RADIANCE BLOG

Category: Denver Metro

Community Challenges Recap

This quarter, we spent some time thinking and writing about some of the key issues that our local communities are facing and offered some suggestions on how some communities are facing those challenges. 

We explored the rapid population growth Colorado is experiencing, including an analysis that shows how one Colorado county has experienced 9,900% growth in the past century.  That population growth has forced communities to seek creative solutions to the country’s housing affordability crisis

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9,900% Growth

Many of our clients throughout Colorado are experiencing and planning for population growth. Looking at the skyline around the Denver Metro area, you might see more than a dozen construction cranes from one viewpoint. Near my home, formerly vacant land is being and plotted for new houses. According to the Colorado State Demographer, Colorado’s population is expected to grow by 76,000 people in 2019 alone (for reference, the City of Loveland has a population of about 76,000).

Downtown Denver (photo by Henry Desro on Unsplash)
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Lyfts and Transit and Bicycles (Oh My!)

Ah, traffic.  There’s almost nothing people love to hate as much.  It seems like such a simple problem, but there are rarely any easy solutions.  While cities across the U.S. regularly struggle with how to most effectively move people around, Colorado (and Denver in particular) has found itself far behind these days due to rapid population growth.  Our transportation planners do their best to make improvements to our roads and highways on a regular basis, but the fact of the matter is that infrastructure improvements take lots of time and lots of money, and we seem to be starved for both these days.

Photo by Ashwini Chaudhary on Unsplash
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The Challenging Landscape of Public Education

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

While Denver Public Schools has managed to limit its first teacher strike in 25 years to three days, the reality that it had to come to that is an indicator of a fact that has become common knowledge around the country: public education is hard.  While most agree that teachers are chronically underpaid in many areas of the country, few agree on what can be done about it.  In Colorado, there is an unending debate about how to pay for education, roads, and healthcare, and most of the ballot initiatives aimed at raising taxes to support these priorities fail.  While we at Corona won’t be solving all these problems in this blog, we wanted to highlight a few of our clients who have made moves to improve the educational landscape in recent years.

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Communities Seek Creative Solutions to the Country’s Housing Affordability Crisis

While working on a recent project assessing the housing market for the City of Fort Collins, we were struck by how communities across the state and the country were pursuing diverse strategies to the current housing affordability crisis. The fourth quarter of 2018 saw national home affordability drop to a 10-year low. Residents in our hometown of Denver are all too familiar with this dynamic. A recent report identified the city as hosting the most competitive housing market in the nation. Members of the country’s middle class are increasingly viewing home ownership as unfeasible. The vast majority of Americans find themselves in markets where home prices are rising faster than wages. It should not be surprising that renting is more affordable than owning in 59% of the nation’s counties. That number jumps to 93% of the country’s most populated areas (those with more than 1 million people).

Photo by Breno Assis on Unsplash
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How the (now ended) Government Shutdown is Affecting Colorado Communities

Beginning on December 22, 2018, parts of the federal government were shut down due to insufficient funding. After 35 days, the longest government shutdown in United States history came to an end on the afternoon of January 25, 2019. Although the shutdown has now ended, the effects of it will continue to reverberate in Colorado.

One agency affected by the shutdown was the Department of the Interior, which oversees the National Park system, including Colorado’s own Rocky Mountain National Park. According to the National Parks Conservation Association, “on an average day in January, 425,000 park visitors spend $20 million in nearby communities.” Rocky Mountain National Park technically remained open during the shutdown. However, without federal workers to maintain the park, trashcans cans were deluged with trash and roads remained unplowed, creating hazardous conditions for visitors. In communities near Rocky Mountain National Park, such as Estes Park, business owners noted they experienced a decrease in sales and business in general as tourists and locals alike were unable to safely fully experience the national park. While the winter season may not be the most lucrative time of year, the decrease in revenue will undoubtedly leave some business owners with a financial burden.

Quinn Nietfeld via unsplash.com
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The issues facing our communities

Though we at Corona serve clients of all shapes and sizes, we particularly love helping local governments and nonprofits to improve the lives of people in the communities in which we live, work, and play.  This quarter, we will be focusing on some of the issues that local communities are facing this year. While the specific topics may shift as the quarter goes on, you can likely expect to hear from us about topics such as:

  • How the impacts of government shutdown might linger long after the shutdown ends
  • The challenges with providing housing for an ever-changing population
  • Trends in population growth and where we expect things to go in the future
  • The rapidly shifting landscape of public education and the impacts that Governor Polis might have in Colorado

Stay tuned this quarter for discussions on many other topics.  We hope to shed some light on not only what some of these challenges are, but also how some communities can get ahead of these trends to positively impact their communities, so we hope you will enjoy the conversation!


DU’s Keystone Strategic Plan leads to action

 

The 20th century model of delivering a liberal and creative arts education is inadequate to the task of developing graduates who can think broadly and critically in and out of their chosen fields.

—From the Keystone Strategic Plan 2018-2025

 

We are thrilled to celebrate the creation of the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences at the University of Denver.

The creation of the College is a direct result of their strategic planning process. The exciting Keystone Strategic Plan commits the college to nothing less than the transformation of the liberal and creative arts education in alignment with the University’s transformation under DU IMPACT 2025.

 

What role will the social sciences, arts, and humanities play in a world that increasingly operates through artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and big data? A very important one. The careers and lives of tomorrow will be defined by distinctly human qualities such as ethical judgment, creativity, adaptability, agility, and storytelling.

—From the Keystone Strategic Plan 2018-2025

 

“This plan represents the best of our strategy work at Corona. We are thrilled with the resulting plan and look forward to the momentum and positive changes it creates for the students, staff, faculty, and alumni of the college,” said Karla Raines.

Read the full press release here. See the video that DU produced about the plan below.


GoodBusiness – The State of Corporate Philanthropy in Colorado

We were very excited to work with B:CIVIC, the Denver Chamber, DaVita, TIAA and the University of Denver to collect data about how businesses in Colorado are engaging with and giving to their communities. It was great to see that businesses of all sizes across Colorado are engaging in corporate philanthropy, especially at the local level. It was also interesting to see that in addition to cash donations, many businesses are offering support for their employees to donate time and money.

The report can be found here.


Mirror, mirror on the wall. Do Denver residents see themselves in arts, cultural and creative organizations?

At our I2020 presentation last week, we had a lot of great discussion about the data. One topic we discussed was representation in arts, culture and creativity. While a large majority of Denver residents in our survey believed that people like them participate in arts, culture and creativity, African American and especially Latinx residents were more likely to doubt that people like them participated. Even a small difference can be important, though, since people might use representation to infer other things about an organization and its events, such as whether an event is welcoming, whether they have the right background knowledge for an event, and whether an organization is relevant to them. Also, representation is important because it’s something that organizations have some control over, especially representation within their boards and staff.

Quantitative research is really useful for understanding the “what” of a topic. To get to the “why” though, you really need qualitative research that gives people space to explain things in their own words. We hope the results from this I2020 survey inspire Denver organizations to start digging into the “why”.

To view the presentation, click here (PDF). To learn more about Imagine 2020, including additional research, click here.