John Hickenlooper has taken the reins as governor of Colorado, and while the job before him is daunting, the business community and the state as a whole have a lot to feel optimistic about.

That’s not easy to say given some of the facts on the ground. Among them:

The state’s personal income levels are up, but its unemployment level hovers around 8.7 percent.

Foreclosure activity has leveled off, but the state still ranks 10th in the nation for bank-initiated mortgage termination with a rate of 2.15 percent.

Colorado state government is facing a $1 billion budget shortfall this year.

OK, so there’s no shortage of reason for concern, but anyone who has ever looked at a map knows you have to know where you are before you can get to where you want to go.

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Hickenlooper knows where Colorado is.

He proved that when he laid out his objectives during his inaugural State of the State address and repeatedly during his statewide listening tour.

“We have no other alternative than to become pro-business,” he said. “We have to change the culture and become relentlessly pro-business.”

Hickenlooper apparently understands that adopting a culture that empowers businesses will help create jobs and that jobs will help lift every other aspect of the economy.

That’s no surprise. Hickenlooper, you’ll remember, jumped into politics as Denver’s mayor only after having been a small-business guy, and small businesses are the top job generators.

Take note, too, that his business-first ideas were cast with tangible hook.

He has suggested that every bill before the legislature contain an assessment of the direct cost it would have on businesses. He knows that government too often stifles job growth through excessive taxation and regulation.

He also suggested the creation of a small business venture capital fund, with the understanding that providing resources to entrepreneurs and freeing them from red tape will allow them to do what they do best: create jobs.

Hickenlooper’s pro-jobs ideals, along with the aid of a pro-business Republican legislature, spell opportunity for growth and economic prosperity.

The road looks long and the terrain intimidating, but Hickenlooper’s compass is pointed in the right direction.

We wish him well. For everyone’s sake.