Guest post from Michael Price posted from www.connectedwest.org
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By Michael Price, Executive Director of the Coalition for a Connected West
Something pretty special has been brewing in Colorado recently. It’s no secret that Boulder has become the next tech diamond in the rough—landing the top spot as a hot hub for new tech startups, other tech talent and private investment. At Coalition for a Connected West, we sense a refreshed and serious commitment by Colorado’s lawmakers to work with the Coloradans to ensure the right regulations are in place to support expanding connectivity and flourishing innovation and private investment. That’s why we took the opportunity to bring thought leaders, techies, and lawmakers together at the state Capitol to talk about hot legislative issues and business needs to create a more business- and tech- friendly environment in Colorado.
Last week, the Coalition for a Connected West joined the Colorado Technology Association (CTA) and Built In Denver to host “A Day at the Capitol.” It was an opportunity to celebrate Colorado’s culture of innovation and establish a direct dialogue between policymakers and the technology community. Nearly 200 tech leaders attended the event, which included some of Colorado’s top thought leaders in technology, all dedicated to creating connected and thriving business and tech communities in the state.
[Watch the YOUTUBE VIDEO of CTA Day at the Capital Event]
Erik Mitisek, the newly announced CEO of the Colorado Technology Association and member of CCW’s advisory board, set the tone:
“Technology is the center-pivot that really is going to fuel innovation, efficiency and allow our state to be competitive in ways that we haven’t even thought of yet.”
On behalf of our partners, I moderated “Innovation and Growing Technology Companies,” a panel discussion featuring Colorado’s leading entrepreneurs and Wyoming State Senator Cale Case. The engaging panel included Peter Hudson, CEO of iTriage; Tom Higley, CEO of Vokl; Brian Pontarelli, CEO of Inversoft; and Will McCollum, Denver General City Manager at Uber , who discussed the ingredients that lead to growth in the technology industry.
The general consensus was that innovation needs space to thrive without burdensome regulations that could slow it down. We also emphasized the need for Coloradans to be more involved in the policymaking process. CCW is about generating a dialogue between the IT community and the policymakers that affect our lives and businesses.
Andrew Romanoff, former speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, gave a presentation on how the legislative process works:
“I’m glad that you are taking the time to lift the lid on the Golden Dome and see what goes on underneath because I think it’s the only way, the best way to make this process as responsive and accountable and transparent as possible.”
During the event, the Colorado General Assembly was in the midst of the final days of the Legislative Session. Several important measures that would impact the technology community were being considered, including HB 13-1255. The bill, authored by state Rep. Angela Williams, would create an environment conducive to encouraging investment in IP-based communications networks. These next-generation networks are necessary to support the data-heavy traffic generated by devices like smartphones and tablets that have become central to our lives and our economy. Similar legislation passed in Wyoming, which Sen. Case brought up during the panel discussion as a way that states with rural communities like Wyoming and Colorado could use to send a signal that they are open for tech business.
While the legislation passed unanimously in the State House (62-0), it is currently pending in the State Senate. CCW and CTA are calling on Coloradans and members of the tech community to reach out to their senators and ask them to support the legislation.
CCW would like to thank CTA and Built In Denver for working with us to create a better future for Colorado and hosting a great event!