Why Colorado Springs is the Right Location for Your Aerospace & Defense Company
Effective collaboration can be a rarity in business, but aerospace companies in Colorado form innovative partnerships in droves. Between 2016-2022, associations of small businesses, government, and academic institutions led to a 30% expansion of the aerospace & defense industry statewide, which is a 12% increase above the national average.
In Colorado Springs, the industry has a $7 billion annual economic impact with more than 250 aerospace companies located in the city — including Bal Seal Engineering, Boecore, L3Harris, Lockheed Martin, Bluestaq, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon Technologies. Of which, Bluestaq just made the Inc. 5000 list, representing a new cohort of fast-growing private businesses, all of which have demonstrated an ability to succeed amid supply chain challenges, labor shortages, and the ongoing impacts related to COVID-19.
Another company in Colorado Springs making headlines includes Delta Solutions & Strategies, a defense contractor that creates military training products and modeling simulations. They recently won a $187 million contract that makes them the primary contractor on U.S. Space Command. This important contract will double Delta’s workforce to over 300 employees and will secure plans for an additional 10,000 square feet of office space at the company’s Colorado Springs hub.
From well-established aerospace businesses to seed funded cybersecurity startups, Colorado Springs aerospace & defense businesses continue to thrive and innovate for several reasons.
Skilled Veteran Population
The Colorado Springs aerospace & defense workforce is bolstered by cleared talent with a diverse set of skills and more than 400 military separatees that enter civilian life each month. Regularly ranked as a veteran-friendly city, Colorado Springs’ 80,000 former service members and five National Security Agency certified colleges strengthen aerospace and defense employers with dedicated and diverse military experience.
In 2019, Delta Solutions & Strategies, LLC was one of 15 employers selected from among 2,415 nominees for the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. The VA-certified Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SSDVOSB) provides advisory services, technical training and testing support to government and Department of Defense customers.
Collaborative Environment and Startup Support
Last month we highlighted one of the foremost aerospace & defense ecosystems in Colorado Springs — Catalyst Campus. Catalyst is a thriving ecosystem of approximately 50 in-person or virtual startups, small businesses and workforce training organizations — with so much collaborative innovation that U.S. Space Command opened an office there in early 2022.
Apart from collaborative ecosystems like Catalyst Campus, startups in Colorado Springs also find themselves in an environment with five military installations and the second largest space economy in the U.S. consisting of more than 240,000 aerospace workers across the state.
Additionally, the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC’s Military Affairs Council (MAC) advocates for critical defense operations by ensuring their access to resources which improve the vitality of their facilities. This best-interest approach opens an avenue for small businesses and startups to make bids for department of defense contracts.
Specialized Education in Aerospace & Defense
Several higher education institutions in the Pikes Peak region grow the aerospace & defense industry, including the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS). The university’s College of Engineering is home to the Center for Laser, Energy, and Exploration Research (CLEER) where undergraduate and graduate students study cutting edge research in laser, energy, and exploration technologies such as heat transfer, propulsion, and rarefied gas dynamics.
Pikes Peak State College and Colorado Technical University also offer strong engineering courses that lead students to careers in aerospace & defense, but they also offer programs in cybersecurity and have helped bolster Colorado Springs as the No. 3 Emerging Tech Talent Market, according to CBRE.
Twenty-first century technology has made aerospace, aviation, and internet connectivity inseparable, and Colorado has become a hub of talent in cybersecurity. The Colorado Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program (C-CAP) received a $6 million grant in 2020 from the U.S. Department of Labor to increase cyber talent in states like Colorado with a high demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals. This year, the apprenticeship program will be administered through the UCCS College of Business at an expanded, 30,000-square-foot cybersecurity building with labs, classrooms, and collaboration space.
Companies like Kratos Defense & Security Solutions — an original founding member of the Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center (Space ISAC) and the National Cybersecurity Center in Colorado Springs — facilitate collaboration and the sharing of information throughout Colorado Springs cybersecurity businesses.
For over 80 years, Colorado Springs has been a supportive ecosystem for military operations through community-led organizations like the Military Affairs Council, and the Colorado Springs aerospace & defense industry has thrived in the region for even longer.
Read more about the industry’s impact locally and contact us to learn how your aerospace business can grow in the Pikes Peak region.