Denver is a key NZ launchpad to the US

When you think of New Zealand tech businesses scaling up and trying to establish a launchpad into North America, the Bay Area by San Francisco usually springs to mind. But increasingly Denver, Colorado has emerged as an unlikely hub for scaling up New Zealand businesses establishing their North American presence. Meetings that I have had with economic development folk from Denver during a recent visit to the US have revealed to me that there are currently at least 30 New Zealand businesses located in Denver.

Incredibly New Zealand is the 6th largest provider of foreign direct investment (FDI) to Colorado!

Wow – I have never seen a stat where little old New Zealand is a key FDI provider!

So what is attracting kiwi businesses to Denver in favour of the Bay Area?

Well firstly, the Bay Area has become increasingly out-of-reach – it is super expensive to do business and for staff to find housing within a reasonable commute of work.

Denver in comparison, while prices are rising, is still much more affordable. The City of Denver is a good cultural fit for kiwis, with likeminded people and an active outdoor recreation focus. It also has a great central location, with a United Airlines (Star Alliance) hub airport that makes it super easy to access other parts of North America quickly.

Denver’s relative affordability, coupled with a highly skilled workforce, means that Denver has a large pool of tech talent for businesses to tap into. With many tech businesses locating in Denver, there are also good networks for accessing investment capital.

Despite all this probably being news to many of you, the allure of Denver for New Zealand tech is being recognised. Denver Economic Development and Opportunity and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade have an active outreach programme and are trying to lure more New Zealand businesses to choose Denver when establishing their North American presence. It may surprise many of you to know that NZTE has also appointed a representative on the ground in Denver, and that there is now even an honorary New Zealand consul in the city.

It will be interesting to see how this situation unfolds over the years ahead. But with a growing New Zealand cluster in Denver, it feels like the city will continue to peg some interest for those weighing up their North American options. As a business establishing a fresh presence in a new country, it helps to have a range of contemporaries from back home you can relate to, who have been there on the same path and you can bounce problems off that they have already solved.