Beverage production emerges as a growth industry, seven total clusters/subclusters rank among top-10 nationally

January 21, 2016

Report details the Metro Denver and Northern Colorado region's industry growth compared to the 50 largest U.S. metro areas

DENVER – January 21, 2016 – Joining eight other industries, beverage production emerged as a growth industry in the past year, posting 5.2 percent employment expansion, according to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation's (Metro Denver EDC) 10th-annual Industry Cluster Study released today.

Ranking third in the nation for employment concentration, beverage production was among the nine-county Metro Denver and Northern Colorado region's five-fastest growing industries in 2015. Diverse in nature, this industry includes both small and large breweries, wineries and distilleries, tea and coffee companies, and producers of bottled drinks and ice products.

The study, completed by the Metro Denver EDC's Chief Economist Patty Silverstein and Senior Economist Lisa Strunk of Development Research Partners, analyzes nine leading industry clusters in the nine-county region, offering an in-depth, competitive analysis of the major industries contributing to the employment base and ongoing economic expansion.

Overall, 10 clusters/subclusters added employment in 2015, while three posted negative growth. The analysis factors new employment data from the third quarter of 2014 through the third quarter of 2015.

“The diversity of the industry base is what clearly differentiates our region,” explained Silverstein. “A common theme across all nine clusters is the entrepreneurism, innovation, and overall magnetism  that they have in expanding the economic capacity of Metro Denver. These industries shape the ‘culture’ of our business community that attracts the future workforce—particularly millennials—as well as vital investment in our economy.”

New data highlights that Metro Denver’s leading industries are among the best performing in the nation, with seven clusters/subclusters ranking in the top 10 for employment concentration in 2015. The analysis includes industry descriptions, largest companies, employment concentration rank compared to the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, and detailed industry news and developments.

“We are highly encouraged with the momentum we see in our industry clusters,” said Tom Clark, CEO of the Metro Denver EDC. “Colorado is certainly top of mind among site selection consultants and expanding companies for its highly educated workforce and high-performance business climate. Targeting our marketing and recruitment efforts in these 'innovation' clusters is the right strategy to drive our economic future."

Metro Denver and Northern Colorado Industry Clusters - Competitive Advantages
(one-year/five-year employment growth in parentheses):

  • Aerospace - The nine-county region ranks second out of the 50 largest metropolitan areas for private-aerospace employment concentration, with 19,520 workers. Nearly 6 percent of the nation’s aerospace workforce is located in the region. (0.03%/0.9%)
  • Aviation - Denver International Airport (DEN) is a major economic engine for the industry, which employs 16,880 people. Major expansion at DEN including the upcoming opening of the commuter rail line to downtown Denver in April 2016 and the start of a new, nonstop flight to Munich in May 2016 creates further momentum in the industry. (2%/11.1%)
  • Beverage Production – With a significant history in brewing dating back to the 1873 location of the Coors Brewery in Golden, the region is also home to more than 10 percent of the nation’s craft breweries. (5.2%/22.4%)
  • Bioscience - The region's medical devices and diagnostics subcluster is strong nationally, ranking 11th in employment concentration. Research universities and numerous innovation assets support the industry. (medical devices, 2.8%/10%; pharmaceuticals, -4.3%/-6.8%)
  • Broadcasting and Telecommunications - The region offers substantial assets for this industry due to its Mountain time zone location and one-bounce satellite capability, ranking sixth nationally for employment concentration in 2015. (-0.8%/-1.1%)
  • Energy - The region ranks fourth in the United States in fossil fuels and fifth for cleantech employment concentration. Both subclusters posted significant, double-digit growth from 2010-2015; cleantech was the region’s fastest growing industry in 2015. (fossil fuels, 2.8%/48.7%; cleantech, 8.5%/23.7%)
  • Financial Services - The cluster includes a base of nearly 13,800 companies and about 97,000 employees in three subclusters including banking & finance, investments, and insurance. The investments subcluster was the second-highest growing in the region in 2015 due to notable company expansions. (banking and finance, -0.7%/-0.8%; investments, 7%/17.6%; and insurance, 3.8%/11.6%)
  • Healthcare and Wellness - A premier healthcare and wellness hub, the region has one of the fittest populations in the nation and has the nation’s lowest rate of adult obesity due to its active lifestyle and access to the outdoors. The industry posted its 12th-consecutive year of employment growth in 2015. (5.5%/22.6%)
  • Information Technology-Software - The region continues to rank among the top-10 nationally in total employment concentration with 2.5 percent of the region’s total employment base. The region has 48,610 workers in this sector. (4.5%/19.6%)

Statewide reports for the aerospace, energy, and investment services industries are available in the industry section on

Learn more:

» Executive Summary (PDF)
» Metro Denver & Northern Colorado Industry Cluster Study (PDF) 

About the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation
An affiliate of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation (Metro Denver EDC) is the nation's first regional economic development entity, bringing together more than 70 cities, counties, and economic development agencies in the nine-county Metro Denver and Northern Colorado area. The Metro Denver EDC focuses on six areas to expand the regional economy: national marketing, new and existing business, mobility, DIA/international flights, tax reform, and special opportunities. The organization also leads four industry-focused affiliates: the Colorado Energy Coalition, the Colorado Investment Services Coalition, the Colorado Space Coalition, and the Metro Denver Aviation Coalition. For more information, see

Media contact: Janet Fritz – Senior Director, Marketing and Technology, Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., 303.620.8039