Eight Facts You Might Not Know About Metro Denver’s Eight Industry Clusters

January 30, 2015

This week the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation released its annual Industry Cluster Study, a year-over-year and five-year analysis of our region’s leading industry clusters. These clusters are our primary targets for national business recruitment as well as economic development retention and expansion efforts to grow Metro Denver’s economy.

Our nine-county region has come a long way in recovering jobs since the recession, as Colorado finished off 2014 strong with a 4 percent unemployment rate, the lowest since October 2007. A total of 4,700 new jobs were added to the state in December alone.

Our leading job growth can be attributed to Metro Denver’s eight primary industry clusters, which include aerospace, aviation, bioscience, broadcasting & telecommunications, energy, financial services, healthcare & wellness and  IT-Software.

But why do we study these eight specific industries, exactly? Here are eight fun facts that break down Metro Denver’s industry clusters’ economic impact for our region:

1.  Aerospace – Metro Denver ranks first among the 50 largest metros for aerospace workers per capita and Colorado has the nation’s third-largest aerospace economy. The state’s aerospace industry includes 160 companies, employing 25,110 people.

1 Aerospace

NASA test launch of the Orion spacecraft, engineered and built by Jefferson County-based Lockheed Martin Space Systems and launched by Centennial-based United Launch Alliance (ULA).

2.  Aviation – Denver International Airport (DIA) serves as the major economic engine for our aviation industry, generating more than $26 billion in annual economic impact to the region. DIA hosts nearly 53 million passengers a year and is currently undergoing its $544 million South Terminal Redevelopment program, the third- largest airport construction project in the nation.

2 Aviation

Rendering of DIA’s South Terminal redevelopment, with a new Westin Hotel, Transit center, and a commuter rail line to Union Station.

3.  Bioscience - The Fitzsimons Life Science District and adjacent Anschutz Medical Campus are among the most ambitious medical developments in the country, and operate as the focal points of opportunity in our bioscience industry. The $5.2 billion campus encompasses 578 total acres and is a world-class scientific community offering cutting-edge space, services, and support to bioscience professionals.

 3 Fitz

A building by Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority at Bioscience Park Center.

4.  Broadcasting & Telecommunications – Ranking fifth for employment concentration in broadcasting & telecommunications in the nation, our region is the largest in the U.S. to offer one-bounce satellite uplinks due to our central geographic location in the Mountain Time Zone. That’s especially important as more and more companies continue to rely on satellite communications.

4 Broadcast

 The Castle Rock Broadcast Center for DirecTV.

5.  Energy – Of all Metro Denver’s industries, our energy cluster has grown the most prominently. In the past five years, our energy sector employment has grown by 38 percent and 22.5 percent, respectively, including both fossil fuels and cleantech jobs. As explained by our CEO Tom Clark, “this industry with both its elements represents much of Colorado’s economy today with a combined $6.4 billion annual payroll.”

 5 Solar

 Solar paneled rooftop in Boulder.

6.  Financial Services – The investments subcluster had dynamic growth in 2014, with job growth of 4.2 percent. The industry had major company announcements in 2014, which included the opening of Charles Schwab’s $230 million campus in Lone Tree and the location of WorldRemit’s new North American headquarters and operations center in Denver.

6 Charles Schwab

The new Charles Schwab campus in Lone Tree. The company will move 2,000 Colorado employees into the 650,000 sq. ft. office space.

7.  Healthcare & Wellness – Our healthcare industry directly employs more people in the region than any other, totaling 192,290 Metro Denver workers. With that many people employed and educated in health-related fields, it’s no wonder we are known for our “Energetic Bodies. Energetic Minds.”

7 Anschutz 8 Cherry Creek
The University of Colorado Denver’s Anschutz Health and Wellness Center. Bikers along the Cherry Creek Trail.


8.  IT-Software – In this industry, Metro Denver ranks in the nation’s top 10 markets for employment concentration. Our region’s strong entrepreneurial spirit especially fuels this industry, which ranks second as the best city to launch a startup business out of the 50-most populated cities. And where strong entrepreneurship support intersects with a plethora of millennials (we have a ton!), it’s no wonder that IT-Software is a driving force within our local economy.

9 Galvanize

Inside Galvanize’s Golden Triangle location, home to over 100 technology startups.

So there you have it, Metro Denver - our eight leading industries that complement each other, collaborate, and keep our region well-rounded and sought-after for business. With the help of these growing industries, and many more, our region will continue to lead the nation, and even the world, in economic development growth as we continue into 2015.

To read the full Industry Cluster Study, click here.