Rolodex: Denver Women Entrepreneurs to Know

The Grace and Grit of Jamie Licko

By Jessica Fialkovich

It is no secret that Denver is a hub of entrepreneurship. With a larger percentage of women-owned businesses than the national average, there are so many rockstar female entrepreneurs in this city that it is sometimes hard to keep track of who they are and what they are doing.

This month, we catch up with President and Founder of Centro, Jamie Licko. Centro catalyzes collaborations and partnerships between the public and private sector to bolster districts, neighborhoods, and communities. The firm focuses on empowering people and organizations to create great, sustainable places. Jamie also serves as the President of the River North Art District (RiNo).

What brought you to Colorado?

I am originally from a small town of 250 people in Iowa, called Leland. I came to Denver for a job opportunity with a consulting firm that exposed me to working nationally with cities of all shapes and sizes.

Tell me about Centro, what problem did you want to solve when you founded it?

My previous company exposed me to a lot of different places to learn and understand the inner workings of place including culture and politics and how they influence place. I saw many models of how cities work and don’t work. However, in the consulting firm I started with in Denver, we were primarily involved to solve one particular problem such as funding or organization structure. It felt like something was missing, and by taking pieces of that methodology, I thought we could be more helpful. I believe every place has a story and that story ties to its path, its people, and its culture.  I knew that Centro could help cities to reemerge and gentrify without scrubbing away a lot of the gritty, exciting bits. I wanted to help neighborhoods tackle tough challenges like gentrification in a context-sensitive manner to empower the people of the community as well.

What’s a day in life like for you, what did you do yesterday?

What I love most about my job is that every day is completely unexpected. I can start a day out going to a meeting at the city to help write new policies, then speak about identity and character of a neighborhood, and finish up my day by ordering trash cans. My favorite part of my day is talking to people that are involved in neighborhood. Part of my time as the President of the RiNo District is interacting with the community, always learning and applying new challenges.

Where do you want to see Centro 10 years from now?

I want the approach I have used in Denver and empower people to work together in their neighborhoods.  I think it is very doable to teach people to take control over their destiny and own their community.  It is hard, and you cannot write a standard process, but you can encourage, teach, and inspire people to do this on their own.

If you could give one piece of advice to a women considering entrepreneurship, what would it be?

Do it with grace and grit.

What’s your call to action for Denver broads?

I would like to see more women in politics or government policy and be bold in pushing their perspectives. I still think there is a lack of that and I believe that any district, especially Denver, could benefit from ways that strong, bold females can come at problems. Their creative, thoughtful, and compelling solutions to problems can tackle some pretty wild things.