Dec 052011
Authors: Andrew Carrera

Job-seeking college graduates in Colorado may have a new reason to be hopeful about their career situation, especially if they’re coming out of CSU.

Gov. John Hickenlooper announced in late November the formation of the Colorado Innovation Network (COIN) –– a collaboration among the state’s private, public and academic organizations that seeks to pair inventors with entrepreneurs in the hope that new jobs will be created as a result of their cooperation.

“The Colorado Innovation Network is a road map for making Colorado the best state for innovation and where every road must lead to new jobs,” Hickenlooper said in a Nov. 28 press conference. “We’ll work statewide with industry leaders to build a business environment which promotes innovative practices, creates jobs and grows our economy.”

Hickenlooper named Ajay Menon, dean of CSU’s College of Business, as the economic group’s first chief. The move stands to place the university, its programs and graduates at the forefront of the job-creating enterprise.

“ … We are looking at graduate programs and startup businesses,” Menon said, pointing to ways students across Colorado will benefit from COIN. “We’re looking at internship opportunities, or apprenticeships, for students who work in startups so they get a hands-on experience doing that. We’re looking at business case competitions between the universities on start-up activities. We are looking for researchers … unlike the ones in the lab, where there’s a market for these things.”

The recent effort on behalf of Hickenlooper to create an attractive business environment in the state fits into his larger financial plan for the state. In July he unveiled a six-point economic development strategy called, “Colorado Blueprint,” which lists cultivating innovation and technology as a top priority for his administration.

Such economic maneuvering may be working. William Frey, a demographer and senior fellow of the Metropolitan Policy Program for the Brookings Institution, said in a recent interview with Denver’s Westword that migration data suggests Colorado’s economy is one of the strongest, most diversified in the nation.

As proof, he pointed to the fact that Denver attracted far more young adults between the ages of 25 and 34 than other major metropolitan areas in the nation between 2008 and 2010, adding 10,429 of individuals within the demographic to its population.

Places like Phoenix, Ariz. and Atlanta, Ga. saw markedly less gains in young adults.

“People aren’t moving as much,” Frey said. “Young adults still have the highest migration rates, but they’re way down from what they should be. To the extent they are moving, they’re going to places that are a good place to be for now.”

He added: “I’m not an economist, I’m a demographer. But what we see from the migration data, Colorado and Denver are probably a part of the country that will survive and possibly prosper when the economy comes back … ”

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at

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