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The nonprofit organization has changed its name again – to Northwest Denver Business Partnership. While economic development is still an ancillary goal, the new name helps emphasize that the organization’s main objective will be to help companies located in the northwestern portion of the metro area do business and build a business brand for the region.
“The economic development groups are always looking for someone new to come in, but what about all the people already here,´ said Mike Cienian, a board member of the NDBP and vice president of quality assurance at Hunter Douglas in Broomfield. “We think we can help with the attraction of new business, and help with (the businesses) that are here so they don’t feel like they’re left out.”
The specific functions of the NDBP are still being refined. The organization has spent much of the last 12 months building membership and obtaining feedback from members on what they’d like to see.
But the tasks of the NDBP will include assisting the growth of the area’s key industries, doing policy advocacy at the state and local levels, providing networking opportunities and educational events, and building an all-encompassing business brand for the region that organizers say doesn’t exist.
“It’s going to take time to build an identifiable brand for this region,” NDBP president and chief executive Mike Kosdrosky said, noting the complexity of doing so in an area with a dozen or so communities. “What that is yet remains to be seen.”
Kosdrosky was promoted to lead the Broomfield Economic Development Corp. in January of last year and was charged with heading the transition to a regional organization. In 2010, the city of Broomfield opted to hire its own economic development director and cut its funding to the BEDC from $246,000 per year to $100,000. The city and BEDC continued to work together even after the shift, but in March of last year, the BEDC announced a name change and a shift to a regional focus.
The NDBP recently co-hosted a training event for economic developers with the state of Colorado’s economic development office. The goal, Kosdrosky said, is to host a major event each quarter plus smaller educational events. The next big one is March 20 at Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette, with SCL Health System president Michael Slubowski giving a keynote address on health care.
While many of the major NDBP partners so far are Broomfield-centric given the organization’s former focus, Kosdrosky said there will continue to be significant energy put into expanding membership over the next 12 months. Currently the NDBP’s only paid employee, he said he anticipates adding staff this year.
Kosdrosky and NDBP chairman Dave Marusiak of Wells Fargo Bank said the organization is still working on a budget going forward. But the NDBP is not seeking public funds, and is funded entirely by membership dues, with a little boost from hosting events. Memberships range from $500 to $10,000 per year.
“We support an organization like this because the better off our business alignment is in our region, the more opportunity not only for the bank but for our customers and in our communities,” Marusiak said of Wells Fargo.
Kosdrosky said there are too many organizations operating with hard boundaries, and that an overarching organization like his can help market the assets of the area as a whole without favoring specific communities. Larger organizations such as the state economic development office and the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. are strong, he said, but naturally can’t be everything to everyone.
The NDBP’s borders are roughly Interstate 70 to the south, Interstate 25 to the east, the Larimer County line to the north and the mountains to the west. Board member David Hamm, chief executive of Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette, said a regional approach is important for a business like his because it draws patients and employees from a wide area.
“In the past, I think we’ve had municipalities that have had strong efforts,” Hamm said. “But they’re also governed by their municipal boundaries. But I think what we’ve seen is businesses cross municipal boundaries. I think it’s trying to create a collaboration that’s serving the collective, not just the individual.”
One of the concerns of area economic-development groups when the NDBP first announced its plans for a regional approach last year was that there could be an overlap of services between the NDBP and local organizations, as well as with the larger state organizations. Kosdrosky said his organization will work with those organizations to attract employers but won’t duplicate services, though it remains to be seen how such partnerships will take shape, given the NDBP’s initial focus on building business membership.
Broomfield’s economic-development director, Bo Martinez, said he worked closely with the NDBP as it transitioned into a regional entity. While his office isn’t providing any funding to the NDBP, he said he’s supportive should opportunities arise to work together on regional marketing down the road.
Louisville economic-development director Aaron DeJong said he hasn’t worked with the NDBP on any projects yet, but does see some value in what the organization could bring.
“What I see as a benefit is having a consortium of businesses to speak to business issues in all of our communities,” DeJong said.