Ron Tilton gazes down the 16th Street Mall in Denver's lower downtown, or "LoDo," district on a sparkling winter afternoon, marveling at the growth that has come to his city. In the foreground, glimmering office and residential buildings rise adjacent to a new $500 million transit hub. Behind, just across the South Platte River, lies a sea of rooftops called Highlands┬Śmuch of it newer construction.

"Twenty years ago, this was all fields," says Tilton, FirstBank's president for the Denver market, sweeping his hand over the panorama. "Today, it's this very vibrant urban area."

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