On the Spot With Randy Thelen

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As Vice President of Economic Development at the Downtown Denver Partnership, Randy is responsible for guiding economic development and growing Denver’s thriving economic base including, attracting investment to the center city, business recruitment and retention, housing, retail and public policy initiatives.

When people ask you what you like most about your role at the Downtown Denver Partnership, what do you tell them and why?

Considering I have only been here for two months, it’s safe to say “what I like most” is evolving each day.  First, I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting the public and private sector leaders who are actively helping us build this great center city. Second, the team that Tami has built here at the Downtown Denver Partnership is world class—our team of passionate city builders is second to none.  And finally, I am thrilled to be bringing a new perspective, some new ideas as to how we can keep building in a thoughtful, impactful way. Denver has come such a long way in such a short period of time, but make no mistake, we are not finished. There is more work to do to make us a truly world-class city.

What do you consider to be the best part of Colorado?

Everyone likely says the weather, the mountains and the outdoor lifestyle – all of which are amazing. What I have experienced is an incredibly welcoming community. With so many newcomers arriving each day, it would not be surprising to hear and see a backlash. Instead, what I have observed is a community that is open to new faces, open to new ideas. The mindset is that everyone arriving is expected to add to the fabric that makes Denver and Colorado so special.

What are your hopes for downtown Denver and its bright future?

At the epicenter of the region, with transit options all emanating out of Downtown, we best serve the region by providing a well-thought, well-planned and well-executed economic development strategy that results in greater density of jobs and housing. There remains “open canvas” for us to paint, whether it be the riverfront, Arapahoe Square or pockets within the center-city neighborhoods. 

What is the best professional advice you have received?

I have enjoyed many great mentors that have provided great advice, so it’s tough to narrow to one. Maybe the simple idea of being open to new ideas – “say yes often.” New ideas are extraordinarily hard to execute. By definition, new ideas disrupt the current norms. Most people do not like change, so they tend to resist new ideas and they are quick to critique. A well-timed “yes” can help keep a good idea afloat long enough to catch fire and take off.

Can you share a fun fact about yourself?

I love to travel and explore new cities. My family, which now has two high schoolers and two middle schoolers, has racked up about 200,000 road miles on our Suburban as we traveled across the country. We have visited 48 of the 50 states and expect to knock off the last two this year. Then we will turn our attention to more global travel.

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