Denver will deliver a substantial jolt to its economic recovery by issuing more than $366 million in voter-approved Elevate Denver and RISE Denver bond funds into a wide variety of projects in neighborhoods across the city. Tonight, Denver City Council approved a signature component of Mayor Michael B. Hancock’s financial plan to rebuild an inclusive, sustainable, equitable economy – the issuance of $366 million in General Obligation (GO) bond funds to support nearly 80 voter-approved projects including the addition of 188 shelter beds for people experiencing homelessness, improvements to cultural centers, new and improved parks and playgrounds, and accessibility, transportation, and mobility projects.
“With this $366 million issuance of Elevate and RISE bonds, we will generate tens of thousands of job opportunities, hundreds of millions of dollars in labor income for our residents, and significant sales activity for our business community,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. ”And at this critical time, we’re using our bond funding to support our housing initiatives, one of the most important issues facing our community. Denver is on the rise and our goal is for all residents to have the opportunity to benefit from our recovery.”
All three major ratings agencies reaffirmed Denver’s AAA/Aaa/AAA GO bond rating with a stable outlook, the highest achievable bond rating for government and company bond issuers. A bond rating represents a government’s credit quality and is used to inform investors as to the likelihood that the debt will be repaid on time and in full. Bond ratings are important because they affect the interest rates government issuers pay on their bonds. Denver has been rated AAA/Aaa/AAA by all three agencies since 2010.
“Our strong financial management is reflected by our solid bond rating, and we work hard to deliver on our commitment to the efficient use of taxpayer dollars,” Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Mayor Brendan Hanlon said. “Thanks to the support of our Denver voters, our bond programs allow us to invest in a wide-variety of infrastructure needs in our city and will help us continue to create jobs for Denver residents hit hardest by the pandemic.”
The $366 million GO Bond package combines projects from the 2017 Elevate Denver and 2021 RISE Denver bond programs. With City Council approval cemented and the city’s AAA GO bond ratings reaffirmed, the Department of Finance is now poised to price the bonds later this month and close in May.
These GO Bond issuances are a key component in the Hancock Administration’s comprehensive plan to rebuild an inclusive and sustainable economy. Denver has a strong history of successfully implementing GO bond programs during economic downturns.
In Denver, GO bond programs are typically phased and issued over a decade to bring steady but impactful improvements to communities, while providing multi-year opportunities for businesses and workers. To date, Elevate Denver has drawn down funds four times, and this proposed fifth issuance would bring 60 percent of the nearly billion-dollar program into the community. As Elevate Denver approaches the end of its program, and with nearly all projects in or entering construction phases, RISE Denver will foster continued economic activity across vital industries for the next decade.
For RISE Denver, a regional economic model forecasts more than 4,100 jobs to be created or supported by the bond program. With an estimated $257 million in labor income (pay to workers) and $549 million in economic outputs (sales activity for businesses), RISE Denver includes a total of nearly 100 infrastructure projects with a focus on equity and economic opportunity.
For Elevate Denver, similar economic modeling anticipated nearly 13,000 jobs, many of which support the construction of new or renovated recreation centers, along with major additions to Denver Health and Hospital Authority and some of the city’s greatest cultural institutions like the Denver Art Museum, the Denver Zoo, or the Denver Botanic Gardens. Nearly half of Elevate Denver is committed to vital transportation and mobility improvements.
With the RISE and Elevate GO Bonds supporting infrastructure improvements across the city, Denver’s comprehensive recovery plan leverages $308 million in American Rescue Plan funding to support community, nonprofit, and business needs as well as the entire housing spectrum, from affordable housing projects to alternatives to sheltering.
Residents helped build Denver’s recovery strategy, with more than 6,200 community members participating in an outreach process in 2021. Through surveying, telephone townhalls, and forums, residents submitted nearly 10,000 comments and project ideas to tailor bond packages and investment strategies to meet their community’s needs. An additional 4,000 comments were submitted in 2016 leading up to Elevate Denver.
[Shared on behalf of our friends at the Department of Finance]