Loveland’s newest economic developer’s moonshot goal: an extra 7,000 people

LOVELAND — Jack Hill has some lofty ambitions in his new gig. He wants to see the city’s downtown grow and wants to connect businesses more closely to local officials.

Jack Hill, business development specialist for the city of Loveland. Courtesy city of Loveland.

But his longest stretch goal? To see Loveland grow to 85,000 people within the next few years.

Hill, 26, started his new position as the city of Loveland’s business development specialist earlier this month after moving from his native Charlotte, North Carolina. He spent just over three years working for the Charlotte Regional Partnership in marketing and research before moving to the Denver area with his now-fiancée in search of a new challenge.

The move isn’t just a change of scenery. The Charlotte regional area covers 16 counties and an estimated 2.6 million people, while the U.S. Census most recently estimated Loveland to have 77,446 residents.

His focus is on spurring growth for businesses already located in Loveland, and on keeping businesses from leaving. He said it makes sense to develop local companies not just because it’s cheaper than trying to lure other businesses to the area, but also because the area is lacking a resource expanding companies are coveting.

“Having a 2.8 percent unemployment rate [in the Fort Collins-Loveland metropolitan statistical area], it’s not super sexy for companies moving in or wanting to expand because the qualified labor market is so thin right now,” he said.

Hill’s main project in his local growth effort is to build a formal communication strategy between Loveland’s business owners and city government.

One piece is starting a periodic survey of business owners in the area, similar to how Larimer County will survey residents for thoughts on its budgeting process. Hill hopes the survey will give city officials a better idea of what resources companies are looking for, whether it’s space, infrastructure or other services.

The other part of the plan is to spur communication between business owners to share best practices through a quarterly forum.

“A lot of times, you have businesses suffering separately, and they just don’t really have a way to localize,” he said. “I think having that forum opens them up to innovation and creativity within their own businesses.”

Hill and the city hope to have their initiatives in place within a year, and he’s currently operating on goals to increase the number of registered businesses from about 2,800 to 3,000, and to see those businesses increase their revenues by 5 percent annually.

Hill sees Loveland reaching 85,000 residents in the next several years as his best-case scenario for the town’s next two to five years.

It’s difficult to underestimate the growing pains adding 7,000 people in a matter of years would be for Loveland, much less any small to mid-sized city in America. Providing adequate housing, building out infrastructure and the cost of expanding public services alone would be a serious logistical challenge.

He acknowledges it’s “probably not achievable” for Loveland based on current projections, but he sees an opportunity for a large amount of population growth, particularly due to its proximity to Interstate 25 and U.S. Highway 34, the amount of students graduating from regional universities and from people looking for access to Denver without that metro’s rising cost of living.

“I’m an ambitious person, yeah, and I want this place to succeed, because it’s my job and my livelihood. And this is a place with a lot of potential,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy to attain these moonshot goals, and I’m sure I’ll be shot down plenty, but that’s why I’m here, to bring a new energy and new perspective.”

Hill’s position is part of the city’s Economic Development Department. He joins Kelly Jones, economic development director, and Mike Scholl, economic development manager in the business development aspects of the department.

 

LOVELAND — Jack Hill has some lofty ambitions in his new gig. He wants to see the city’s downtown grow and wants to connect businesses more closely to local officials.

Jack Hill, business development specialist for the city of Loveland. Courtesy city of Loveland.

But his longest stretch goal? To see Loveland grow to 85,000 people within the next few years.

Hill, 26, started his new position as the city of Loveland’s business development specialist earlier this month after moving from his native Charlotte, North Carolina. He spent just over three years working for the Charlotte Regional Partnership in marketing and research before moving to the Denver area with his now-fiancée in search of a new challenge.

The move isn’t just a change of scenery. The Charlotte regional area covers 16 counties and an estimated 2.6 million people, while the U.S. Census most recently estimated Loveland to have 77,446 residents.

His focus is on spurring growth for businesses already located in Loveland, and on keeping businesses from leaving. He said it makes sense to develop local companies not just because it’s cheaper than trying to lure other businesses to the area, but also because the area is lacking a resource expanding companies are coveting.

“Having a 2.8 percent unemployment rate [in the Fort Collins-Loveland metropolitan statistical area], it’s not super sexy for companies moving in or wanting to expand because the qualified labor market…