The Boulder Valley is well known for many things, whether it’s our environmental-friendly people and companies, our highly intelligent and educated work force, the University of Colorado, our scenic countryside or our fairly wealthy population. But none of these individual characteristics alone can define our community to the world. What is the Boulder Brand? Or, better yet, what should it be? Even the city of Boulder is seeking ideas from the public on the Boulder brand in hopes of passing a bond measure in 2012 for a capital project that’s in line with whatever brand idea is chosen. In an effort to make our community more aware of the Boulder Brand ideas being discussed for the city and the Boulder Valley as a whole, RE/MAX of Boulder will feature organizations’ brand proposals in its e-zine over the next several months. We hope these articles are informative and that you feel welcome to provide your feedback to RE/MAX as well as to the organizations and your local government.
This month we talked to John Cody of the Longmont Area Economic Council about the Boulder Valley’s need to educate its own work force.
The Longmont Area Economic Council may not be considered part of the “Boulder Valley,” but according to its president and chief executive officer, every community faces the same challenge – especially in this economy.
Fostering the retention and creation of quality primary jobs is the key to maintaining and improving the Boulder Valley, John Cody says.
The high quality of life Colorado offers attracts companies, but they won’t come and stay without a qualified work force available to them, he says.
Boulder County is the most educated county in America, with a high percentage of engineers and scientifically minded residents, which is its greatest asset for attracting and retaining strong employers, Cody says. However, those people are generally not from the Boulder area.
Businesses are not concerned about where they find the talent they need – just that they find it, Cody says. So while they may locate to Boulder because they can attract talented employees to the area, current Boulder area residents could fill those jobs with the right education and training starting at a young age.
“The Colorado paradox is a real issue,” he says. “Efforts are under way to try to improve the level of talent that we are growing – meaning kids who are coming through school, going to college.”
In Longmont, Skyline High School offers the Scientific Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program, a magnet component that prepares students to excel in science- and math-related fields, Cody explains. Schools in the Boulder Valley could help “grow” their own work force and provide opportunities for their children’s future by implementing similar programs in their schools.
“We have to do a better job of preparing our kids for those kinds of jobs in the future, by educating our kids and getting them engaged and interested in those types of jobs,” he adds. “They’re not so much jobs that people can be retrained for.”
Colorado offers a quality of life that attracts and keeps people here, but without jobs that pay a decent wage, people can’t afford to enjoy, maintain or improve it, Cody says.
“You have to have a good environment, but you also have to have a good income,” he says. “If you have a quality environment and a quality job, then you have what Coloradans have come to expect, what they want.
“If you think either is less important, you reap the whirlwind.”