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Boulder-Longmont Area Tops Tech List


November 2004

The following article by Ellen Grady appeared in the Boulder Daily Camera on November 19, 2004.

Boulder-Longmont area tops tech list

Trade group ranks metro areas for software employment

The Boulder-Longmont area received a first-place ranking by the Software and Information Industry Association for the fifth time on Thursday when the group released its top 25 metropolitan areas for software employment in 2003.

"I'm very impressed but not at all surprised," said Su Hawk, president of the Colorado Software and Internet Association. "It is yet another sign of the great success that embodies the tech industry in Colorado."

Rankings are based on the number of software employees, divided by the area's total population. That calculation then is compared to the nationwide ratio.

Some industry authorities say the ranking reflects the area's defining role in a market they say is finally on the rise.

"Technology employment will help lead the way out of the recession and Boulder County and Longmont are very well-positioned to take advantage of that," said John Cody, president of the Longmont Area Economic Council. "All of the indicators are pointed in the right direction for us."

Hawk said she has been encouraged by reports of growth among many of the state's software companies.

"I'm hearing a number of people talking about hiring and expecting revenue increases of 10, 20, 30, maybe 40 percent over what they did last year," she said. "When you increase revenue like that, you increase staff."

She lauded institutions such as the University of Colorado, the University of Denver and the Colorado School of Mines, whose programs provide local employers with qualified job candidates.

"These universities and colleges have gotten very smart about developing curriculum for truly comprehensive degrees that are immediately accessible," Hawk said. "They've integrated different elements in the curriculum to make graduates very recruitable and knowledgeable."

Anne Griffith, vice president of corporate communication and research director for the Washington, D.C.-based SIIA, has been compiling her association's top 25 list since 1998. She believes location and the wealth of technology companies in the area are a formula for success.

"Boulder is a highly educated area and a hot spot ... for technology employees," she said. "They are drawn there because it is a cool place to live."

The number of software jobs in Boulder and Longmont has remained relatively stable, Griffith said, despite the substantial cutbacks high-tech companies have faced over the past three years. Jobs dropped from 14,520 in 2001 to 14,250 in 2003.

David Moll, the chief executive officer of Boulder-based Webroot Software, said the area's tech resources served as a shield for companies like his while the tech industry faced crippling blows.

Moll, pointing to growing startups such as @Last Software in Boulder, is optimistic about the future of the area's tech firms.

"I don't think there are too many communities where we would have been able to sustain our company, that could supply us with the capable, skilled and dedicated employees we needed," he said.

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