FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, February 1, 2006
Lindy Eichenbaum Lent, Mayor's Office
Mayor Hickenlooper Announces Metro Denver Region to Receive Major Federal Grant to Develop High Tech Industry
$15 million WIRED Grant Provides Support to Train Coloradans for High Tech Jobs
(DENVER) Mayor John Hickenlooper announced Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Labor will award the Denver metro area a $15 million grant to develop the region’s high tech industry over the next three years. The Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) grant will enable a regional coalition to research and produce a long-term strategic plan to prepare local workers for high-skill, high-wage jobs in industries including aerospace, bioscience, energy, information technology and finance.
“Metro Denver has long recognized the critical role that regional collaboration must play in innovation-based economic growth,” said Mayor John Hickenlooper. “From the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation to our regional Workforce Board Partnership, we have strong regional infrastructure in place and now – thanks to the U.S. Department of Labor and Governor Owens’ support – we have significant new funding to invest in developing the local workforce that high-tech industries need and our economic growth requires.”
In December 2005, the City and County of Denver’s Office of Economic Development – sparked by the advocacy of senior policy analyst Ledy Garcia-Eckstein – convened a regional group representing the business and foundation communities, as well as the economic, workforce development, and education sectors, to develop metro Denver’s response to the WIRED grant solicitation. The resulting application, “Growing our own: A model for reducing dependence on imported skills,” was sent to Governor Bill Owens to forward to the U.S. Department of Labor.
“Colorado and Metro Denver, like other regions, are caught in the Colorado Paradox: growing economies with workers educated outside our borders,” said Tom Clark, executive vice president of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation. “Growing our own workforce for high paying, quality jobs for Coloradoans can transform our economy and set us apart in the global competition for the rarest of commodities – ‘brainpower.’ This grant reflects our regional approach to job creation, our remarkable partnerships with education and workforce training institutions. Here in Metro Denver ‘regionalism’ is the way we do business, not how we wish to do business.”
The Denver Office of Economic Development, which includes the Division of Workforce Development, will act as the fiscal agent for this grant. The Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation will be in charge of related programs, convening industry panels and developing industry action plans. The eight counties involved in the Metro Denver WIRED Partnership are Denver, Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Douglas and Jefferson and Larimer, as well as numerous local partners in the education, business and economic development sectors.
“We are grateful to all of our local partners who made this application successful and will help us leverage these funds to deliver on the economic promise they represent,” said Hickenlooper. “We take this opportunity to also thank Senators Allard and Salazar and Representatives DeGette, Udall, Beauprez and Tancredo for their continued advocacy in Washington on behalf of the Denver metro area.”
The Denver metro area is one of 13 regions selected for the WIRED grant nationwide, as announced by U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao in Washington on Wednesday.
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