Denver Colorado Business Growth Gaps Update


According to state demographer Elizabeth Garner, Colorado’s growth rate is slowing substantially — and greater Denver is no exception, despite the popular perception that the city is experiencing a boom. But a new study suggests that the metro area and numerous communities along the urban corridor are much better positioned to weather such changes than are many other parts of the state, some of which are beset with lagging revenue and substantial business declines.

The financial website Smart Asset gathered data on Colorado and the country as a whole, using assorted sources from the U.S. Census Bureau (statistics from 2019, plus the agency’s American Community Survey and building permits roundup), as well as information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and USASpending.gov.

The results include details about business growth, growth of gross domestic product, new building permits per 1,000 homes, and the national rankings for fifty of Colorado’s 64 counties according to the GDP growth index.

Of the ten Colorado counties doing the best when it comes to GDP growth, nine are located along the stretch between Colorado Springs and the communities of Fort Collins and Greeley. The sole exception is Mesa County, home of Grand Junction, the largest city on Colorado’s Western Slope, which ranks tenth by this metric — and far behind Denver. Denver County’s GDP growth is estimated at approximately $2.092 billion, while Mesa County’s comes in at $359 million.

Business growth also varies widely among the ten Colorado counties with the fastest-growing GDP, from a low of 3.1 percent in Jefferson County to a high of 11.5 percent in Weld County (followed closely by Adams County, at 11.2 percent). Weld County also outdistances the competition in relation to new building permits: 38.3 per 1,000 homes, more than double Denver’s 15.7 per 1,000.

Here are the top ten Colorado counties according to GDP growth:

1. Denver County
Business growth: 6.5 percent
GDP growth ($ in millions): $2,092
New building permits (per 1,000 homes): 15.7
GDP growth index: 32.76
National ranking: 35

2. Arapahoe County
Business growth: 4.2 percent
GDP growth ($ in millions): $1,513
New building permits (per 1,000 homes): 16.4
GDP growth index: 29.52
National ranking: 58

3. El Paso County
Business growth: 5.0 percent
GDP growth ($ in millions): $1,412
New building permits (per 1,000 homes): 25.0
GDP growth index: 28.96
National ranking: 63

4. Jefferson County
Business growth: 3.1 percent
GDP growth ($ in millions): $1,382
New building permits (per 1,000 homes): 9.0
GDP growth index: 28.79
National ranking: 67

5. Boulder County
Business growth: 3.7 percent
GDP growth ($ in millions): $1,011
New building permits (per 1,000 homes): 12.0
GDP growth index: 26.71
National ranking: 100

6. Larimer County
Business growth: 6.2 percent
GDP growth ($ in millions): $884
New building permits (per 1,000 homes): 17.3
GDP growth index: 26.00
National ranking: 117

7. Adams County
Business growth: 11.2 percent
GDP growth ($ in millions): $826
New building permits (per 1,000 homes): 23.3
GDP growth index: 25.67
National ranking: 121

8. Douglas County
Business growth: 7.3 percent
GDP growth ($ in millions): $759
New building permits (per 1,000 homes): 27.0
GDP growth index: 25.30
National ranking: 137

9. Weld County
Business growth: 11.5 percent
GDP growth ($ in millions): $519
New building permits (per 1,000 homes): 38.3
GDP growth index: 23.96
National ranking: 209

10. Mesa County
Business growth: 4.5 percent
GDP growth ($ in millions): $359
New building permits (per 1,000 homes): 15.1
GDP growth index: 23.06
National ranking: 297

According to Smart Asset’s analysis, many other Colorado counties struggle in one or more of these categories. Moffat (number 35), Yuma (number 37) and Prowers (number 40) all registered negatives for business growth and comparatively low GDP growth: -3.2 percent and $31 million, -5.5 percent and $28 million, and -3.4 percent and $27 million, respectively.

The Colorado counties at the bottom of the roster are Bent, at number 49, which boasts business growth of 3.8 percent but GDP growth of just $4 million, and Crowley, at number 50, whose business growth of 21.9 percent only added up to GDP growth of $3 million.

Once again, it’s a tale of two Colorados.

Click to read our three-part series on Colorado growth: “Almost Everything You Think You Know About Colorado Growth Is Wrong,” “Surprising Reasons Why Colorado’s Growth Is Slowing,” and “Why Denver Could Face a Slowing Growth Crisis This Decade.”





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