May 16 Summer Field Session - Denver Office of Economic Development by Ronald Kem
May 16 Summer Field Session:
Denver Office of Economic Development
By Ronald Kem
On our first day of summer field sessions, we visited the Denver Office of Economic Development in order to see how they use economics to affect policy in Denver. Our hosts were Mines alumna Lisa Martinez-Templeton, management alalyst, and Jeffrey Romine, chief economist. Lisa received her BS in economics and an MS in mineral and energy economics at Mines. She uses a lot of econometrics software to process and interpret all of the data in order to come to conclusions.
Both spoke to the importance of using data and evidence in order to create effective, wanted public policy. One program Jeff spoke about was the 3x5 program in Denver, which focuses on creating 3,000 housing units in five years. He also spoke to the idea of creating realistic goals that are obtainable, rather than trying to get too much done, making it very unrealistic and bound to fail. He also discussed the importance of defining "success" when it comes to projects.
One point they both emphasized was that we're going to be the ones hired to deal with the economics and not everybody is an economist. This really speaks to the idea of being able to reduce the numbers into a story that people can understand. We're taught how to process and read through the data in the sciences, but the way you get into management is being able to perfect the art, rather than the science.
You have to be able to convey the data into a compelling story for the people who can act on it (in this case, politicians). At Mines, the economics program does a good job at having us reduce the raw numbers into stories through the financial and data analysis in each of the courses we have to take. This really prepares us to be able to present to managers and people we work under who may not have as much of a technical background as ourselves. There is a disconnect between the two and the key to effective policy is getting both groups onto the same page.
One of the last takeaways I had was when Jeff discussed the importance of entrepreneurship, ideas, and adding value into society. Entrepreneurship brings in a lot more value and creates so many jobs for the economy. There are so many good ideas out there that can be acted on to create a new company, which is something that our professor in Intro to Entrepreneurship always told us. We learned that Denver has had an increase in economic activity and it's a very good hub for innovation and ideas.
Overall, the trips that day both opened up my eyes to public service, something I don't think I would've considered until we visited people who were very enthusiastic about everything they were doing.