Denver was considered flyover country for years — the gateway to the vast and rugged Rocky Mountains. In the last decade, its profile as a center of innovation and entrepreneurship has risen, luring a flood of new residents, especially young people who seek the city’s robust job opportunities and access to outdoor recreation such as skiing, snowboarding, hiking, climbing and cycling.
Its public transit system, complete with a new commuter train from the airport to the city’s downtown, is expanding and fueling tourism and growth. Its economy — once dominated by the work of oil and gas firms — is now home to booming technology startups and stalwarts like Google, which is putting down deeper roots in Boulder, 40 minutes up the road.
Global companies are relocating their headquarters here, drawn by more a affordable commercial real estate and employee perks. The housing market — fueled by the influx of newcomers — is among the hottest in the country.
And let’s acknowledge the green elephant in the room: Colorado was the first state with legalized marijuana and has a head start on a multi-billion-dollar new industry.
In a high-stakes election year, Colorado takes pride in its independence — its voting blocs split almost evenly between Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters.
The media environment is diverse, with strong traditional outlets complemented by blogs, startups and nonprofits alike. The news landscape in 2016 remains as turbulent and challenging as ever, but we gather annually because we believe in the future of digital media, much like the early ancestors of this city, who were drawn here by the seemingly endless possibilities of the American West.
Dan Petty is Director of Audience Development at The Denver Post, and served as Co-Chair of the ONA16 Program Team.