Pete Khanna is CEO of TrackVia

California’s Silicon Valley, unarguably the leading hub for high-tech innovation and development in the U.S., has some friendly competition. Recently taking fifth on Forbes’ 2012 “Best Places for Businesses and Careers” list, the Mile High City of Denver, Colorado is attracting a large number of start-ups, investors and entrepreneurs all in search for a premier hot spot for their startup.

Named by USA Today as a prime location for startups, Denver and its neighboring city Boulder, have quite a history of attracting startups. Companies with Denver area roots include Mapquest, Photobucket, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Rally Software, Ping Identity, LogRythm, SendGrid, ReadyTalk, TrackVia, Cloudzilla, Forkly and hundreds more.

So why is Denver such a hotbed for startups, specifically in the technology sector? Here are 5 reasons why Denver might be next in line as the best place to start your business — and foster its growth.

A low cost to pay for a high quality of life

Denver-based employees have access to some of the nation’s most attractive outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, climbing, rafting and more. Residents are located near some of our nation’s best hospitals and universities, including the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, Colorado School of Mines and the University of Denver.

Yet the city’s cost-of-living is only marginally greater than the national average. While the U.S. cost-of-living index average at 100, Palo Alto scores a 152.7 and Denver scores a 107, which is a low score compared with Denver’s high quality of life. The lower cost-of-living means Denver-based startups can stretch dollars further, which spurs initial business growth and success.

Support from the Governor and Mayor

Colorado’s Governor John Hickenlooper and Denver’s Mayor Michael Hancock have displayed immense support for the state and city’s startup scene. Governor Hickenlooper recently founded the Colorado Innovation Network, which is focused on creating an innovation network between the state’s government, higher education, research institutions, industry leaders and entrepreneurs.

“If we can establish a reputation for high quality of life and an environment that fosters innovation, we can rival any place in the world for economic investment, leading to job creation,” said Governor Hickenlooper.

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock recognizes Denver as the new Silicon Valley and a hot bed for technology start-ups. Mayor Hancock said, “It’s because of innovative and entrepreneurial companies like TrackVia that we are building a Silicon Mountain right here in the Denver metro area,” said Mayor Hancock. “Recognized by the city for their initial success, TrackVia is a shining example of the tech sector growth we are seeing. With a concentration of high-tech workers, a soon-to-be downtown U.S. Patent Office not to mention a great quality of life, our region offers a fertile environment to grow on our burgeoning tech industry.”

Denver’s educated workforce

According to HometoDenver.com, Denver is the nation’s most highly educated city with the highest percentage of high school and college graduates. Centrally located to several strong universities, including the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, Colorado School of Mines and the University of Denver, Denver provides nearby startups with the workforce and energy needed to jumpstart business. Naval Ravikant, the founder of AngelList, says that “in the past, funding was the biggest need (for startups), but today it’s recruiting.” With a highly educated workforce, Denver is a hotspot for recruited talent and young entrepreneurs passionate about their careers.

Denver’s Investors and Incubators

Colorado as a whole ranked fourth in the “access to capital” category of CNBC’s America’s Top States for Doing Business in 2012 list. Research conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers confirmed that Colorado ranks fourth for early-stage venture capital investment. In fact, the state’s total venture capital investments into 41 startup companies in 2011 — $290 million — was “more than three times the investment amount into 32 startups reporters in 2006.” Popular Boulder-based incubator TechStars takes on 50 Denver area companies each year and has an $80 million fund for startups and Foundry Group invests up to $225 million. TechStars CEO David Cohen said, “We’re not Silicon Valley and never will be. We’re only 100,000 people, but the activity per capita is enormous.”

Employees Have That ‘Work Hard Play Hard’ Spirit

Mile High City residents are known for more than just their entrepreneurial spirit and hard-working attitudes. Denverites work hard — but they also play hard. In addition to its over 500 startups, Denver residents have access to Colorado’s 139 breweries, 150 ski areas, 42 state parks, 4 national parks, 6 national monuments, 11 national forests and 42 national wildlife areas.

Denver’s quickly growing and vibrant startup community cannot be denied. The Mile High City offers a winning combination of inspiring scenery, and the opportunity to work hard and play hard. For entrepreneurs, educated employees and startups alike, Denver, Colorado is the place to be — and the place to grow.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BusinessNewsDaily.