Colorado has a remarkable record of retaining college students once they graduate. Next to Nevada, Colorado had the second best net migration rate of young, single and college-educated adults from 1995 to 2000, according to the United States Census Bureau. Denver’s robust economy has been a significant reason for this.
Employment growth in Metro Denver has outpaced the nation since January 2005. Metro Denver added 26,000 jobs in 2006 for an estimated gain of 1.9 percent and close to 22,300 jobs were added to Metro Denver payrolls in 2007 for a 1.6 percent increase. This success has not happened by chance. Rather than reacting to trends, as other communities have, city organizers put a strategic plan in place in the 1980s that ensured Denver’s economic well-being. Infrastructure improvements included the construction of the Denver International Airport, three new sports facilities, hundreds of millions of dollars into libraries and most recently, a 119-mile regional rail transit. With the infrastructure in place, there has been tremendous growth in six major industry sectors: aerospace, energy, information technology, bioscience, aviation and financial services.
However, the service sectors have also seen success and expect continued prosperity in the future. The National Restaurant Association predicts that Colorado will experience a 5.7 percent increase in restaurant sales to rank fifth in the country. The association also forecasts 20.4 percent restaurant job growth from 2008 to 2018. According to the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Report, published by the Colorado Hotel & Lodging Association (CH&LA) in April 2007, 16 construction projects in the Denver area were or will be completed in near future. Those projects will total more than 8,200 rooms or units.
“The lodging industry in Colorado continues to be robust, particularly in Denver and the resort communities, where an unprecedented amount of growth is anticipated for 2008 and beyond,” said Ilene Kamsler, president of the CH&LA. “The total number of rooms in the development pipeline is an indication that Colorado will have plenty of jobs available for JWU graduates. We hope to keep every graduate of the Denver Campus in Colorado.”
The CH&LA has developed close ties with JWU. Many JWU students attend the CH&LA’s annual conference at a favorable rate. The CH&LA administers the Karl Mehlmann Scholarship Fund, which gives extra credit for students attending Colorado colleges. Many of the recent recipients have been JWU students, and one member of the scholarship committee is a professor at JWU. Kamsler sits on Denver Campus President Bette Matkowski’s roundtable of community and industry leaders.