One-on-One interview with Jeff Romine: Broomfield city and county economic vitality director

Each month, BizWest asks a business leader to participate in a question and answer feature to help shed light on a business topic, an industry or add insight to a field of endeavor. This month, Ken Amundson, managing editor, posed questions to Jeff Romine, the new Broomfield city and county economic vitality director.

BizWest: You’re relatively new in your position at Broomfield. What was the first big observation you made with regard to the local economic picture in Broomfield?

Jeff Romine: My first discovery is the degree that Broomfield’s economy is truly global, and on several levels.  We are home to a growing number of U.S.-based companies serving global markets — Vail Resorts, Ball Corp., Mile High Labs, Conga, soon Crocs, and the list goes on.  At the same time, Broomfield is home to  global firms serving the U.S. — such as Danone, Partners Group, Epiroc, Viega, and more.  On a daily basis, Broomfield  companies and employees are working, meeting and connecting with partners and customers around the world with  products, services, and investments competing on nearly every continent.

The global orientation and connections are also within Broomfield’s local retail and dining choices.  You can shop for global products in our shops and stores, such as Asian foods and products in the Pacific Ocean shopping area, and dine on cuisines from around the world (shephards pie to pho, gyros to sushi). 

Throughout the U.S., we are all talking about being more global connected; recognizing the future economy and opportunities will be built within a global marketplace paradigm.  Our educators are asked to ensure our kids will be able to compete in the current and future global economy.  Broomfield’s economic reality as a global-community provides us,  in Broomfield and the north metro area, a foundation to continue to build on to be a leading global-connected community and economy in Colorado and the Mountain West.

Another big discovery was the strength and size of what was Broomfield’s original economy.  Broomfield’s roots are in agriculture and manufacturing/production.  Two of Broomfield’s leading businesses, Hunter-Douglas and Ball, are manufacturers.  These firms are foundations in our local and metro economy — but are also joined by hundreds of firms producing products here in our community.   While we don’t have significant agri-operations in Broomfield any longer, we are home to a growing food and beverage cluster including Danone and Noodles which  represent the growing number of companies — increasingly focused on healthy food and beverage choices.

   

BW: Compare and contrast a few of the similarities and differences between the economic opportunities or challenges in Broomfield and Denver, where you had previous experience.

Romine: As you know I had the privilege to serve several mayors in Denver as an economist and overseeing a number of programs and initiatives during my tenure, from business development to housing and neighborhood support.  Both communities are striving to encourage reinvestment and reimagining of key areas, such as 120th Corridor and Flatirons Marketplace here in Broomfield. And both communities have future growth areas, such as our Baseline development adjacent to Colorado Highway 7/Interstate 25.   At the same time, the marketplace is rapidly changing  in both communities — connectiveness, sustainability, and quality of place are essential values and objectives.  The marketplace is increasingly focused on value over transactions; residents are seeking a quality of place to live in, connecting into a community, businesses are seeking and following talent, and shopping and dining have evolved into experiences and value. 

Our challenges, while different in specifics, are similar in topics: housing options and access, transportation choices, healthy and active lifestyles, and a changing, diverse population.  In the coming month or so, Broomfield will be sharing our economic vitality strategy, which will include specifics on both the challenges and the approaches for addressing them.  From my previous experience, I was able to recognize the key way to address the challenges before us is not solely a strategy, but comes from including and listening to others, from supporting and building great partnerships, and from taking steps forward together. 

BW: How might Broomfield work collaboratively with metro Denver? With Boulder or Longmont or Brighton?

Romine: Partnerships and collaboration are critical to our shared success; it has always been so, and will increasingly be so in the future.   My colleagues here have had and continue to work closely with other community leaders and stakeholders in Broomfield, the northern metro area, the Denver metro and throughout Colorado.  These partnerships have helped address many issues.  I, individually, have also worked with other communities in the metro area on economic, housing and community development. 

One of my first ToDos starting last summer and into the fall was reconnecting and listening to the priorities of my friends and colleagues in nearby communities.  The economy does not have a clean, clear boundary nor do the possible solutions to the challenges.  Thousands of Broomfield residents are working in surrounding communities, and thousands of residents in those communities come to Broomfield to work, shop, dine or play.  Broomfield is a community of more than 100,000 persons on any given day — between those living and sleeping, working or visiting.

Specifically, we are working with community partners, such as the Broomfield Chamber, Broomfield Foundation,  FISH, area school districts, Commuting Solutions,, and regional colleagues in other communities,  including Boulder, Louisville, Longmont, Adams County and Westminster (to name just a few). These work efforts include talent development, recruitment and access, housing choices, and transportation mobility issues.

BW: The Arista development in Broomfield has had a big impact on the community. Is it the walkable, urban, mixed-use community that it was advertised to be? What remains to be done to make sure it achieves its full potential?

Romine: You had asked about discoveries earlier; and this is another of those first observations.  Arista is one of the premier transit-orientated locations in metro Denver. It truly combines living, working and experiences in a single neighborhood area. There are a range of housing options, parks and access to trails, dining and shopping, and work locations, from co-working to corporate offices.  And… Arista is a step further than the “imagined TOD” it includes health care, UCHealth, and an event/entertainment center, 1st Bank Center. 

Much has been done, but more is coming soon…more dining options, additional housing choices.  A few more things need to happen to achieve the full vision — more business and employment on site and additional services and shops.  Tim, Jordan and Joe have worked tirelessly to make Arista a strong and sustaining mixed-use, transit-oriented neighborhood.

BW: Broomfield has some major employers with Ball, Swisslog, Mile High Labs and a number of others. How do you plan to engage with them and encourage collaboration in the overall economic development mission for the community?

Romine: I, along with other colleagues in Broomfield, continue to talk and listen to business leaders and owners in the community.  The engagement and partnership is both strategic and pragmatic.  We have been listening as are developing our economic vitality strategy to ensuring Broomfield sustains the high quality of place for leading companies and their employees. 

I look forward to meeting and talking with business and community leaders and stakeholders to share both the strategy and the action plan for delivering programs and initiatives.  From one-on-one to group gatherings, to informal conversations and  advisory groups, a strong economic strategy requires listening as conditions and the marketplace change.  I look forward to these conversations, the only way we can do better is to understand the opportunities and challenges and then work together.

BW: Are there opportunities for Broomfield in the hospitality sector — things that the community is not already doing?

Romine: From our residents survey, our listening sessions, the mayor’s and city councilmembers insights, to business leaders and employees, one of the most universal focuses is a desire for local, unique shops and dining and, in association, a community core area or downtown.  Recently, the city council and our development partner, City Street Investors,  took a key step forward toward delivering on this project.  The civic center project will be a critical part of realizing this community desire and will be a catalytic driver for the 120th Corridor and the original commercial center of Broomfield. 

Flatirons Crossing remains the top shopping draw in the North Metro area, and continues to evolve as new and existing tenants serve the changing marketplace. 

At the same time, the Baseline development is moving forward with both residential and commercial development now starting, the former Flatirons Marketplace is progressing toward a redevelopment,  and Arista, as mentioned before, is a successful  transit-orientated community.  These larger scale developments are creating great “downtown” places for residents, employees, and visitors in our community. 

Each month, BizWest asks a business leader to participate in a question and answer feature to help shed light on a business topic, an industry or add insight to a field of endeavor. This month, Ken Amundson, managing editor, posed questions to Jeff Romine, the new Broomfield city and county economic vitality director.

BizWest: You’re relatively new in your position at Broomfield. What was the first big observation you made with regard to the local economic picture in Broomfield?

Jeff Romine: My first discovery is the degree that Broomfield’s economy is truly global, and on several levels.  We are home to a growing number of U.S.-based companies serving global markets — Vail Resorts, Ball Corp., Mile High Labs, Conga, soon Crocs, and the list goes on.  At the same time, Broomfield is home to  global firms serving the U.S. — such as Danone, Partners Group, Epiroc, Viega, and more.  On a daily basis, Broomfield  companies and employees are working, meeting and connecting with partners and customers around the world with  products, services, and investments competing on nearly every continent.

The global orientation and connections are also within Broomfield’s local retail and dining choices.  You can shop for global products in our shops and stores, such as Asian foods and products in the Pacific Ocean shopping area, and dine on cuisines…