The Colorado Chamber of Commerce recently hosted a Denver Mayoral Runoff Forum, featuring the two mayoral candidates, Kelly Brough and Mike Johnston. The forum served as a platform for the candidates to address a range of business issues, including economic development goals and the potential use of a right of first refusal on apartment complex sales.
The event provided valuable insights into how the future mayor might approach challenges affecting employers, offering the business community an opportunity to gauge their potential impact.
In recent years, Denver has faced various pressing issues, such as a rising cost of living, high crime rates, and a significant backlog of permits. As a result, businesses have been struggling, and strong leadership is crucial to ensure a healthy business climate.
“This election is really important because the economic health of Denver can affect the overall business climate of Colorado”, said Colorado Chamber President and CEO Loren Furman in her opening remarks. “We need a strong, vibrant and business-friendly city that will attract investments, job opportunities, and drive economic activity.”
During the forum, one of the main topics of discussion was workforce development. Both Brough and Johnston highlighted the importance of attracting and retaining a diverse range of industries. Johnston proposed a more active role for Denver in upskilling workers to meet employer demands. His plan involved partnering with industry and nonprofits to launch a workforce training platform. On the other hand, Brough suggested a partnership between local businesses and Denver Public Schools, with the aim of increasing paid apprenticeships and internships as a potential solution.
When addressing the need to revitalize downtown Denver and tackle the affordable housing crisis, both candidates expressed their support for the conversion of some downtown offices into residential buildings. While Brough wholeheartedly supported this plan, Johnston took a more conservative stance. He argued that while conversions should take place, there should be limits to ensure they do not undermine downtown’s position as a commercial center.
Overall, the Denver Mayoral Runoff Forum proved to be an important event for the business community. It allowed the candidates to share their perspectives on key business issues and provided voters with the opportunity to become more informed before the election on June 6.