Aug 08, 2017
DENVER – Mayor Michael B. Hancock today named Eric Hiraga as the next Executive Director of the Denver Office of Economic Development, where he will lead Denver’s efforts to create a local economic environment that stimulates balanced growth through job creation, business assistance, housing options, neighborhood redevelopment and the development of a skilled workforce.
He will continue the momentum that has propelled Denver to become a leading economy, being named a top city to start a career, work and live. Over the past six years, Denver has created over 5,000 businesses and more than 77,000 jobs.
The Office of Economic Development (OED) will expand its work to open more international trade, global business development and foreign direct investment opportunities by establishing a robust trade program for the city.
“Denver has generated some powerful economic development momentum over the last several years, and it has elevated our city to be one of the strongest, most vibrant local economies in the entire country,” Mayor Hancock said. “Eric has played a critical role in this success. He has done an outstanding job at the airport securing new international flights and enhancing Colorado’s largest economic engine, and he is well positioned to not only help our local business community thrive, but enhance their global competitiveness.”
Currently, Hiraga serves as Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff at Denver International Airport, the Rocky Mountain Region’s No. 1 economic driver, a $1 billion operation with 35,000 employees. To better attract international business ventures and open access to global markets for Denver’s local businesses – large and small – Hiraga will maintain a role as Senior Advisor to the airport. He will help with marketing commercial real estate opportunities for the Aerotropolis; promoting air service development and working to attract new airlines and destinations and retaining current air service markets; and providing oversight of the airport’s Division of Small Business Opportunities and Workforce Development offices.
“This is a homecoming for me as I worked at the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade early in my career. I am excited about continuing the good work by my predecessor aggressively supporting our small, minority and disadvantaged businesses, and want to thank Mayor Hancock for this new opportunity,” Hiraga said. “Denver truly is a global city and I am proud to be a part of efforts to ensure Denver businesses thrive well into the future.”
“This is an outstanding opportunity for Denver and its people to benefit from increased collaboration and focus on international trade and jobs,” said Denver International Airport CEO Kim Day. “I am grateful that Eric will still be helping us at Denver International Airport, providing expertise in business, real estate development and air service. I can’t begin to describe the contribution that he has made during his tenure, both for the airport and for the city.”
Over the last five years, Hiraga has been instrumental in negotiating a wide array of business deals for the airport and has played a key role in soliciting new airline service for Denver. He also has managed the airport’s External Affairs Business Unit and was responsible for overseeing the airport’s Executive Office, Air Service Development, Global Communications, Government Affairs and the Executive Office administrated sections. He has also worked extensively to help recruit and retain minority- and woman-owned businesses through his work overseeing the DEN Commerce Hub.
Hiraga joined Denver International Airport in 2009 as a strategic advisor, with responsibilities that included acting director assignments of the airport’s Business Management Services, Capital Improvement Program and Financial Planning and Analysis. Prior to joining the airport, Hiraga served as Vice President of Development Finance for Denver-based real estate development firm, Trademark Communities, LLC. He also previously worked for the city in roles at the Office of Economic Development and Department of Finance. In addition to his work at the airport, Hiraga recently served as President of the Japan America Society of Colorado (JASC) for three years.
Hiraga received his B.S. in International Affairs from the University of Colorado. He will assume his new position as Executive Director on Sept 5.