Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday named Related WestPac CEO and Aspen City Councilman Dwayne Romero as his executive director of Economic Development and International Trade.
The cabinet appointment places Romero at the top statewide economic position of an administration that Hickenlooper has said will make job creation and economic growth its top priorities.
“Dwayne Romero knows how to create jobs and lead organizations,” Hickenlooper said in a press release. “He helped stabilize and build successful businesses in the Colorado mountains, most recently in Snowmass Village. Dwayne has the necessary leadership training and business management experiences to promote economic development in Colorado and beyond its borders.”
Romero said he expects to spend three to four days a week in Denver, but will keep his family in Aspen. For the accommodation of staying Aspen-based, Romero said he’s agreed to a state salary on the lower end of the $100,000 to $150,000 range offered.
He also will stay on as president of Related’s Snowmass Village office, in what he called a “limited role, for the foreseeable future.”
The longtime developer has run operations for Related’s Snowmass holdings since 2008, taking over as the economic downturn halted construction of the new Base Village project for the Snowmass Ski Area. The project is currently in foreclosure proceedings.
Romero said he’ll take the lessons of Base Village to the governor’s economic development office.
“In the current economic conditions, we have takeaways like trying to stay creative and stabilize in an increasingly destabilizing environment,” Romero said.
Heather Rousseau/Aspen Daily News
Dwayne Romero, Aspen City Councilman and president of Related Westpac,
has accepted a position as executive director in Gov. John
Hickenlooper’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
Staying grounded in Aspen, and connected with the Western Slope’s mountain and resort communities, is part of his new job, he said
“I think it’s part of one of (Hickenlooper’s) core messages — to reach state government further to communities throughout the state,” Romero said.
In his inaugural speech last week, Gov. Hickenlooper backed up that message.
“We will chart a course for economic revival from the bottom up, county by county,” he said.
Hickenlooper, the former mayor of Denver and a Democrat, also promised to fill his cabinet with diverse voices including Republicans and leaders from beyond the Front Range. Romero was elected to the Aspen City Council in 2007 as an independent.
“He really has done a very focused effort toward using both sides of the aisle and getting a good cross-section,” Romero said of Hickenlooper’s cabinet appointments. “He is putting his money where his mouth is. It’s a very broad cross sectional view of the state.”
Romero, whose City Council term was due to end in June, said he plans to resign his council seat by the end of February. At that point, the council will send out a public call for applications to take his spot, and will appoint a new council person out of that field. The Aspen city charter mandates the remaining council members choose a replacement within 30 days of Romero’s resignation.
Romero said Tuesday that he first met Hickenlooper in Boulder in 1997, when both served on a panel for business graduate students at the University of Colorado. Last spring, Romero helped organize one of Hickenlooper’s first Aspen-area fundraisers for his candidacy.