Last week, site selectors and economic development professionals from across the country visited Denver for the Site Selectors Guild Annual Conference, which was hosted by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, and organizations listed below:
- City and County of Broomfield
- City of Centennial
- City of Commerce City
- City of Lone Tree
- Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance
- Denver International Airport
- Denver Office of Economic Development
- Denver South Economic Development Partnership
- Douglas County
- Jefferson County Economic Development Corporation
- Upstate Colorado Economic Development
- Xcel Energy
What’s the Big Deal? Colorado Hosts Conferences All the Time
Site selectors work with large companies to help them find places to expand and relocate their business. In fact, this elite group of professionals is responsible for more than 10 percent of the 3,000 expansion or relocation deals made each year nationally, bringing millions of dollars in economic impact to cities and regions.
“As the Metro Denver EDC, we want to provide value to our 40 partners and 70 communities that are a part of our network,” said Pam Reichert, vice president of the Metro Denver EDC. “One of the ways we provide value is getting them access to the site selectors so they can build relationships and help to promote their communities and what we have in this entire region.”
According to Winning Strategies, a survey of corporate executives with site selection responsibilities conducted by international PR and economic development marketing firm Development Counsellors International, building relationships is the most effective marketing tactic used by economic development groups. Of the 322 survey respondents, 57 percent found the most effective marketing tactic to be planned visits to meet with executives in person, and 35 percent found that a special event hosted by an economic development group was the most effective.
Here at the Metro Denver EDC, we’re no strangers to developing relationships with this key audience. Some of our most recent company expansions that resulted from site selectors include:
- Los Angeles-based Cool Planet Energy Systems’ plans to move its first manufacturing facility and headquarters in Greenwood Village. The company turns biomass material including beetle-killed pine trees into fuel for cars and could create as many as 393 jobs in Metro Denver over the next three years.
- Fidelity Investments, one of the world's largest providers of financial services, opened a new regional site in Greenwood Village in 2013. Fidelity is leasing 100,000 square feet for the new customer contact center, where it already employs 200 people and plans to expand to as many as 500 workers.
- Visa Inc. will significantly expand its existing Global Technology Center in Douglas County, leasing 66,000 square feet with a $9 million capital investment. The company anticipates adding more than 400 new jobs over the next five years at the site.
- TriZetto Corporation, a provider of information solutions that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare businesses, opened its new world headquarters at the Meridian Business Center in Douglas County in 2013. The project generated 500 construction jobs and accommodates the more than 150 local jobs that TriZetto had recently created. The company plans to create as many as 750 new jobs at the headquarters by 2017.
- FMC Technologies Inc., a global provider of technology solutions for the energy industry, announced in early February 2014 that it will locate a new sales and service facility at a 20-acre site in Brighton. The $11.9 million project will include construction of a 50,000-square-foot facility that will initially house 66 employees, with growth of up to 50 additional jobs over the next five years.
And while we have worked with more than 20 of the 34 site selectors in attendance, last week gave us an opportunity to build relationships with the rest.
“I help companies figure out if this is a place where they can find enough of the people they want to hire with the right skills at costs that let them be competitive,” said Jerry Szatan, president of the Site Selectors Guild. “I think that’s one of the huge advantages that Denver and the Front Range have is a growing, talented workforce.”
Last week’s conference touched on some of the most effective marketing tactics to this integral group: It allowed us to share the Metro Denver business message, the collaboration between our communities, AND we were able to showcase why this is such a great place for businesses.
“It’s not just the host, Denver is a partner,” said Szatan. “Our clients in the private sector don’t stop at the Denver city line. They look next door, we look at the whole region – so having the region be able to work together is a huge plus for the area.”
With a visit to Metro Denver fresh in their minds and new relationships formed, we look forward to working with site selectors this year to help strengthen the story of our state’s competitive workforce and business climate. Hopefully we will see many more companies setting their sights on the region for their business as a result, so stay tuned this year for company headquarters and expansions announcements coming to Metro Denver!
The New Year started out with a bang for the state of Colorado, which placed well in 13 rankings in just the first month. Collecting high rankings for the largest private companies in the U.S., hot neighborhoods, a great commercial real estate market, and more, it’s no wonder why our state is among the fastest-growing in the nation.
Although it was difficult to choose which rankings were our favorite, these were our top three highlighting Metro Denver’s thriving business climate:
- If you’re looking for a job this year, Metro Denver is the place to be. A new study by NerdWallet ranked Denver as the fourth-best city for job seekers in 2014, which ranked cities based on job availability, population growth, and affordability. With Denver’s unemployment rate at 5.8 percent, population growth of 4.9 percent between 2010 and 2012.
- Denver’s commercial real estate market ranked 11th among the 2014 “Markets to Watch,” up three spots from last year’s survey in the Emerging Trends in Real Estate report by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and the Urban Land Institute. Respondents viewed the outlook for Metro Denver’s investment, development, and homebuilding prospects to be good for 2014 and considered the following criteria as a buy specifically in Denver: 51.3 percent for retail, 51.6 for industrial/distribution property, and 50 percent for Denver office property. Last year, the commercial real estate market continued to expand, with new development and pre-leading levels not seen in more than 10 years, which positions Metro Denver‘s performance above national average.
- Denver was listed as one of the top 10 cities for green meetings by GreenBiz.com, highlighting efforts undertaken by and the Colorado Convention Center and VISIT DENVER. According to the report, the Colorado Convention Center (CCC) earned Level One certification for a meeting facility, which requires a written environmental policy, a minimum waste diversion rate of 30 percent over the course of a year, and 20 percent of building fixtures operating at high efficacy. The venue also built a 300-kilowatt solar power system covering 30,000 square feet on the convention center roof, eliminating 435 tons of carbon emissions per year.
While we are off to a good start for job-seekers, the commercial real estate market, and green meetings, our expectations are high for the months to come. Next month, we’ll feature which February national rankings showed Colorado as much love as we have for our great state.
As the Denver Broncos head to the Super Bowl next weekend, our spirits and pride are soaring high for Metro Denver. With a powerhouse of sports talent, young professional expertise, and a top business climate, we can’t help but feel grateful for the many aspects that make our region a top business locale.
And nothing makes us more satisfied than to see the where Metro Denver ranked at the national level. Here are our top-five favorite rankings from last month:
- Forbes ranked Denver eighth among metro areas for its growth in young workers between 2007 and 2013, at a rate of 14.8 percent. The report noted that tech-heavy cities generally saw the biggest growth in the young population. Not only is our population flourishing with young workers, Colorado is the second-most highly educated state with 37 percent of residents with a bachelor’s degree of higher. With three top national universities—The University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado School of Mines, and Colorado State University—it’s easy to find talent for employers. Similarly, college graduates in search of work should look no further than Metro Denver, which was just ranked fourth as the best city in the nation for job seekers by consumer advocacy site NerdWallet.
- Colorado ranked eighth for the most inbound state in the U.S., according to a report released by Allied Van Lines. Our state’s inbound growth jumped up four spots from last year, with a net relocation gain on 339 families in 2013. With Colorado’s abundant supply of outdoor activities, educated population, nearly 300 days of sunshine, and great business climate, it’s no surprise why families are moving here to thrive.
- The Resource Rich Colorado report by the Colorado Energy Coalition ranked Colorado highly in several energy categories. Our great state ranked fifth in natural gas production, sixth in natural gas reserves, fifth in installed solar capacity, ninth in crude oil production, 10th in installed wind capacity, and second for the amount of square feet per capita that is LEED certified. Colorado’s energy industry maintains many competitive advantages including income tax, moderate business costs, and a diverse resource base, which continue to attract and retain businesses in the energy and natural resource sector. Colorado's cleantech industry also includes more than 20,000 workers employed by over 1,700 companies, which has created more than 5,000 clean tech jobs since 1997.
- Milken Institute’s ‘Best-Performing Cities Index for 2013’ named Boulder the ninth-best performing city and the Denver-Aurora-Broomfield MSA as the 15th-best MSA. Boulder jumped six spots from last year, and was called out for its tech powerhouse, with the second-highest output concentration in the nation. In addition the report highlighted that Boulder experienced broad-based employment gains and ranked 26 in five-year job growth. The Denver-Aurora-Broomfield MSA jumped 15 spots from last year’s index. The report stated that the metro area witnessed broad-based job growth in 2013, and that its high-tech GDP concentration exceeds the national average by 60 percent.
- Colorado ranked as the eighth-healthiest state in the nation by the United Health Foundation, up one spot from last year’s ranking. Colorado had the lowest rate of obesity in the country at 20.5 percent, the third-lowest rate of physical inactivity, and the sixth-lowest rate of diabetes. The state also scored high due to its low level of air pollution and number of preventable hospitalizations.
That’s a wrap for Colorado’s 2013 rankings! Not only do we love seeing our state at the top of these rankings every month, but they showcase our quality of life, strong workforce, and key industries that put Metro Denver and the state ahead of the curve for the New Year. We can’t wait to see what Colorado achieves next month - hopefully, it’s that we are bringing home the nation’s number one football team. Go Broncos!
A New Year typically means that it’s time for a fresh start and some new resolutions. According to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology, losing weight ranks first for popular resolutions of 2014, with 38 percent of Americans setting weight-related goals.
For Americans looking for inspiration on how to stay fit in 2014, they only have to look west to Colorado, which ranks first in the United States for lowest obesity prevalence among adults at 26 percent below the national average. The state also ranks first in participation of physical activities with 62 percent of adults reporting they participate in moderate to vigorous physical activity each week, taking advantage of our four-season climate and active outdoor lifestyle.
The Colorado outlook on health and wellness has turned so many heads nationwide that weight-loss experts James O. Hill, Ph.D. and Holly Wyatt, M.D. recently published the book, State of Slim, which teaches readers how to fix their metabolisms by going on the “Colorado diet.”
Leading the charge against obesity, Dr. Hill has chosen to research weight loss in Colorado primarily because there are so many people here doing it right. Dr. Hill has spent 20 years researching the Mile-High Metabolism, now conducted at the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the University of Colorado, which opened in April 2012.
The 95,000-square-foot, LEED Gold-certified building is a one-of-a-kind facility featuring a demo kitchen, bistro with prepared State of Slim meals, a King Soopers grocery lab, state-of-the-art body analysis machinery, and a new breed of cardiovascular and strength training machines that personalize workouts to each member’s individualized digital key.
The Center was selected as the medical, weight loss and nutrition services partner for the fourth season of ABC’s hit series Extreme Weight Loss, which is estimated to bring in $5 million of economic activity to the Metro Denver region. Stay tuned this May to see the center featured throughout the season.
- Being active every day - Coloradoans took 1,000 additional steps each day compared to the rest of the nation according to a Harris Polls study, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
- Fueling up on real food - Coloradoans love to eat but they are more selective about their food. While many identify as “foodies,” they also place an emphasis on quality of food, not quantity.
- Creating our own healthy environment - While the Rocky Mountains are as majestic as they say, most of us aren’t typically hiking up the peaks every day before breakfast. However, we are likely to rub elbows with a triathlete, trail runner, hiker or coach most places we go. Harvard University did a study where they found that people in the same social network tended to have similar body mass indices and it is clear that the “social circle effect” is in full swing for our state.
- Staying true to our purpose - Here in Colorado, we associate our inner purpose with our wellness goals. Being in shape physically gives us the energy and confidence to do the things that are most important to us in our Colorado lifestyle.
- Believing you can succeed- Research psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, PhD, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill says cultivating a positive mind-set can enhance relationships, improve work performance, and contribute to general health. Given more than 36 percent of Colorado's residents have a bachelor's degree or higher, which gives our state the country's second-most highly educated workforce, the healthy lifestyle has a clear connection to success for Coloradoans.
- Making healthy living fun - This is the Colorado secret and where the Colorado Diet takes a different approach to health and wellness.
Living in Colorado encourages us all to have a healthier outlook on life, and with Energetic Bodies comes Energetic Minds – our overall regional brand here at the Metro Denver EDC. The good news? You do not have to be in Colorado to take part of our lifestyle. (Though we sure encourage it!)
“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the land
Phones started ringing at the NORAD Command.
The children were asking when Santa would appear
With his miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.”
For the past 58 Christmas Eves, employees at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in Colorado Springs have tracked Santa’s location, updating eager boys and girls on his global progress through a number of various technologies.
NORAD’s Santa tracking website portal—which is available in nine different languages—goes up every year on December 1, featuring a Countdown Calendar, holiday games, and video messages from troops and students all over the world. On the night of Christmas Eve, the Santa Tracking map goes live.
In addition, NORAD acts on the receiving end of emails, phone calls, mobile applications, tweets, and other social media inquiries to fuel children’s excitement. NORAD routinely performs aerospace warning and control missions to verify the safety of Santa’s flight plan.
The “Santa tracking” service is made possible with the help of 1,250 volunteers and several organizations with Colorado ties including National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States Air Force (USAF), and NASA. USAF places ground-based radars, while NOAA places operational round-the-clock satellites provided by NASA and makes sure the weather conditions are right for Santa’s journey. Rumor has it the heat from Rudolph’s red nose gives off an infrared signature that allows the satellites to detect Santa’s sleigh.
While the tradition started because of a typo on a Sears’ advertisement, it's no Christmas miracle that it landed in Colorado, given our state’s leading aerospace capabilities.
Consider these facts on why Colorado really is the best place to keep an eye on Kris Kringle’s path across the globe:
- Colorado’s unique geographic location in the Mountain Time Zone allows for one-bounce satellite uplinks, with real-time connections to six to seven continents in one day, making our state the premier location to broadcast Santa’s journey.
- Colorado’s aerospace industry ranks second in the nation for private sector aerospace employment with more than 160,000 employees working at more than 400 aerospace-related companies.
- Colorado is home to 30 federal laboratories, and has one of the highest concentrations of federally funded science and research centers in the nation. The laboratories employ nearly 8,000 scientists and engineers, generating more than $2.3 billion annual economic impact to the region. The work being done at these laboratories range from climate change, to weather patterns, to the space environment, all of which leads to valuable intel when tracking the elusive man in the big red suit.
- Colorado’s major space contractors achieved major milestones toward developing the next generation global positioning system III satellites. Global security and aerospace company, Lockheed Martin, is currently producing these satellites which will deliver three times better accuracy, provide up to eight times improved anti-jamming capabilities, and include enhancements which extend spacecraft life. And what better way to keep track of Santa than by using GPS to route his location?
Will you be tracking Santa this Christmas Eve? If so, we hope you think of the organizations behind the service supporting Colorado’s aerospace and defense industries.
The Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation wishes each and every one of our readers happy holidays and a wonderful New Year!
We’ve always known that Metro Denver’s strong economy, climate, and active lifestyle are just some of the appealing assets that drive financial industry employees to the region.
You only have to think back to the first of this year, when four major financial services companies announced significant expansions in the region as proof of our attractiveness to companies in this sector.
And the good news continues to roll in. Last week, InvestmentNews, the leading news source for financial advisors, reminded us why the Mile High City presents an attractive opportunity for financial advisors in an article titled, “Denver Stands Tall.”
To help compile the article, InvestmentNews journalist, Andrew Osterland, pulled a few leading statistics from our annual benchmark report, which outlines Metro Denver’s strengths, challenges, and opportunities for future job growth and economic expansion.
According to the article, here are the two reasons why Metro Denver is a top-of-mind destination for the financial services industry:
1. Booming Economy:
- Colorado is one of 15 states that recovered all the jobs that it lost during the financial crisis and recession.
- Colorado currently ranks fifth in job growth in the United States, and the employment growth rate for 2013 is expected to be three percent.
- Metro Denver has a diverse economy with a major presence in industries such as technology, biosciences, aerospace, telecommunication, energy, and financial services, to name a few. Metro Denver has managed and fostered the growth of these key industries, creating thousands of high-paying jobs.
2. Sophisticated and Wealthy Population:
- Colorado is the second-most highly educated state in the country, just behind Massachusetts, as measured by residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- Based on the innovation data reported in our annual benchmark report, Colorado ranks 2nd as one of the top states in all innovation measures.
- Colorado holds the third-highest concentration of proprietors, with 25.5 percent of proprietors as a percentage of total employment in 2012.
We’re pleased to see the continued interest and investment in our financial services industry, and we’re excited about the possibilities in the new year for continued growth!
As we look back on 2013, it has been fun for us to see how cities in Colorado have ranked highly for supporting entrepreneurs, tech startups, and the state’s energetic workforce.
But before we close out the year, we had to add one more ranking to the mix to showcase that it’s more than just our entrepreneurial spirit that makes us the place to be if you want to be part of a culture that supports the nation’s innovators.
To uncover the nation’s most innovative states, we decided to look at the innovation data reported in our Toward a More Competitive Colorado report, which details how states rank in terms of entrepreneurial activity, new businesses, venture capital investments, R&D spending, patents granted per capita, and high-tech employment per capita. As a simple way to measure innovation, this analysis assumes that these among the primary measures of innovation and that all measures are given equal weight.
For those of you who have been following recent announcements, it should come as no surprise that Colorado ranks number two, right behind California in terms of innovation.
Colorado’s highly educated workforce, broad concentration of high-tech workers, and strong research universities continue to attract established companies and support new business creation.
Here’s how Colorado stacks up in terms of innovation across the nation.
8. New York
9. New Hampshire
10. New Jersey
With energetic minds constantly on the go in Colorado, we are proud to be one of the most innovative states that is pushing the nation’s business community forward.
Denver experienced a fast recovery from the Great Recession compared to the rest of the country, according to the latest study by the Pew Charitable Trusts’ American Cities Project.
The study, titled, “America’s Big Cities in Volatile Times,” focuses on financial reports of the 30 largest metropolitan areas in the nation from 2007 to 2011.
“We found that revenue for two-thirds of the cities we studied hadn’t bounced back to their revenue peaks by 2011,” said Kil Huh, Pew’s director of state and local fiscal health. “Cities are still continuing to struggle and face future challenges.”
The cities facing a slower recovery relied heavily on property taxes. Although they didn’t feel the decline in real estate value immediately, these big city governments were hit much later into the recession, recovered slowly, and are still suffering from some of the effects of the decline. More than two-thirds of the cities had not recovered by the end of 2011.
However, Denver proved itself as the comeback kid. According to the study, Denver’s revenue approached pre-recession levels by 2011.
So what made the difference for Denver? Although the region saw its greatest dip in 2009, the region was smart in its approach to fiscal management ensuring that while we were one of the first into to the recession, we were also one of the first out of the recession. This is often a point our CEO Tom Clark is overheard discussing.
“Denver positioned itself very well in terms of long-term obligations, compared to other cities,” said Huh.
The economic growth in the Metro Denver region has continued into 2013, with new developments and pre-leasing levels not seen in more than 10 years. And the market is not stopping—commercial rental rates are predicted to exceed an all-time record by the end of the year.
Key Findings from Denver’s Profile:
1. Personal consumption reflected sales tax growth.
A 10 percent increase in sales tax collections from 2009 to 2011, totaling $46 million, highly contributed in the city’s overall revenue growth. The study also shows that every revenue category increased by 2011, including investment income, and property tax collections.
2. Denver continued targeted spending cuts and froze hiring between 2009 and 2011, despite revenue gains.
Spending cuts were made in parks, recreation and cultural facilities, social services, and police and fire. Along with implementing a hiring freeze, Denver also managed its long-term strategy by encouraging early retirements.
3. Proactive fiscal management positioned Denver well for the future.
Denver took action to fund its future retiree health care liabilities. With assets of $88 million in 2010, funding slightly less than half of its long-term retiree health commitments, the city was one of four examined with funding levels above 40 percent. Although the city’s pension funding level was down to 86 percent from 97 percent three years earlier, Denver continued to make its recommended contributions.
While many cities will continue to deal with a slow economic recovery, Denver remains on top of its economic game, thanks to its ability to create long-term goals.
Our great state is one of the best for business right now and it’s predicted that we’ll have the third-fastest growth for jobs and household incomes over the next five years. With continuous announcements of company headquarters and expansions into the region, this report is just one more proof point showcasing how Metro Denver’s future looks bright and prosperous.
Metro Denver’s commercial real estate market has continued to expand this year, with new development and pre-leasing levels not seen in in more than 10 years. According to international real estate consulting firm Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, Metro Denver’s commercial space vacancy has declined for the 15th quarter in a row, down 1.4 percent from this time last year at 17.7 percent.
Contributing to this decline are new, high-rise office towers coming on the market downtown, major corporate tenants, such as McGraw-Hill, and the growing young professional demographic moving into the region.
Metro Denver was recently ranked No. 9 by Vocativ’s Livability Index of the best places for people 35 and under to live. Young professionals ages 24 to 35 choose to live in the metro region because of the access to mass transit, bike lane systems, and housing.
And with the re-development of Denver Union Station as the region’s transportation hub, which will eventually connect downtown to Denver International Airport, it’s no surprise that Metro Denver has become one of the hottest office markets in the nation.
Here are some of Metro Denver’s most recent commercial real estate projects and developments:
- Battery 621, a business incubator on Sixth Avenue and Santa Fe Drive, has developed a new creative office space project in the River North Neighborhood. The 120,000-square-foot workspace will house 350 to 400 professionals.
- Zeppelin Development, Inc. has also broken ground on a new office building in the River North neighborhood. The four-story, 60,000 square-foot space will cater to small entrepreneurial companies, midsize, and large companies seeking innovative workspaces.
- First Gulf Corp. unveiled plans for a 21-story office building on Lawrence Street. The new building will feature 290,000 square feet of office space with ground floor of 7,500 square feet of retail and 347 parking spaces. The Ontario-based company plans to break ground on the project in early 2014 and will include the new head office for Coca-Cola Canada.
- The Art, a $50 million, nine-story hotel has also broken ground in downtown Denver on West 12th Avenue and Broadway and will feature 165 rooms. The 165-room hotel is expected to be a key part of the Metro Denver’s cultural redevelopment, dubbed a "keystone" of the center's rebirth by Mayor Michael Hancock. The Art will also include 50,000 square feet of office space to fill the first three floors.
Denver also ranked eighth in a study by CBRE for its tech company growth and rental rate increases. According to the study, technology services employment in the Metro Denver area rose by 16 percent between 2010 and 2012 as tech companies leased up space for expansion.
Given the strong real estate happenings in Metro Denver, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank predicts that commercial rental rates in Metro Denver will exceed an all-time record by the end of the year.