Mayor Hancock Lays Out Strategy for Denver Economic Recovery
Published on April 28, 2021
Infrastructure, business and worker support and investments proposed to build back in a way that creates broader foundation for more people to prosper and seize opportunities
With the rescue phase of this pandemic slowly coming to a close, the recovery phase is just beginning. Over the next few months, Mayor Michael B. Hancock and his administration will begin to implement strategies to address three top priorities to drive Denver’s recovery forward: our economy, our unhoused and unsheltered neighbors, and our overall safety as a community. Mayor Hancock today announced his administration’s plan for getting our economy moving again, prioritizing equity, with a focus on the workers and businesses that will be foundational to our success in the wake of this pandemic.
“Our goal in recovery is to surpass where we were before COVID-19 set us back – to build back in a way that creates a broader foundation for more people to prosper and seize opportunities,” Mayor Hancock said. “We’ve faced these challenges before and come back stronger, and we can do it again.”
Because of careful budget management, fiscal discipline and maintaining our reserves near 15 percent, Denver enjoys a triple AAA GO bond rating that provides the city the ability to do what we have done in the past to overcome recessions – asking voters to invest in our future through infrastructure and capital improvement projects.
In the coming months, the Mayor will send a proposal to City Council for a $400 million bond package for referral to the November ballot. Within the current tax rate, this package would invest in the type of infrastructure projects that will create thousands of good jobs that can become meaningful careers for people across our city; accelerate and reinvest in already approved capital projects that have been particularly impacted by the pandemic; support Denver neighborhoods, communities and families so we can recover and come back stronger than before; and help our local businesses regain the ground they lost to COVID-19. The Administration will be engaging with members of City Council and Denver residents to help determine what will be included in this package, to make the broadest impact across our city not just in the near term, but for years into the future.
“Central to President’s Biden’s recovery plan is an infrastructure package the size of which we’ve not seen since the Great Depression. To seize this unique moment in history, and to ensure that we really do build back better and sustain this recovery, we need to leverage the federal government’s investment,” the Mayor said. “We need to seize this opportunity to kickstart our recovery and sustain it. Simply put – infrastructure creates jobs, supports communities and grows the middle class.”
The city’s approach to infrastructure, in alignment with President Biden, will also include investments in more than just roads and bridges and buildings to reflect a shared goal that as we recover from COVID-19, we recover in a way that addresses fundamental changes in equity, workplace training and jobs for the future. While the city will use the same tools to build back better from this recession, the Hancock Administration will use them differently to address the unique situation before us.
The pandemic has hit certain industries and their workers the hardest – including construction, restaurants, hospitality and tourism. These industries employ some of our most historically marginalized workers in jobs mostly filled by people of color and women, who face higher unemployment and lower job opportunities. Equity in this recovery will mean prioritizing their recovery first and foremost.
With the funding Denver will receive from the American Rescue Plan, the city will restore essential city services that were cut over the past year and make key investments in the human infrastructure that supports people and families.
Denver’s Rebuilding for an Inclusive and Sustainable Economy plan, or RISE Denver, will focus these investments around five strategic areas and tactics to provide relief for those businesses, workers and communities that have been hit the hardest, and create an economy that works for everyone. The goal will be to create 40,000 jobs for Denver residents by the end of 2022. Human infrastructure investment areas and tactics will include:
- Bring back and enhance lost jobs. Create new jobs.
- Bolster our most under-resourced residents’ and families’ ability to build generational wealth by connecting jobseekers to training and supports needed for careers in industries with most workforce demand in Denver.
- Financially support family, friend and neighbor childcare providers to create jobs, and help our residents get back to work
- Invest in weatherization and energy efficiency projects in affordable housing to create valuable trade jobs and contracting opportunities for small, minority- and woman-owned businesses
- Doubling down on attraction efforts to ensure Denver remains at the top of the list when primary employers are looking to grow or expand their businesses.
- Strengthen small business and nonprofit growth and resiliency
- Expand the Business Impact Opportunity Fund grant program to address challenges small businesses are facing, like lease payments/rising property taxes, and safety
- Provide a toolkit and professional training on worker-owned businesses or co-ops to increase wealth-building opportunities for individuals
- Support local businesses and nonprofits in underserved communities and communities of color to stay in business
- Extend outdoor patio expansion program until October of 2022 to help restaurants regain lost revenue and serve more customers
- Revitalize Denver's neighborhoods through targeted community support and placemaking
- Re-energize communities by providing neighborhood activation grants for community-serving organizations to use toward events and arts and cultural activities
- Increase direct financial support to residents experiencing outsized economic hardship in the form of cash payments, and mortgage and utility support
- Help jobseekers and families who don't have good broadband internet access through increased public Wi-Fi, internet subsidies, and laptop and hotspot temporary use program
- Make it easier to do business with Denver
- Make licensing and permitting processes easier to navigate
- Identify policy, regulatory, and other barriers to doing business in Denver
- Hire agency process and program navigators
- Employ citywide cross-training on programs that involve multiple agencies to streamline processes to a faster execution
- Accelerate public investment
- Continue and expand Construction Careers Training and Apprenticeship Program to include more public projects, and training opportunities for residents
- Increase city contract opportunities for small, minority and women-owned businesses and provide training and technical support to improve their competitiveness
Funding levels for these and other tactics will be dependent on the level of funding the city receives through the American Rescue Plan.
Other elements of the Mayor’s recovery plan include acceleration of the Elevate Denver bond program and other public investments, additional funding from the city’s Coronavirus Relief Fund allocation, and leveraging the economic power of Denver International Airport’s global competitiveness, among other programs and initiatives.
“From the President to the Governor and State Legislature, to right here in Denver, every level is moving swiftly and boldly to get this country, our state and our city back to work. I look forward to engaging with our residents on what’s to come, hearing their feedback on these proposals, and getting our city up and running again,” Mayor Hancock said.