59,300 jobs under the big blue bear - RED - Relevant. Essential. Denver.
The big blue bear at the Colorado Convention Center

59,300 jobs under the big blue bear

Creating an economic impact of $700 million every year, the events industry reaches for a sustainable impact.

September 14, 2018

By Kylie Henson

When you think of Denver, what comes to mind? Craft beer? Outdoor recreation?

What about the big blue bear in front of the Colorado Convention Center?

Wide shot of the Big Blue Bear at the convention center

Top Five Events in Denver

  1. Denver Comic Con (60,000 attendees)
  2. Colorado Crossroads Junior National Qualifier (50,000 attendees)
  3. Great American Beer Festival (46,900 attendees)
  4. SIA Snow Show (18,000 attendees)
  5. Super Computing Conference (11,500 attendees)



Attracting people from all over the nation, the events industry is rapidly expanding as a result of annual events occurring in Denver, such as Comic Con and the Great American Beer Festival. GABF has been held in the Mile High City since 1984 and is considered the largest beer festival in the nation.

“Denver is a hot market, just in terms of what people hear from others,” said Shawn Jung, assistant professor of event management at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Ranking 12th in the nation as a top meeting destination, Denver is an eclectic location that offers luxurious event spaces and one-of-a-kind areas for people to visit.

Reinforcing the city's branding as a natural choice for nature lovers, Denver recently welcomed the Outdoor Retailer Shows with open arms, along with lifestyle retailer VF Corp. Both organizations emphasize Colorado’s value of the great outdoors and recreational activities.

And though some might say events are the source of the bad traffic around town as Denver expands, Jung and others in the events industry focus on the advantages events offer the Mile High City.

Sustainability and economic growth

Focused on environmental, social and economic sustainability, Visit Denver brings conventions and leisure visitors to Denver for the benefit of the city, the community and its partners.

“The conventions and meetings Visit Denver have a hand in booking result in more than $700 million of economic impact to the community each year. The business of tourism creates 59,300 jobs; and visitors pay taxes that otherwise would be paid by residents, saving each household $544 per year,” said Richard Scharf, president and CEO of Visit Denver, the Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

Events held in Denver also provide an opportunity for students to intern and gain hands-on experiences in their desired field while providing more jobs and volunteer opportunities for locals as well.

A booth worker offers pitchers of beer to those attending the Great American Beer Festival. Photo © Brewers Association
A booth worker offers pitchers of beer to those attending the Great American Beer Festival. Photo © Brewers Association

“Having more events means we can connect with each other and we can collaborate with each other,” Jung said. “We always emphasize hands-on experience for students before they graduate, but where are they going to experience all of that? Through volunteering or having an internship, but in order to provide opportunities for our students, we need to have more events.”

When planners chooses to use compostable tableware and plates or the attendees commute via light rail, the environmental sustainability of events is in the hands of those involved. But it doesn’t stop there. The Colorado Convention Center is focused on energy reduction and alternative resources, waste reduction and diversion, water quality, air quality and alternative transportation.

So while events may indeed temporarily swell the size of the city, ultimately their commitment to sustainable growth – at both the enterprise and individual levels – ensure a prosperous road ahead for days to come. 

The Future of Events in the Mile High 

In 2015, Denver overwhelmingly voted for the approval of an extensive expansion for the Colorado Convention Center. As its website states, the center is gearing up to become the “most high-tech, user-friendly meeting and event space in the nation.”

The Convention Center isn’t the only savvy space; the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center is under construction and will soon offer travelers and meeting organizers a space conveniently close to Denver International Airport, allowing efficient navigation to meetings or events.

Attendees gather at the Colorado Convention Center for Denver Comic Con. Photo Courtesy of Visit Denver, Photo by: John Ott
Attendees gather at the Colorado Convention Center for Denver Comic Con. Photo Courtesy of Visit Denver, Photo by: John Ott

As Denver continues to expand, the future of events in the city is bright. Considering that plans to expand are already in progress, event professionals are setting their sights on the sustainability efforts they can offer the city.

“Having industry experts in the city promotes conversation, innovation and economic development,” Scharf said.

Edit this Story