LONGMONT — Longmont Startup Week’s theme, “Smarter. Together.,” is a message as much about the capabilities and infrastructure Longmont has as it is about the inclusivity and diversity the city values.
“Longmont, with its Nexlight gigabit internet and the work we’re doing with local entrepreneurs utilizing data devices to solve some real-world specific problems, is something we wanted to highlight,” Jessica Erickson, CEO of the Longmont Economic Development Partnership, told BizWest in a phone interview. “The together piece speaks to the inclusivity we’ve incorporated into Longmont Startup Week this year. Smart cities are not just about data but about the community and infrastructure and an environment that improves lives through smart cities technology.”
In that vein, several events are geared toward Longmont’s Latinx entrepreneurs, with a combination of Spanish-language panels and panels on themes like the benefits of diversity in startups and multilingualism in products.
“Longmont has a significant and strong Latino and Hispanic population,” Erickson said. “We’re honoring that. We wanted to be as inclusive as possible with as much outreach as we could in English and Spanish. There will be translation services throughout the week and events in Spanish.”
Other demographics are also targeted, with content geared toward education for the developmentally disabled, female entrepreneurship and autistic talent in the workplace.
Although a spotlight has been on Hispanic identity in the U.S. over the past several months, Erickson said the decision to highlight Longmont’s Latinx entrepreneurs and Spanish-language speakers was not influenced by the national conversation but has been in the works for some time.
“We’ve added staff fluent in Spanish because we want to do a better job engaging the Latin business community in economic development,” she said. ‘We’re recognizing and honoring an important population in our community that sometimes gets forgotten or not recognized for the key components that community brings to Longmont.”
Another focus of the week will be smart cities. While there were a handful of events last year on the subject, this year there was a decision to double down and make it a feature of the week. There is a full track dedicated to smart cities, with about 15 different panels and events on the subject.
“There is burgeoning civic innovation and a smart cities entrepreneurship community here in Longmont,” Erickson said. “There are startups here addressing the challenges of a growing city. It came together in a conversation of how to make Longmont Startup Week more about smart cities and about highlighting Longmont as a hub for innovation.”
She added that the diversity component is a key part of innovation.
“Devices and data tech and science are important but you can’t be successful without the community and people. Inclusivity makes communities like ours great and smart.”
In addition to content and speakers, Longmont Startup Week is looking to provide more opportunities for applying what is being discussed during the week.
Last year, a major topic of startup week was whether Longmont could be the state’s next great startup hub, renowned around the country the way Boulder or Denver is discussed.
Erickson said that’s a conversation that will likely continue during this week’s event.
“It will be talked about,” Erickson said. “There’s always room to grow and improve. It used to be a few years ago people would settle for Longmont because they would come from other parts of the country wanting to be in Boulder or Denver and realize how expensive they are and find the next best thing. But more and more people come here from across the country, and Longmont is added to a list of places they are intentionally considering when they’re looking at the Denver metro or Northern Colorado. They’re not just happening to Longmont but are intentionally looking at it as an alternative.”
Longmont Startup Week takes place July 23-27. Events are free and open to the public.