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Colorado is a Hotbed of Technology and Innovation


Gary Shapiro, President and CEO, Consumer Technology Association (CTA)

Colorado has a history of making history. In 2014, it became the first state to legalize ridesharing services such as Lyft and Uber. Then last year, a self-driving truck made the world’s first commercial delivery in the state.

This year, Colorado made history again when it was named an Innovation Champion for the first time in the Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA) annual Innovation Scorecard – which ranks the 50 U.S. states on their innovation friendliness. The Scorecard considers ten indicators that measure competitiveness, such as undergraduates earning STEM degrees and laws governing emerging new technologies, and then ranks states accordingly.

Colorado earned high marks in this year’s scorecard for its business-friendly tax policies, statewide support of ridesharing services, protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, fast internet speeds and market-based policy for recycling electronics.

Colorado is also fostering the workforce of the future. On average, the state graduates 25 undergraduates with STEM degrees per 1,000 students, higher than the national average of 20.8 undergraduates, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Governor John Hickenlooper, an entrepreneur himself, has started to pair universities with innovation councils to help guide students along their career paths and encourage talented and tech-minded young people to stay in Colorado. The state’s population between the ages of 25 to 29 grew almost 11 percent from 2012 to 2015, double the national average growth rate.

People are moving to Colorado because it’s a great place to live and there are tech jobs for young people. Across the state, the number of technology-related jobs grew by more than 12,000 between 2015 and 2016.

Colorado’s tech future is bright, but there is work to be done. To continue to attract and retain tech workers and support the innovation economy, the state must adopt consumer and tech-friendly policies. Creating a legal, statewide framework for short-term rental services such as VRBO – founded in Colorado in 1995 – and others is a good place to start. These services lower barriers to entrepreneurship while also enhancing consumer choice. In 2016, for example, Denver had 223,000 Airbnb guest arrivals and the platform generated $189 million in economic activity for the city.

State legislators and the governor can champion short-term rental platforms and create a system that’s fair and transparent. While some cities across the state loosely allow short-term rental companies to operate, others do not. The state would benefit from passing a law that prevents individual cities from banning short-term rentals, thereby eliminating the patchwork effect that currently exists in Colorado.

Colorado is an example of a great place to live and work. To keep that momentum going, and to maintain its Champion status, Colorado lawmakers must continue to embrace the policies that drive innovation, create good jobs and fuel economic growth.

Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,200 consumer technology companies, and author of the New York Times best-selling books, Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World's Most Successful Businesses and The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream. His views are his own. Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro

This article originally appeared in the Pueblo Chieftain.

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