Four Boulder community leaders talked about some of the city's challenges, successes and ways to collaborate moving forward across organizational lines at the Boulder Town/Gown Forum on Tuesday morning, which was hosted by the University of Colorado.

In front of an audience of between 300 and 350 people, a panel of community leaders talked for about an hour about challenges Boulder faces such as affordable housing, funding for both K-12 and higher education, how to attract businesses and entrepreneurs to the state and other topics. The panel included Jane Brautigam, Boulder city manager, John Tayer, CEO of the Boulder Chamber of Commerce, Bruce Messinger, superintendent of Boulder Valley School District and Phil DiStefano, CU chancellor.

The panel was moderated by Josie Heath, president of the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County.

Each panelist described separately the challenges, goals and priorities of their respective organizations and groups before answering questions from the audience.

Brautigam, who came to the panel after having spent the last two days at the Boulder City Council's annual two-day retreat, talked about how Boulder can be more resilient in the future.

Though September's floods were a good example of the city as a whole coming together and "bouncing back," she said, that type of collaboration shouldn't only exist during an emergency.

"For me, and I think for the city, in a way the scales fell from our eyes as a result of the flood, that the city government can't do everything and that we rely on individuals, nonprofits, on our government partners, on the university, on the entire region to come together, to collaborate, for the good of the entire community," Brautigam said.

Brautigam also talked about some of the challenges the city faces, such as a lack of affordable "workforce" housing, transportation, energy, economic development and how to create a new civic area in central Boulder.

Tayer described the many challenges the business community faces in Boulder, including a lack of office space, affordable housing, good public transportation and a lack of local management talent.

He advocated for building an "Innovative HQ," or headquarters where Boulder innovators and business groups can all work under one roof. He also called for a community conference center.

In his statement, Messinger discussed bridging the achievement gap within Boulder Valley schools, finding funding for K-12 education, transportation and improvement's to the district's buildings and infrastructure.

DiStefano outlined the university's three major goals moving forward, which are building on student success, finding new sources of revenue and working on a more positive reputation for CU.

"(We're) working with our community partners to get the word out that we are a tier one research university in a tier one community," he said.

CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard said he felt the forum, which was the first of its kind in recent history, was very successful.

He said the university wants to continue the conversation beyond the forum so that real collaboration and tangible results can come from some of the conversations the panelists had around working together.

Though no dates have been set for future town/gown events, organizers said they hoped to start an online forum which would summarize the panel discussion and include questions from the community.

"It's absolutely vital that we come together and talk to each other at really high levels, with the leadership talking to each other, but now to involve these kind of stakeholders," he said. "Members of our faculty, members of community organizations that provide the social capital. It's really long overdue and it has great promise."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106 or