The announcement of a deal among Adams County, Denver and Aurora concerning the future economic development around the Denver International Airport is great news for regionalism, which appeared on the defense the last few years.
Leaders in the metro area, especially around the airport (the region’s largest economic generator), started working together during the Pena administration in the mid-1980s, and cooperation grew through the Hickenlooper years. The perception of regional collaboration since 2001 has fallen off, mostly due to the economic downturn, which made everyone look to their own interest. Denver may have launched the latest round of estrangement with aggressive plans for airport development that contradicted long-established expectations and agreements with Adams County and Aurora. But, independent activities related to the Denver Stock Show moving and the building of the Gaylord Resort in Aurora heightened tensions between the two cities’ political and business establishments. The latest airport agreement reverses that trend and reestablishes collaboration as the more productive alternative.
Regionalism has a strong foundation in the metro area. The Scientific and Cultural Facilities District was the first regional effort to show success with a 75 percent voter approval in all metro counties in 1988, followed by the successful baseball and football stadium votes, and most recently RTD’s FasTracks (2004).
A significant amount of the region’s economic success is directly tied to it high level of cooperation. In fact, the seven-county region’s national reputation for being a dynamic place to live and work is based on its broadly perceived willingness to create and maintain valued assets, such as air, sports, rail and cultural infrastructure regionally.
See Denver Post: DIA growth deal: Denver would pay neighbors $10 million, split tax proceeds