Northern Colorado’s regional job growth outpaced the state and national economies in part because of strong public private partnerships that often involve Colorado State University, President Larry Edward Penley said in a speech Thursday.
"We already know that the major driver of an economy is its higher education via the skills that come to graduates and the new jobs that are created from research ideas," Penley told a group of about 300 business and community leaders at the Colorado State University Regional Economic Summit and Forecast at the Fort Collins Marriott. "As a knowledge economy – we are highly dependent on the fundamental products of higher education. And we can anticipate that higher education will continue to play a critical role as a collaborator in our regional economic prosperity."
The Northern Colorado Economic Development Corp. also plays a critical role as a clearinghouse for collaboration among communities that naturally want to compete for job growth and business relocation, he said. Those communities are now interdependent on one another – people work in one town and live in another, for example – and share common problems such as transportation.
The university helps solve those issues, Penley said, pointing to the UniverCity plan that grew from discussions with the city of Fort Collins as an example.
"The relationship between university and community may be one of the best means to understand the value of collaboration," he said.
Additional evidence stems from statistics showing that northern Colorado fares well economically compared with the rest of the state, Penley said:
-Regional job growth outpaced both Colorado and U.S. economies between 2004 and 2006.
-Nationally, the Fort Collins-Loveland metropolitan area placed 168th in job growth with a 1.9 percent increase in jobs in July 2006 compared with the previous year – more than a half percentage point ahead of the 1.3 percent for the U. S. as a whole.
-Fast Cities magazine recently named Fort Collins one of its Fast Cities – and again it was due to a relationship between city and university. The magazine named Fort Collins one of three cities worldwide as a research-and-development "hot spot" because the community generates 11.45 patents per year for every 10,000 people, nearly four times the U.S. city average. Focusing on the importance of CSU to the community, the magazine said, "Colorado State University spins out world-class work in realms from bacterial diseases to sustainable energy, feeding a patent stream that’s growing by 21 percent a year."