Crystal ball: Big things by 2030

Jan 18, 2016 | Uncategorized

With a fresh year, it’s customary to pause for a look ahead. Not content with the traditional one-year forecast, here are some things to ponder over the next 15 years.

To illustrate how difficult that is, think back 15 years to 2001. Google was three years old, Facebook wouldn’t be founded for three more years, Microsoft was king of the tech hill, “the cloud” was a fluffy white thing in the sky, Kodak was synonymous with photography, and “telephone” meant land line, not mobile device

In other words, a lot happens in 15 years.

With that caveat, here’s one person’s predictions of Fort Collins and Northern Colorado in 2030.

The biggest development is that boomers will be gone. Not from this earth, but most of the baby boomer generation will have left the workforce. That sound you hear is GenXers and millennials saying, “It’s about time!”

Even as the following generations finish claiming their rightful place in society and the workplace, nationwide there will be a 30 million-person shortage of workers.

There will be 214,000 people living in Fort Collins, up from 160,000 now. It is simple demography. People are living longer, young people are still having babies and Fort Collins is an attractive place to retire.

Today, there are 326,803 souls in Larimer County. By 2030 the population will be 418,814, or 92,000 more people. By 2040 the combined population in Larimer and Weld Counties will be more than 1 million people.

The small communities around us will also grow. For example, Wellington will grow from 7,000 people today to 11,000 in 15 years and to 15,000 in 25 years.

The current Fort Collins labor force of approximately 100,000 will grow to 134,000.

Economically, as a smart, tech-oriented university town, Fort Collins will continue in its role as a workbench for Silicon Valley. There will be the opportunity to attract tech jobs as the dysphoria of California continues to drive up costs.

The booming health-care sector of today will be booming in 2030 while caring for the boomers. The community will benefit from passive retirement income as local people retire in place, and, as noted earlier, in-migrating boomers join them.

Interstate 25 will be widened to three lanes each way between Fort Collins and Longmont, and conversation will be underway about adding a fourth lane and commuter rail.

Trains will still be an issue but the city, the Federal Railroad Administration and the railroads will have agreed upon and implemented noise mitigation measures. And, finally, due to pressure by residents, some underpasses will have been built on two of the major cross-streets at the tracks.

The owners of the Foothills Mall will be ready to unveil plans for a new renovation.

Star Wars XIII will be playing on everyone’s virtual reality headsets.

Colorado State University’s on-campus stadium will be a venerated community gathering place.

And Fort Collins will still be a wonderful place to live!

Have a great 2016!

David May is president and CEO of the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce. Reach him at [email protected].

Originally published in the Fort Collins Coloradoan on January 14, 2016