A new report by the Colorado Innovation Network pinpointed what average Coloradans have sensed for some time – investment is just not flowing into Colorado. The Denver Business Journal highlighted this negative trend:
“The state comes out on top for startup and job creation, but venture capital investment in the state has been declining steady since 2012, causing the state to lag behind its peers. Nationally, VC has been growing.
‘Colorado companies are doing well at obtaining federal grants, yet they need to improve their ability to attract interest from the venture capital community,’ the report notes….
‘The future economic growth of Colorado will depend on the state’s ability to promote innovation in an environment conducive to its development and adoption,’ said Mitra Best, U.S. innovation leader at PwC and COIN member.”
Best’s quote is telling. As necessity is the mother of invention, Coloradans are a scrappy group, often doing whatever it takes to make ends meet in the economic downturn. So, it’s not surprising to hear that Coloradans are finding new and innovative ways to earn a living. The report, which compared Colorado to nine competitor states, basically said that we have all the ingredients for a robust and innovative economy, but yet, our business environment is holding us back.
Part of the VC problem may simply be our regulatory regime and lack of leadership. Investors have watched Democrats attempt to chase out at least three entire industries for no reason except that the industries offend liberals’ delicate sensibilities. First, Democrats in the state legislature, emboldened by support from former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, and milquetoast leadership from Governor John Hickenlooper, passed some of the most extreme anti-gun laws in the country. These actions caused several manufacturers in the industry to pack up and leave Colorado.
Then, there’s mining, which the Environmental Protection Agency has made public enemy number one. Colorado leads production in this arena. Where was Hickenlooper in defending this important industry?
Most recently, Jared Polis has embarked on a tireless crusade to kill one of the bright spots in our economy, the oil and gas industry, almost for mere sport – simply because Polis didn’t appreciate that his neighbor fracked his own land. Polis claimed that the industry needed additional regulation when Colorado is one of the most tightly-regulated states in the nation. Polis’ threatened regulations could have shut down 60% of the energy production in the state.
And, of course, there are the 25,000 or so pages of regulation added in Hickenlooper’s administration alone.
The question isn’t why aren’t venture capitalists investing in Colorado, but why would a venture capitalist invest in such a turbulent environment?