By Tammy Fields
Chief Economic Development Officer
Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC
Well past the mid-way point and with the end of the year in our sights, work continues at the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC as we capitalize on a strong economy, growing workforce, and national recognition for Colorado Springs.
Jobs and workforce first
It’s no surprise that with a healthy economy comes lower unemployment and more competition for workforce. Department of Labor data presented by CNBC shows we’re putting our local efforts in the right places to grow high-quality jobs. Professional and business services, healthcare, financial activities, and manufacturing (with some monthly variance) top the list of sectors with job growth.
This aligns well with the Chamber & EDC’s economic development strategy in which we identify professional, scientific, and technical services; aviation and specialty manufacturing; and sports medicine and related health services as target industries in our business attraction, expansion, and retention activities.
Meeting talent demand is a top priority, and community collaboration is key. As a member of the Workforce Action Team, we’re working with the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak Community College, and the Quad Innovation Partnership to develop a strategic process that will help proactively address skilled workforce gaps. We are also investing in the K-12 level, working with the Pikes Peak Business & Education Alliance, a workforce development effort spearheaded by District 49.
Attraction and expansion
This year has ushered in a diverse group of new and expanded operations in Colorado Springs. From sports management (Haute Route) and aviation manufacturing (F/LIST) to insurance services (Progressive), companies are choosing Colorado Springs for their growth.
Polaris Alpha, a leading provider of technology solutions to defense and intelligence communities, announced this spring its plans to create 450 new high-paying jobs in Colorado, with 300 of them in Colorado Springs.
Essential to attraction and expansion are incentives and tax credits for investments made in Colorado and that meet specific criteria. By working alongside companies like Polaris Alpha and F/LIST, we’ve been able to help secure $7.6 million in funding for projects this year. This work continues with other key projects in the research and development, manufacturing, operations, aviation, and other industries.
Looking to D.C.
As tariffs evolve at the national level, we’re keeping an eye on our region and checking in with local businesses to gauge potential impact.
While some companies use larger amounts of steel and metal to manufacture their products, and there will be some impact there, the overall effects to our region will not be as dramatic as may be seen in other parts of the country. On the flip side, we had one key project we were pursuing in 2017 dry up due to implemented tariffs. As a result, we lost out on potentially a significant number of manufacturing jobs and investment.
Tech and cyber offer an edge
Buoyed by a nearly $1 billion annual economic impact, Colorado Springs’ cybersecurity industry continues to grow thanks in part to a tech-savvy talent pool comprised of transitioning military personnel and local graduates. Lured by high-quality annual wages ($104,000 annual average) and unbeatable quality of life, more than 3,000 cybersecurity employees live and work in the Colorado Springs area, with an expected 7,000 open positions by 2024.
Technology companies across the board are looking to Colorado Springs. A new study by real estate services leader CBRE reports that Colorado Springs’ tech scene is diversifying with growth in the software, aerospace, data center, and cybersecurity industries, that “the area’s outgoing military personnel, increasing millennial population and relative affordability contribute to its attractiveness to tech companies.” It’s good news as we are currently work with information technology and data center companies to identify how Colorado Springs may fit into their business expansion strategies.
For more information on the study or to find ways to connect with our local economic development community, please contact [email protected].
Tammy Fields joined the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC in 1994 and has more than 24 years of economic development experience in Colorado Springs. In her role, Fields leads traction, retention, expansion, and workforce strategies, and works directly with companies and site location consultants considering Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region for business. She is one of the state’s economic development leaders and her knowledge of commercial real estate, business incentives, and the business development landscape at large has been instrumental in helping attract more than 26,000 jobs to the region. She was recognized as Women of Influence by the Colorado Springs Business Journal and currently serves on the boards of the Economic Development Council of Colorado and the Southern Colorado Commercial Brokers.