Economic development officials are used to offering all sorts of incentives to attract relocating companies to their communities, but officials in Colorado say that a recent request from a global technology company is something they’ve never seen before.
The company, which is currently dubbed Project 5760 due to confidentiality concerns, is considering moving up to 1.300 high level jobs in accounting, human resources, sales and technology to a location along the rapidly developing Interstate 25 corridor south of Denver. They’ve asked state and local officials to pay for a bike/pedbridge that would connect the company’s proposed offices to RTD’s Dry Creek Light Rail Station so that employees can take the train to work instead of driving.
Though the request is a first, look for others to follow. Despite resistance in some quarters, more and more employees are demanding commutes that don’t require a personal automobile. It’s not just a downtown thing, either. The Colorado site is on the far edge of metro Denver.
Even in cities where transit exists, the typical commute almost always requires people to walk or bike from home to transit and then again from transit to the office. Officials across the country are struggling to come up with viable “First and Last Mile” policies to help commuters in this regard.
Companies like Project 5760 are clear…this is a talent acquisition issue. Their data suggests that a significant portion of the people they want to attract do not want to drive to work. If they don’t offer incentives they’re not going to get the people they need. It’s so important that they’re willing to spend $10 million of a limited incentive pool on it.
Local officials found the request “surprising” since companies are much more likely to request incentives that offset the cost of hiring new employees…incentives that flow directly to the bottom line. In this case, the requested incentive will benefit the community as well as the company. That’s the kind of partnership local officials everywhere should embrace and so, not surprisingly, Colorado officials have approved the request. If the company chooses metro Denver, they’ll get their new bridge.