Boulder Chamber Launches Recalibrated
Boulder Together Initiative
Move aims to promote a strong and inclusive economic recovery
While maintaining its continued vigilance in response to the immediate impacts of COVID-19, the Boulder Chamber is training its focus on a strong and inclusive economic recovery from the pandemic’s devastation through a recalibration of its Boulder Together program.
What is Boulder Together?
Boulder Together is a strategic multi-year initiative of the Boulder Chamber originally designed to address three areas of economic and community need: workforce housing, workforce development and workforce mobility. Through focused efforts in these areas, the Boulder Chamber has applied business leadership, in collaboration with community partners, to addressing the region’s critical workforce attraction and retention challenges.
How Boulder Together will address new economic conditions
Responding to the destructive impacts of the pandemic on certain sectors of Boulder’s economy, the Boulder Together pillars have evolved to focus on the broader goals of supporting a quality business environment, workforce development and community infrastructure. These newly expanded pillars offer flexibility to address a wide range of troubling issues that the pandemic exposed for businesses and their workforces, such as broadband access to facilitate remote work and a renewed focus on attracting infrastructure investments to stimulate the economy.
“Addressing the greatest challenges for our economy and community through business leadership has always been the theme of Boulder Together,” said Boulder Chamber President and CEO John Tayer. “In the wake of COVID-19, we’ve seen how kicking the can down the road can lead to impenetrable barriers to business success and vast resource inequities that are taking an intolerable human toll, but also can have a corrosive impact on our collective economic fortunes. In the recalibration of our Boulder Together program we face these barriers and inequities head-on for a brighter Boulder future.”
Economic data informs new program direction
This recalibration of the Boulder Together program was the product of extensive data analysis and hours of focus group discussions with representatives of Boulder’s diverse industry sectors, nonprofit and social service leadership, and local government officials. Though there are specific sector needs that the Boulder Chamber will look to address through other targeted initiatives, the research and input helped establish key priorities across the broad scope of Boulder’s industries and civic environment that demand business leadership – such as the disturbing unemployment rate increase, unsustainable losses in local sales tax revenue, and continued escalation in the housing affordability gap.
“The extensive data and thoughtful input exposed glaring challenges for our community that we’ve allowed to fester for far too long,” said Abby Benson, Associate Vice Chancellor for Strategic Resources and Support at the University of Colorado Boulder. “Business leadership, in collaboration with other civic and nonprofit partners, is determined to tackle these challenges through our Boulder Together program with the goal of an even stronger and more equitable future for our economy and community.”
Key program strategies
Based on analysis of the feedback and trends data it accumulated, Boulder Together has evolved beyond its original goals to encompass measures that will support a quality business environment. Key strategies will include promoting expanded affordable housing options, speeding the exhaustive commercial redevelopment review periods (which can upset the future for small businesses), and stressing the importance of a balanced and diverse economic ecosystem. The recalibrated Boulder Together program will additionally focus on driving infrastructure investments that improve mobility options for our workforce and expand access to high-speed internet services. Finally, on the workforce development front, the program aims to widen opportunities that align the talents of our workforce with fulfilling career positions in Boulder’s expanding industry sectors.
“We recognize that there is great talent available to our businesses, which can fuel our economy,” said Colorado Group President and Boulder Together Co-Chair Scott Reichenberg. “Unfortunately, inequities in access to training, high-speed internet services and open employment positions have created barriers to connecting with those opportunities. Boulder Together will help bridge the divide between economic opportunity for individuals and business need.”
A previous track record of success
The Boulder Together initiative has previously made significant headway in addressing talent access issues for Boulder’s businesses. Advocacy work under the workforce mobility pillar contributed to the adoption of first- and final-mile solutions for those using transit services, while helping to secure funding for improvements in the SH 119 and SH 7 corridors that will benefit all travel modes. In the workforce development arena, Boulder Together was responsible for launching an award-winning medical assistant apprenticeship program and is building more diverse talent pipelines through sector partnerships and training businesses in skills-based hiring. Boulder Together has also contributed to advances in workforce housing development through advocacy for greater resource allocations and improved development review processes.
“The work of Boulder Together already achieved great progress in addressing some of our highest priority economic and community needs,” said Tayer. “Looking forward, as we emerge from the pandemic, we have an even clearer picture of the challenges and opportunities ahead. Together, with our Boulder Together investors, we will overcome those challenges and seize opportunities as we work to achieve a strong and inclusive economic recovery.”