By Rich Burchfield
Chief Defense Development Officer
Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC
Our classified defense and intelligence operations might be flying under the radar, but our state’s innovation knows no bounds. A recent study shows Colorado’s defense industry and veteran community is producing a $36.6 billion economic impact, making it a source of opportunity for future growth that expands from defense to academia to even healthcare.
With more than 400 companies leading and supporting groundbreaking missions, Colorado is revolutionizing the aerospace and defense industry through a variety of military commands, cutting-edge space exploration programs and renowned research laboratories and universities.
According to the study, the most significant returns on investment in defense-related sectors come from emerging technologies and applications. Space, cybersecurity, advanced materials, artificial intelligence, robotics, nano-technology, manufacturing and the interface between defense and commercial firms are a source of strength for Colorado’s economy.
The good news from this report is that it shows that most Coloradans benefit from the widespread economic impact of the defense sector – even if their occupation appears not to be remotely connected to defense. Local employment, incomes, sales and tax revenues are all enhanced by Department of Defense (DoD) activities, especially when factoring income from military retiree pensions and veteran compensation.
Coloradans, the business and professional communities, the State of Colorado and its political subdivisions, can benefit from careful consideration of supporting and growing the presence of the DoD, and from the development of a strategic growth plan that recognizes the economic strengths of Colorado’s growing defense sector.
For more information on the study or to find ways to connect with our local defense and military community, please contact [email protected].
Rich Burchfield is a retired U.S. Air Force colonel who served for nearly 30 years, splitting time between Active Duty and the Air Force Reserves. He moved to Colorado Springs in March 1995 through an assignment to the Air Force Academy and went on to serve at Peterson Air Force Base (HQ Air Force Space Command), Schriever Air Force Base (310th Space Wing) and back to Peterson (21st Space Wing). While serving in the Reserves, Rich worked full time for 16 years in the defense industry sector supporting USSTRATCOM, Army Space and Missile Defense Command, Air Force Space Command, HQ NORAD and USNORTHCOM and the Missile Defense Agency.