A couple of weeks ago, I spoke to Patricia Kummer, one of our business columnists, and she said something very interesting that I hadn’t heard …
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A couple of weeks ago, I spoke to Patricia Kummer, one of our
business columnists, and she said something very interesting that I
hadn’t heard before.
She said that when there is a shift in the economy taking place,
Colorado seems to be either early to the party or late. She fears
that in the case of this recession, Colorado is showing up late.
She outlined most of her points in her column last week.
She’s not the only one thinking this way.
Monday morning, the Denver Business Journal ran a brief about
Forbes Magazine’s new rating of the Denver housing market. Ten
months ago, Forbes said Denver home values were doing well and may
not take the same hit that other real estate markets around the
country are taking.
But now, Forbes says Denver is the second-worst housing market
in the country with 27 percent more homes on the market than it had
last year. Milwaukee is the only place worse. Colorado is trailed
by Los Angeles and St. Louis.
The timing isn’t great, either.
At the end of this month, the $6,500 tax credit for first-time
homebuyers comes to an end. The credit was aimed at getting people
into the housing market and was part of the economic stimulus
package passed early last year.
With that program coming to an end at the same time the
inventory of homes for sale is on the rise, it doesn’t look good
for people looking to sell their homes. What’s worse is that the
program didn’t seem to have the impact here in Denver that it was
supposed to have over most of the last year.
This isn’t just about real estate and incentives. Like
everything else with this recession, it’s about jobs.
Denver’s unemployment rate isn’t terribly high compared to other
parts of the country, but it’s headed in the wrong direction,
having recently broken the 7 percent mark from somewhere in the
mid-6 percent range.
Kummer, of course, is in the midst of the flurry of income tax
preparation for this week’s filing deadline. When we spoke, she
mentioned the amount of concern she is hearing from people about
their job security, particularly from employees of school districts
like Douglas County and Littleton Public Schools faced with big
financial cutbacks resulting from state budget woes.
The private sector is going to have to carry the load for a
while. From my point of view, the element of self-determination
that comes from this is important and comforting.
Last week, I touted the efforts of the Highlands Ranch Chamber
of Commerce for bringing Littleton’s model of economic gardening.
Trends, like those mentioned above, only emphasize the importance
of programs aimed at getting private sector businesses up and
running while keeping our existing businesses healthy.
Not long ago, I spoke to Chris Gibbon at Littleton’s department
of Business and Industry Affairs. He said the number of businesses
he’s working with in Littleton is very high despite the recession,
which is encouraging.
In Douglas County, Castle Rock’s ability to attract a wind
energy company to town, the construction of Centura’s medical
center in town and Charles Schwab’s movement of 500 technology jobs
to the northern part of the county from offices in San Francisco
are the kinds of things we need to see more often.
Whatever government does, whether it’s at the state or local
level, it has to be done with an eye toward job creation. If there
was ever a time to be business-friendly, this is it.
Jeremy Bangs is the managing editor of Colorado Community
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