Economic forecast: How does Boulder stack up against peer cities?

BOULDER — The release of the Innovation Venture 2.0 report — an examination of how Boulder’s startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem compares with other innovation hotbeds — is expected to be just one of the highlights of the 2020 Boulder Economic Forecast to be held Jan. 30.

The report, which debuted in 2018 and is compiled by the Boulder Chamber, Boulder Economic Council and the University of Colorado Boulder, will not only measure Boulder’s innovation metrics against international heavyweights such as Silicon Valley, Seattle and San Francisco, but will also zoom in on five new apples-to-apples comparison cities such as Ann Arbor, Michigan; Madison, Wisconsin; and Provo, Utah.


“We’ve modified the content pretty substantially,” Clif Harald, executive director of the Boulder Economic Council, told BizWest. “It’s not just a couple of pieces of updated data — this is a complete refresh with new cities and new metrics.”

While Boulder compares favorably in many instances to these peer cities, the Innovation Venture 2.0 report has identified a number of opportunities for growth and improvement, he said. 

“Some of the findings are really informative and really educational,” Harald said. “We’re excited to see how people react to the findings.”

In addition to the release of the Innovation Venture 2.0 report, the 2020 Boulder Economic Forecast event — held at Embassy Suites Boulder, 2601 Canyon Blvd. — will feature an economic-development-driven look ahead at the new year presented by Rich Wobbekind, associate dean and economist at the University of Colorado Boulder Leeds School of Business, and demographic-centric outlook from Colorado state demographer Elizabeth Garner.

“It’s a unique opportunity to be able to hear from two of the brightest minds on the economy and where the Front Range is heading,” Harald said. 

Wobbekind, who last month presented the statewide Colorado Business Economic Outlook, said his upcoming forecast will “focus more on industry groups that are particularly important to Boulder County,” such as the government and higher-education sector, advanced manufacturing, biosciences, technology and aerospace. 

During his Colorado Business Economic Outlook, Wobbekind forecast that economic growth will continue in Colorado throughout 2020, but the economy will likely grow more slowly than in recent years.

“We’re definitely on the same track, the only question is whether we outperform the state,” Wobbekind said of the Boulder region’s 2020 outlook. “Right now, Boulder’s economy is slightly outgrowing the state’s.”

Wobbekind is also scheduled to keynote the 2020 Northern Colorado Economic Forecast to be held Wednesday. The BizWest event will run from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Jan. 22, at the DoubleTree by Hilton, 919 Seventh St. in Greeley.

Economic-forecast events are key sources of information and insight for Northern Colorado and Boulder Valley business leaders because “to be forewarned is to be forearmed,” Wobbekind said. “People aren’t usually looking at this kind of data on a day-to-day basis in their normal professional lives, so this is a unique opportunity.”