Economic Opportunity Domain

Below, explore Equity Indicators related to Fort Collins’ local economy and diversity and disparities within the local workforce. Click on an Indicator to expand for more information. To dig deeper, follow the links within each Indicator.

The Equity Indicators Dashboard is a work in progress. More measures, explanations, and easy-to-understand graphics will be added, and the dashboard will continue to grow over time. 


The health of our local economy helps, or hinders, a community member’s ability to grow wealth, find opportunities to grow and develop, and influences other sectors of our community. Yet, communities of color and low-income communities are less likely to own businesses, more likely to experience homelessness, and experiences more burdens than dominant communities in Fort Collins. the City of Fort Collins and Larimer County are working to address disparities that show up as difficulty finding affordable and culturally sensitive childcare, difficulty affording quality and nutritious foods, unemployment, or homelessness.

Representation Among Business Owners

People of color represent about 40% of the nation’s population, but account for just 20% of business owners. One disparity that may impact people of color’s ability to start a business is wealth needed to support starting a business. People of color have historically faced discriminatory practices that prevent them for getting loans or education that are helpful in starting a business.

In Fort Collins, Hispanic and Latino community members are less likely to own businesses compared to white community members. Black community members are slightly less likely to own businesses compared to white community members, while Asian and Native American community members are slightly more likely than Hispanic or Black community members to own businesses, but still less likely than white community members.

Continued work with groups like the Larimer County Small Business Development Center, the Innosphere, and other regional partners can help address some of the barriers to business ownership among our most marginalized community members.

The graph shows each demographic group’s business ownership compared to that group’s percent of the overall Fort Collins population. For example, Hispanic/Latinx individuals make up nearly 12% of the Fort Collins population, but only account for 3% of the business owners in Fort Collins. This is shown on the graph as -8%, the difference between percent of the population and the percent of business owners. 

Source: City of Fort Collins Annual Business Survey, 2018.

Difficulty Finding Childcare

Quality, affordable childcare is important for all families, but the burden of childcare impacts communities of color more than white community members. A federal agency estimates childcare should cost no more than 7% of a families income, but in Fort Collins, average childcare costs may approach $12,000 per year. Additionally, Hispanic Fort Collins community members report a more difficult time finding affordable childcare compared to white community members, but non-white non-Hispanic community members report a much easier time finding affordable childcare. LGBTQ+ community members are also much more likely to report difficulty in finding childcare compared to straight community members.

Data suggests that children who are enrolled in early education are more likely to develop academic skills that may lead to greater wealth in later years, in turn improving economic outcomes for minority community members. But, with childcare costs placing a burden on low-income community members now, lack of quality, affordable childcare prevents parents from saving and other activities that perpetuate a cycle of disparity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also added additional challenges to the ability of community members to find affordable childcare. The City and regional partners can play a role in reducing the disparity of finding affordable childcare by working to further understand the issue and improve availability to childcare across the community.

 The graphs below show rates at which people of different groups in Fort Collins experience difficulty in finding affordable childcare in Fort Collins. The rates are calculated by dividing the number of individuals within a group who are experinencing difficulty by the total number of individuals of that group in Fort Collins. 

Finding affordable childcare, by ethnicity

Finding affordable childcare, by sexual orientation

Source: Health District – Community Health Survey, 2019.


There are multiple reasons that someone may become unemployed, and people of color are generally more likely to be unemployed that white community members, even in Fort Collins. Here, Native Americans and other people of color (generally stated as data could not be disaggregated) are much more likely to be unemployed that white community members. Hispanic and Latino community members are slightly more likely to be unemployed compared to white community members, too. While we cannot determine exactly why communities of color are more likely to unemployed on the whole, we can tell that communities of color face inequities in the economy. Those inequities are also made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The graph below shows the percent of individuals above 16 years old within each group who are experiencing unemployment.

Unemployment by race and ethnicity

Unemployment by disability status

Source: American Community Survey 5-year estimates, 2018.

Ability to Afford Nutritious Meals

Access to healthy, affordable food, like clean drinking water and good quality air, are necessary for human development and ongoing individual health. Yet, even in Fort Collins, areas of the community can be defined as food deserts, or areas where one-third or more community members live more than a mile from a grocer. In food deserts, people tend to rely on fast food, convenience stores, or packed food options which lack diverse nutritional content needed to support health and healthy development.

Access to affordable, high quality food is generally better for non-Hispanic white community members. Three Census tracts in Fort Collins that are located farthest from a grocery store or other place to buy quality food are also some of the most marginalized. For example, the Provincetown neighborhood in south-central Fort Collins is comprised of a majority of neighbors who consistently make less than 80% of the median income. The Tres Colonias neighborhoods in northeast Fort Collins are comprised of Hispanic community members and are another example of food insecure neighborhoods due the distance to a quality grocer.

Racial and ethnic disparities in food access are also evident in Fort Collins. Over 16% of Hispanic and non-white non-Hispanic community members report being usually stressed or worries about having enough money to afford nutritious foods, compared to 7.5% of non-Hispanic community members. The cause for the disparity requires more analysis, though land use and zoning may play a role in the location of supermarkets and lack of smaller yet comprehensive grocers. Other complex issues may also be found, including lower wages earned by community members of color which impacts one’s ability to live closer to grocers, or even afford nutritious foods.

The graph below shows the rate at which individuals within each group experiences worry about finding nutritious meals, calculated by dividing the number of individuals within a certain group who are experiencing this difficulty by the total number of individuals in this group in Fort Collins.

Source: Health District – Community Health Survey, 2019.