VF Corp’s Effect on Colorado

By Ed Sealover  – Reporter, Denver Business Journal

Aug 1, 2019, 7:12am MDT Updated Aug 4, 2019, 7:27am MDT

They began arriving in Denver in early June, coming in groups of 40 to 80 people per week. Some made the journey westward from Greensboro, North Carolina. The majority of them are fleeing the Bay Area — specifically Alameda, California.

By the end of August, most of the roughly 400 employees that VF Corporation (NYSE: VFC) is relocating to Denver will be here as the apparel giant and Fortune 260 company moves its headquarters from the East Coast to the Mile High City and consolidates its five outdoor brands — The North Face, JanSport, Smartwool, Altra and Eagle Creek — under one roof. They will occupy “Camp VF,” five floors of temporary space in the Great-West Life building in the Denver Tech Center, until the spring of 2020, when they will take over all 10 floors of 1551 Wewatta St. in Lower Downtown once building renovations are completed.

Time will tell what will be the ultimate impact of VF’s move to the community — the most significant relocation of a headquarters to the Denver area since Arrow Electronics (NYSE: ARW) bid goodbye to Melville, New York, in favor of Centennial in 2011. But even before it can call attendance at an all-staff gathering, the company with a $34 billion market cap is having some major effects on its new hometown.

Both the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade are citing the company in all of their recruiting materials — with the Metro Denver EDC pointing out that VF’s headquarters relocation from a lower-cost market in Greensboro testifies to the value of this area to corporations. The company has signed a two-year sponsorship with the Colorado Classic, allowing the women’s-only bike race to offer prize purses that allow it to attract the world’s top competitors. Colorado’s $62.5 billion outdoor-recreation industry already has a larger collective voice on economic and environmental matters.

But VF, which received a potential $27 million in incentives to consolidate it headquarters and brand offices here, is bringing half of the employees with it from other states who will fill its 800 tax-subsidized jobs — and hiring about 40 percent of the people to fill vacant jobs so far from outside the Denver area. The company already has convinced arguably the state’s two highest-profile outdoor-recreation advocates — former Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office Director Luis Benitez and Outdoor Industry Association Executive Director Amy Roberts — to leave their posts to work for it. And outdoor-company operators admit that having such an iconic company in town competing for workers is going to make employee recruitment and retention a little more difficult and a little more expensive in the short term.

Still, the only thing harder to find in Denver right now than an outdoor fanatic who isn’t updating their resume is a business leader who isn’t ebullient about what VF will bring to Colorado, competition and all. And that in itself is telling of just how transformative the 120-year-old company may be to the economic fabric of the third different state it has called home.

“To be able to say they are headquartered in Denver and found value here, that case study is a validator for other companies we are recruiting,” said J.J. Ament, CEO of the Metro Denver EDC.

Kathleen Lavine, Denver Business Journal

“To be able to say they are headquartered in Denver and found value here, that case study is a validator for other companies we are recruiting,” said J.J. Ament, CEO of the Metro Denver EDC. “I think that’s an effect it’s had since the moment [in August 2018] its announcement was made. We’ve put it in all of our presentations.”

Decades of transformation

VF is, according to Fortune magazine, the 252nd-largest company in America — a growing firm that generated $12.9 billion in revenues last year while signing paychecks for 69,000 employees. Originally a Pennsylvania-founded glove manufacturer and then a maker of silk lingerie, it now owns 20 companies in the active, outdoor and work sectors — including household names like Vans, Timberland and Dickies whose primary offices will remain in other states.

The purpose-driven company (whose motto is “We power movements of people and sustainable lifestyles for the betterment of people and planet”) decided to relocate and consolidate under one roof because in North Carolina it was far from the outdoor recreation epicenter of America. And its outdoor brands were scattered — clothier/gear maker The North Face and backpack maker JanSport in the Bay Area, luggage manufacturer Eagle Creek in Southern California, running-shoe company Altra in northeastern Utah and performance-sock maker Smartwool in Steamboat Springs.

Combining the companies’ locations, as VF does in its European and Asian hubs, will cut real-estate costs, reduce the company’s physical footprint and minimize travel time between the 20 brands, allowing officials to get from Denver International Airport to any of their brand offices in three hours, VF CEO Steve Rendle said in an interview last month. But it also allows them to locate in the heart of the outdoor space for which they make goods, and it will have the incalculable effect of increasing teamwork between the companies and sharing talent to work as one unit on issues.

VF Corp. brands

The Altra brand features running and casual shoes such as the men’s Cayd pictured here.

For us, it’s kind of this final step in what’s been a multiyear journey to transform ourselves to be this consumer-centric, more retail-minded company,” Rendle said.

Knowing that its talent was the key to its success, VF offered jobs to the roughly 800 workers whose positions would pick up and move to Denver. In previous headquarters relocations, OEDIT had seen no more than 30 to 35% of employees come to Colorado with their firms. But after offering “generous” relocation packages and allowing all affected workers to travel to Denver for a weekend to get a sense of housing and schools and other lifestyle factors, a full half of those positions will be filled by people coming in from California, North Carolina or Utah. (VF received no incentives for the 75 jobs that will move from Steamboat to Denver when Smartwool relocates in the spring.)

Anita Graham, VF executive vice president and chief human-resources and public-affairs officer, says the willingness of so many people to give up their current homes and move to Denver with the company shows the level of commitment that VF has engendered as an employer.

Kathleen Lavine, Denver Business Journal

Anita Graham, VF executive vice president and chief human-resources and public-affairs officer, argued that the willingness of so many people to give up their current homes and move to Denver with the company shows the level of commitment that VF has engendered as an employer.

She noted too that of the 350 people VF has hired anew so far for Denver-based roles, about 60% are from the local market but 40% are moving into Denver with the company, displaying the national draw for talent. The firm receives an average of 200 applications for each job it posts — putting it at roughly 70,000 applications so far for its Denver-based positions — and has gotten as many as 800 job-seekers for one role.

But this movement of people from other states for the positions means that roughly $18.2 million of the job-growth incentive tax credits Colorado is giving to VF for bringing jobs to this area is going to partially offset the federal income taxes of individuals who are moving to the Centennial State with help from the state government.

Michelle Hadwiger, global business development manager for OEDIT, noted that the tax-incentive law doesn’t contemplate where people are coming from who must occupy those jobs for one year in Colorado before the tax credit can be claimed by the company. And she noted that while they may be coming from another state in this case, the beneficiaries of the tax credits will be contributing to Colorado’s tax base, spending money in this state and creating a ripple effect in the economy.

Ament too defended the offering of tax credits to so many workers who will be moving here, calling it “a huge validation that Colorado is still a very attractive place to live.” And he noted that while the first wave of jobs may be attracting folks by the bushelful from other states, VF will continue to expand and grow jobs in Colorado — and those future positions likely will be filled by people already working here or graduating from local colleges and universities.

Rendle added that VF, upon accepting the incentives, planned to match them at a 1-to-1 ratio with contributions to this community from its nonprofit foundation. And therein lies another reason that local officials are heaping such praise on this relocation.

‘Employer of choice’

One of the key players in bringing VF to Colorado was the state’s Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, a division of OEDIT that was created by former Gov. John Hickenlooper to try to take advantage of Colorado’s jaw-dropping and wild scenery and attract companies that focus on getting people into nature. One of the first major hires announced by VF was, in turn, Benitez — who launched the outdoor rec office and piloted it for nearly five years before deciding the company he recruited was the place he would go to work as vice president of government affairs and global impact in March.

Then, last month, Roberts announced she was leaving her four-year position as head of the OIA to become senior director of communications and corporate social responsibility for The North Face. Roberts is staying with the influential organization until the end of September and helping officials search for her successor.

Rendle said that VF does not want to come in and poach the best employees from other outdoor companies and organizations, and Graham noted that VF did not put up billboards or actively recruit from other companies for its open positions when it decided to move to Denver. But both said that the company does not shy away from being the employer of choice in the industry, and it is able to offer benefits like paid parental leave and fully funded second opinions from expert doctors across the country that many of its competitors do not.

Steve Rendle, chairman, president and CEO of VF Corp., stands next to a sign at “Camp VF,” five floors of temporary space in the Great-West Life building in the Denver Tech Center. The company will work from that base until the spring of 2020.

“We’re OK with competing [for talent]. And it’s probably not just with the outdoor space,” Rendle said. “What we want to do is put forward the best proposition.”

Kim Miller — the president of Boulder-based footwear manufacturer Scarpa USA and a 40-year outdoor-industry veteran who serves on Colorado’s Outdoor Recreation Advisory Council — acknowledged that as VF continues to ramp up hiring, companies more than likely will see a smaller pool of qualified applicants for openings in the near future and could have to raise their wage levels because of the effect VF will have on the local sector.

“They probably are putting some pressure on us in the short-term sense of availability of good staff that is fit to hire,” Miller said. “Certainly, I put that through my filter and said ‘This could happen.’”

But Miller, a former member of the Snowsports Industries America board of directors, said he believes that an increase in competition for personnel will be more than offset by a variety of boosts VF bring to the Colorado outdoor-recreation sector, which already supports some 511,000 direct jobs.

VF’s decision to locate in Colorado will also attract more outdoor-recreation-industry workers to the state, especially as other moves, such as that of the Bureau of Land Management headquarters from Washington, D.C., to Grand Junction, put more of a national spotlight on the ecosystem that is developing here, he said. It will also allow the local sector to have greater power in its collective voice when it needs to speak up on issues from tariffs to environmental regulations.

As a company that has hired a lot of people from the Oakland area for its North Face and JanSport brands, VF will help to bring an understanding of how to promote greater diversity in the sector — a goal the company repeatedly has espoused, Miller noted. And while it may attract high-quality leaders away from other private companies or government-focused organizations, its presence in Colorado may be the difference between those people leaving the state to climb the industry ladder or staying local to do that.

“If they don’t find a place here, they’re going to go somewhere else,” Miller said of the Luis Benitezes and Amy Robertses of the world. “And we will lose that institutional knowledge.”

For all that potential influence that VF is set to wield, however, Rendle is squarely focused right now on two things: Keeping the company in a profitable position for multiyear growth and making sure that the hundreds of employees who are uprooting their lives to stay with or to come work for VF feel like they have a home, both professionally and personally.

At the moment, that involves using little touches like the backpacks and camping chairs that line the elevator lobbies of the five floors VF occupies in Greenwood Village — amenities that workers are free to take on weekend trips as they explore the area and hopefully get to appreciate it like the corporate executives of VF already have done.

But by the time this nearly year-long relocation process comes to its conclusion next spring, Rendle knows that VF must not only be firmly planted among the business and economic-development groups that recruited it, but also among the community that is raising expectations high on what the Denver area’s 11th Fortune 500 headquarters will mean to it.

“No. 1 [on our priority list] is getting those who are relocating comfortably settled in Colorado and getting life back to normal,” Rendle said. “I think we all look forward to being able to be settled in.”

HOW AND WHY RECYCLING HAS CHANGED

Source: Denver Sun

Brent Hildebrand, a vice president at Alpine Waste & Recycling, sets on a table a mangled piece of metal. In a previous life, it was a horseshoe.

“That little piece of metal caused our equipment to be down for a couple of hours. That’s huge for us. We just couldn’t find it, it was so small,” said Hildebrand, whose office is adjacent to the company’s material recovery facility, or MRF (pronounced “murf”). “I know what people are thinking: It’s metal. But no horseshoes.”

Recycling in Colorado is a tedious, cost-prohibitive business that remains largely voluntary for residents.

Costs rose this year when China, the largest buyer of recyclable materials, imposed new restrictions to clean up its own country. China now accepts sorted materials, such as paper or plastic, so long as they are no more than 1 percent contaminated with aluminum cans, plastic bags or, yes, horseshoes. That was a tough, new standard for many U.S. companies, which often collected, sorted and baled cardboard boxes, plastic bottles or paper with contamination rates of at least 10 to 20 percent.

MORE: Coloradans generate 9.6 pounds of trash per person, per day. Where does it all go?

The result?

China is turning away recycled waste from America. Around Colorado, haulers made adjustments: Waste Management in Larimer County is temporarily tossing low-value plastic containers — the ones marked No. 3, 6 or 7, including the clam-shell containers in which fresh strawberries are sold — into the landfill. Grand Junction’s Curbside Recycling indefinitely stopped accepting blister-plastic containers in January. Henderson’s Pro Disposal & Recycling, which serves the Denver suburbs, raised its prices.

But Colorado recyclers say it’s not as terrible as it sounds. Many had already spent years cleaning up their waste. And economic changes are forcing them to find new domestic buyers of recyclables. This is, after all, a business — and recyclers have adjusted to the new future.

“There never used to be a fee for recycling” in the Roaring Fork Valley, said Mike Hinkley, district manager with Mountain Waste & Recycling in Carbondale, where customers near its headquarters saw what used to be free recycling services switch to a fee of $5.

“When we set trash up at a resident’s home, the baseline fee includes trash and recycling,” Hinkley said. “But we can’t keep up with (rising costs), so we instituted a fee for recycling. We’ve had a handful of people drop out, but some people have come back because they know it’s the right thing to do.”

Colorado households have been recycling tons more trash over the past decade. But as population has grown, so has the amount of waste sent to state landfills. Because of that, the overall rate of waste diverted from landfills to recycling or composting has declined, casting an unexpected light on the environment-friendly reputations of Denver and the rest of the state.

A few years ago, Denver was shamed for this shocking statistic: a recycling rate of 18 percent, which was half that of similar cities and even lower than Salt Lake City’s, at 38 percent, and much lower than that of Fresno, Calif., at 71 percent.

Colorado officials took notice, and in August 2017, the state’s Solid & Hazardous Waste Commission passed a resolution to get the state to a 45 percent diversion, or recycling, rate by 2036, with a 51 percent goal for the Front Range. But it’s just a goal. No penalties are part of the plan.

“We’re low. There’s no bones about it. Colorado is at the bottom of the barrel,” said Laurie Johnson, executive director of the Colorado Association for Recycling, a trade group. “But you don’t know where you are unless you know where you started. And we don’t, in Colorado, have the best (understanding) of what’s happening with the materials because there are no mandates to track it.”

According to the state Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado’s diversion rate has been declining since peaking at 26.1 percent in 2012. The national average is about 34 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

State regulators call Colorado’s rate, now at 20.5 percent, misleading because, unlike the EPA rate, it compares the weight of recycled materials to the weight of all landfill waste, an amount that has swelled in recent years and includes construction waste. Just take a look at the actual data:

Further skewing the data is the fact that some cardboard is lighter today than it used to be, and there’s less newspaper recycling, which once made up 70 percent of recycled paper waste, said Wolf Kray, an environmental protection specialist at the state health department. The rate doesn’t tell the real story of how much Colorado households are recycling, so the state is cleaning up that figure.

“We’re probably recycling more than we’re reporting,” Kray said. “We’ll have better data next year.”

Peel away the layers of eco-guilt and there’s an underlying financial motive to clean up Earth. While some corporations have been touting their environmental efforts, they’re simultaneously cutting back their expenses. Starbucks, Marriott International and others are banning plastic straws, which are too small for many MRFs to sort efficiently. That saves Starbucks from buying 1 billion straws a year. Companies such as Amazon are pushing “frustration-free” packaging to cut down on the inane box-within-a-cardboard-box delivery. That eliminated 305 million shipping boxes in 2017, according to Amazon.

And there are U.S. companies paying for our recycled waste. International Paper, based in Memphis, Tenn., has 18 recycling facilities in North America to feed recovered office paper and corrugated boxes to mills making new paper products. Old plastic soda bottles are snapped up by carpet mills in Georgia and made into, well, carpet. Trex uses plastic grocery bags to make its faux-wood patio deck boards.

The MillerCoors-owned Rocky Mountain Bottle Co., based in Colorado, recovered 300 tons of recycled glass, shipped it to Denver and repurposed it in bottles for Coors Light, Miller Light and Blue Moon just during last fall. Also in Colorado, Penrose-based Applegate Insulation said it can’t get enough old newspaper, which the company turns into spray-on insulation, paper shavings for pet bedding, mulch, and products that safely absorb industrial spills and liquid waste.

Ball Corp., in Broomfield, buys used aluminum, a lucrative business. The metal can be reused infinitely in products such as cans for Longmont’s Oskar Blues beer.

“Metal cans are the most valuable packaging container in the recycling stream, so they often subsidize the recovery of other packages with little or no value,” said Renee Robinson, Ball’s director of corporate communications. “Our goal is to make the can the most sustainable package in the packaging-supply chain, so we have been doing a ton of work in this area, along with our customers and partners, and will continue to do so.”

Much of the waste that consumers believe is recyclable probably is. And recyclers are slowly expanding what they’ll accept. Alpine’s investment in technology — such as Clarke, the milk-carton-sorting robotic arm built by AMP Robotics in Boulder — has helped Alpine run more efficiently and recycle items consumers were once trained to toss, from Styrofoam and milk-carton caps to, coming soon, the controversial, plastic-lined Starbucks coffee cups. (Consumer tip on the carton caps: Keep them attached to the containers.)

China’s restrictions have motivated the industry to find domestic buyers.

“Everybody hit the panic button because starting in the middle of last year, China began slowing down and taking less and less, and now it’s nothing. And people are saying, ‘Oh, my gosh, it’s not going to China. Is it going to a landfill?’ If it was, I would not have a job. My job is to find homes for these things,” said Clint Cordonnier, logistics manager for Bestway Disposal, which picks up trash and recycling for much of Colorado Springs. “I’ve spent a great deal of time and energy developing relationships. There is not one bit of material that comes to this facility that goes to China.”

It’s a business, Cordonnier said. And yes, he added, “it is profitable. There are times that it’s more on the break even, but nobody is losing money on it.”

Roots Recycling, a curbside recycling service in the Pueblo area, picks up trash and recycling every other week, which costs less than running trash trucks weekly. Also, it costs customers about $27 a month, less than getting trash-only service weekly.

MORE: A nonprofit recycling company in tiny Swink is defying expectations for rural Colorado recycling.

In California, regulatory fees on aluminum cans and TVs/monitors tack on an additional fee at the time of purchase to help fund recycling efforts later. Government mandates, however, are rare in Colorado.

In Aspen, a city ordinance requires all residential trash companies to also pick up recyclables — and no discounts if a resident doesn’t want recycling. Even Boulder, which mandates all trash haulers offer recycling, doesn’t force people to participate.

Still, recycling continues to be worthwhile for local trash haulers because it’s often subsidized by regular trash customers, whether they recycle or not, said Rick DePaiva, district manager of Pro Disposal & Recycling.

For the first time, Pro Disposal added a $2 monthly recycling fee to customers. It sent out a flier to customers explaining what was happening in China and how costs had increased. The service had previously been part of regular trash pickup. Pro Disposal told customers that if they didn’t want to pay it, they could suspend recycling service and their monthly rate would be lowered by $6.

“Surprisingly, we didn’t have a lot of pushback,” said DePaiva, adding that the overall cost is probably closer to $8 or $9 a month. “We never built in a (recycling) processing fee before. The thought process is that, hopefully, this will be temporary. The thought was China was going to clamp down and then ease up. The financial impact to us was over $25,000 to $30,000. So if you figure that I’m picking up over 10,000 customers, it’s $2 a month per customer.”

Ultimately, he said, “We feel it’s important that people understand the cost associated with it (recycling), and there must be a willingness to support it.”

 

Denver is ‘the most challenging’ city in U.S. for first-time homebuyers

Denver is “the most challenging” city in the country for first-time homebuyers, according to a new report.

Mortgage company LendingTree ranked Denver toughest out of 100 cities nationally for first-time homebuyers, ahead of the next toughest cities, which included New York, San Francisco, Austin and Las Vegas.

LendingTree said it used the following criteria to come up with its rankings, including average down payment amount needed; the share of buyers using an FHA mortgage; average down payment percentage; percentage of buyers who have less than prime credit (below 680); the share of homes sold that the median income family can afford (Housing Opportunity Index); and average FHA down payment as a percentage of average down payment for all loans.

“Denver is not the most challenging city in any single measure, having weak showings across the board, which could be (an) obstacle for first-time buyers. Down payments are high at $66,806, and even the FHA down payment is a considerable $22,841,” LendingTree said in its report, which ranked Little Rock, Arkansas as the best U.S. city for first-time homebuyers.

Yesterday, it was reported that Denver ranked No. 1 nationally (tied with Seattle and San Francisco) for fewest months supply of inventory at 1.1 months. And earlier this month, the Denver Metro Association of Realtors’ latest market trends report indicated January started off the year with a record-low inventory of home for sale in metro Denver — 3,869 listings.

 

 

 

A California GPS technology company said it’s planning on building a big addition to its existing Westminster facility.

Trimble Inc. said it’s planning on building a second building in Westminster that can house up to 1,100 new workers and be its largest employment facility.
A California GPS technology company said it’s planning on building a big addition to its existing Westminster facility.
Trimble Inc. (Nasdaq: TRMB), which is based in Sunnyvale, Calif., said it’s planning on building a second building in Westminster that can house up to 1,100 new workers and be its largest employment facility.
The new addition will be located next to Trimble’s current 125,000-square-foot facility at 10368 Westmoor Drive, which was completed four years ago. The new building will be “nearly the twin” of the company’s existing building, the company said.
“T he Westminster campus is at full capacity and beyond. After just four years of growth, the location has proven to be a key asset to the company due to its central location and its emphasis on collaborative workspaces,” the company said.
Company officials praised Colorado employees and the area’s quality of life.
“Colorado has proven to be a strategic element in our U.S. operations since we opened our initial Westminster office in 2000 and completed the first building project in 2013. The area attracts a desirable and growing pool of tech talent and provides an attractive quality of life to our employees,” said Steven Berglund, Trimble president and CEO, in a statement.
The general contractor on the project is JE Dunn, Denver-based OZ Architecture is the lead engineering firm, and the building’s expected to be completed in late 2018.

Ben Miller
Contributing Writer

Denver Business Jurnal

Hiring software engineers to work in Denver

Since Sept. 12, Apple the Cupertino, California-based tech giant has posted three software engineering jobs openings for a location in Denver.
The openings come after spring rumors Apple could lease significant space in downtown for a technology development office.
A job posting Monday tells prospective applicants in mapping data engineering that the position “is to join an exceptionally skilled group” working with data science, statistics, geospatial data and deep learning.
“Apple isn’t [the] only location company growing in Denver. Not surprised by this,” tweeted Brian McMahon on Tuesday. McMahon used to run Denver-based MapQuest, the Verizon-owned online mapping company that’s based in downtown.
Apple’s mapping technology hires in Denver would work two blocks from Mapquest.
Apple’s openings in Denver are the latest by some of the biggest tech employers to hire here.
Amazon Inc. held a job fair a year ago to hire people for a software engineering office it quietly opened in Broomfield. Farther west, Google started construction on a new Boulder campus with room to eventually triple the search giant’s presence there to 1,500 employees.
Redwood City, California-based Oracle has for years had its second-largest concentration of U.S. employees at its Broomfield campus, where about 2,000 people work.
Last week, GPS technology company Trimble Inc., based in Sunnyvale, California, said a new building under construction in Westminster would give it room to double its workforce there to 1,100 and make it the largest employment center the 9,000-employee company has worldwide.

By Greg Avery – Reporter, Denver Business Journal

Robotics industry growth to be gigantic in next five years

Jul 5, 2017, 7:15am MDT

Industries & Tags

Manufacturing

Growth in the global robotics market is expected to be massive in the next five years, according to Boulder market intelligence firm.

Revenue from sales of industrial and non-industrial robots is expected to rise from $31 billion in 2016 to $237.3 billion by 2022, according to Tractica research.

Most of the growth will come from the massive increase in sales of consumer robots, enterprise robots, autonomous vehicles, and unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), which will overtake traditional industrial robots, according to Tractica.

“The key underlying story emerging in the industry is that industrial robotics, which has been the traditional pillar of the robotics market, has given way to non-industrial robot categories like personal assistant robots, UAVs, and autonomous vehicles,” said Aditya Kaul,Tractica research director, in a statement.

Locally, that growth in robots is evident with last month’s announcement that Misty Robotics was spun off from Sphero, the Boulder-based maker of the smartphone-controlled BB-8 robot, and has launched with an initial backing of $11.5 million.

And Amazon.com said it will staff its new Thornton fulfillment center with a fleet of robots, as well as human workers

 

Out of top 25 US cities for tech, where does Denver rank?

Ben Miller Contributing Writer

Out of the top 25 U.S. cities for technologies, Denver ranks in the top 10.

According to a new report by real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield, Denver ranks eighth nationally when it comes “talent, capital and growth opportunity.” The company called the ingredients a “tech stew,” involving “local universities, capital, tech workers, knowledge workers, educated workers, and entrepreneurial spirit.”

According to Cushman & Wakefield’s “Tech Cities 1.0” report, San Jose-Silicon Valley is rated No. 1, followed by San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Boston, Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Seattle and Austin, Texas.

While Denver is not the headquarters location for many big technology companies, we’ve continued to see larger, more established firms opening offices in Denver, including Google, Apple, and Amazon,” said Steve Billigimeier, executive managing director, Cushman & Wakefield in Denver, in a statement. He added “in addition to Colorado’s impressive list of colleges and universities, Denver continues to draw employees from across the country and finished first in Forbes’ 2015 and 2016 ‘Best Places for Business’ list.”

Last month, Colorado was ranked in the top tier of most innovative U.S. states in rankings compiled by the Consumer Technology Association.

And in October, Colorado was ranked second among U.S. states in turning technology and science capabilities into high-paying jobs.

Making Denver a friendly place for cyclists is a big issue for city leaders.

Kathleen Lavine | Denver Business Journal

At a city council meeting last March, Denver Council President Albus Brooks said that decreasing reliance on cars is “the area that most of us on City Council agree on — that this is the direction that we want to go.”

Some argue that putting so much effort into this is bad news for cars and will only increase congestion further. Others advocate for it as being a way to provide routes for all modes of transportation and promote exercise and better air quality. For now, it appears city officials are making progress on bikes. A pair of recent reports named the Mile High City among the best in the nation for being bike-friendly.

RewardExpert, an online travel service company, said Denver was the 10th most bike-friendly city for tourists.

The report ranked the U.S.’s 53 largest cities based on 13 metrics, such as biking infrastructure, city profile, bike-sharing availability and biking safety.

“Denver is historically a very bike-friendly city. It scored well across all our dimensions. The city has 267 miles of paved biking paths, which ranks third of all the cities we analyzed,” RewardExpert’s report said.

“Denver’s B-cycle has many stations and bikes in its fleet. Denver ranked fourth in regard to number of bike share stations per capita. Travelers should have no problem biking through the city.”

And late last month, WalkScore.com ranked Denver as the 4th most bike-friendly in the U.S.. Denver received a bike-score of 71, calculated by measuring bike infrastructure (lanes, trails, etc.), hills, destinations and road connectivity, and the number of bike commuters.

Denver also receives relatively high marks for its walkability, a long-time focus of state leaders. In the WalkScore report, it ranked 16th overall, and a recent Thrillist ranking put it 10th in the nation.

Adding to both Denver’s walkability and bicycle-friendliness is something Denver Parks and Recreation is tackling, too. The city will begin improvements to the Washington Park Loop Road with the of goal of making it safer for visitors.

The 2.2-mile road follows the perimeter of the park and is popular for cycling, walking, rollerblading and jogging. Modifications will include a new configuration aimed at addressing major congestion points along the loop

They include:

Lane configuration improvements comprised of a two-way pedestrian lane separated by a two-foot painted buffer from two unidirectional lanes that accommodate wheel-based recreation

Crosswalk and car traffic zone improvements with hatched buffers, flexible bollards, green dashed pavement markings, shared lane markings, pavement markings, and painted crosswalks.

Signage improvements and the addition of new lane configuration signs, speed limit signs and vehicular regulatory traffic signs. These signs will be installed in strategic areas throughout the park to ensure maximum opportunity for education and awareness of the rules and regulation along Loop Road and throughout Washington Park.

Construction on the Washington Park loop improvement project will begin June 19 and is slated for completion by the end of July.

 

Beyond spaghetti and meatballs: 11 must-visit Italian restaurants in Denver

There’s nothing quite like a plate of good old-fashioned spaghetti and meatballs, but these restaurants? They take that classic dish to the next level.

Zagat — a unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) — put together a list of 11 must-visit Italian restaurants in Denver, consisting mostly of spots that have just popped up in the last few years.

Spuntino. 2639 W. 32nd Ave. “All the warmth of a mom-and-pop trattoria, all the savvy of… more

From polenta-stuffed agnolotti dal plin with ‘nduja and shrimp, and pappardelle, to pizzas topped creamed leeks and fennel pollen, to bucatini all’Amatriciana, pollo alla diavola, tartufo, and much more.

Caitlin Hendee is digital producer and social engagement manager for the Denver Business Journal and covers education. Email: chendee@bizjournals.com. Phone