coauthored a 2019 report making a case for why tech innovation ought to be unfold throughout America.

“We definitely view this as a superior strategy to unleash financial development than top-down program improvement. It’s an thrilling second for areas inside a state,” Muro stated. “And even when a Colorado consortia doesn’t win, they possible have assembled a compelling technique that can stand them in good stead and provides them a plan going ahead and perhaps even be a goal for funding from different sources, whether or not it’s philanthropy or the personal sector.” 

The state’s Workplace of Financial Growth and Worldwide Commerce supported two functions that got here from the state TechHubNow! initiative. The group organized a pitch session of types among the many 10 attainable industries. Two rose to the highest: superior vitality and quantum. 

Colorado’s financial improvement efforts already deal with most of the key areas that might achieve federal funding with an an official Tech Hub designation that rose out of the CHIPs and Science Act. However state officers narrowed it down to 2: Superior vitality and quantum expertise. (Screenshot)

Colorado backs quantum and cleantech

Whereas Colorado might have most likely utilized in all 10 tech classes, the choice to slender it to 2 was strategic, primarily based on the competitors’s necessities, she stated. At the least three hubs should be picked in every of six U.S areas. There should be a profit to underserved communities or rural areas.

Quantum, which already has a big analysis hub and rising industrial ecosystem in Colorado, is competing in a 10-state area that excludes Illinois and Tennessee, the place different quantum hubs exist. The native business is also within the part of commercializing the tech and also you don’t want Ph.D.’s for that job, however you want a various workforce. 

Maybell Quantum in Denver, for instance, builds Kelvin cryogenic programs, primarily very chilly fridges, which are wanted for quantum computing. Current hires embody of us with music and philosophy levels, stated Corban Tillemann-Dick, Maybell’s CEO.

“The vital factor to remember is that regardless that Colorado is the main hub for quantum right this moment, we’re on the very starting of this quantum journey,” Tillemann-Dick stated. “For those who return to the Fifties and Nineteen Sixties, California was not main the silicon revolution at that time. It was Boston. Boston was means out in entrance. However California managed to place collectively the items of workforce improvement, consumer amenities and elementary analysis with plenty of help from the federal authorities and the state authorities that allowed that state to outline the subsequent 50 years or expertise. We’re at an analogous inflection level in Colorado with the place quantum is true now.”

Whereas the state formally helps two functions, there are others that have been led by native business or a area, together with one primarily based in Grand Junction to deal with cybersecurity and managing the Colorado River.

“The Tech Hubs program is a once-in-a-generation alternative to speed up the innovation already underway in Colorado, positioning our state as a world chief advancing the applied sciences of the long run,” stated Eve Lieberman, OEDIT’s government director, in an announcement to The Colorado Solar.


➔ Colorado added 2,700 clear vitality jobs final 12 months. That’s in accordance with a brand new report from a nationwide consortium that features the Colorado Photo voltaic and Storage Affiliation. The state ranked seventh within the nation for renewable vitality jobs, at 18,022, or 28.3% of the state’s clear vitality workforce of 63,780 employees. Clear car jobs, nonetheless, had the quickest rising workforce within the sector with a development price of 13.7%. Comparably, jobs within the fuel/diesel automobiles sector grew 3.7% in 2022. >> Learn report

➔ Two Colorado colleges get federal grants. In an effort to advertise native innovation via competitiveness, the U.S. Financial Growth Administration awarded $16.5 million in grants to 23 schools and universities to assist strengthen their regional financial system. That included $150,000 to Colorado State College in Fort Collins and $99,720 for Metropolitan State College of Denver. >> Information launch

Do you know you will get What’s Working in your inbox each Saturday at no cost?

Denver’s annual inflation will increase 5.4%

When the worth of gasoline in Colorado shot up after Labor Day, the impression reversed the slowdown of inflation within the state. September inflation within the Denver space grew 5.4% from a 12 months in the past, which was the very best since March and the primary time the inflation price grew for the reason that spring of 2022, in accordance with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Common fuel costs have fallen about 30 cents per gallon up to now month. AAA’s fuel tracker had a gallon of standard fuel in Colorado at $3.73 on Friday. A part of the decline was the seasonal change to a winter mix, however it’s additionally decrease oil costs, AAA stated.

Consuming out additionally prices extra, up 7.8% in a 12 months. Cole Anderson, a analysis analyst with Greenwood Village-based right-leaning suppose tank Frequent Sense Institute, stated Denverites have felt the pinch at eating places, with costs up 24% between November and June. Then once more, he added, locals are likely to eat out greater than of us within the U.S. He stated BLS information “exhibits {that a} vital variety of Denverites purchase meals ‘away from dwelling’ (at) 45.9% in comparison with 37.8% nationally.” 

“Whereas we do have file restaurant worth will increase, this doesn’t imply that we now have the costliest eating places,” he stated in an e mail. “Provided that incomes in Denver are comparatively greater than the nationwide common, and Denverites take pleasure in consuming out, I might enterprise to say that spending habits in terms of restaurant eating have most likely not been impacted a lot but.” 

The BBQ pulled pork sandwich on the Palisade Brewing Firm in Palisade, now prices $15, up 15.4% in two years. Meals costs are greater in all places. (Tamara Chuang, The Colorado Solar)

However fuel and restaurant costs weren’t solely accountable for Denver’s rising inflation final month. Minus meals and vitality, the area’s inflation price was nonetheless 5.4%. Julie Percival, a BLS regional economist who tracks Colorado information, stated it’s as a result of greater housing costs. Whether or not meals or vitality costs go up or down, housing continues to be a a lot bigger chunk of the family finances so when that goes up, it has extra impression. 

And housing prices are taking a good bigger chunk for Denver-area client budgets now than up to now. Within the newest BLS client expenditure report for Denver, housing was 36.7% of Denverite’s family earnings, in comparison with 36.2% earlier than, she stated. It’s like when fuel goes up 30 cents a gallon, that has much less weight than hire or the price of proudly owning a house goes up $100.

However, she added, “You’ll be able to’t underestimate the psychological impact, particularly if egg costs are $6 a dozen, like they have been for a short time.” 

Apart from the price of housing growing — up 8.7% for house owners and seven.9% for renters, additionally greater have been tuition and baby care, up 5.9%, and clothes, up 7.4%. The will increase have been offset by falling charges for lodging away from dwelling, public transportation and used automobiles, down 6.8%. 

Different working bits

➔ Comcast picks Colorado Springs for contemporary web expertise. Denver might get extra metro consideration than its southern neighbor however Colorado Springs on Friday turned Comcast’s “very first residential advertising and marketing on this planet” to get the newest in cable web tech, known as DOCSIS 4.0. The expertise, developed by the CableLabs in Louisville, primarily gives multigigabit symmetrical pace on present cable traces. Why was the Springs first? “Colorado Springs is the place we first launched 2 Gig speeds as an organization about this time final 12 months over new upgraded nodes working the community expertise,” stated spokeswoman Leslie Oliver in an e mail. Translation: The tech permits for speeds of 10 gigabits per second down, and 6 Gbps up, however Comcast is beginning with 2 Gbps each instructions for eligible clients beginning Oct. 18 at a month-to-month price of $115 for the highest speeds. >> Story

Kaiser Permanente employees maintain up indicators outdoors the system’s Franklin Medical Workplaces in Denver on Oct. 4, 2023, the primary day of a scheduled three-day strike. (John Ingold, The Colorado Solar)

➔ Kaiser Permanente reaches settlement with union. A 3-day strike by 3,000 Colorado Kaiser well being care employees (and 75,000 nationwide) has resulted in a tentative settlement between the corporate and SEIU Native 105 on a four-year contract. The gist, in accordance with each events:

  • New minimal wage of $23 in Colorado by 2026. The union had requested in August for $25 minimal.
  • Throughout the board wage will increase of 21% over 4 years (“the very best ever for Kaiser Permanente employees,” in accordance with the union). Kaiser had earlier on supplied a 12.5% increase over 4 years; the union had requested for twenty-four%.
  • Elevated funding in skilled improvement, job coaching and in addressing the staffing disaster.

>> Story

➔ Colorado September dwelling gross sales: Gross sales down, costs flat. Whilst rate of interest hikes have paused since July, it’s nonetheless troublesome to purchase a home — or promote one, in accordance with the Colorado Affiliation of Realtors in its September replace. “(Consumers) keen to return off the sidelines have gained a little bit benefit and sellers, keen to sacrifice their 3.5% and decrease rates of interest,” face pricing concessions, stated the replace. House gross sales for the Denver metro area have been down 26.1% in September from a 12 months earlier, whereas the median gross sales worth was up simply 1.4%, to $575,000. That’s nonetheless a reasonably excessive worth and 4,161 homes have been bought. Statewide, houses gross sales have been down 22.6% from a 12 months in the past to five,402, whereas the median worth was up 2.7%, additionally to 575,000. >> Newest information

Thanks for sticking with me for this week’s report. Don’t neglect to take a look at The Solar’s every day protection on-line. As at all times, share your 2 cents on how the financial system is holding you down or serving to you up at cosun.co/heyww. ~ tamara 

Don’t miss the free weekly publication on Colorado jobs and unemployment. Join: ColoradoSun.com/working

Miss a column? Catch up:

What’s Working is a Colorado Solar column about surviving in right this moment’s financial system. E-mail [email protected] with tales, suggestions or questions. Learn the archive, ask a query at cosun.co/heyww and don’t miss the subsequent one by signing up at coloradosun.com/getww