Leadership Exchange: Mile High Perspectives


kristiwyatt1What makes Denver tick?   

Leadership Exchange participants were treated to a visual tour of slides on the amazing progress in downtown Denver. 

Floyd Ciruli moderated a panel discussion and suggested that it’s easier to get things done in a state with only one large city which is also the state capital.  Said future of transit is helping to drive development.

Mayor Ed Tauer of Aurora said the leadership of the area thinks regionally.  This was not always the case.  There are challenges for sure.  Denver is highly underinvested right now.  Funding future infrastructure and capital expenditures will be a challenge.     

How do the region’s leaders compete and cooperate?  In Denver they recognize that the city of Denver alone cannot do big things.  The 7 surrounding counties must participate.  Regionalism happens when you do tough work and each of you believe that together you will do better than working on one’s own.    The most important person is the Mayor of the core city.  The Denver region has a lot of Mayors who really get the point of working together. 

As a note, it is clear that no other trip has had the KC connections that Denverites have mentioned already.   Almost everyone has a KC story to tell.   

Politically it’s a “fascinating” state – one-third R; one-third D; one-third independent. 

Marilee Utter of Citiventure Associates:  “Progressive cities have to do it themselves.  No one else will do it.  When times get tough, people pull together and don’t expect to have outsiders come to the rescue.” 

Mariner Kemper of UMB Financial Corporation was presented a check for $1000 by Chamber President Pete Levi for the Denver Art Museum. He mentioned the strong Mayor form of government helps to get things done.  Too many other communities fight for everyone to get their own piece of the pie. Residential real estate is one of the great assets of KC, one not valued enough. 

Dan Ritchie discussed Denver’s unique Scientific & Cultural Facilities District, which has been a great success there, but other communities have yet to replicate the success. Their Arts and Cultural Tax generated $42 M last year spread over 300 organizations. The group also had a discussion of the draconian rules generated as a result of  TABOR.    

No incentives are offered for a company to move across the community borders, said Mayor Ed Tauer.  Would this work in KC?  They call it coopetition: we know we’re competing against each other but we try to do it together.

All new developments in Denver want to be by rail stations.  Some cities are going to pull ahead in the next decade because of issues like amenities and transit, according to Marilee. 

It’s clear that business and local elected officials work well together and set the agenda.


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