From Denver to Durango: The State Department's Impact on Colorado

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#State4States: The Department of State has direct impact on the state of Colorado

From Denver to Durango: The State Department's Impact on Colorado

The work of the State Department benefits the American people by advancing U.S. national security, promoting our economic interests, providing services, and reaffirming our country’s exceptional role in the world. These benefits are evident in many states across the nation; here are a few examples of ways the Department's work impacts the “Centennial State” of Colorado.

The State Department fosters partnerships and engagements that impact Colorado broadly, ranging its agro-business, eco-tourism, academic, and defense sectors among other areas. For example, in 2013, more than 1,000 businesses participated in the Latin American Idea Partnership (La Idea) competition, a business-competition platform that fosters collaboration between entrepreneurs in the United States and Latin America. The La Idea business competition aimed to develop and expand innovative businesses to generate employment and economic growth throughout the Americas. Stakeholders in the La Idea business competition in 2013 included the State Department, along with USAID, the Association of Small Business Development Centers, and a number of other organizations in Latin AmericaUltimately, only one entrepreneur would win the award for Best New Venture and that honor went to Agronometrics, a company run by entrepreneurs Colin Fain from Colorado and Claudio Riquelme from Chile. Their platform, Agronometrics, works to "help those in the fresh produce industry visualize, explore, and make the most of the commercial data that drives decisions and moves food from farmers to international markets". The La Idea competition is currently in its third iteration. The competition's current incubator project focuses on providing Central American entrepreneurs with resources and training to conduct business or launch a subsidiary of their business in the United States through a five-day intensive boot camp at U.S.-based incubators and small business development centers.

The State Department is also bringing Coloradans together with Latin American partners through the 100,000 Strong in the America’s Innovation Fund. This dynamic public-private sector collaboration between the State Department, NGOs, companies, and foundations inspires U.S. colleges and universities to team up with higher education institutions in the rest of the Western Hemisphere to create innovative and sustainable student exchange and training programs. As part of this program, Colorado State University’s two campuses in Pueblo and Fort Collins are collaborating with Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur of Mexico to develop an ecotourism education program and establish an Institute for Ecotourism Studies. This project gives students the opportunity to engage in immersive, field-based academic courses and cultural exchange while expanding their knowledge and understanding of the issues surrounding ecotourism and sustainable development. 

Another example of the Department's work to encourage cross-cultural engagement and entrepreneurial collaboration between the people of Colorado and Latin America occured just recently, when 13 businesses across a wide range of industries in Denver hosted fellows participating in the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative Professional Exchange Program (YLAI) from Guatemala, Bolivia, Brazil, El Salvador, Venezuela, Paraguay, Suriname, Jamaica, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. This is the third year businesses across the United States hosted 250 young entrepreneurs from 36 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to enhance the fellows’ competence in running their own ventures abroad, expanding their networks, and challenging prevailing stereotypes by showcasing the culture of innovation, collaboration, and transparency at the heart of the U.S. economy. Fellows, who participate in the program overwhelmingly reported positive experiences, return home with new skills, ideas, contacts, and friendships that propel their contributions to social and economic growth abroad on an American model. More than 50 percent of American host mentors reported that, as a result of the YLAI program, they fostered new partnerships with professional counterparts in Latin America or the Caribbean, and 91.6 percent would participate again. The YLAI program instills American entrepreneurship values and practices early in the evolution of young leaders and establishes a strong connection with the United States among the young entrepreneurs and future business partners of the hemisphere. 

Finally, the State Department works alongside our defense colleagues through the Foreign Policy Advisor Program managed by the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of State-Defense Integration. Emerging security issues demand that the U.S. government be agile, comprehensive, and inclusive when navigating foreign relations, and the interagency process remains the most efficient and effective means for the U.S. government to leverage resources for securing America’s interests abroad.Therefore, no agency, including the State Department, can operate in a vacuum. Foreign Policy Advisors, or POLADs, provide invaluable foreign policy expertise and advice to senior, strategic-level military leaders serving at various commands throughout the world, including two commands in Colorado Springs. Today, three POLADs are assigned to the U.S. Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, and one POLAD is assigned to the Special Operations Command North, or SOCNORTH. Through this strategic collaboration and clear communication channels, State and Defense colleagues can respond seamlessly to our constantly-changing security environment. 

The State Department continues to identify avenues to positively impact the lives of Americans through global partnerships and opportunities for meaningful engagement.  The State Department impacts Colorado, and from the Front Range to Four Corners, Colorado impacts the world. 

Find out more about the Department of State's impact in American communities at Department of State by State.

Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.

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