December 06, 2011
Denver Leadership Exchange, "best yet"
For the sixth consecutive year, the Chamber convened a delegation of leaders to explore a competitive region and capture ideas that could strengthen our regional economy. The 75 business and community leaders who visited Denver on the Chamber’s September Leadership Exchange agree that Denver exemplifies the trip’s theme of “Collaboration Across Boundaries.”
“It was a great group to travel with and they had great insights to share as a result of what we saw and heard,”said George Vincent, managing partner at Dinsmore & Shohl and chair of the Chamber Board. “It was great to see a region coalesce around a group of transformational projects as Denver has. The degree of cross-jurisdictional collaboration—with shared benefits for all—is a model we can emulate and build on.”
For example, the Denver Metro Mayors Caucus, a cooperative alliance of the mayors of 40 cities and towns in the Denver metropolitan region, has collaborated on more than one multi-county ballot initiative. With the support of the mayors, Denver is in the process of building out what has been called the number one transit system in the country—a key factor in economic development for the region.
Denver business leaders also detailed how a focus on growing industry clusters has been highly effective in strengthening the local economy and spurring innovation.
“I think the Leadership Exchange provided us with validation that we have the basic ingredients—like CincyTech and The Brandery and the Innovation Task Force— for an outstanding environment where innovation will thrive as we commercialize new ideas,”said Kay Geiger, market president for PNC Bank. “Denver provided us with practical, tactical linkages that lead to job growth.”
Cincinnati leaders also attended sessions on downtown development and sustaining a vibrant cultural sector.
“Denver has this whole focus on rebuilding their urban infrastructure through a comprehensive master plan,” said Sean Rugless, president and CEO of the African-American Chamber. “From economic development to cultural offerings, there was a lot of upfront collaboration to envision a great city that really leverages everyone’s individual contributions and is sustainable over time.”
The trip culminated in a visit to the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus, where the group heard from venture capitalist Brad Feld, founder of the top-ranked start-up accelerator in the world.
Dave Knox, co-founder of The Brandery, Cincinnati’s consumer marketing company accelerator, said, “Denver was a way to show Cincinnati leaders how start-ups are changing other cities from the ground up in an informal setting where everyone is open to possibilities and not distracted by the everyday demands of their roles in Cincinnati.”
Many called this the best Leadership Exchange yet and returned with renewed energy for advancing Cincinnati USA.
“The Denver Leadership Exchange trip was outstanding,” said Kevin Canafax, vice president of public affairs for Fidelity Investments. “I am looking forward to working with the other participants to move our region from ‘good’ to ‘great’!”