In Colorado, the state’s resources are interconnected — natural resources, renewable resources, and intellectual resources. That’s a big part of the impetus behind the new Colorado Resource Council. As part of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation (Metro Denver EDC), it is an expansion of the Colorado Energy Coalition.
“It’s new, but an evolution of the Energy Coalition,” says Lisa Hough, director of the Council.
Colorado has always been a resource-dependent state. Its legacy is built on the development of a variety of natural resources, from gold and silver to oil and gas. In recent decades, the focus has been on energy resources, but even those are dependent on the availability of other natural resources from water to molybdenum to sand. Higher education and research facilities are other relevant resources, such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden. In addition, the growth of renewable resources in the state and their impact on traditional energy portfolios has led to the change from Energy Coalition to Resource Council.
Hough says the goal is “to change and elevate the conversation from one about energy policy to one about how important the state’s various resources are to Colorado’s economy. The CRC brings together a wide variety of stakeholders that all benefit from the responsible growth and development of Colorado’s diverse natural resources.”
It makes for a notably broader view than what came before at the Metro Denver EDC with the Coalition. “All of those voices are now in the room with the Council,” says Hough.
The CRC “also promotes Colorado as a great place for a resource company to headquarter,” she adds, noting that it doesn’t necessarily mean drilling within state lines or building out a wind farm. “[Corporate leaders] are saying, ‘This is where I want to be because of workforce and innovation.’ That’s the resource brand.”
Hough highlights the metro region’s attractive logistical features, including its time zone and easy access from Denver International Airport. “If you’re based in Colorado, you can do a call in the morning with Germany and finish your day with a call to China,” she says. “It’s a global location.”
In the context of economic development, the aim of the CRC is to foster opportunities for both cleantech companies and legacy energy producers — as well as their supply chains — and put in place the resources to catalyze growth in the future. Programming to date has covered drones, artificial intelligence, and other “new technologies that are cross-cutting across industries,” Hough adds.
“How do we foster Colorado’s innovation to lead the world in new energy solutions?” she muses. “It’s not just an energy group. If you’re truly interested in learning about all of the resources in Colorado, this is a great place to do it.”
Hough says it’s ultimately all about balance between stakeholders with different perspectives and different backgrounds. “I have a balance even in my co-chairs,” she notes.
Ramsay Huntley, vice president of clean technology and innovation and the philanthropy Program Officer at Wells Fargo in Denver, serves as co-chair of the Council with Stephen Flaherty, director of government and external affairs at Denver-based Cimarex Energy, an oil and gas exploration company with operations in Texas and Oklahoma.
After Huntley joined Wells Fargo in early 2018, he soon took the position with the CRC “to support a wide variety of industries across the region and state,” he says.
Huntley echoes Hough on the CRC’s synergistic strategy. “Colorado is well-known for its collaborative approach amongst municipalities and companies,” he explains. “By working broadly with a wide variety of players, I am convinced the best ideas can rise to the top — which is good for all of us.”
Flaherty calls the decision to co-chair the Council “a no-brainer” and likewise says it all comes back to teamwork. “I have worked on energy-related policy issues across the country and no other state strives for collaboration like Colorado. I have been involved in a number of these issues over the last decade here and can tell you from experience we maximize policy and minimize politics.”
And that’s critical, adds Flaherty. “Thoughtful policy that will continue to make Colorado a leader in energy,” he explains. “We look for solutions to the issues we face. These solutions could come from the labs, universities, or other companies that are active in the CRC.”
The Colorado Resource Council welcomes new investors and ideas; please contact Lisa Hough for more details.
This post is sponsored by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation.