March 2, 2021

How Far We’ve Come: Aerospace & Defense

Sunset In Orbit

As Colorado Springs looks back on its history during the city’s 150th anniversary this summer, here’s how far the aerospace and defense industry has come over the last decade. Colorado Springs’ current aerospace and defense industry is poised for new investment with a fueled talent pipeline, five military installations, and strong community support for our military bases, veterans, and their families. Over the last 10 years, Colorado Springs has done the following to help ensure one of our key industries experiences sustained growth.

Continue to build a talented workforce

In a 2014 report prepared by Summit Economics, data showed that aerospace and defense companies in the region favored hiring workers with military backgrounds as many positions in the industry require security clearances. Since then, the city has helped foster its talent pipeline from the area’s five surrounding military bases by creating some of the following programs:

  • Catalyst Campus: A joint project between private aerospace companies like Lockheed Martin and public entities like the U.S. Space Force, this campus has been a trusted instrument in helping veterans transition to the private sector since its creation in 2015.
  • Pikes Peak Community College: Rated by com as one of the “Best Colleges for Vets” in 2020, the institution has stepped up during the pandemic to continue offering veterans world-class industry certification programs, cyber courses, and internships.
  • In the Summit Economics report, data also highlighted the need for younger workers to help fuel Colorado Springs’ aerospace and defense industry. Subsequently, the city has done the following to continue to attract young talent to the region:
    • In 2018, the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program released a report that said that Colorado Springs saw a 14.7 percent millennial growth rate from 2010 to 2015, leading all other cities in the nation, including hotspots like Denver, Austin, Houston, and Seattle.
    • Rated by U.S. News & World Report as the #4 place to live in 2020, Colorado Springs’ livability resources are excellent at attracting millennials, who increasingly are looking for an outdoor lifestyle.

Business-friendly climate

In the Summit Economics report, aerospace and defense firms in Colorado Springs highlighted an increased need for cutting-edge infrastructure like telecommunications and high-speed internet access when compared to the infrastructure needs of other businesses in the region. In response, Colorado Springs has taken multiple steps to build upon earlier infrastructure improvements. One of which was in 2019, when Mayor John Suthers introduced the city’s 300-page-long — PlanCOS. The comprehensive plan outlines how the city can support smart and connected utilities, support multimodal transportation, and ultimately embrace sustainability.

In addition, Verizon announced earlier this year that it would be bringing its ultra-fast 5G cellular technology to the city. This is just the latest example of Colorado Springs investing in infrastructure to support its aerospace and defense industry.

“[5G] will give residents the ability to utilize wireless services like never before, as well as pave the way for the city to utilize these technologies and deploy advanced smart cities projects in the future,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers.

In the Summit Economics report, over 65% of aerospace and defense companies reported that they would like for the local government to fund more economic development initiatives. Since then,  we have worked in lockstep with aerospace and defense industry leaders to promote business growth and investment in the area. Click here to see an industry profile document that highlights work with the industry while providing a directory and map of the area’s firms.

Fast forward to 2021, our team, in collaboration with state leaders, continues with a long campaign to have the newly formed U.S. Space Command permanently located in Colorado Springs. Colorado leaders are working with President Biden’s team to suspend action on the Air Force decision to move the Command to Huntsville until they can investigate what influence former President Trump had on the decision. If the decision was based on anything but merits of a location, we will work with state and federal leaders to request the decision be reversed.

Further Resources

If you’re new to the area or looking to relocate – and interested in working with the region’s aerospace and defense industry – please take a look at some of the open jobs on our webpage. Also, if you or someone you know has had their employment situation altered due to the pandemic, be sure to take a look at our COVID-19 Job Resources page that contains more information on how to get connected with companies who are currently hiring.