(CBS4) – Colorado’s economy overall could be better off under the new Biden administration, say experts on the state’s future.
“I think there will be a lot more positives than negatives given the industries we are focusing on here,” said Dr. Richard Wobbekind, Senior Economist and Assistant Dean for Business and Government Relations at the Leeds School of Business University of Boulder.
The biggest question arises in the power industry, which is no longer just oil and gas, even though some parts of the state are heavily dependent on oil and gas jobs.
“It will likely avoid drilling on public land. What happened a lot in Colorado here in Colorado, ”said Wobbekind. “So for the energy industry, you could say that could be a bit negative. But certainly the emphasis on renewable energy – and we have a strong renewable energy industry in Colorado – will be extremely positive. “
“In the past, jobs in the oil and gas industry were paid more on average. But of course that’s changing, ”said Professor Morgan Bazilian, director of the Payne Institute for Public Policy at the Colorado School of Mines.
Mines tries to train students for jobs of the future. There is good news for them.
“The skills are not necessarily completely different,” explained Bazilian. “Because the end product is a service or a good. This new clean energy sector has a certain vibrancy that is very attractive. … Someone has to be good at finances, someone has to be good at data, someone has to be good at technology, someone has to be good at marketing, and so on and so forth. “
The state of Colorado is already pushing for renewable energy and market pressures will fuel the development of the renewable energy industry, Bazilian said.
“You see Colorado mostly in the electricity sector, or the energy sector, which is moving to 100 percent clean energy pretty quickly.”
But oil and gas are far from finished in the state.
“The oil and gas sector has gone through a very difficult period, there is no question about that, and it could continue to do so. The scale of the effort is still that there are still some jobs. “
Renewable energy costs have dropped significantly. If it continues to decline, Bazilian sees bigger changes and, with Colorado’s growing jobs in the wind and solar industries.
“This is not necessarily due to these long-term goals, it is entirely made possible by these significant cost and price reductions.”
Innovation will create opportunities in Colorado too.
“Energy and climate research with the Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Lab in Colorado. I think we could be the next big beneficiaries focusing on climate change, the environment and renewable energies,” said Wobbekind.
Science and research could also be beneficial to the medical research community.
“I think the administration will invest more in medical research and health research. That has the potential to be positive as we have a pretty strong biotech-bio-pharma sector in the state, ”added Wobbekind.
There may also be opportunities in changes in international relations and trade. While changes in trade deals with China are unlikely to budge, Wobbekind said, “I think you will see more trade deals with countries around the world and possibly greater exportability, especially to export our agricultural products.”
Agriculture struggled in the Trump years not only because of trade but also production problems. The immigrant labor force, who worked intermittently in the fields, was so short that it was difficult to harvest. Changes in immigration policy remain controversial, but in Colorado, Wobbekind said, migrant workers are productive.
“That’s the problem when you end up bringing in people who end up being some kind of social burden on the economy, but a lot of those people honestly support the construction workers, the agricultural workforce, and above all the high tech, workforce and tourism workforce. “
Colorado’s tourism industry could see a surge in international travel that could come with the end of the pandemic. International students who have dealt with restrictive guidelines can also bring money to the state.