CEO Clark: Harmony keys fu­ture

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Aldo Svaldi

Tom Clark, CEO of the Metro Den­ver Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Corp., set aside his wicked wit Thurs­day to give a se­ri­ous mes­sage on the need for con­tin­ued co­op­er­a­tion in his fi­nal ad­dress to the group he has led the past 12 years.

Clark, who came to work for the Den­ver Metro Cham­ber of Com­merce in 1985 from Illi­nois, is cred­ited with push­ing a mes­sage of eco­nomic diver­si­fi­ca­tion dur­ing the dark days of the oil bust and cre­at­ing a model of re­gional co­op­er­a­tion that other ar­eas across the coun­try have ei­ther en­vied or copied.

“I hope we will re­mem­ber that this union of co­op­er­a­tion is al­ways frag­ile. And that fragility is born from the No. 1 of the seven deadly sins, and that is pride. When we be­gin to think we have all the answers, we are doomed. Hu­mil­ity is our great­est strength. It is not who gets the credit that mat­ters, but it is the qual­ity of the out­come,” he told more than 600 peo­ple gath­ered in the Seawell Grand Ball­room in Den­ver for the group’s an­nual meet­ing.

Clark headed eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment ef­forts in Boul­der and Jef­fer­son County

be­fore cir­cling back to take the job lead­ing the Metro Den­ver EDC. Clark’s fin­ger­prints are on about ev­ery ma­jor deal the re­gion has seen the past three decades, in­clud­ing the con­struc­tion of Den­ver In­ter­na­tional Air­port, FasTracks, Coors and Sports Au­thor­ity fields, and mul­ti­ple cor­po­rate re­lo­ca­tions.

“All the goals set in 1985 have been met,” he told the au­di­ence.

Al­though spend­ing more time fam­ily is a com­mon rea­son ex­ec­u­tives give when they re­sign, Clark, who turns 68 in May, said he truly wants to be more in­volved in the lives of his four grand­chil­dren.

“I sucked as a fa­ther, but I think I can be a pretty good grand­fa­ther,” he said.

Re­cent an­nual meet­ings have fea­tured a video par­ody star­ring Clark. He has been the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment guru, the god­fa­ther of re­gional co­op­er­a­tion, and metro Den­ver’s most in­ter­est­ing man. His last video took a hu­mor­ous look at how re­tire­ment might go.

Clark’s day starts with a late break­fast of Co­coa Puffs, sev­eral loops around the cul-de-sac in his golf cart, col­or­ing in an adult col­or­ing book, play­ing gui­tar, and a Nutella sand­wich for lunch. He makes a pre­sen­ta­tion to his grand­chil­dren’s stuffed an­i­mals on lim­it­ing mi­gra­tion from New York and Texas, leaves a bo­gus tip on a re­porter’s voice­mail in hopes of get­ting a call back and pounds away on an old type­writer.

In re­al­ity, Clark plans to take a road trip in April with his wife, some­thing they haven’t done in 20 years. He has a few tell-all books in the works. Gov. John Hick­en­looper, who ear­lier had de­clared March 23 Tom Clark Day, jumped in to an­nounce that Clark would also serve on the Colorado Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion. J.J. Ament, who is re­plac­ing Clark on April 5, is chair­man of that group.

“I truly am Jimmy Ste­wart’s char­ac­ter in my fa­vorite Christ­mas movie. I am Ge­orge Bai­ley. And yes, I did have a won­der­ful life,” Clark said in his fi­nal words to the crowd.

Also dur­ing the lunch, three “Deal of the Year Award” re­cip­i­ents were rec­og­nized. They in­clude life sci­ence firm Agi­lent Tech­nolo­gies, which pur­chased 20 acres in Fred­er­ick where it is mak­ing a $120 mil­lion in­vest­ment in a 130,000square-foot plant that will em­ploy 200 peo­ple mak­ing can­cer drugs.

An­other drug­maker, Lon­don-based As­traZeneca, was rec­og­nized for step­ping into the former Am­gen man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity in Boul­der, where it plans to em­ploy 250 highly paid work­ers. As­traZeneca also has re­served rights to Am­gen’s Long­mont fa­cil­ity to al­low for a fu­ture ex­pan­sion.

BP Lower 48, which will re­lo­cate its cor­po­rate head­quar­ters from Hous­ton to Den­ver, also re­ceived recog­ni­tion for its plans to bring 200 em­ploy­ees to an 86,000 square foot build­ing un­der con­struc­tion in the 1700 block of Platte River Drive in Den­ver.

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