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Striking Tech Gold in The Rockies: Fueling Innovation and Talent in Denver and Beyond

As Colorado continues to nurture its tech ecosystem, it sets a benchmark for innovation, talent development and economic vitality. Here's how.

Lisa Marie Maxson //March 21, 2024//

Striking Tech Gold in The Rockies: Fueling Innovation and Talent in Denver and Beyond

As Colorado continues to nurture its tech ecosystem, it sets a benchmark for innovation, talent development and economic vitality. Here's how.

Lisa Marie Maxson //March 21, 2024//

Every 72 hours a new tech company stakes its claim and opens its doors in Colorado.

This impressive statistic signifies more than a booming economy, it demonstrates that Colorado must be offering something more than a thriving job market. What is the allure of the Centennial State to tech giants and ambitious startups?

Over the last 10 years the Greater Denver area has quietly positioned itself as a pivotal hub for technology and innovation but what are the factors that have led to its success and are we in the midst of a digital gold rush? 

READ: These 5 CEOs Are Launching Colorado’s Start Up Sector to New Heights

The rise of Colorado’s tech sector

With proximity to the rich tech landscape of Silicon Valley and easy connecting flights to both the East and West coasts, it’s easy to see Colorado’s geographical allure.

Companies are flocking to Colorado and recent reports by CBRE spotlighted Denver ranking third among the nation’s 30 leading tech hubs. The state saw a staggering 23.7% increase in high-tech jobs during 2021 and 2022, surpassing its previous two-year growth rate of 16.4%. Nearby Colorado Springs has been identified as one of the “Next 10 Tech Markets to Watch” further highlighting the state’s vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.

It’s not just private companies that are recognizing the draw of Colorado, the state was recently recognized by the federal government as a U.S. Tech Hub for quantum computing, a distinction that brings both national recognition and federal funding. This prestigious acknowledgment not only establishes Colorado as an emerging powerhouse, it reflects Colorado’s dedication to spearheading advancements in quantum computing and its broader ambition to be at the forefront of tech innovation.

Additionally, president Joe Biden’s decision to reverse the previously planned relocation of Space Command has solidified Colorado’s position as a key hub for national security and space operations.

This move, warmly welcomed by local leaders and military officials, taps into Colorado’s robust national security communications and intelligence infrastructure. The expansion of Buckley Space Force Base, highlighted by advancements such as operational radar improvements, has had a profound economic impact, contributing $2.5 billion to the region in 2023 alone. The decision to maintain the Space Force’s presence in Colorado, notably benefiting Denver and Colorado Springs, has marked the state’s technology sector as a gold mine for the economy. 

READ: The Colorado Aerospace Industry is Combating an Alarming Pilot Shortage — Here’s How

Prospecting success 

At the heart of Colorado’s tech explosion lies a solid educational foundation, where local colleges and universities act as the bedrock for the state’s technological advancements. The University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado State University (CSU), and the Colorado School of Mines stand out as pillars supporting the state’s tech sector with their robust STEM programs.

The Colorado School of Mines, with a focus on engineering and applied science, boasts a remarkable post-graduation success rate, with 96% of its graduates finding positive outcomes such as employment or further education. This institution is renowned for its contributions to the industry, preparing students with practical skills and knowledge that directly contribute to the tech sector’s growth​​. Last year the school offered over 1,000 local internships and co-ops and partnered with a staggering 720 organizations to secure students graduate jobs.

CSU also plays a significant role in this ecosystem through its STEM Center, which fosters connections and support across various science, engineering, mathematics and technology education and engagement programs.

CSU’s dedication to shaping the future workforce is evident in its broad array of STEM-related events and programs, catering to a wide range of audiences from K-12 students to educators and community members, ensuring a steady pipeline of skilled professionals for the tech industry.

The synergy between Colorado’s tech boom and its educational institutions cannot be overstated. Local colleges and universities are pivotal in shaping a workforce that is ready to meet the demands of this burgeoning job market. Programs tailored to emerging sectors, particularly tech and STEM, ensure that graduates are not just academically prepared but are also industry-ready, contributing to the high retention rate of talent within the state. 

The mile-high tech effect

The tech boom has had a multiplier effect on local economies, particularly evident in the revitalization of downtown areas.

The influx of young professionals, drawn by high-paying tech jobs, is transforming these neighborhoods into vibrant, dynamic communities. This urban renewal is not just about economic stimulation but also about creating a conducive environment for innovation and creativity, further attracting tech companies and talent to Colorado. 

Another draw for the tech workforce is the compensation. On average, Colorado’s tech workers earn 98% more than the average private sector worker engaged in another field. This economic appeal is bolstered by a cost of living that, while not the lowest, offers significant value for money — especially when compared to the soaring costs in coastal tech hubs. 

With a blend of accessible infrastructure like bike lanes and robust public transportation, combined with Colorado’s outdoor and cultural riches, Denver is a golden nugget of opportunity for professionals prioritizing work-life balance.

Ranked as one of the healthiest states, those drawn to Colorado benefit from a lifestyle that merges urban conveniences with nature’s tranquility and recreational activities, offering a distinct advantage for those seeking a more balanced lifestyle without sacrificing career opportunities.

From leading in job growth and income levels to earning the designation as a U.S. Tech Hub for quantum computing, Colorado is truly “cleaning up.” The state’s educational institutions, entrepreneurial spirit and strategic focus on sectors like technology are key drivers of this growth. 

READ: Balancing Business Ownership — Is Work-Life Balance Possible for Entrepreneurs?

How the private sector can foster growth

As we celebrate Colorado’s flourishing tech community, there are steps those of us in the private sector can take to make sure the skilled labor force and global names that call Colorado home never find a reason to leave. 

  • Collaboration: There’s always room for bigger and better collaboration between our successful tech giants, startups, small businesses and leading academic institutions. Whether through conferences, guest lectures, research opportunities or open facility tours, opportunities for collaboration, knowledge sharing and learning can help businesses and higher education institutions combine diverse skillsets and create partnerships that accelerate the pace of innovation.
  • Talent retention: Training programs, internships and co-op programs for our skilled students and grads ensure our future workforce is prepped with both hard technical skills and soft skills. By helping students become workforce-ready, Colorado companies can continue to increase job placement rates and raise Colorado’s future tech leaders.
  • Networking opportunities: By creating, hosting and participating in tech conferences and events in our backyards, companies can showcase products and services and foster a network of potential clients, partners and investors.

As Colorado continues to nurture its tech ecosystem, it sets a benchmark for innovation, talent development and economic vitality, promising a future where it remains at the forefront of advancement.


Lisa Marie Maxson headshotLisa Marie Maxson, CEO of 10x People has led the company since its founding in 2013. Her telecommunications experience predates the Telecommunications Act of 1996 in which she played a key role in implementing Local Number Portability. She is an entrepreneur who has founded several successful software companies. Maxson is passionate about providing products and solutions that exceed expectations to provide high-quality feature-rich solutions that increase revenue and drive down business costs.