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Colorado's aerospace a 'champion' in the sector's top three trends

Jay H. Lindell's official title is "Aerospace and Defense Industry Champion." Late last year, Gov. John Hickenlooper named Lindell to the state's new post in order to push Colorado's aerospace industry forward.

And it's no surprise that Hickenlooper selected Lindell as the man for the job: Lindell is a retired Air Force major general with more than 20 years of experience in aerospace. During his military career, Lindell served as "Capability Director" for the U.S. Air Force Global Power Programs at the Pentagon, where he directed policy covering $10 billion worth of equipment.

So what is top of mind for Lindell in 2014?

1. "Our economy in Colorado is heavily clustered on government spending," he said. "We'll see a decline in the government spending in space, and that will affect Colorado."

2. "Customers are demanding a premium on space-based information delivered to them in their daily lives," he said, noting that services ranging from GPS to satellite radios will continue to need suppliers and service providers.

3. "A lot of countries are … wanting their own satellites," Lindell said, explaining that Colorado aerospace companies could cash in on the export of their technologies to international governments and companies, as long as federal regulations allow for those transactions. International export "is becoming an increased potential market, for which we have that infrastructure already developed here in Colorado."

Colorado space economy:

•    Directly employs around 66,400 workers (3,700 civil, 15,000 military, 47,700 private)

•    Generated $16 billion in sales in 2011

•    Generated 3.8 percent of Colorado’s private-sector gross domestic product in 2011

Source: Brookings Institution 2013 “Launch” report


Colorado’s aerospace payroll for private companies was nearly $3 billion in 2011. The 2011 average annual salary for an aerospace worker in Colorado was $120,310, compared with the national average of $94,420.


Colorado’s 2011 annual average wages:

•    Aerospace engineers: $104,500

•    Atmospheric and space scientists: $102,470

•    Software developers, systems software: $97,550

•    Industrial engineering technicians: $51,110

•    Computer-controlled machine tool operators, metal and plastic: $37,900


Private aerospace companies in Colorado:

•    There were around 160 private aerospace companies operating in Colorado in 2012.

•    Around 54 percent of Colorado’s aerospace companies in 2012 employed fewer than 10 people. Nearly 14 percent employed 250 or more.

•    Colorado’s private aerospace employees work in Arapahoe (31 percent), Jefferson (24 percent), El Paso (21 percent), and Boulder (20 percent) counties.

Source: Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. aerospace industry profile

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Mike Dano

Mike Dano is a freelance writer and the executive editor for the Telecom Group for FierceMarkets, which includes FierceWireless, FierceTelecom and other publications. Mike has been a journalist for more than a dozen years. Follow Mike @mikeddano and on LinkedIn. Mike is based in Arvada.

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