It is not enough to have high paying tech sector jobs in our community. We must have good jobs at all income levels.
A good job is the key to a good life, not just for adults, but for the children we raise. While there has been much focus on high housing prices, that crisis wouldn’t be hitting our community so hard if wages had kept growing the way they used to historically. Instead, our economy has been growing lower-wage service sector jobs, and wages are stuck below the cost of living. When Denver invests in economic development, or does business in our community, we need to make sure we’re setting strong and fair standards to pay wages that meet the cost of living, protecting employee’s rights to advocate for themselves and their families collectively on the job, and training to expand access to middle income careers.
It may be surprising to learn that Denver has a long manufacturing history, made-up of more family-owned and innovative niche product producers than the big mega-factories of other regions. Although there are fewer manufacturing jobs than there used to be, they can still be a vital part of our economy’s diversity and they can still provide opportunities for a middle-class quality of life for workers who are trained through apprenticeships, community colleges or other technology-specific training. Denver’s economic development investments should be focused on growing and supporting these industries. Our workforce development programs need to do a better job supporting the recruitment and preparation of the employees these industries rely upon. And our land use policy needs to find ways to integrate more modern, lower impact advanced manufacturing in our mixed use city, rather than replacing all the spaces that support good quality jobs with luxury housing. Local manufacturing helps to create a thriving City. Look for the “Made in Colorado” label.
Denver workers for Denver’s future:
Denver spends billions of dollars constructing transportation infrastructure, parks and city-supported tourism venues like the National Western Center and the Convention Center. I have been fighting with my colleagues to ensure those dollars build our communities at the same time by hiring and training residents from vulnerable neighborhoods for construction careers. Concrete goals to hire and train vulnerable residents is a win-win, providing plumbers and electricians to meet the overwhelming demands of the construction industry in our area, while uplifting families and giving them the income to stay in our city. As we prepare for billions of dollars in new construction projects, I will continue to advocate for Denver to adopt best practices already tested and proven in other cities to provide apprenticeship training and access to jobs on Denver construction projects for residents who need them most.
The Arts in Denver create jobs and bring big benefits:
Denver is a regional hub of arts and science activity that draws people here to live, work, and play. A thriving arts community has been an important part of revitalizing neighborhoods, and Denver residents agree that arts, culture and creativity contribute to the quality of life and economic vitality of the city. Affordable live-work housing for artists and other programs to ensure that a racially and economically diverse array of artists are able to continue to create and contribute to Denver’s economy are key to ensuring the financial success of the arts in Denver is shared by all.