Envisioning Growth, Prosperity and Inclusion in Longmont

March 1, 2019 GMT

Growth, prosperity and inclusion underline the updated vision for Longmont’s economic development.

Advance Longmont 2.0 is about creating jobs, recruiting and retaining talent, promoting innovation and entrepreneurship, and providing a high quality of life for Longmont residents through community collaborations.

The updated strategic plan, supported by a full data-driven market assessment, was unveiled Thursday in front of about 125 attendees of the Advance Longmont Economic Summit.

The program, which took place at The Wild Game Entertainment Experience in Longmont, was organized by the Longmont Economic Development Partnership.

It kicked off with a review by the partnership’s President Jessica Erickson of her organization’s achievements in fostering job and business growth last year, and was followed by a presentation by Morgan Smith, the partnership’s director of strategy and collaboration, who highlighted the pathway to achieve the goals of Advance Longmont 2.0.

It’s about promoting primary industries and local businesses with an eye to the future, looking for opportunities to educate and train potential workers, providing them with affordable housing options, and creating a multi-modal transit system and a vibrant and amenity-rich community, Smith said.

That approach, coupled with a targeted growth of industrial clusters, particularly related to information technology, health care and creative culinary arts, and by making sure businesses and entrepreneurs have access to financing, real estate and mentorship, will put Longmont on the road to sustainable economic development, Smith said. “We want to have a no-wrong- door ecosystem,” he said.

Quoting Amy Liu, vice president and director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings Institution, he said, “Top-line growth doesn’t ensure bottom-line prosperity.”

For more fair and equitable economic growth in Longmont, a community network of action-focused partners from public, private and nonprofit sectors will need to get together to promote smart manufacturing and business clusters, and help foster knowledge creation and deployment, Smith said.

Longmont can utilize the innovation model as exemplified by Boulder, which is ranked fourth in the nation for innovation capacity and output, he said. “We have an amazing regional ecosystem.”

Doug Helbig, a food industry entrepreneur who was part of a discussion panel at the summit, said Longmont can take advantage of Colorado’s burgeoning natural foods and beverages industry. There’s no dearth of resources entrepreneurs can tap into to think of new products, make them, create a brand and sell them locally, said Helbig, vice president of sales at Wandering Bear Coffee.

Another panelist Jeff Brown, a Google cloud sales manager, talked of his company’s approach of allowing employees to focus on their passions one day a week as a way to promote innovation and talent retention. He also stressed the importance of taking local businesses online to generate more interest. He showcased MyBizColorado as a single-stop shop for business registration and licensing.

The keynote presenter Patty Silverstein, president and chief economist of Development Research Partners , talked about the continued economic expansion in the metro Denver area in the face of slowing global economy.

Today, business executives are worried about finding affordable housing for their workers, she said, adding Longmont’s relatively inexpensive housing and stable rental rates can be marketed to prospective companies as a positive feature of the community.

Pratik Joshi: 303-684-5310, pjoshi@dailycamera.com